10 Top Tourist Attractions in Bucharest

Bucharest, Romania

10 Top Tourist Attractions in Bucharest

Category : Bucharest , Romania

Bucharest is the capital and largest city in Romania. It is also a destination that has not yet made it on most travelers’ radars, which is both a shame and a blessing. It’s a shame because Bucharest, which was once known as the “Little Paris of the East,” is home to some gorgeous architecture, many interesting sights, and a city where travelers will definitely get more bang for their bucks or euros. It’s a blessing because travelers who do visit Romania don’t have to deal with crowds and rising prices that have affected many other formerly off-the-radar destinations, such as Croatia. The following are just a few of the can’t-miss attractions in Bucharest.

10. Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum

Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum

 

Established in 1834, the Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum offers travelers with a thirst for knowledge and those with children an interesting way to spend a couple of hours while in Bucharest. This museum, which was named after Romanian’s best known biologist, boasts more than 2,000 exhibits, including ones that showcase dinosaur fossils, minerals as well as the plants and animals that are native to Romania. It is also home to the largest butterfly collection in Europe. The museum also has a number of hands-on and interactive displays, and it was recently renovated to make it more accessible for visitors who have visual, hearing or physical impairments.

9. Victoriei Street

Victoriei Street

 

This is Bucharest’s best-known thoroughfare. So it’s not surprising that many of the city’s attractions are located here, including the Cantacuzino Palace, which houses the George Enescu Museum, the National Museum of Art of Romania, Odeon Theatre, Revolution Square and the Kretzulescu Church. There are also many hotels, restaurants and shopping options on this avenue. Victoriei Street runs between Piata Victoriei in the north and Piata Natiunilor Unite and the Dambovita River. This street was originally called Podul Mogosoaiei, but its name was changed to Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue) on October 12, 1878 after Romania won its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

8. Cismigiu Gardens

Cismigiu Gardens

 

These gardens provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. First laid out in 1845, these are the oldest public gardens in Bucharest. Cismigiu Gardens boasts a lake, where you can go rowing in the summer and skating in the winter, a children’s playground, the ruins of an old fortress and more than 30,000 trees and plants. One of its best features is a Roman Garden that includes busts of many famous Romanian writers. This is a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic. But there are also cafes, bars and refreshment kiosks in the park for those not into picnicking.

7. Hanul Manuc

Hanul Manuc

 

Built in 1806, Manuc’s Inn was the oldest operating hotel in Bucharest before it was recently shut down for restoration. However, the hotel’s restaurant — which was also renovated — is open for business. Over the years, Manuc’s Inn has been the site of a number of important events. For example, the peace treaty that ended the Russo-Turkish war in 1812 was held in this building. Manuc’s Inn is an impressive, three-level structure and a beautiful cultural landmark. Before it was shut down for is restoration, this historic inn was often used as a background for Romanian television folklore shows. After its restoration, it is hoped that Manuc’s Inn will be returned to its full beauty and glory.

6. Spring Palace

Spring Palace

 

The Spring Palace is the former residence of the deposed Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, who were ousted from power during the Romanian Revolution. They were then executed on Christmas Day 1989. The mansion had been closed for many years after the executions, but it was opened to the public in 2016 as a museum. Visitors can now check out the 80-room mansion, its swimming pool and the luxurious lifestyle that this Communist leader and his wife enjoyed. The tour through the Spring Palace also gives visitors a peak at Romania’s history during the Communist regime.

5. Romanian Athenaeum

Romanian Athenaeum

 

Opened in 1888, this stunning, neoclassical domed building is one of Romania’s best-known landmark and home to the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra. It is also one of the sites used during the biennial George Enescu Music Festival, which is the largest international cultural event held in Romania. The Romanian Athenaeum seats approximately 800 guests, and the interior circular wall is decorated with a fresco that depicts important moments in the history of Romania. If possible, travelers should try to obtain tickets for a performance here, but if that’s not possible, they should still make an effort to visit the building and its lovely gardens.

4. Village Museum

Village Museum

 

Located on the shores of Lake Herastrau, this open-air museum is home to several hundred historic houses, farms and other structures that have been moved from their orginal locations around Romania and rebuilt on this site. The Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum was opened in 1936, and most of its structures date back to the mid 19th century. There are a few, however, that are even older. For example, some structures from Berbesti, a region located in the heart of Romania, date back to 1775. The Village Museum is a must-see for anyone who will not have a chance to venture out of Bucharest to see the Romanian countryside.

3. Stavropoleos Church

Stavropoleos Church

 

Located in the Old City, Stavropoleos Church is a small, pretty church that was built in 1724. It is known for its unique Brancovan architectural style and also for its beautiful, carved doors. Stavropoleous Church also contains some interesting artifacts, including Lord Nicolae Mavrocordat’s throne. The church was originally part of an inn and also had a monastery, but both were demolished by the late 19th century. Stavropoleos Church is also one of the few churches located in the Old Town that survived the Great Fire of Bucharest, which occurred in 1847, which decimated a large portion of the city.

2. Herastrau Park

Herastrau Park

 

This park, which is the largest in Bucharest, is located around Herastrau Lake and is also home to the Village Museum. First opened in 1936, Herastrau Park offers visitors a lovely escape from the city. Among its many features are walking trails, a Japanese garden and an open-air theater that hosts performances. Visitors can also enjoy boat rides on the lake or rent bikes to cycle around the park. There are also numerous restaurants located around Herastrau Park. Although this park is very popular with local residents, it is large enough that it never really feels crowded.

1. Palace of Parliament

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Bucharest

 

After the Pentagon, the Palace of Parliament is the world’s second-largest administrative building. Construction on this massive and lavish building, which was the brainchild of Nicolae Ceausescu, began in 1984. However, it has still not been completed to this day. The neoclassical building, which has more than 3,000 rooms, is — in a lot of ways — a reminder to the Romanian people of the excesses of the communist period, especially since it was built during a time when most of its citizens were desperately poor. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bucharest, so it’s recommended that visitors purchase their tickets in advance.


15 Top Tourist Attractions in Romania

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Category : Europe , Romania

15 Top Tourist Attractions in If you think Romania is just about vampires lurking in dark castles, just waiting to pounce on unsuspecting tourists, think again. Transylvanian vampires loom large, of course, but Romania is so much more than Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula and his Brukenthal Palace. Romania does have its share of medieval castles, but it also has pretty alpine scenery hat offers skiing in winter and hiking in summer. It’s got quaint villages and painted churches that are awesome. Just as awesome are the millions of birds that can be found in the Danube Delta where the river empties into the Black Sea. An overview of the top tourist attractions in Romania:

15. Wooden Churches of Maramures

Wooden Churches of Maramures

 

When foreign rulers of Maramures refused to let the people build long-lasting stone churches, they turned to wood instead. They built about 300 wood churches over a 200-year period; only about 100 of these churches remain in use today. These Gothic structures are mostly Orthodox but there are a few Greek Catholic churches. The churches, usually with tall, slim bell towers, reflect an advanced degree of carpentry. They are both simple and elegant at the same time. Hand painted murals decorate the inside of many churches.

14. Vaser Valley Forestry Railway

Vaser Valley Forestry Railway

 

Take a trip back in time as you ride through the forests of the Carpathian Mountains on a steam-powered train. Running along the Vaser River, the Vaser Valley Forestry Railway has been in operation since 1932 when it was used to haul logs from the forest to the mill. Today, it also hauls tourists who like the romance of old, narrow gauge trains traveling through pretty, tree-filled landscapes. The ride stops at Paltin where you have two hours to enjoy the scenery and a picnic lunch.

13. Danube Delta

Danube Delta

 

If you’re a nature lover, indulge yourself at the Danube Delta, the largest preserved river delta in Europe; the largest part is in Romania. Be sure to bring binoculars with you, as this is a paradise for watching wildlife, especially birds. Birds flock here from as far away as Egypt and China to breed or winter over. The willow-lined canals offer a great environment for the 300 bird species found here. You’ll also find wildlife such as wildcats, wolves and the occasional boar.

12. Poiana Brasov

Poiana Brasov

 

When you get tired of seeking out vampires, consider Poiana Brasov for a change of pace. It’s the most popular ski resort in Romania that also draws skiers from all over Europe. Located in the Carpathian Mountains, the ski resort has seven slopes that offer a combined 25 km (15 miles) of skiing. The resort also hosts competitive alpine skiing and figure skating events. After a day on the slopes, warm yourself up with a traditional mulled wine or try some tuică, a plum based pepper-spiced drink.

11. Corvin Castle

Corvin Castle

 

Corvin Castle is an imposing medieval, Gothic structure, considered the most impressive medieval castle in Romania. It also is known as Hunyad Castle after the high-ranking official who built it. Corvin Castle is a fairytale castle that is accessed by a wooden bridge that bears a statue of St. John of Nepomuk, the patron saint of bridges. A raven wearing a gold ring is a symbol of the 15th century castle. See, too, the bear pit and the dungeon where people were tortured.

10. Sucevita Monastery

Sucevita Monastery

 

The Sucevita Monastery is architecturally unique, no doubt about that. Somehow the blend of the Gothic and Byzantine styles, plus Moldavia’s painted churches comes together in a spectacular building. The front is cylindrical, topped with a conical roof while the back is rectangular and topped with a small tower. Inside, you’ll find painted murals from the early 1600s and tomb covers embroidered with silver thread. The monastery, located in northeast Romania, is considered one of the most important painted churches in Moldavia.

9. Salina Turda

Salina Turda

 

If you feel like you’re working in a salt mine at home, then you should feel comfortable at Salina Turda. The salt mine, which dates as far back as the 17th century, was used for everything from a cheese storage center to a bomb shelter in WWII after excavations stopped in 1932. Today, it has been transformed into an incredible sci-fi theme park. Located in Ciuj County, Salina Turda has been called one of the coolest underground places in the world. When you visit, you’ll head down about 120 meters (400 feet) before reaching the submerged wonderland. Once inside, you’ll find an amphitheater, a bowling alley, an underground lake with prow boats, and even a Ferris wheel.

8. Transylvanian Alps

Transylvanian Alps

 

The Transylvanian Alps, also known as the Southern Carpathians, aren’t as high as the Rockies or the Himalayas, usually under 2,000 meters in elevation. The exception is Mount Moldoveanu, at 2,544 meters (8,346 feet), the highest point in Romania. The rugged mountains, dotted with sheep-filled meadows with wildflowers, offer some pretty good hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Couch potatoes can visit a mist-shrouded Gothic castle instead as they hunt for legendary vampires on their own turf.

7. Biertan Fortified Church

Biertan Fortified Church

 

Biertan Fortified Church stands head and shoulders above the other buildings in Biertan, It was originally a Catholic church built when the region belonged to Hungary. It became a Lutheran church after the Reformation. Rather than build a fortress to defend against Ottoman invaders, townspeople fortified the church. Built in Late Gothic style, it is one of the largest fortified churches in Romania. The church is noted for its towers, including one used to store food during sieges and another to imprison husbands who wanted a divorce.

6. Piata Mare

Piata Mare

 

Surrounded by medieval buildings, the Plata Mare, or Big Square as it’s known in English, is a must-see sight in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu. The square had its beginning as a cereal market in the early 15th century. A few decades later, the Tailors’ Guild building went up. It was followed by houses, a Jesuit church and Brukenthal Palace. Big Square was a place for public gatherings, including festivals and beheadings. It was place to see troublemakers as they were displayed in the “lunatic’s cage.”

5. Merry Cemetery

Merry Cemetery

Merry Cemetery in the town of Sapanta isn’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill cemetery. It’s more like a folk art gallery, with colorful tombstones, crosses and statuary celebrating the lives of the deceased. This colorful tradition began with a 14-year-old boy who began carving crosses in 1908. He added poems and painted a portrait of the deceased on the cross; sometimes he even painted how they died. And thus a tradition was born. The background on everything is deep blue, with other colors symbolizing life, death and fertility.

4. Peles Castle

Peles Castle

 

Peles Castle doesn’t have a history of sieges and warfare but it does have something other European castles don’t: spectacular beauty, sitting as it does on a Carpathian hillside. This Neo-Renaissance castle was built by King Carol I who vacationed here in the 1860s. Fairytale-like in appearance, it’s considered one of the most stunning castles in Europe. A 4,000-piece weapons collection reflects the king’s military interests, while a movie room decorated with frescoes reflects the queen’s artistic interests. The first movie shown in Romania aired here.

3. Palace of Parliament

Palace of Parliament

 

In a country where medieval buildings abound, there’s nothing medieval about the Palace of Parliament in the capital Bucharest. It is a thoroughly modern complex that is considered the largest administrative building in the world. It took 20,000 workers, working around the clock, 13 years to build it. It is an architectural wonder involving 700 architects and design specialists. The palace is a popular tourist attraction with foreigners, but not so much with the locals since it was built by Romania’s hated leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu.

2. Sighisoara Historic Center

Sighisoara Historic Center

 

If you have preconceived notions of what medieval life was like, Sighisoara Historic Center will certainly fulfill them. Old Town Sighisoara is definitely medieval at its finest. Found by 12th century Transylvanian Saxons, Sighisoara is a great example of a fortified medieval town. It has the traditional narrow streets flanked by colorful stone buildings. It is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Sighisoara celebrates its medievalness every July with a festival that includes rock bands.

1. Bran Castle 

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Romania

 

Bran Castle is often associated with Dracula as his home, though there’s no indication that author Bram Stoker even knew of this medieval castle. The castle, a Romanian landmark, has a fairy tale quality, peeking out from forested a hillside near Brasov in Transylvania. With roots dating to the 13th century, this medieval castle today is a museum showcasing art and furniture collected by Queen Maria. It also is home to an open-air museum featuring Romanian peasant buildings from around the country.


10 Best Places to Visit in Romania

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Category : Europe , Romania

Located on the Balkan Peninsula, Romania is a country of contrasts. The former Soviet Bloc country has, over the years, belonged to the Romans who gave the country its name, the Hungarians and the Ottomans. It is filled with quaint old towns, mountain resorts that offer great skiing, and a burgeoning art community. It’s most famous citizen, however, may be the vampire Dracula, a fictional character found in Transylvania. An overview of the best places to visit in Romania:

10. Danube Delta

Danube Delta

 

The majority of the Danube Delta, Europe’s second largest river delta, lies in Romania. Originally part of the Black Sea, the Danube Delta is a good place to observe nature. It is home to many unique species of plants and animals in Europe, as well as contains 23 different ecosystems, including some of the world’s largest wetlands. Previous visitors rave about the spectacular sunsets and highly recommend taking a slow boat ride on the river.

9. Cluj-Napoca

Cluj-Napoca

 

Home to the country’s largest university, Cluj-Napoca is considered the unofficial capital of the historical region of Transylvania. The city, which pre-dates the Roman colonization, is one of Romania’s arts and cultural centers. Home to a large Hungarian population, Cluj-Napoca features a statue honoring one Hungarian king. Built in the 14th century, the Gothic St. Michael’s Church has the tallest church tower in the country. The National Museum of Art, housed in a former palace, has a large collection of work by Romanian artists.

8. Mamaia 

Mamaia

 

Located on the Black Sea, Mamaia is Romania’s most popular seaside resort. Mamaia is small, however, situated on a strip of land that is about 8 km (5 miles) long. It has great white sand beaches, just made for sunning or people-watching. Mamaia has a water park, but activities are limited for small children. Adults, however, might enjoy a few lessons at the wind-surfing academy.

7. Timisoara 

Timisoara

 

Located in western Romania, Timisoara is one of the country’s largest cities, dating back to the early 13th century. Once part of the Ottoman Empire, it was the first European city to have electric street lamps. The city has bounced back after sustaining heavy bombing damage from both sides during World War II. Unlike many European cathedrals, the Timișoara Orthodox Cathedral was only built in the 20th century, but the central, notable for its 11 towers, houses many historic religious objects as well as vintage icon paintings.

6. Bucharest

Bucharest

 

Bucharest is a city that combines the old with the new. Visitors might come across a centuries-old building, a modern high rise, and a Communist-style building all in the same block. This modernizing European capital boasts the largest Parliament building in the world with 3,100 rooms and 12 stories high. Tours of this impressive building, constructed in 1984, are given frequently throughout the day. Also not to be missed in Bucharest is the old town center with its narrow cobblestone streets and old buildings, including medieval churches.

5. Sinaia 

Sinaia

 

Sinaia is a mountain resort town that grew up around a monastery that was named for Mount Sinai. The monastery, which contains a copy of the first Bible printed in Romania, is a popular site today with tourists, who enjoy hiking in the summer and some pretty tremendous downhill skiing in the winter. King Charles I built his summer home, known as Peles Castle, near here; it also is a popular tourist attraction. The town is noted for having pretty flowers, but visitors who pick them can find themselves in hot water, as this is not allowed.

4. Painted Monasteries

Painted Monasteries

 

Among the most picturesque attractions of Romania are the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina in the northeastern part of the country. Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. The best-preserved are the monasteries in Humor, Moldovita, Patrauti, Probota, Suceava, Sucevita, and Voronet.

3. Brasov

Brasov

 

Located in central Romania, Brasov boasts everything from dynamic modern city life to old world charm and fascinating scenery. Surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, the city is considered a mountain resort, with skiing and ice skating facilities. A top sight is the Black Church, a Gothic cathedral so named because smoke from a huge 17th century fire blackened the stones. Visitors also may want to take a stroll down Rope Street, which is the narrowest street in the country.

2. Sibiu 

Sibiu

 

Sibiu, once part of Hungary, dates back to the early 12th century. The city is located in Transylvania, an area that is associated with vampires, including Dracula, but it’s highly unlikely that visitors will run across any in this day and age. Instead, travelers will find the Grand Square, in use since the 15th century, and Baroque buildings, including Brukenthal Palace, home to one of the oldest museums in the world. Visitors may also want to be on the lookout for remnants of old fortifications used to defend the city hundreds of years ago.

1. Sighisoara 

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Romania

 

Also located in Transylvania, Sighisoara is one of the best places to visit in Romania due to its beautiful preserved walled town. During the 12th century German craftsmen and merchants, The Transylvanian Saxons, were invited here by the King of Hungary to settle and defend the frontier. They established a thriving trading town here and the citadel visitors see today. It was later extended and enlarged in the 14th century. Every July a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel. The landmark of the city is The Clock Tower, a 64 meter (210 foot) high tower build in 1556.


7 Great Day Trips from Bucharest

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Category : Bucharest , Romania

Romania is a mystery land crowned by mountains and enigmatic landscapes. Much of this thunderously stunning country can be explored via day trips from Bucharest. Dare to drive the most beautiful and treacherous road in Europe, float upon the salty Black Sea, talk with the descendants of Vlad the Impaler’s former servants and marvel at some of the most beautiful castles in the world. And each of these adventures is just a short drive away from Romania’s capital city.

7. Transfagarasan Road

Transfagarasan Road

 

Rent a car, put on a warm coat and head up the mountainside on the stunningly beautiful Transfagarasan Road. This is one of the most gorgeous highways in the world making the drive itself worth the trip. The Transfagarasan Road traverses the Fagaras Mountains; the tallest mountains in Romania which are also known as the Transylvanian Alps. It takes nerves of steel to drive this windy, narrow road that clings to the Fagaras mountainside. The road passes Fagaras Fortress, Vidraru Dam and Balea Lake. The fortress is surrounded by a deep moat and was formerly the residence of Michael the Brave while the Vidraru Dam holds back the amazingly blue glacial waters of the Balea Lake.

 

6. Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria

Veliko Tarnovo

 

Medieval history awaits just over the border in Bulgaria at Veliko Tarnovo. One of Bulgaria’s oldest towns, Veliko Tarnovo hangs on the side of the slithering Yantra River to make for some dramatic views. At the heart of this ancient town is the restored Tsarevets Fortress which served as the citadel for the Second Bulgarian Empire. Much of the town is unchanged through the centuries. Take a stroll through time on the cobblestone of ul Gurko lane and peruse handcrafts at the Samovodska Charshiya market much like the townsfolk did two centuries ago. Some of Tarnovo has modernized quite nicely. The new side of town boasts Bulgaria’s second-largest university and is a haven for backpackers traveling between Istanbul and Bucharest.

 

5. Poenari Castle

Poenari Castle

 

Vlad the Impaler was a notorious figure in history. The story of Dracula is said to be based on the Romanian ruler. You can visit his castle, which has been remarkably untouched by time, on a short day trip from Bucharest. Before heading up to the castle, head just a few miles south to visit the town of Arefu. The incredibly preserved ancient town is still full of the descendants of those who served Vlad the Impaler and they are proud of it. Vlad chose Poenari Castle as his stronghold in the 15th century. The castle’s isolation fed the brutal ruler’s penchant for paranoia. He eventually isolated himself from his closest friends and even his own brother. They betrayed him by having him arrested for high treason the second he emerged from this castle to ask for their help. He escaped the charges but never returned to his home on the hill.

 

4. Constanta

Constanta

 

Sitting on the Black Sea, Constanta lures tourists from all over Europe during the summer months. Constanta is the oldest attested city in Romania at 2,600 years old. It’s also Romania’s largest port and the third largest port on the Black Sea in Europe. Romania’s oldest city has plenty of historical landmarks, museums, shops, beaches and even a grand casino. Accommodation here is much more affordable than what you’ll find in Mamaia and it is only a 15-minute cab ride away. Be sure to check out the popular gathering spot of Ovid Square, the intricate beauty of the Roman Mosaics and the 26-foot Genoese Lighthouse built by the Black Sea Company in 1860.

3. Peles Castle

Peles Castle

 

Considered one of the most breathtaking castles in Europe, Peles Castle is nestled up against the Bucegi Mountains south of Bucharest. The castle took dozens of stone masons, wood carvers and artists over 40 years to build. Their persistence and commitment to their craft show in this stunning example of German new-Renaissance architecture. Get here early as this wildly popular tourist destination can sell out during the summer months. To see the incredibly lavish interior of the castle, you’ll be forced to take a 40-minute guided tour and the lines can be long. You’ll be smitten by the Honorary Hallway where German landscapes are hand carved into the walls and blown away by the castle’s museum-worthy armory.

2. Brasov

Brasov

 

A massive Holywood-style sign towers between Soviet blocks to make Brasov’s skyline one of a kind. Gothic guard towers still crown the city and you’ll have to enter through medieval gateways. Inside, you’ll find beautiful baroque churches and a cafe-lined main square called Piaţa Sfatului. If you can pry your eyes off the city’s beauty for a moment, take the time to talk with a local. They will spin you tales about the city that include Vlad the Impaler’s mistress, an old noblewoman resurrected from her grave and that time when a bear wandered into the town square. Brasov is a robust ski town with Poiana Braşov nearby and serves as a great homebase for exploring Piatra Craiului National Park just 30 km (19 miles) west.

1. Bran Castle

#1 of Day Trips From Bucharest

 

Bram Stoker brought Dracula to life in the pages of a book in 1897. He loosely based his main character on Vlad the Impaler and amalgamated many of his European castle visits to create Dracula’s home. Bran Castle looks like Bram Stoker’s vision, but connections to Vlad the Impaler himself are thin. That doesn’t stop the people of the town of Bran from embellishing the origin story of this beautiful castle. Perched on a hill high above the town of Bran, the conical towers of this castle make for a great view of the surrounding landscape and town below. The creaky wooden floors are covered in bear skin rugs, the furniture is ornate and the fireplaces made of ceramic. Queen Maria and King Ferdinand actually lived in this homestead. Ignore any scant stories connecting the magnificent building to Bram Stoker or Vlad the Impaler.


Train travel in Romania

Category : Europe , Romania

TRAIN TRAVEL IN ROMANIA: 5 THINGS TO KNOW

All aboard with G Adventures’ own Stephan Popescu as he shares his tips for riding the rails in one of Europe’s most extensive train networks: Romania

One of the great things about travelling across Europe is that there are a million different ways to get around. Buses, trains and flights are available in nearly every major city and with the advent of low-cost carriers and rail passes, it has never been easier to travel around the continent. That being said, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of hopping on board a train to get to your next destination. Riding the rails allows you to see a country, meet new people and have an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

Home to one of Europe’s most extensive train networks, Romania is the perfect example. Its capital, Bucharest, welcomes travellers from all across Europe every single day and the rest of the country is connected by a variety of different rail systems. With so many different options for train travel here, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle, but here are five easy tips to make sure your Romanian rail experience is as convenient as possible.

Know the types of trains

Start your rail journey through Romania in Bucharest. Photo courtesy Nico B.
Start your rail journey through Romania in Bucharest.

With over 11,000km (6,835 mi) of track in Romania, it’s no surprise there are multiple types of trains including the local personal trains, accelerat, rapid, expres, and InterCity. When booking your passage make sure you know which type you’ll be travelling on.

Local trains are the cheapest, but they’re also the slowest (as they make every single local stop) and can often be crowded as well. Accelerat trains also make most stops, but travel faster than local trains and are usually less crowded. Rapid and expres trains only make major stops, travel quickly and even boast dining cars. As a result, they’re often the most popular for travelling long distances. The InterCity train is the most expensive of the five options and while definitely the most comfortable, the rapid and express trains travel just as quickly. With so many options, consider the one that best fits your needs.

Make a reservation

Advance planning can help make sure you have a comfortable ride.
Advance planning can help make sure you have a comfortable ride.

If you’re taking a local train, you only need to show up at the train station within two hours of departure and buy a ticket. Local trains operate as the main form of transit for locals, making it easy to just rock up to the ticket counter. For the other types of trains—international, or with a rail pass—make a reservation; otherwise, you risk not finding a seat and maybe even being refused boarding. And if you’re travelling overnight, make sure to reserve a spot in a sleeping compartment or you’ll be stuck sitting up all night long while trying to fall asleep.

If you have your travel dates arranged ahead of time, it’s a good idea to book your train tickets online in advance (no matter what type of train you’re taking). It guarantees you a spot and reduces your risk of missing your ride. For example, with train stations only selling tickets two hours in advance, lines can often be quite long and you may be forced to buy a first-class ticket just to be sure you get on board. Also, some ticket offices don’t sell same-day tickets for any trains other than local ones, so if you show up without a ticket already booked, you may be left without any other options.

Take local trains

The old city of Brasov, Romania. Photo courtesy Sorin M.
The old city of Brasov, Romania.

It’s definitely not the type of train to take when travelling long distances, but if you’re travelling between smaller towns and villages,  a local train is the way to go. Because of the ability to buy local  tickets mere hours before departure, along with the fact that there are multiple departures for local trains from every station every single day, travelling by local train allows for day-trips to explore different parts of Romania from your “home base” and to act on last-minute or spur-of-the-moment travel decisions. On top of that, taking a local train is a great way to immerse yourself and experience Romania.

Know the extra fees

The charming streets of Sighisoara. Photo courtesy Charles R.
The charming streets of Sighisoara.

As with travel in general, it’s always important to know what you’re paying for. The easiest way to spend more than you should when travelling by rail in Romania is to book a first-class ticket because you feel you have to. Simply put, you don’t. Romanian rail companies have invested heavily to make sure all trains are nice and comfortable. And in reality, first-class cars for rapid, expres and InterCity trains are very similar to second-class cars. If you’re looking to save, there is no need to book a first-class ticket.

More importantly, Romanian train stations are home to lots of touts looking to get as much as they can out of unsuspecting marks. If you arrive at a station here and are bombarded by men or women pretending to work for the rail companies and asking for “extra fees,” disregard them. If you’ve bought your tickets online or from a ticket office then there are no extra fees to pay. A last resort to ward off touts is to yell “politai” (“police”).

Discover the amenities

Take in the lush forest landscapes of Romania from your window seat.
Take in the lush forest landscapes of Romania from your window seat.

Different types of trains have different amenities on board. InterCity, rapid and expres trains often have dining carts while accelerat and local trains do not. Most trains have accessible bathrooms, but some local trains do not (or they may have bathrooms that lack toilet paper). Higher-class trains usually have cars with observation decks, but depending on the route some may not. So depending on what you want or need, make sure to check what will be available to you onboard. I also recommend picking up some snacks before your journey. Even if your train has a dining car, picking up some local treats from vendors before you get on the train is the tastiest way to go.

Travelling by train in Romania can be memorable and exciting because you’ll end up seeing everything from the breathtaking views of the Carpathians and Transylvania, to the beauty and serenity of the sea along the coast, and the stunning architecture in villages and towns. You’ll get to interact with locals from all over the country and you’ll be able to do so from the comfort of one of many different types of trains. Romania is an amazing country to visit and there’s no better way to do it then by train.


TOP 5 experiences in Transylvania

Ever wonder what Transylvania has to offer? We’ve got 5 reasons on the Looptail. Come and have a look!

Transylvania.  The heart of Romania.  The home of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Yes, Transylvania is most famous for its Dracula connection, but venture into the heart of Romania and you’ll find that Transylvania is in fact one of Europe’s hidden gems.  From the majestic peaks of the Carpathians all the way down to towns and villages filled with historical treasures, Transylvania is truly a place like no other.

Interested in exploring one of the most naturally beautiful places in Europe?  Start here, with my top five must-have experiences when visiting Transylvania.

Peles Castle is far and away one of the most beautiful castles in Europe.

1. Peles Castle

Considered by many to be a distant relative of Germany’s world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, Peles Castle is far and away one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. Originally commissioned as a summer residence during the reign of King Carol I of Romania, Peles is something out of a postcard, with breathtaking views everywhere in sight.

Peles Castle (and its surrounding complex) is regularly open to visitors who want to marvel in its Neo-Renaissance architecture, gothic sculptures and pristine courtyards. A quick 20-minute walk from the nearby town of Sinaia (through a vibrant forest no less) will bring you to the Peles’ steps. From there you’ll be able to scour the grounds, take a guided tour of the Castle and relax in the stunning scenery that Peles is famous for.

The Carpathians are a must see for any visit to Transylvania. Photo by R. Cornwall.

2. Trek the Carpathians

While Transylvania may be a hidden gem to many, it is renowned among hikers. Adventure seekers travel from all across the world to trek through the Carpathians in Transylvania. There are dozens of different options for hikers, from Postavaru peak to Moldoveanu Peak and everything in between, but for first-time trekkers, there are a couple of spots that you have to hit when visiting the Carpathians.

Start with The Heroes’ Cross at the top of Caraiman peak. Built as a memorial to the First World War, The Heroes’ Cross is a singular sight, attracting all trekkers who hike through the Southern Carpathians. It is truly a one-of-a-kind sight that you won’t get anywhere else in the world, so when you’re trekking through Transylvania make sure to hike your way up to this wonder.

The Heroes’ Cross at the top of Caraiman peak.

Another must-visit when trekking is Piatra Craiului National Park, also known as King’s Rock. Home to hundreds of different species of plants and animals, the park is brimming with wildlife wherever you turn. In fact, the park is home to the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project, with thousands of bears, wolves and lynx roaming around (but not close enough to put you in danger!).

Bran Castle. Photo by M. Bartholomey.

3. Brasov/Bran Castle

Of course, a visit to Transylvania wouldn’t be complete without some reference to Dracula. While Vlad Ţepeş – aka Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind Dracula – only spent a little while here, Bran Castle has now become the go-to destination for travellers who want to enter the world of Dracula. A beautiful mix of architecture, culture and art, “Dracula’s Castle” is another castle in Romania that makes you feel as if you’re in a dream.

The nearby town of Brasov must also be on your itinerary, especially if you’re already visiting Bran Castle. It is home to some of the best architecture in Romania, with its vibrant colours lighting up the city. It is the quintessential European town, except it happens to have some stunning views of the Carpathians and even a Hollywood-style sign to boot. Make sure to check it out before or after your visit to Bran Castle.

The quaint streets of Sibiu.

4. Sibiu and Sighisoara

Less recognizable then some of the bigger cities in Transylvania but just as stunning, both Sibiu and Sighisoara are places you won’t regret visiting. Chosen as a European Capital of Culture for 2007, Sibiu is a backpacker’s dream. Still relatively unknown, Sibiu is quickly gaining recognition as one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. It is also at the other end of the Transfăgărășan highway that links it to Brasov, and offers some of the most stunning views you could ever imagine.

The alleged birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, Sighisoara is a medieval-style town that shows you all the best that Romanian village life has to offer. It is a true depiction of what life is like in Transylvania, especially when it comes to experiencing the culinary delights of Romania. It is a recommended stop for any traveller, and along with Brasov, Bran and Sibiu, travellers taking G Adventures’ Halloween in Transylvania can engage in a fully immersive “Transylvanian” experience.

Transylvanian charm in the streets of Cluj.

5. Cluj-Napoca

Unlike the previous experiences, which are situated in the heart of Transylvania, Cluj lies further to the border than the heart of Transylvania. One of the bigger cities in Romania, Cluj is home to Romania’s largest student population. This has helped turn Cluj into a hip city, but don’t’ worry – it still holds much of its Transylvanian charm. Wander around through Cluj and you’ll stumble upon endless cafes, museums, churches or festivals. Coupled with stunning architecture and street life, walking through Cluj is an adventure on its own.


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