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Romania

I can’t believe that Rick Steves doesn’t have an entire section on Romania! My best friend and I will be traveling there in early January we’re hoping for any suggestions of what to do and see! We are California girls and I think we’ll have a drastic weather change while visiting there but we are totally excited about it! All suggestions are welcome!

Posted by
830 posts

I suggest purchasing other guide books, such as Lonely Planet, Michelin Green Guide, and Rough Guides.

I haven't been to Romania yet, but my daughter went there on her honeymoon in mid-October a few years ago. I might re-think going to Romania in January, unless you love cold weather and snow. Not sure if there are ski resorts in Romania. Our daughter told us that mid-October was starting to get cold, and places were very quiet, and they thought maybe too quiet. It's also possible a lot of restaurants might be closed in January in tourist places.

I hope someone on this forum who knows more about winter travel in Romania than I do will respond. You definitely should buy some guidebooks, which should give information on winter travel in Romania.

Good luck!

Posted by
21088 posts

Romania is a very interesting country with some lovely architecture in cities such as Timisoara (where the revolution began), Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Brasov and Sighisoara. Ceausecscu did a number on Bucharest, so you have to work harder to find historic architecture in the capital.

Public transportation in Romania tends to be rather slow. There are no express trains as you'll find in western Europe; you'll be using slow trains and buses. I figured I covered only about 30 mph.

The Retro Hostel in Cluj-Napoca offers some tours to parts of the country that are hard or even impossible to visit by public transportation. You don't have to be staying in the hostel to take the tours. I think the tours run on demand, and I have no idea how much demand there would be in January. At best, you'd have to be flexible.

I took and loved the 2-day tour to Maramures organized by the hostel. As of 2015 it cost the equivalent of about $100 plus $25 to cover a night in a B&B and three really good meals. Pretty unbelievable.

Posted by
2320 posts

I wholeheartedly agree, there needs to be a Romania page. I’m working on my itinerary for 11 days there in May—mainly the Transylvania region, flying to Cluj-Napoca, bus or train to Sibiu, then Brasov with day trips including Sighisoara, finally 2 nights in Bucharest and flying from there to Budapest. I’m using Trip Advisor and bought an excellent guidebook by Rough Guides. My focus will be cultural museums, folk art, architecture, nature and food. I’d love to see some other areas, especially the Danube Delta, Timisoara and the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, which is in the northern Maramures region, but it’s a big country so if I like it as much as I think I will, a return will be in order.

Posted by
5625 posts

Rick’s Website only added Iceland on this forum relatively recently - some things take a while, and maybe Romania won’t be too far to come. When we went to Romania after Bulgaria, about 15 years ago. Rick Steves had just come out with an “Eastern Europe” guidebook, but Lonely Planet was also our big guidebook for that trip.

One Bulgarian we met joked that when we got to Romania, we’d be taking a surprisingly lot of money out of an ATM, compared to prices in Bulgarian lev. Indeed, when we got off the train in Bucharesti, we needed something like 160,000 Romanian lei just to buy breakfast for 3 of us. Looks like there was a revaluation of their currency since then, and a leu is now equal to about 24 US cents - about 4 to the dollar, which should be easier to calculate costs!

So our visit was just for a full morning, as we were catching a cheap flight from Romania to Venice, Italy ... easiest way to get from Sofia, Bulgaria to Venice was through Bucharesti. Haven’t returned . . . yet. Back then, feral dogs were running loose through the city, and sidewalks were in really bad condition. Hope that’s improved, but you’ll be getting more information between now and then. Have a great trip!

Posted by
21088 posts

I don't remember any feral dogs in 2015, but there were some challenging sidewalks. I was told that in at least some cases the sidewalks had been ripped up to repair water/drainage pipes underneath. Allegedly there was EU money available at the moment, and they were rushing to get work done.

Posted by
2134 posts

Romania grabbed my attention recently due to a family background there and I ended up putting it on my itinerary for September 2020. We’re spending 9 days there. I ended up finding a private driver to make transiting around easier since we never like to rent a car when we travel. He’s taking us to the village my great grandmother comes from! Keep in mind that we haven’t toured with him yet, but he’s been great with our planning, his website has tons of info and he has great and very detailed/specific reviews on Tripadvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294458-d10121227-Reviews-I_Travel_in_Romania-Bucharest.html

Perhaps the owner, Mihai, can help you with a bit of your planning.

Posted by
51 posts

Romania is one of my favourite countries in Europe! I used the Brandt guide and I really liked it. I only went to the Transylvania area and saw Brasov, Sibiu and Sighisoara. Also took day trips from those places as well. Very easy to get around and had no issues. Loved that there weren't crazy amounts of tourists (I was in Prague and Budapest previous) and I found the three places I visited just as charming.

Posted by
1783 posts

hey hey kthlnkitty
check out:
crazytourist.com her travel section has a section titled "hello from Bucharest, Romania"
tripsavvy.com search romania
theculturetrip.com search romania
have a great trip enjoy
aloha

Posted by
2320 posts

Hey Princess--missed you at last week's travel group meeting!--thank you for the recommendation of crazytourist.com, I just pulled up her page and realized it's a delightful woman I followed a few years ago that used to call herself Crazy Aunt Purl and her blog was mainly about knitting, drinking, her cats and getting over a terrible divorce (and she wrote a couple of books about all that), BUT, then she started travelling. Her post about a spur of the moment solo trip to Barcelona gave me the courage to start my own solo travel odyssey :)

Posted by
808 posts

I took a trip back in 2011 to romania and bulgaria in March-April and I remember it was cold in the mornings and evenings. Back then the accomendations were lacking, maybe you're finding better places today. Transportaiton was also an issue, if you have a car or hired a car may be easier, but trains were uncomfortable and very old sometimes between cities, buses are little better. They have a large roma population, I didn't expereince any issue but still be careful. If you can spend extra to get the comfort would be good, it's not an expensive country, good people, you'll like it.

Posted by
1 posts

The train situation has improved only on certain routes (new modern trains). Definetly the best option is to rent a car so that you can visit more in a smaller timeframe.
I would recommend the Prahova Valley if you like mountains and castles (Peles Castle, Cantacuzino Castle, Bran/Dracula Castle are pretty close).

  • 1 night in Bucharest upon arrival (don't need a lot of time for Bucharest) - maybe sleep in an authentic old baron villa like Vila Barrio
  • Rent a car and head north towards Brasov
  • 1st stop Sinaia , Peles Castle
  • 2nd stop Busteni, Cantacuzino Castle maybe 1 night sleep and visit the rest of Busteni (waterfall, monuments)
  • 3rd stop Bran, Bran Castle
  • 4th stop Brasov, a beautiful old city, a lot to visit (City Center, Black Monastery). I would recommend sleeping in an old mandion and enjoy the evenings with some romanian traditional food Vila Prato
  • From here, there are a lot of options to choose from (Maramures, a little far away with beautiful monasteries) or Transylvania with its beautiful old cities like Sighisoara and other castles like Corvin Castle