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travel guides

Any pros or cons about travel guides Bulgaria/Romania- have looked at the new and improved Rough guide and Lonely Planet-has anyone used them-any preferences on why one better than the other?Other choices?

Posted by
6515 posts

Also check out Bradt Travel guides, at least for different regions in Romania. Don't forget to look at the official country tourism sites online, they are very helpful and have sample itineraries already sketched out. Even if a few years old, (paper) Bradt guides are quite useful. These two are not expensive countries so, even if the cost info is outdated, it shouldn't matter too much.

Posted by
36 posts

THANKS for all the tips-have Hungary on schedule after Bulgaria/Romania.My father's birth place so have been doing a wee bit of Hungarian studying.Thinking about getting a cellphone to download maps etc. Would appreciate any other bits of info that come to mind.

Posted by
699 posts

I don't like either of those travel guidebooks, nor do I like the Bradt. I have them all, but I find my travel philosophy to be ingrained with that of Mr. Rick. I do have the RS "Eastern Europe" guidebook (2017 edition) - with a whoppin' 50 pages somewhat equally divided between Romania and Bulgaria.....two countries I adore.
It is puzzling that there is no RS Bulgaria guidebook in as much as there is a RS Bulgaria Tour....and a highly rated one at that. I haven't taken it, but I do know Stefan, who was, until recently, the only RS Bulgaria tourguide.
I have a friend who is a tourguide in Bucharest (she is mentioned on page 1030 of the RS "Eastern Europe" guidebook 2017 edition). She is outstanding, licensed to offer tours throughout Romania and she has many interesting ideas about customizing a tour, should you wish to go that route.
Although these two countries are neighbors, separated by the width of the Danube, they are very dissimilar in just about every way that two countries can be different. They do share one commonality....both are fabulous travel destinations.

Posted by
17896 posts

Are you planning to rent a car, or will you be using public transportation? If the latter, note that it is quite slow in Bulgaria and Romania. I figured I covered about 30 mph.

Posted by
17896 posts

What luftmensch said.

I also took a lot of buses from city to city, which were acceptable but certainly not luxurious. I ran into an odd policy on some of the Romanian buses (again--this was 2015, so it may have changed). You were required to telephone the bus company to make a reservation; this could not be done by simply popping over to the local bus station. You had to call and give your name, which was then checked off the list when you boarded. This was not necessary on all the buses I used, but it came up more than once. I didn't have a working phone and I was in any case incapable of communicating in Romanian. (Never assume transit-company employees will speak English.) I was fortunate to encounter kind locals who made the necessary calls for me. No one else on the forum has mentioned encountering this customer-unfriendly requirement, so it may be quite uncommon or no longer in force.

Posted by
36 posts

I am very happy to use local trains and buses. Have so far on Bulgaria and Romania only a rough sketch of places -always make a long list of possible sites then refine and shorten later. In Hungary the plan is for a month around Pecs and Mesofalva for genealogy-have family tree worked out for generations so want to visit some of churches and check out the area these people lived in.
Your thoughts and comments, tips are helpful to as many of your experiences make for "a heads up" bank of information. Also interesting to see what must see sites others have enjoyed.

Posted by
17896 posts

Romania
- Timisoara: Probably the most westernized city, but it has a pretty historic area and was the starting point for the revolution. There's a bare-bones small museum about that historical moment. Geographically convenient if arriving from Hungary.
- Cluj-Napoca, Brasov, Sibiu: Medium-sized towns with lovely historic areas.
- Sighisoara: Small town, very touristy, but with a very attractive medieval area.
- Maramures: Very interesting area in the NW known for its gorgeous wooden churches and folk traditions. This is the area where the Merry Cemetery (see Rick's video) is located. You can't see this area by public transportation, but the Retro Hostel in Cluj-Napoca runs very inexpensive 2-day tours on demand that are open to all comers. The schedule is unpredictable. Tours to many other areas are available as well, but I only took the one to Maramures.
- Bucovina: Interesting area in the NE known for its painted monasteries. Again, I don't think it's a viable target by public transportation. Aside from a tour organized by the Retro Hostel, one can pick up a local tour in Suceava, though it would be prudent to arrange that before arrival, because I doubt that tours run every day. I didn't think Suceava was particularly attractive, but there is an historic fortress.
- Bucharest: Ceausescu did a number on most of the historic buildings in Bucharest, which frustrated me--but I need to go back to take advantage of the local museums. This is one country, though, where the capital city is not the place to spend most of your time.

Bulgaria
- Plovdiv: Interesting historic city, a former capital. A good place to pick up handmade souvenirs.
- Veliko Tarnovo: Another old city. Another good place to pick up handmade souvenirs.
- Sozopol and Nesebar: Small historic towns on the Black Sea coast. Lots of ticky-tacky development in that area and the level of tourism you commonly find in beach towns with some historic sites.
- Sofia: To me not as attractive as Plovdiv an Veliko Tarnovo.

I don't pretend to have hit all the key spots in Romania and Bulgaria. I didn't even make it to Rila Monastery.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks for the info. Currently the plan is for roughly one month in Bulgaria (10days) and Romania (20days),then Hungary one month but all can be adjusted according to what research/plans bring to light..
Have a good week.

Posted by
17896 posts

The OP said his father was born in Hungary. Given that, would you still shift time from Hungary to Bulgaria? I certainly agree that more time could be spent in any of the countries. Across two different trips I spent 26 nights in Hungary, 16 nights in Romania and 11 nights in Bulgaria, and I had to pick and choose. I did feel as if I was shorter on time in Romania (which is big) than in the other two countries, comparatively speaking.

Posted by
17896 posts

I don't drive in Europe, so a fair number of important sights don't make it onto my try-to-get-there list due to their relative inaccessibility. I guess I'd feel pretty good about what I could accomplish if I could plan for a full month in Bulgaria. Maybe that needs to go on the list for 2022 or 2023. And I haven't been anywhere in Turkey except to Istanbul; those two could be the core of a nice, long trip. But I've been trying since 2017 to get to Paris and it hasn't happened yet.

Posted by
36 posts

Well there is something to add to your trip bucket list now.Travel info always makes for good bedtime reading on cold winter nights!

Posted by
36 posts

Lots of info to think about- thanks to everyone Have a good week.!
PS How come there is no Romania forum?