Romania may not be a hot-spot travel destination, but that’s what makes it wonderful – it’s underrated and has all sorts of hidden gems for travelers to discover.
Most people are perhaps familiar with Romania through one of its most famous places, Castle Bran in Transylvania, home to Count Dracula of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Travelers can visit the historic Castle Bran that dates back to the 13th century and offers gorgeous views of forest from towers. Though it was made world-famous by Stoker, there’s little connection between the castle and Vlad Tepes (“Vlad the Impaler”), a Romanian prince and military leader who was the historical figure of which Dracula was lightly based on.
While Castle Bran might intrigue visitors, it’s perhaps best to begin a Romanian adventure in Bucharest. This medieval city is the capital of the country and home to Belle Epoque buildings and tree-lined boulevards. There’s so much to do here from touring the Palace of the Parliament, strolling through the Cișmigiu Gardens, enjoying nightlife in the Old City, visiting historic churches like the The Stavropoleos Church, or learning about Romanian peasant life at the Romanian Peasant Museum. As the capital, Bucharest is the perfect place to try authentic Romanian food like cabbage rolls, smoked bacon, fried dough with sweet cheese, and potato goulash with smoked meat. It’s a very hearty type of food that will fill you up between your explorations of the city. Be sure to enjoy it with wine as the Romanians are the ninth largest wine supplier in the world!
Travelers shouldn’t feel limited to stay in Bucharest though. Begin by heading to an isolated island monastery in Lake Snagov, which is supposedly the location of the final resting place of the vicious Vlad Tepes. From there, aim to visit the Bucovina Monasteries, world-renowned for their lovely paintings that date to the 15th centuries and display an artistic quality not seen in many churches.
Outdoor enthusiasts might visit the Danube Delta, Europe’s second largest delta, Northern Dobrogea, Mount Tampa, or the Fagaras Mountains for wildlife and hiking. Don’t forget about the Carpathian Mountains — they have a stunning array of diverse plant and animal life thanks to it being one of the least disturbed forests in Europe.
While the Romanian outdoors can keep lots of people busy, so can the medieval or peasant towns that litter the country side. Sibiu is visually appealing with its medieval architecture, while the city center of Sighisoara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, and made of many colorful buildings.
Whether it’s the food, the beautiful landscape, or historic monuments, travelers heading to Romania are sure to return to the Corridor with stories and photographs tthat their family and friends have never seen the likes of.