In September (2017), my girlfriend and I went to Romania for 10 days, travelling to 4 different cities and towns, trying to get a feel for as much of the country as we could. Despite some people warning us that trains wouldn’t be comfortable, we took the train to each city or town (they were all absolutely fine!), and used the local trains or buses for day trips. The trains were pretty cheap, and so were Airbnbs.
For anyone planning to see Romania, I think our route was pretty good, and didn’t take too long, yet we still saw lots of different places!
Here’s a brief overview of what we did:
- Brasov, including a trip to Bran Castle
- Sibiu, including a trip to the Ocna Sibiliu salt lakes
We flew into Bucharest and took the train directly to Brasov. This did take longer than expected: we missed the train we intended to get, but the journey wasn’t bad (around 2 1/2 to 3 hours).
While in Brasov, we took a day trip to Bran Castle, the only castle in Transylvania that fits Bram Stoker’s description in Dracula, and so famous for these connotations. The castle was really interesting to see, and the local area around it had some market stalls that were fun to visit.
Bran Castle was a bit difficult to get to and from: we did struggle a little finding the bus, and getting on a bus back to Brasov we realised there was only one an hour, and so we had to wait a bit. The buses run directly to Brasov however, so once you are on a bus nothing is complicated!
The free walking tour in Brasov was also very good, and while on this we saw the Black Church, the Citadel Walls, Rope Street (supposedly one of the narrowest streets in Europe!), another beautiful church and Ecatarina’s Gate (part of the old defences of Brasov).
We also visited the White Tower, a number of Bastions, and the Sinagoga Neologa which was stunning.
While we saw a lot of the things to see in Brasov, we didn’t have time to do the cablecar which goes up Tampa mountain, which we would have liked to.
Sibiu was lovely, and had so many ice cream places!!
While there we saw a number of towers and bastions, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral which has beautiful paintings inside. We also saw Sibiu Synagogue where, despite it no longer being an active place of worship, we were told the story of the synagogue in great detail and it’s beautiful inside.
Sibiu is also full of museums, the Bridge of Lies is essential to cross and to learn about, and it’s parks are lovely to wander.
Sibiu Coloured Houses!
We also did a day trip to the salt lakes (Ocna Sibiliu), which were super cool and fun. We took the train there from Sibiu train station, along with many other locals. There were lakes so salty you just float (!) and black mud you could smear all over yourself, as well as public-use sunbeds, drinks stalls and showers, so it was a really nice experience!
Sighisoara was really interesting to visit, as it’s much smaller than the other places we went to. The coloured houses and various towers are really pretty, and getting around is pretty simple as it’s quite small! Going up through the middle of the Clock tower and Council tower was interesting, as both had amazing views and the Council Tower had an art installation inside
The Scara Acoperita (covered stairway) up to the Church on the Hill is cool to go up, and the graveyard behind the Church on the Hill was perfect for a peaceful walk. We saw a couple of other churches (the Holy Trinity Church is very pretty), and visited quite a few towers, as well as making use of local tourist shops.
While there we also discovered Kaufland (a huge supermarket) which was exciting as these don’t exist in England, so we stocked up on intriguing snacks and the like.
3 days in Sighisoara gave us more than enough time to do everything we wanted to, and so it was a nice rest period. We probably should have done 2 days here and one more in Brasov instead, but hadn’t realised this until we were there!
Bucharest was our last stop, and differed immensely to Sighisoara as it’s the capital and the big roads were often 4 or 5 lanes wide!
Here we saw lots of churches, monasteries and synagogues, all of which were really interesting and beautiful.
These included: Templul Coral (this synagogue is beautiful outside!), the Great Synagogue, Antim Monastery, Kretzulescu Church (really interesting & also quite small and surrounded by the city), and Stravopolos Monastery
Cotroceni Palace was a little confusing to visit as there was only a museum open and not the palace which we hadn’t realised at first- but the museum was interesting still, and full of history.
Revolution Square and the Carol I statue gave us more insight into Romania’s history, both modern and earlier. The many parks and Botanical Gardens were also lovely to walk through, espeically as the weather was pretty warm.
Overall visiting Romania was a wonderful experience, and far more enjoyable than I had for some reason expected. Romania had seemed perhaps a strange choice for us to visit on holiday, and not a conventional destination, however I loved it and would love to go back and explore more.
Happy travelling! – Charlotte x