Traveling in Romania (and Why You Should Go Right Now)

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Most people don't necessarily equate “Romania” with “cool travel destination.”

This Eastern European country between Hungary and Bulgaria isn't usually a place people have high up on their must-visit lists. Romania is where communism and vampires live — not somewhere you travel to for fun. Right?

Well, that couldn't be farther from the truth.

While Romania is still developing after the fall of Ceausescu and communism (and most will say communism hasn't fully left), it's a much easier and interesting place to travel than you probably realize.

(And, for the record, I didn't see a single vampire while I was there.)

Romania

Romania, in short, blew me away. I had been looking forward to traveling there for years, but the country far exceeded my expectations. And here's why:

Why You Should Travel to Romania Right Now

It's affordable

Cheaper even than the Czech Republic and Hungary, Romania should be attractive just because of its price tag. Everything from accommodation to transport to food is affordable. Even the “touristy” places are far from expensive.

For example, in Brasov — one of Romania's top tourist destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists — entry to the major attraction (Bran Castle) was only $7 USD for an adult ticket with photo license. The most expensive meal I had in the country (at a really posh restaurant) was $12 — the cheapest was less than $3. You can only imagine how cheap beer was.

Brasov, Romania

It's beautiful

The countryside, the medieval cities, the people… Romania has plenty of surprises in store.

Cities like Sighisoara and Brasov are ridiculously attractive and colorful, and the rolling countryside remains largely untouched in most parts of the country. And the locals? Lovely people who will undoubtedly be happy to see you and happier still to talk to you about their country.

Rasnov Fortress, Romania

Sighisoara, Romania

It's relatively easy to travel

One of the biggest surprises for me was how easy it was to get around Romania. The country is fairly well-connected by trains, buses, and planes to the rest of Europe, and you can even use your Eurail pass here.

And, out of all the public trains and buses I rode while in Romania, only one was old and slightly dirty. Most were newer and clean — some even had air conditioning! And the best part? Every single train and bus I rode actually ran on time! (Not necessarily always the case, of course, but no delays in a week is pretty good.)

Romania

Most people speak English

Adding to the ease of travel is the fact that almost everyone in the country speaks at least a little English — especially those in the younger generations. This makes it easy to not only travel in Romania, but also to get to know the locals a bit.

Viscri, Romania

It's not too crowded yet

Because Romania (and, really, most of Eastern Europe) is quite a ways off the usual tourist trail, even the “touristy” places feel relaxed and welcoming — even in high season. The only place I really found to be crowded was Bran Castle — but there are plenty of better things/places to see anyway.

Viscri, Romania

Old traditions survive

Since Romania isn't teeming with tourists, older traditions — like making homemade schnapps and weaving and woodcarving — are still going strong.

You can still find quirky places like Merry Cemetery that nobody knows about. Villages still feel like villages. And the cows still come home at night.

Viscri, Romania

Merry Cemetery, Romania

It's ready for tourism

Because of the above reasons and more, Romania is very much ready for tourism.

Bucharest has a brand new subway system and buses equipped with GPS-enabled screens. Villages like Viscri are converting old heritage buildings into home stays. And nearly everywhere offers visitors free wifi access.

Sighisoara, Romania

But this won't all last, of course. As the country continues to develop and Romania's economy improves (likely to happen once it officially joins the Schengen zone soon), many of these reasons may become irrelevant.

So, if you've ever considered traveling in Romania, go now!

Find accommodation in Romania:



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Do you think you'll ever travel to Romania?

Why you should visit Romania

 

*Note: Intrepid Travel graciously provided me with a complimentary Eastern Europe Explorer tour. But all opinions, as always, are entirely my own.

If you're interested in doing the same tour I did, you can check it out here.

Explore Eastern Europe tour

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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206 Comments on “Traveling in Romania (and Why You Should Go Right Now)

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  1. Wonderful! I have wanted to visit Romania since I learned that my great-grandparents were from there. One day…

      You should definitely go! Do you know where your family was from? It would be cool to visit their village!

      Why only “one day….” ???
      Come now and enjoy Romania as long as it still isn’t crowded.
      I’m certain you want regret it.

    Awesome post! anna go there so bad. I will one day for sure!

      I highly recommend it!

        Thank you very much for your kind and beautiful words about my country. You make me fill very proud, anyway I am proud to live in this country. If you ever come again, please let me know.

    I’ve thought about it, but your posts have moved it way up higher on the list! Thanks for all the good info.

    What a great post! I actually went to Romania in the summer of 1989, just months before the people ousted (and murdered) Ceausescu. It was a beautiful country then, but the control of the communist govt was everywhere. I look forward to checking it out again with new eyes…and maybe this time, Bram’s Castle won’t be under renovations. We couldn’t see hardly any of it.

      I’d be really interested to hear how you think present-day Romania compares to the Romania you saw in 1989! I think you should definitely go back for another visit.

      Susan, not the people ‘murdered’ Ceausescu’.
      It’s not Bram’s Castle but Bran Castle.
      And last but not least, you really should come back to Romania. It has changed a lot, although there are still plenty of untouched locations in the countryside. If you love nature, you will like it.
      Come and see today’s Romania, you will always be welcome.

    Visited Romania in 2007 and again in 2008 (LOVED it both times). Visited for one month in 2007 and three months in 2008 (now I am considering a retirement there in the northern city of Baia Mare). The people of Romania are the friendliest and. I’ve made great friends there.
    Thanks for your travel insight, it brought back fond memories :)) (for sure) … all of the places you’ve mentioned I’ve been to, remember to visit Peles Castle YOU’LL LOVE IT!

      I’ve been to Baia Mare! The Maramures region was actually my favorite part of Romania, I think. It would make a lovely retirement spot!

      As a romanian teenager from Baia Mare,it’s incredibly pleasing to hear that foreigners would like to live here.
      Since 2007,the city has developed enormously and it has gotten more tourist-friendly.Seeing that people actually want to visit our cities makes me want to stay home for college.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Make sure and also visit the monasteries in the north eastern part of the country (you definitely will NOT be disappointed).

    I should have gone last year when I had a friend from there to visit! It’s been on my list for a while, but I’m happy to see that you also recommend it. Next time I’m in Europe it will have to be on my list!

      I think it’s definitely one of Europe’s best-kept secrets at the moment (politics aside).

    Did you say “cheap”? I love cheap.

    Those grave markers are unreal!

      Haha, yes, very cheap! Even cheaper than Budapest!

      And you should check out my post on that cemetery – it was SO COOL.

      The grave markers ARE REAL, Candice! Its the only merry cemetery in the world.
      Enjoy! 😉

      first reaction a friend had when returned to England: she paid the same money for a sandwich and a tea as for a meal for two in Transylvania!

    Romania is already officially in the EU (joined in 2007). You are probably thinking about the Schengen area.

      Hmm, maybe. They’re not on the Euro yet though, I know, so they’re not completely part of the EU yet!

        Actually, Romania is a full member of the European Union since 2007. You don’t need to be on the Euro to be part of the European Union, look at united kingdom, denmark or sweden.

        I personally hope we never go on the Euro, we are not ready and we will never be ready for that, nobody wants another “Greek crisis” inside UE.

          Ah okay. Well then I have no idea what people were referring to when they were talking about something happening in Romania later this year connected to them being in the EU!

            That would be the acceptance to the Schengen area (hot topic this year). Being accepted means there will be no more border controls when traveling to/from Romania from/to other EU states.

            Ah I gotcha. Thanks for clearing it up!

    I’m heading back to Europe soon and have been thinking about spending some time in the East. I’ve never been there and have been avoiding it because I figured it would be a little on the expensive side, but apparently that’s not the case, at least not in Romania. I think you may have given me the final push needed. Time to do some research…

      Definitely look into it, Daniel. Eastern Europe, for the most part, is VERY affordable – the opposite of expensive!!

    You are very persuasive here.. sold me! Looks gorgeous and as you said.. cheap is a big plus. I’m curious what you got for that $12 meal?

      Haha, yay, sold another person on Romania! I think their tourist board should start paying me a referral fee. 😉

      I can’t remember exactly what I had for $12. I think it was a big pitcher of homemade lemonade, a traditional stuffed cabbage entree, and bread.

        Love Romania was married there in march 2010 seen Brasov, Bucharest, and Costanta love winter weather and was just as happy as can be. Been back twice since and love the currency exchange and the fact i got married march 1 st which is a RO holiday

    couldnt agree more!!! I loved Romania. I had never even heard of it before I went there. its also a real eye opener to the world of communism since it wasn’t so long ago that they were a communist country.

      I traveled through quite a few former communist nations on this trip, and I agree that it’s an eye-opening experience. Glad to hear you loved Romania, too!

    I would think the vampires thing would be a selling point now! 😉

    I’m going to be in England for a wedding next summer, and am trying to plan some sort of European trip around it. I was thinking Austria/Germany, but all these Eastern European posts definitely have me intrigued (and I like the sounds of the price tag!)

      Hahaha, true about the vampires….

      If you’re considering a few European countries next summer, I would definitely nominate Hungary and Romania! Both amazing, both cheap, and both relatively easy to travel around.

      Europe has a very large mixture of culture in a relatively small area. won’t find that anywhere in the world

    I will definitely visit Romania and soon too! I really would love to experience that “old Europe” feel before it becomes too touristy. All your pictures have sold me on this exceptionally beautiful country but I really want to see a vampire 🙂

      You’ll have to try harder than I did to find a vampire, then! 😉

      And yes, definitely go see this part of Europe now, before the rest of the world discovers how cool it is!

    Ahhh, Romania looks great! I’m living in Europe at the moment, so I should really try to head over there at some point – you make it sound nice 🙂 I love that shot with the orange building!

      If you’re already in Europe, you really don’t have any excuse not to go!

    Romania looks cool! They would do well to choose you as the official Tourism Brand Ambassador! You have done a fabulous job of showcasing the country to us 🙂

    I’d live to go but nervous to go alone. Any good recommendations on shorter tours or tour companies as the 18 day intrepid is too long and can’t find any others? Absolutely love to go!! Cheers!

      Hmm, I’m afraid I don’t really have any other tours to recommend, since I’ve only been to Romania with Intrepid. I realize that an 18-day tour might be too long, though! My advice would be to do some searching online, or maybe even try talking to a local travel agent?

    Romania certainly has been gaining notice on the blogosphere recently! As always, great pics.

      As it should do! It’s a destination I think more people should consider.

    No vampires? Bummer 😉 Otherwise Romania looks amazing! I’m one of the few who actually do have this place on my ‘list’ – great to see how much you enjoyed it, Amanda. Love the pics!

      Haha, no, no vampires that I saw! You’ll have to look for some yourself when you go. 😉

      Well… we do have politicians for blood and life-sucking activities 🙂

    There really aren’t too many places I don’t want to travel to, especially in Europe, so this has been on my list for awhile simply because it’s THERE. But your post helps explain all the great reasons to visit, and I’d really love to go see it all for myself!

      You definitely should go, Ali! Especially since you’re living in Europe now, it’s not too far!

    I wish I could get up and go there RIGHT NOW, but I have another 7.5 months left on my contract. It’ll have to wait until next summer. Romania has always been high up on my list of places I really, really want to visit and your post here has solidified that. The countryside looks stunning, the towns look so, so beautiful and colourful, and I like how you say it isn’t swarming with tourists just yet.

    Also, kudos on Bucharest for getting GPS enabled buses?! Fancy schmancy!

      Definitely go when you can!! I’m not sure Romania will ever be as popular as, say, Germany or Spain, but I think people WILL start traveling more there soon – especially once the secret is out about how awesome it is!

    I have been to Romania very long ago, in 1982. May be it is time to repeat visit.