Village Scenes: Life in Rural Romania

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“It's like stepping back in time.”

How often have you heard this phrase? Probably plenty. But how often has is actually been true?

Well, in the rural villages of Romania, this phrase rings incredibly true — when you visit, you really DO feel like you've done a time warp and been transported back at least a handful of decades, if not more.


During my time in Romania, I had the pleasure of experiencing it all — cities, tourist hot spots, and, yes, even tiny villages. Having gotten a taste of the contrast between city and country life here, I think I'm better able to appreciate the way life moves a bit slower in rural Romania.

I'll be writing much more about traveling through post-communist Romania in the future, but for now I want to share some of my favorite village scenes with you. Because, in Romania, I really think it's the villages that will steal your heart and your imagination.

Vadu Izei, Romania
The view from my guesthouse room in Vadu Izei.

Romania is full of small villages like the ones I'll describe to you here, where little wrinkled old ladies sit out on their front benches to gossip in the evenings, where shepherds still tend sheep and cows, and where you're more likely to be awoken by a rooster than morning traffic.

Yes, electricity, satellite dishes and cell phones abound here, but you are able to easily look past them to the essence of life in the Romanian countryside.


Life is still blissfully simple in these regions.

You can still find fresh homemade bread, cheese, and butter on the table each night.


Farmers still use horses and carts to do farm work and transport everything from hay to firewood.

Viscri, Romania

Kids still play OUTSIDE instead of on smartphones or in front of the TV.

Viscri, Romania
The blacksmith's daughters

Yes, these regions are poorer — people live with very little here, and have to be resourceful to survive. I was humbled to see some of the small homes and watch some of the back-breaking work (like building hay stacks by hand) that form the reality of life in rural parts of Romania. But, in seeing all of this, I was also able to appreciate the honest simplicity of it all.

Here, then, are some more of my favorite village scenes from my time in Romania:

Green fields and haystacks in Maramures:


A tiled house in a Maramures village:


A “traditional room” in that same Romanian house:


Morning in Vadu Izei, a small village in the Maramures region:

Vadu Izei, Romania

A woodcarver's shop:


A horse and cart in Vadu Izei:

Vadu Izei, Romania

Rolling Romanian countryside:

Viscri, Romania

Two little girls in traditional dresses at a village festival near Viscri:


The main (and basically only) street in Viscri, a village in Transylvania:

Viscri, Romania

An old woman on the street in Viscri:

Viscri, Romania

Old windows:

Viscri, Romania

And the cows coming home at night to be milked in Viscri:

Viscri, Romania

These are scenes that may very well disappear in the not-so-distant future. As mentioned above, paved roads, electric wires, satellite dishes, and cell phones are swiftly starting to appear in these villages in abundance. New, modern houses are being built next to the remains of more traditional homes. It probably won't be long until every village cafe and guesthouse offers free wireless Internet.

This is no surprise, of course. Romania is swiftly developing now that it's shedding its communist past, and these advancements are just par for the course.

It's silly to expect these places NOT to develop. I would never want to see a place be denied modern comforts just for the sake of tourists who want to see a “traditional Romanian village.” Rural Romania will develop, and probably will do so quickly as the older generations are replaced by younger ones.

So the bottom line is, if you want to see Romania like this, you'd better go now.

Viscri, Romania
It won't last forever.

Which of these photos most makes you want to visit rural Romania?



*Note: I am on a complimentary “Explore Eastern Europe” tour with Intrepid Travel, but all opinions are completely my own.

"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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91 Comments on “Village Scenes: Life in Rural Romania

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  1. May I also suggest that you visit the Dobrogea region, you’ll love it! Thanks again.

    This is such a great post! I love rural Romania and I actually plan to move there before it all changes. Beautiful simplicity is what it’s all about. You’re a great writer and you captured it well, thank you for this post!

      Thanks for the kind words, Sim! Rural Romania definitely is special!

    I liked this post so much
    I´m going there with friends next october!! Any tips,specific villages,places or regions etc.?
    Will the weather be a problem? I apprecciate any help,thanks

      I didn’t visit all that many, but I would sugest the Maramures region which is very rural and pretty. I also enjoyed visiting Viscri and its fortified church.

    Wonderful photos, and wonderful write-up. But please try to imagine those same villages in winter. Minus 20c or colder, snow 6′ to 9′ or more (some areas have the houses completely covered! Then remember that many do not have running water – this is obtained through a well, or communal spring; and the average bathroom is a bowl in the house, with toilet being a pit dug 15yds or more away from the house. What do you DO in winter?

      Very good point, Steve! I”m sure winter in these villages would be very harsh indeed.

      if they survived over 2000 years, they can adapt easy, its not like we can’t survive if we don’t have a touch screen button to flush the toilet, Water from well is cleaner and winter is best time.
      In Romania we don’t leave in tree or in tent.
      Or no one force you to stay in a village where they dont have toilet, can stay in 5 stars hotels or you can go in Germany, France or any other place where they have clean road on top of the mountain, it’s like staying home and watch photos on pc(Same thing)
      Romania have 90% of wild animals population in Europe, why? because we dont flush the toilet from iPhone and we don’t eat only fast food.

      And i am sorry for my bad english.

    As a tourist in Romania, the north of he country if definitely a place to go that you will never forget, but if you go to Maramures which is North-West, you should not miss Bucovina (north-east), same beautiful people and places as in Maramurest, but in the same time totally different in looks, traditions, food and way of living. Don’t miss Bucovina, you will not egret it!

    Here is a photo album from Bucovina that I found online:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Dan! Maramures is gorgeous.

    This post just helped me decide my next trip! The photos are amazing and Romania sounds like an interesting place to visit.

      Fantastic to hear! Romania is indeed an interesting place – if you go, I hope you enjoy it!

    I am so happy that you loved our country. Next time when you visit Romania please come and stay with my family for couple of days. We just bought a beautiful house at the countryside. I can send you pictures from the region where we live.

      Thank you so much for the kind invite! I definitely hope to make it back to Romania someday.

    Well said! I find myself saying “its like stepping back in time” all too often as well when I travel, but in Maramures, there are no other words that capture the sense I felt when traveling in the region last summer. Visiting Maramures reminded me of my grandmother’s stories of growing up in rural Italy.
    For better or for worse, things will probably change, For now, I think those who are looking for a taste of the “old” Europe, should look no further than Romania.

      Agreed – there’s really no better way to describe it! And I also agree about telling people to head to Romania if they want a taste of “old” Europe. It’s now one of the top places I recommend to people who want something different than Western Europe!

    I’m very glad to see your impressions about Romania and especially about the country side. Indeed there are not so many countries in Europe that still have unspoiled and not so “organized look” . Don’t get me wrong, I like Austria as an example, but for some people there is to much “order”. Dobrogea with Danube Delta, monasteries from Bucovina and Neamt and of course Maramures and so many other places, needs to be discovered and not only by you as tourist but also from us as locals. We have to discover the beauties of our own country, and I feel that this is true also for you for your own country :). Next time you travel to Romania I will be glad to assist you.

      Very wise words, Alex! It definitely is important to be able to appreciate the great things our own countries have to offer. It’s been so great to get feedback on my Romania posts from Romanians – it’s wonderful to see people so passionate about their country!

    I spent a week in Romania a few years ago and was shocked to find out how much I loved it! We camped out in Botiza, Maramures, intending to spend a night and staying a few more, completely crossing the Black Sea off of our list. Beautiful shots that really speak to what Maramures is like.

      Isn’t Maramures stunning? I LOVED the time we spent there, and will definitely be recommending it to anyone going to that part of the world! Glad you hear you had a good experience there, too.

    I keep writing this, I had no idea it was so beautiful there. And so interesting. I wouldn’t want a society to change or stay the same for tourists’ sake, but rather I hope Romanians go the path that fits them best. Looking forward to reading about the cows.

      I think there are a lot of misconceptions about this part of the world, and I’m glad I’m getting a chance to address some of them!

      (And the cow post should be coming soon!)

    loving the villages Romania..& life…….beauty of Nature…….

      It’s a very easy place to love, especially if you can appreciate the simple things in life.

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