9 Unmissable Things to Do in Romania From a Local Expert

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9 Unmissable Things to Do in Romania From a Local Expert
You’ve heard of Bucharest, but what else is there to do in Romania? Straight from a Romanian, here is my local guide to the best things to do in Romania.
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Romania remains among Europe’s lesser-visited countries, making it the perfect destination for travelers who want to get off the beaten track. I just so happen to be Romanian, which means there is no better guide than me when planning your Romanian adventure.

Boasting impressive natural landscapes, historical cities, legendary castles, and lively nightlife, Romania is a delightful country to explore. While the country’s capital city, Bucharest, is a mandatory stop, Romania’s most spectacular sights are outside the big cities.

Since most of Romania is unknown to many travelers, it’s the perfect place to explore with your friends! I compiled this list of the nine must-visit attractions and activities to help you start planning your group vacation.

There’s so much to do in Romania that I can’t list them all, but this list is the perfect starting point for first-time visitors. Expect classic attractions and a few hidden gems that only locals know about! As a Romanian, even I’m still discovering spectacular new places in my home country.

What is Romania Best Known For?

Film sets, charming villages, and Dracula. Although less popular than other European destinations, Romania is famous for many things worth planning an exclusive trip for.

Most people know Romania as Dracula’s birthplace, which is true in a sense. The historical figure that inspired the fictional character, Vlad the Impaler, was indeed a Romanian ruler.

Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s castle, is one of the top landmarks drawing travelers to Romania every year. But the country is also known for many other gorgeous castles, such as Peleș Castle and Cantacuzino Castle. Cantacuzino Castle was the filming location for the Netflix series Wednesday, and Peleș Castle was the filming location for the Netflix film series A Christmas Prince.

Romania also boasts lush forests and beautiful lakes. Discover hidden gems like the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania and the salt mine at Salina Turda. Plus, you can find charming medieval towns and villages all over the country.

However, the best thing about Romania is how easy it is to travel on a budget. Most attractions and accommodations are affordable, and the food is tasty and inexpensive.

Can’t wait to start planning? Here are my top 9 picks for what to do in Romania.

What to Do in Romania For First-Time Visitors

1. Visit the Charming Brașov

If you were to visit just one city in Romania, it should be Brașov. This charming city is a favorite among Romanians and foreigners and for a good reason! The historical center of Brașovis among the prettiest in Romania and perfect for history lovers.

Just over two hours away by train or car, you can easily visit Brașov on a day trip from Bucharest. But it might take more than a day trip to explore all of Brașov.

Start your tour with panoramic views of Brașov from the Brașov citadel. Once an important point of defense, the citadel is now a popular tourist destination. Although tours of the interior are rare, you can still take a stroll around the outside to view the architecture and enjoy the surrounding sights.

A tour of Brașov is incomplete without a tour of the old town. Wander around Council Square to view the iconic buildings and taste local delicacies like Sarmale and mămăligă.

Be sure to check out the Black Church while in town. Previously destroyed in the 1689 fire, the beautifully rebuilt Gothic church is home to the biggest mechanical organ in Romania and some of the most beautiful sculptures and murals from the 17th century.

After exploring the old town of Brașov, catch the cable car to Mount Tampa for a sweeping view of the city from above. And if you have extra time, visit the lovely Poiana Brașov, one of the most popular skiing resorts in the country, beautiful both in winter and summer. 

2. Discover the Lavish Peleș Castle

Peleș Castle is one of the most popular attractions in Romania due to its unique architecture and proximity to Bucharest. Many travelers visiting the capital go on a day trip to Peleș Castle, often paired with a visit to Brașov and Dracula’s Castle.

The Neo-Renaissance castle was built between the late 19th and early 20th centuries for King Carol I of Romania. Tucked away in the southeastern Carpathian Mountains, just outside Sinaia, this castle was the royal family’s summer residence.

The castle has been open to visitors for many years but has recently opened a third floor for visitors to explore. Although, unless you’re a big fan of staterooms, the third floor has little to offer. Spend your time exploring the lower floors holding beautiful wood carvings and an extensive armory instead. Customize your experience based on interest and time restraint. Join a guided tour for a stress-free experience or hop on a train from Bucharest or Brașov and visit the castle independently. 

Tickets to the castle are sold by floor, so you can pick and choose which areas you want to explore. Consult the online reviews when deciding which package is best for you, and be sure to consider your budget when purchasing tickets since this is one of the few pricier attractions. 

3. Relax at the Largest Wellness Center in Europe

A trip to Bucharest must include half a day of relaxation at the Therme. Therme Bucuresti is a wellness center with thermal pools and tropical gardens and is the largest of its kind in Europe.

The complex includes a variety of indoor and outdoor heated pools, several mineral pools, a fun area with water slides, and many wellness options. Join a yoga class or indulge in one of the many spa treatments on offer.

The wellness center is divided into three areas, each with its own entry price. I recommend choosing Galaxy and The Palm, which includes access to the water slides and the iconic pool surrounded by palm trees.

4. Party in Old Town Bucharest

To experience nightlife in Romania, there is no better place than Bucharest. The capital has by far the most vibrant nightlife scene, with countless bars and nightclubs in different city areas.

Most visitors tend to stick to the Old Town, which is undoubtedly one of the main areas for nightlife in Bucharest. Visit popular spots like Shoteria for a few rounds of shots, Nomad Skybar for the trendy rooftop, and Interbelic for classic cocktails.

You can also explore several other areas if you’re looking for fewer crowds and a more local feel. Head to the University and Piata Romana for cool bars and hip cafés like Fix Me a Drink, Green Hours, and J’ai Bistrot.

Head to Northern Bucharest for bigger nightclubs like Fratelli Studios, KAYO Club, and OXYA Club. 

5. Visit Dracula’s Castle

Your trip to Romania would not be complete without a visit to the world-renowned Dracula’s Castle. The real name is Bran Castle, but it became known as Dracula’s Castle after rumors that Bram Stoker took inspiration from this place when writing the book.

Bran Castle has little to do with Dracula or the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler, who inspired the fictional character. Nevertheless, rumors spread, and the castle is still known as Dracula’s Castle. But this doesn’t make it any less impressive.

During the late 14th century, Bran Castle served as a defense against the Ottoman Empire. It then became a fortress, summer residence, and now a museum.

Located less than a one-hour drive from the lovely city of Brașov, there are many ways to visit this medieval stronghold. Join an organized tour from Bucharest or hop on a bus in Brașov. 

You can visit the castle interior, check out the torture museum, and catch the recently installed elevator that takes you underground in a tunnel lined with interactive panels. It’s also one of the best places to go for Halloween since they offer special spooky tours.

6. Spend a Day at the Salt Mines

One of the most unique activities you can try in Romania is visiting one of the many salt mines. You can find several of these across the country, from the largest one in Slănic Prahova to the most modern and well-kept Salina Turda.

Now you’re probably wondering, what's there to do in a salt mine? Besides the history, science, and beautiful landscapes on display, some of these mines offer some unexpected attractions.

If you can only visit one salt mine, it should be Salina Turda. Gain a new perspective on the Ferris wheel or enjoy mini-golfing, bowling,  or even take a boat ride in a lake. Yes, you really can ride a Ferris wheel inside the salt mine.

The entrance ticket to this impressive salt mine is roughly 10€. Each attraction inside the mine has extra fees, but prices are very affordable. Plus, you can breathe in pure salty air, which is considered beneficial for your lungs.

7. Drive Along the Transfăgărășan

Romania may not have the best roads for getting somewhere fast, but it does have some scenic views. The Transfăgărășan is among the most impressive roads in the world, so driving through it is a bucket list item for many.

The Făgărăș Mountains is a popular serpentine road for tourists. It became famous when BBC’s Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson referred to it as the best driving road in the world. Drivers will certainly find this an exhilarating drive, with its many twists and turns.

The road leads to Bâlea Lake, a glacial lake at over 2000 meters of altitude. You can reach the lake by cable car from Bâlea Waterfall. The ride offers breathtaking views of the winding road. However, if you want to drive the Transfăgărășan, note that it’s only possible in summer. It’s one of the top things to do in Romania when visiting between June and October.

8. Tour the Palace of Parliament

The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest is the third-largest administrative building in the world and the heaviest. It is so heavy that it sinks a few millimeters every year. And to think that it isn't even complete!

The massive building stands tall at the end of Bulevardul Unirii, a tree-lined street connecting the Parliament to Bucharest Old Town. The construction, desired by the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, began in 1984 and was completed in 1997. However, many rooms are still incomplete.

You can visit parts of the Palace of Parliament with a guided tour. Either reserve a slot by phone following the directions on the parliament website or book a guided tour

9. Stroll Around the Medieval Sighișoara Citadel

One last thing to do in Romania is to visit the delightful Sighișoara, a small city in the historic region of Transylvania known for its well-preserved medieval center. The historic center  has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.

The city is approximately four hours from Bucharest and two hours from Brașov. Given its proximity to Sibiu, another lovely Transylvanian city, many people visit them together, creating a history-filled day trip.

The small, fortified medieval town is a testimony of Transylvanian Saxon culture that continues to live through its architecture. The best thing to do in Sighișoara is to wander around the charming medieval center, admiring the beautiful buildings and narrow cobblestone streets. 

Fun fact: Sighișoara is actually the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the Voivode of Wallachia who later inspired the fictional character of Dracula!

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Discover the Wonders of Romania With Your Friends

Romania is a true gem to visit in Europe, with lively cities, breathtaking nature, medieval towns, and stunning castles. It offers a variety of activities for every type of traveler, from history and culture enthusiasts to partygoers and digital nomads

Share the joy of traveling by planning a trip with friends. Use a social trip planner like Pilot to make traveling as a group simple and fun. Use AI tools to create the perfect Romania itinerary to share and customize with your travel buddies!

Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

Roxana Fanaru Blogs
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Roxana Fanaru
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