Romania houses Transylvania a name which conjures up images of vampires, creepy old castles, dark and forbidding woods, howling wolves and medieval Saxon towns peopled by folk with pitchforks and torches and the occasional stake. And to be honest it is all that, minus the vampires. And the pitchfork carrying Saxons have also mostly abandoned ship.
Romania is a fascinating country, where the inhabitants still call themselves Romanus (citizens of Rome), and speak a Latin based language despite the fact that the Romans left around 1700 years ago. How’s that for dedication! As an aside, the Romans themselves called the region Dacia, which is now the name of a car. It’s a nation where fairy tales are made, and the occasional nightmare. If Hans and Gretchen exist it is likely they are living somewhere in the vast forests of Romania, near one or another cute Saxon township that looks like it came right out of a film. Together with Count Dracula. Obviously.
So hire yourself a Dacia and ride around this bizarre and beautiful country where time seems to have stood still. According to Top Gear it houses the most spectacular road of Europe. I would say it houses the most spectacular villages, scenery, castles and people as well. To be safe bring a bag of garlic, and a stake with you.
Romania is truly a country you have to visit. It should be high up on any would-be traveller’s bucket-list!
Highlights from Romania
- The old Saxon city of Braşov, takes you back to another time. Nearby is Bran Castle (aka Castelul Bran, Törzburg, and Törcsvár), famous hideaway of fictional Count Dracula
- Stroll through Bucharest (aka București) and look at the ridiculously big Parliament Palace, built by erstwhile dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, visit the Patriarchal Cathedral and Mitropoliei Palace and any one of the many other churches and monasteries dotted around the city, and be cultural in the Museum of the Romanian Peasant
- Go to stunning Sibiu (aka Hermannstadt, or Nagyszeben), or even more stunning Sighişoara (aka Schäßburg, or Segesvár), birthplace of Vlad the Impaler and as medieval as you can get it
- Visit Sinaia in the Carpathian mountains, home of Peleș Castle (aka Castelul Peleș), summer residence of the former Kings of Romania
- Ski in one of the many ski resorts in the Transylvanian Alps
- Hike Retezat National Park (aka Parcul Naţional Retezat), or do some rock climbing in Piatra Craiului National Park (aka Parcul Național Piatra Craiului)
- Admire the beautiful Painted Monasteries, of which Voroneț is the most famous example
- Spot birds, and other wildlife, go fishing, lie on a secluded beach and just get away from everything in the Danube Delta (aka Delta Dunării), a UNESCO site
- Go back in time at Greek founded Histria (aka Istros)
- Hike into a fairy-tale in Maramureş, where horse-drawn carriages still rule the day, and where there are no less than eight, yes eight! World Heritage listed sites, you will understand why when you see the churches
Hints and Tips for Romania
- There is so much to see in this country that making a top ten list almost amounts to sacrilege! Go and find out for yourself.
- No visa’s needed in this EU country.
- A Romanian phrasebook will be handy on the country side, French is also widely spoken by the older educated generation, English by the younger. You might be able to make yourself understood in Spanish, Italian or any other Romance language, but don’t count on it.