Secret spots from Romanian locals
You may only know Romania for the spooky region of Transylvania and its legend of Dracula. But Romanian locals and the more intrepid travellers will tell you that Romania is so much more. It has Europe's largest building, some of the last remaining virgin forests in Europe, and is the final destination of the Danube River before it flows into the Black Sea.
That's only scratching the surface! You'll need a local to truly discover Romania, so we have 3 for you to meet from our community. They'll each show you their "secret spots", from well-known cities to truly scenic nature.
With a Global Pass in hand, you can easily get to Romania from Budapest, Vienna or the Balkans. For most, it won't be hard to find something new, or "hidden" in Romania. But follow these local recommendations and you can surely go off the radar and hide yourself, as you enjoy Romania's historic cities, rural villages and friendly locals.
Where to go in Transylvania
by Dénes Ivett
These 3 cities are well-known by Romanians. But if it's your first visit, they'll give you a good introduction to the Transylvania region.
Cluj-Napoca is Romania's second-biggest city, and the most famous university centre. It has a student vibe with no boring days, making it the place to go if you're looking for a fun time. Cluj is known for hosting the most important festivals in Romania, like Untold, Electric Castle and so on. The city centre is filled with authentic coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, shops and clubs. But everyone knows that the best part in Cluj, beside its nightlife, are the people. They are fun, friendly and know the best places in the town. Visiting Cluj will offer you for sure an unforgettable time.
Sighișoara is significantly smaller and more reserved than loud Cluj. It's walled old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with many little city squares, gothic churches and small cobblestone streets. You'll feel as if you've travelled back to the Middle Ages! Turn into one of the many traditional Romanian restaurants for a taste of something new (to you).
Surrounded by high mountains in the heart of the country, Brașov is a sport paradise by summer and winter, and offers a wide variety of entertainment. The city dates back to the Middle Ages, and has one of the biggest gothic churches in Eastern Europe.
Brașov has plenty to keep your energy levels high, whether you enjoy a coffee sitting at one of its many terraces, or head to the mountains for climbing or paragliding. If you visit during the winter period, you can find one of Romania's best ski resorts just 15 minutes from the city centre!
From Brașov you can easily reach other major attractions like Dracula's Castle in Bran or the Royal Peleș Castle in Sinaia.
by Mihaela Stan
From famous castles, to a lesser-known folk museum, visit Mihaela's recommendations to uncover the history of Transylvania, or as an introduction to other parts of Romania.
Vama Veche, Constanta county
Vama Veche (the old border cross) is a small fisherman town which turned into an attraction for hippies and young people from Romania, and elsewhere. It’s located in the most southen point of the Romanian Black Sea shore.
If you love music, partying and the beach, then this is the perfect Romanian spot for you! The atmosphere is like an open-air festival, with around 6-7 clubs, and a lot of more bars, most of them located on the beach, open day and night with music for all tastes. The tradition is to stay up till dawn and watch the sunrise - maybe even watch from the sea if the water is good!
Getting there by rail: The nearest station is Mangalia (3h 15m from Bucharest). You can take a short bus from there to Vama Veche.
Deva Fortress & Corvin Castle
You can visit both these historic attractions on a day trip in the county of Hunedoara. You'll need to take the train to Deva. From the station it's a 45 minute walk to the top of Deva Fortress. Enjoy the view of the town from the 13th century fortification, which is built on top of a volcanic hill!
Next take the bus to Corvin Castle, in the city of Hunedoara. The imposing 15th century castle will make you feel as if you've walked right into a Harry Potter movie!
Deva Fortress, Deva
Corvin Castle, Hunedoara
Peleș Castle, Sinaia
Peleș Castle is (in my opinion) the most wonderful castle in Romania and definitely worth a visit. Its Neo-Renaissance architecture really stands out from its hillside position above the town of Sinaia. You can walk to it in just 45 minutes from the train station (although note that it's uphill all the way!).
Apart from its castle, Sinaia is also a nice mounain resort, where you can enjoy some hikes or visit the historic Sinaia Casino, which is no longer a functioning casino, but possible to visit by guided tour.
ASTRA Museum, Sibiu
The ASTRA museum of Traditional Folk Civilisation, is an open-air museum full of old traditional Romanian buildings, including houses, households, mills and churches.
I also recommend Sighișoara. It has a nice "Middle Ages" vibe and is very welcoming to tourists. The fortress is situated in the middle of the city and is like a real-life museum. You can enjoy a coffee or meal there, or climb the clock tower (pictured) for a view of the whole city.
by Dan F. Dobre
For a totally off the radar trip, Dan's 5 truly secret spots are for you. Not all of them are accessible by rail - but hidden treasure isn't meant to be easy to find, right! Each spot will make it worth your while, representing different parts of Romania's spectacular landscape.
Sulina & the Danube Delta
You'll find the small city of Sulina at Romania's most eastern point, where the River Danube flows into the Black Sea. You may have seen the Danube flowing through Vienna or Budapest, but the river delta here is a more scenic vibe.
Arrive there by boat from Tulcea (the nearest train station), and you'll find yourself in one of Europe's most remote cities. Wild birds, like pelicans and cormorants, fly between constantly shifting sand islands, best experienced at sunrise on a boat ride into Musura Bay. Or relax at the wide wild beach, where it's common to meet the locals' free-roaming cows and goats.
Besides nature, Sulina has a seafaring history. Learn about it at the Old Lighthouse and the Palace of the European Commission, then find pirate graves in the cemetery!
Don't miss the chance to share dinner with the locals - they are always happy to cook their traditional fish soup for visitors.
Praid salt mine
Take a bus from Sighișoara for 2h 30m and you'll find a salt mine hidden under the city of Praid. 120m down, you can explore caverns containing what looks like an entire village - a playground, coffee bar, cinema, chapel and more.
If you visit in summer, you'll find a salt swimming pool waiting for you when you return to the surface!
Found in the heart of the Natural Park Gradistea Muncelului, the Bolii Cave is 456m long, with a huge portal (entrance) and a river running through it. If you're lucky you can experience a concert there. But even on an average day, you can cross wooden bridges, look out for bats, or even ride a horse through it!
Get there by scenic train on the route Petrosani - Valea Jiului to Hateg County, and use station Pestera Bolii.
Rudăria water mills
The village of Rudăria, now known as Eftimie Murgu, hides a secret - a chain of 22 water mills along a river gorge. More than an open-air museum, these water mills are still used by locals to grind their cereals. Sure, the process is slow and completely unfit for industrial scale production, but you won't find such full-flavored maize flour in the supermarkets! Explore on foot or bike.
The mills are quite remote indeed! You can get there by car from stations Baile Herculane or Iablanita.
Known as the sea of the Bucegi Mountains, you can find Bolboci Lake in the Carpathian Mountains in the centre of Romania. Take a hike along spectacular mountain paths, look out for bears and enjoy the view. You can even stay the night, sleeping at Cabana Bolboci on the lake shore!
Get there by car within 1 hour from Sinaia or 2 hours from Brașov.
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