When you think of popular holiday destinations, which places do you tend to picture first?
For a lot of people, sunny Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, and Portugal are very popular amongst holidaymakers, yet recently I’ve noticed a stark increase in the number of people exploring slightly more outlandish and unusual countries to take their holidays in.
Romania is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries on the face of the Earth and up until recently, many considered it to be a hidden European gem that was largely undiscovered by the general public. And I am not only saying that because I was born there. Haha.
Not too long ago, as social media became more popular, and as it became easier to share images, videos, and articles, people started to learn more about Romania online and decided that, in actual fact, it looked like a very nice place to visit.
Now, Romania is a hugely popular tourist destination, with people flocking there in their droves every single year.
To help show you what I mean and prove just how popular it is, here are se7en reasons why you should travel to stunning Romania.
It’s very affordable
Whereas I’d never suggested that you book a holiday based purely on the fact that it is cheap, an added bonus of choosing to visit Romania on holiday is the fact that it is incredibly affordable.
Romania is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, yet it also happens to be one of the cheapest to visit. Mind you, we’ve caught up a lot lately with prices in the EU, if not in salaries.
Even so, flights and accommodation prices are very reasonable, as are prices for food and drink. Especially for a drink. Two pounds a pint anyone? Accommodation could set you back anything from £30 to £100 per night.
If you’re on a budget and don’t want to break the bank on your next holiday, Romania is perfect.
It’s the home of Count Dracula
In Romania, Transylvania is one of the most-visited parts of the country.
If Transylvania sounds familiar to you, it’s because it is the home of Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire, Count Dracula.
The inspiration for Dracula is alleged to have come from Vlad Tepes, AKA Vlad the Impaler, who was also known as Vlad Dracul.
Vlad owned a castle in Transylvania known as Bran Castle, which is the only castle in the region that fits the description of Stoker’s Dracula character in his book.
Because of this, Bran Castle is known as Dracula’s castle, and as a result, goths, dark tourists, and keen fans of Bram Stoker visit the castle every single year.
If you visit, don’t worry about bringing any Holy Water, although you might want to consider having garlic bread for lunch, you know, just to be on the safe side…
As Romanians, I have to admit, we don’t care that much about Dracula, since, you know, we know the actual history of Vlad the Impaler and that Dracula is fictional.
Nevertheless, Transylvania is beautiful beyond measure and many foreigners love it. Prince Charles himself has a summer retreat in the village of Viscri.
Really, I could go on and on about why you should visit Transylvania. Instead, I will leave you with this.
Okay, I’m slightly ashamed to admit that at times, I can be a bit of a glutton, and I have been guilty of eating more than my fair share at the dinner table.
However, no holiday is complete without delicious food, and in actual fact, I’ve had holidays ruined as a result of bad food.
If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll be pleased to hear that the food and restaurants in Romania are absolutely divine. Just consult Google Map’s rating before deciding on a place.
If there’s one thing I can tell you about us, us Romanians love our food and take it very seriously.
A lot of Romanian food is based upon calorific comfort food so expect plenty of ciorba (a sour soup similar to the Russian borscht), stews, and casseroles. And pretty much any sort of meat on a grill.
Popular dishes include Sarmale, which is a delicious poached cabbage roll stuffed with minced meat, spices, rice, and veggies. If you have the option, take my advice and go for sarmale rolled in pickled cabbage. They are ten times better.
Mici – which literally means “smalls” – grilled ground meat rolls made from a mixture of meats and spices, are a staple at any Romanian barbecue or fancy restaurant. You will simply fall in love with them. I have yet to meet a foreigner that doesn’t like mici.
Papanasi is the ultimate dessert made from a semolina and cottage cheese mixture that is deep fried and then drizzled with jam and cottage cheese. Also delicious.
Whereas I’m definitely far from being against city living, sometimes it’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and escape to the countryside.
If you love clean, crisp air, green pastures, woodland, forests, rolling hills, mountains, farmland, and other natural beauties provided by Mother Nature herself, then you’ll adore the Romanian countryside.
If you’re into your hiking, there is literally no better way to explore the Carpathian Mountains than by hiking through the myriad of the different hiking trails located here.
And since we’re on the subject, do yourself a favour and visit Maramures as well. Maramures is as beautiful as is remote, so don’t let that put you off. Remoteness makes it almost unspoiled, even more than Transylvania is.
In Maramures, you will also find Mocanita, one of the surviving lines that still uses steam engines to transport tourists.
It isn’t just the surroundings that lovers of Mother Nature adore about Romania. It turns out that Romania is also home to some of the most diverse and gorgeous wildlife in all of Eastern Europe, and day I say, the entire world.
If you love animals, the wildlife here is really something special.
You’ll find wild Bison, rare species of bird, wolves, lynx, deer, brown bears, chamois badgers, and a whole lot more besides. The Danube Delta alone is home to countless breeds of birds and fish, and yes, you can fish there to your heart’s content. Just don’t forget to bring the rods.
Enjoy a road trip on the ‘best road in the world’
If you’re a fan of the TV show Top Gear, or rather, if you used to be a fan, you may be familiar with the Transfagarasan road. Why? Because according to Jezza, Hammond, and May, this is in actual fact, the best road in the entire world.
Spanning over 150km up to a whopping 2042 meters in altitude, this gorgeous road snakes its way up and down, and round and round mountainous landscapes dominated by imposing mountains, rocks, boulders, lush green foliage, and gorgeous panoramic vistas.
Sadly, because the road is so treacherous in the winter, it is closed, so if you do plan a road trip, be sure to visit during the summer months. And when you do, please make sure it’s not during the weekend. The place can get quite crowded on a sunny Saturday or Sunday.
Moldova’s painted monasteries
If you find yourself all relaxed and recharged, and ready to be around people again for a while, a visit to the painted monasteries of Moldova is incredibly enjoyable.
Many consider Northeast Romania to be the most picturesque part of the entire country, and they may very well be right.
Here you’ll find a series of 8 monasteries whose centrepieces are gorgeously decorated churches which can be traced all the way back to the 13th century.
Some of these monasteries have even been preserved in order to serve as burial grounds for noble families.
The striking thing about these monasteries is the fact that the exteriors have been painted to depict biblical scenes from both the new and the old testaments and it has to be said that they look truly stunning up close. Many of these have survived for hundreds of years.