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9 Interesting Things to Do in Romania (That Americans Would Love)

9 Interesting Things to Do in Romania (That Americans Would Love)

Romania has a lot to offer to anyone curious about it. The best part? It’s still one of the cheaper tourist destinations in Eastern Europe. And with few international tourists visiting, you won’t feel like just another tourist in a crowded place. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that on my holidays, so let me tell you about 9 things to do in Romania that Americans would love, and maybe you didn’t know about!


Probably one of the most underrated tourist destinations in the world, Romania has much more to offer than the Dracula stories most people associate it with. From the wild Carpathian Mountains reaching altitudes as high as 8,300 feet to the UNESCO Danube Delta biosphere – you’ll find it here.

1. Bran Castle (AKA Dracula’s Castle)

Just 30 km from the popular city of Brasov, Bran Castle (also known as Dracula Castle), is a historic monument with a long heritage of possessions, conflicts and restorations. This impressive fortress from the 1400s was used to defend a crossing in the Carpathians during medieval times.

Later, though abandoned and still frightening, it became a country-side residence of Queen Maria of Romania. 

But what makes this castle special is the association with Vlad Tepes, the ruler of Wallachia who had a reputation for cruelty and merciless punishment. He inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character on which the famous 1992 movie was based on which catapulted Bran Castle into international fame.


So, as you can imagine, lots of people come here searching for vampire stories. But if you want the truth – and not the tacky touristy stuff, then look for a non-Dracula tour to this popular tourist attraction in Romania.

Bran Castle from Brasov is a 35 minute drive by car, or you can take a bus from the local station. Departures occur every half hour and tickets cost about $1.50.

2. Sighișoara, the Birthplace of Vlad the Impaler

The city of Sighisoara literally in the middle of Romania is home to the Sighisoara Citadel,  a UNESCO heritage site, thanks to its well preserved medieval architecture. It’s also one of the last remaining inhabited medieval cities in Europe, meaning people still live in the old citadel!

And, by the way, you’ll find the house where Vlad the Impaler was born here!

Going for a walk in Sighisoara Citadel and getting lost in its alleys is a wonderful way to re-live medieval times. The citadel was built in the 14th century as a stop for major trading routes and played an important defensive role in the area.

Make sure to visit the Clock Tower with its still functioning mechanism. Though built by Christian Saxons, it uses pagan gods to tell time!

Average prices for hotels in Sighisoara are around $55 per night. Almost all have the best facilities, such as car hire, free parking, room service and bar/lounge. Hotels in the old citadel are medieval houses turned boutique, luxury hotels!

3. Peleș Castle

Another famous castle in Romania is the 19th-century Peles Castle, one of the most impressive castles in Europe and the first one to have electricity. Why? Because it was built as a Summer residence for King Carol of Romania.

If the exterior looks impressive – wait till you see it on the inside! Worthy of a royal family residence with the best art, decorations and state of the art technology of those times, Peles Castle is a must see on your trip to Romania with lots of history and stories to share.


Tickets cost around $10 for an introductory tour of the ground floor but it can go up to $32 if you’d like to see the first and second floors too. From Bucharest, Romania’s capital, you need about one hour and 32 minutes by car or train to get to the beautiful mountain resort of Sinaia. 

4. Hiking in the Carpathian Mountains and Wildlife Watching

The Romanian Carpathians are known for their wilderness, many caves, deep valleys, karst landscapes and towering mountains reaching altitudes as high as 8,380 feet on Moldoveanu Peak in Fagaras Mountains.


Forty-five percent of Romania’s land is occupied by the Carpathians, so you can probably guess there are hundreds of hiking trails for all difficulty levels, and many natural attractions, waiting to be discovered. 

Romania is also known as Europe’s last wilderness reserve. It’s home for the largest brown bear population in Europe. On wildlife trips you may even see, or catch marks of, wolves, lynxes, boars, bisons, chamois and wild deer. That’s why brown bear watching is one of the most popular things to do in Brasov and a unique experience to have in Romania!


But as Romania’s mountains are truly wild and in some areas you won’t find any people or fellow hikers, it’s best to look for a licensed mountain guide that will take the hassle out of planning and logistics.

Most hiking tours start from Bucharest, Brasov or Cluj-Napoca for $1,000 you can get and 7-day tour with accommodation, guidance, meals, and transport. 

5. Transfagarasan Highway (the Best Driving Road in the World?)

Road enthusiasts will be thrilled going on a road trip on Transfăgărășan Highways. This mouthful road crosses the mighty Fagaras Mountains and became one of Romania’s most popular tourist attractions after it got named by Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear the best driving road in the world.

To get to Transfăgărășan by car from Bucharest you can take the A1 motorway to Pitesti, stop at Curtea de Arges to see the ruins of the Princely Court and follow the road until you get to the village of Capatenii Pamantului.

Keep driving until you reach the highest point at Balea Lake where you’ll stop and take in the breathtaking scenery. 

The entire road is about 75 miles but on the most spectacular section in the mountains you won’t be driving more than 25 mph as the road’s turns are very tight so it will take about 3 hours to cross the entire route.

The road is open for driving only from 1 July – 30 October. Outside of this period you can still see it coming from Sibiu or Brasov and getting a cable car over it to Balea Lake.


6. The UNESCO Wooden Churches of Maramures

The region of Maramures in Northern Romania is known as the most authentic and representative for the country’s culture and folk traditions. Locals have preserved their traditional way of life and on Sunday wear their best folk costumes to go to church. 


The UNESCO Wooden Churches that is. Unique in Europe for their architecture and 400-year-old history, eight churches showcasing various designs perfectly represent the cultural heritage of Romania. These are located in villages in the region:

  • Church of Saint Nicholas (Budesti)
  • Church of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (Bârsana)
  • Church of the Holy Paraskeva (Desești)
  • Ieud Hill Church, which is dedicated to the Nativity of Mary (Ieud)
  • Churches of the Holy Archangels (found in Rogoz Village, Șurdești and Plopiș)
  • Church of the Holy Paracsheve (Poienile Izei)

The best way to visit them and discover the region of Maramures is to hire a guide with a car that can show you around. Since there’s no public transport in this rural region or tourist info boards, without local connections it will be hard to discover the area’s tourist sights.

Luckily, prices are inexpensive since accommodation ranges from $35 to $70 with breakfast included. A 3-day tour with a guide will range between $250 – $350 per person, with everything included.

7. Local Cuisine & Traditional Romanian Dishes

Apart from the beautiful Romanian cities, rural areas are most appreciated because they offer truly delicious dishes. Romanian meals are rich in flavor and hearty, made with love by locals who grow their own fruits, vegetables and animal products, or source them from neighbors.


Some rural places where you’ll taste the most delicious meals include Viscri village in Brasov, Bârsana in Maramureș and Richiș in Sibiu.

Regardless of the place you’ll choose to visit, here are some dishes you have to try on a trip to Romania:

  • Sarmale (cabbage rolls) are usually made with minced pork and beef meat, but you can also find the vegetarian version of this dish made with mushrooms
  • Ciorba de burta (tripe soup) made with beef tripe is one of the most flavorful soups that also contains vegetables and is usually served with sour cream and hot peppers
  • Drob de miel is a specialty appetizer you’ll have the chance to try only around Easter. It’s made of minced lamb organs (liver, lungs, heart), eggs and other green vegetables, oven-baked and left to cool
  • Papanasi is one of the most famous desserts in Romania. It’s basically a fried doughnut filled with fresh cheese served with sweet jam and sour cream

8. Wine Tasting in the Vineyards of Transylvania

Did you know Romania is the 8th largest wine producer in the world? In the picturesque sun-bathed hills in Transylvania there are lots of wineries in old aristocrat houses. From large-scale producers to boutique, artisan makers going on a wine-tasting trip at the wineries or in a local wine bar is a great choice!

Popular local wines varieties for whites include Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, and Tămâioasă Românească (all dry, light and fruity). Local reds include Fetească Neagră, Băbească Neagră, and Negru de Drăgășani which are full bodied with earthy tones.

A medium quality bottle of wine ranges from $8 – $12 in shops while premium ones go up to $20. Look for LacertA, Aurelia Visinescu, Jidvei, and Metamorphosis. You’ll be surprised by their quality, comparable with wines from Italy and Spain.

Wine tasting at Murfatlar.

9. Bucharest’s Hip Bars and Posh Nightlife

If the rural side of Romania is quiet and perfect for families and people who wish to take a break from daily stress, the capital’s nightlife is the best place for people who love to party. Romanians love to go out in style, so in Bucharest you’ll find lots of impressive, modern designed bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

The crowded and touristy Old Town area (Centrul Vechi) is where most people go because there are over 50 places to go out here catering to all tastes, budgets and vibes.

For posh dining and fine drinks, the Northern part of the city in Dorobanti, Calea Victoriei or by Herestrau lake is the place to be.

Skybars are another popular option in Bucharest and our favorites are Amethyst, 18 Lounge, and Fork the Restaurant.

For an average of $25 per person you can expect a 2-course meal and a drink. Just remember to dress up since otherwise you may feel out of place. Locals like to dress up and look at their best when going out!


Finding accommodation in Bucharest is easy because there are plenty of options on or Airbnb, for all budgets starting from as little as $25 per night per person.

I hope this article will give you a taste of what Romania can offer. But, as you can probably imagine simply by looking at the pictures, there’s much more to discover when you visit our country. 


Marius Iliescu is the founder of Romanian Friend: a one-stop shop website with travel inspiration, tour ideas and practical info for those planning to visit Romania. His mission is to make sure people experience the best of his country while supporting responsible, inclusive tourism that helps local communities.

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