Types of travel to Romania, a Country of Contrasts

It takes a while after you travel through Romania to put together all the contrasting images you get and make the complete picture of the country. Go to Bucharest to see what the communism did from a city once considered “The Little Paris”.

Go to Transylvania and see the clean streets, laid back people and its cozy atmosphere, or to Maramures in the north for a glimpse of the bucolic Romanian lifestyle and architecture, and then check the glittering-kitschy resort areas from the sea-side.

Rent a car to drive on the country’s roads and smile at the ironical luxurious Audi or BMW’s furiously overtaking horse-drawn vehicles. If you think Romania can’t offer you some quite spectacular images, you can’t be more wrong. Here are some iconic places in Romania that you can go, depending on what type of a vacation you prefer:

Bucharest – although not a friendly city for living there, Bucharest has its charm for the travelers. The busy, hectic lifestyle is visible everywhere, from traffic jams to people flocking to catch the bus or the tram in the morning.

Romania’s contrasts are the most visible here: you can walk on its large boulevards and see the communist buildings, from blocks of flats to the Romanian huge Parliament and then find places where you can admire French palaces, medieval churches or elegant old houses.

The office buildings are of course present and you can even find some in the capital’s old center – a place with beautiful old buildings, some of them left in ruin, but others transformed into bars, clubs or shops. The old center is also where the people from this city full of students usually cram for a beer or dancing.

Danube Delta – an impressive UNESCO World Heritage site. The mighty Danube River flows 1,788 miles from its springs in Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea. Just before reaching the sea it forms the second largest and best preserved of Europe’s deltas: 2,200 square miles of rivers, canals, marshes, tree-fringed lakes and reed islands. The Danube Delta is home to over 320 species of birds. Some are strictly protected and cannot be seen elsewhere except the Danube Delta.

Transylvania – Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania, or Ardeal in Romanian, is a completely different region than other Romanian places. For many centuries it belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary and there is still an ongoing scholarly debate over the ethnicity of Transylvania’s population.

Best places to see in Transylvania are the cities of Brasov, Sibiu and Sighisoara, the last being also the place where Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) – the ruler that inspired the creation of the Dracula character – was born.

If you go more to the west, don’t miss Timisoara, one of the country’s most developed and multicultural cities, comprising strong Hungarian, German and Serbian minorities.

Maramures – a region that has remained unchanged in decades, Maramures is probably the last place in Europe where you can go back 100 years and feel the true lifestyle of villages.

Small villages are found between clean hills and landscapes that we’ll leave you breathless. Visit the wooden churches, listen to the traditional music and enjoy their festivals and beautiful costumes that villagers still proudly wear. 

Best Small Towns in Eastern Europe

Traveling through East Europe doesn’t mean to see only the big capitals. Huge cities are awesome, full of culture and history, a mixture of new and old and vibrant nightlife. But small towns aren’t to be ignored – many times they say much more about a country and its traditions than the crowded, touristic capitals. So try these ones, in any order you like.

In Hungary you should try Eger (North) for its wine, castle and termal baths and then go to Péks (South) for its beautiful Turkish architecture.

Head to Romania to see Sighisoara, the birthplace of Count Dracula, a small town but full of history and having one of the preserved hilltop fortress cities in Europe. And try also Sibiu, the European Capital of Culture in 2007. Both towns are in the centre of the country and it’s easy to get from one to the other.

Go down in the North of Bulgaria to see Veliko Tarnovo, referred to as the “City of the Tsars”, the historical capital of Second Bulgarian Empire and one of the oldest settlements in the country.

In Montenegro, Kotor is the place you want to get to, for its sometimes called the most southern fjord in Europe, the Bay of Kotor, its Venetian architecture and the port surrounded by a beautiful city wall.

Croatia…hard choice. But you will find a beautiful architecture and wonderful views in Hum, calling itself the smallest town in the world, and Trogir, a town with narrow streets that sits on a small island connected to the mainland through a bridge. Also try Hvar, a city and port on the island of Hvar, surrounded by protective walls and overlooked by two massive fortresses from the hills above.

Go to the Czech Republic for Cesky Krumlov, an impressive gallery of buildings from the Renaissance, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Above the town you can see the second-largest castle complex in the country. Also, visit Karlovy Vary, historically famous for its 12 hot springs.

And finally, Poland, where you should get to Wroclaw. Colorful buildings in the Baroque and Renaissance style are a must-see for travelers in Poland. Also, the town has a vibrant nightlife, with lots of clubs. In Poland, try also Gdansk and Zamosc.

Three Countries in East Europe Wine Lovers Should Try

If you don’t think about East Europe as a place where you can have a unique wine tasting experience, than you couldn’t be more wrong. Try at least these three countries, now famous for their wines, and also cheaper than other destinations:

1. Georgia ranks second in terms of volume in grape production in the former Soviet Union, behind Moldova. Although there are nearly 500 varieties of grapes to choose from, only 38 varieties are officially grown for commercial viticulture. There are five regions where wine is produced, the most famous being Kakheti. Georgian wines are classified as sweet, semi-sweet (the most popular), semi-dry, dry, fortified and sparkling.

2. Croatia has two main wine regions – Continental (Kontinetalna) and Coastal (Primorska), which includes the islands – and also over 300 sub-regions. The continental region in the northeast of the country, produces rich fruity white wines, similar to the neighboring areas of Slovenia, Austria and Hungary. On the north coast, Istrian wines are similar to those produced in neighboring Italy, while further south production is more towards big Mediterranean-style reds. On the islands and the Dalmatian coast you can find some highly individual wines, and some of Croatia’s best known. The majority of Croatian wine is white, the rest mainly red, and only a small percentage rose.

3. Hungary is famous for its white wines, from which Italian Riesling is most known, but you can also find Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Go from Budapest to the foothills of Matra Mountain and also Matraalja wine region to check their wines. And if you find more time try to go to Zemplen Mountains, where the region Tokaj-Hegyalja is. The region has received some international prizes and you can also take some organized tours of it.

And don’t stop here. These three countries are some first suggestions for wine lovers. Don’t forget about Ukraine, Serbia, Moldavia and Romania if you want the entire experience!