10 Amazing Things You Can Do
While Visiting Romania
Although not the number one choice for travelers planning to visit Europe, Romania is a unique tourist destination, located in the eastern part of the continent at the crossroads of Western and Oriental cultures. And its geographical position had shaped a unique culture, where this mix east-west can be easily seen in the architecture, food or the social behavior. Romania is probably one the few countries where you can see on the same street Byzantine, Neoclassical, Gothic or Baroque architecture.
It's a Latin country (and yes, its name comes from Rome: Rom – ania), but it’s the only Latin country where the main religion is Cristian Orthodox. The language is Latin, with around 70% of the vocabulary having a Latin origin, but Romanian has also a strong Slavic influence: 15% of the words originating from Slavic languages.
Romanian food is simple, hearty and tasty. In a traditional Romanian restaurant one can find dishes originating from Germany, Austria, Hungary, but also Turkey or the rest of the Balkans. Regarding the Balkans, Romanians borrowed some of the behavioural traits coming from the southern neighbours: a relaxed and flexible way of following the rules, finding unconventional solutions to solve problems and being happy and enjoying life at any moment.
Discover Romania on your own or hire a travel company; you will not be disappointed.
- Visit the Danube’s Delta. The second largest river in Europe, after the Volga, the Danube creates a luxuriant aquatic paradise, when it divides into 3 branches, before reaching the Black Sea. Home to thousands of bird species, some of them endemic to the area, the Delta is a must place to visit for wildlife lovers. We recommend you to rent a small boat and cruise slowly on the narrow channels, fenced by a canopy of reed or willows. The Danube’s Delta is also the northernmost area where semitropical forests grow and here the visitors can taste one of the best fish soups in the world.
- Visit the Merry Cemetery in Maramures. There is nothing merry in a cemetery, but in the northern part of Romania, a woodcarver started in the 30s to change the look of the traditional crosses. He carved letters forming a short epitaph describing in a rather funny manner a few traits of the defunct. He added bright colours and a naïve portrait of the deceased and the new crosses gained so much popularity as they became a rule in the village. Nowadays, there are over 800 such crosses in the local cemetery, which became a sort of an open-air museum. Here is one example of the epitaph:”Under this heavy cross/ Lies my poor mother-in-law/ Three more days should she have lived/ I would lie, and she would read (this cross).”
- See the tallest wooden church in the world. Just a few kilometres away from Sapanta, one can see the tallest wooden church in the world. The tower is 78 meters tall and the building is considered the tallest wooden church in the world, being registered in the Guinness Book. The church of Peri village was erected in 1997, on the place of an older church, dating back from the 14th century. The tower of the church can be seen from a long distance, acting as a beacon of faith for the Romanians living on the other side of the border, in Ukraine, which is just a few kilometres from the monastery. Maramures, the northern region of Romania bordering Ukraine is known for the mastery of its woodworkers, who built for centuries elaborate wooden churches, 8 of them being on UNESCO World Heritage list, another proof of their artistic and historical value.
- Take a steam train ride. Also, in Maramures, the visitors can opt to book a steam train ride, The narrow-gauge railways, which started as a forestry line, is now a popular tourist attraction. The ride starts from Viseulde Sus, and it follows the Vaser river valley in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains. At the end of the line, visitors can enjoy a folkloric show of dance and music, or enjoy traditional brunch.
- See the brown bears. Romanian is the home of more than half of the European brown bear population. For wildlife lovers, visiting Romania is also an occasion to see the brown bears in their normal habitat. There are a few brown bears observatories located in the forests of Transylvania, but tourists can also choose to visit the largest bear sanctuary in Europe, the safe home of more than 100 bears, who, for certain reasons couldn't survive by themself in the wild.
- Follow the steps of the European bisons in Romania’s forests. The European bison is the heaviest wild land animal in Europe and individuals in the past may have been even larger than their modern-day descendants. The species, almost extinct due to heavy hunting, is now numbering several thousand and returned to the wild by captive breeding programs — is no longer in immediate danger of extinction, but remains absent from most of its historical range. In Romania, one of those repopulation programs is run by WWF and succeeded in breeding a population of around 100 individuals from 17 initial bison who were released in the Carpathian Mountains forests. Tiny groups of visitors (in order not to disturb the massive animal), together with WWF ranger can spend a few days in the Romanian forests, searching the steps of the bison and learning more about discovering nature with the help of all the senses.
- Visit a 2000-year-old gold mine. Gold was exploited in Romania since antiquity, and one of the most important gold mining sites was Rosia Montana, in theApusenimountains. After the Romans had conquered nowadays Romania territory, they brought miners from the empire to develop gold mining. Some of the galleries from that time are still existing and with minor modifications (like introducing electricity for lighting) can be visited by tourists.Thus, tourists can see the 2000 years old traces of pickaxes on the galleries walls and learn how mining evolved in the last 2 millennia.
- Discover the Saxon fortified churches. Starting with the 12thcentury, after conquering Transylvania, the Hungarian king invited settlers from German-speaking areas of western Europe to come to Transylvania to develop the area economically and to help at the defence of its territory. They have founded around 300 villages and 7 cities in Transylvania (thusthe German name of Transylvania:Siebenburgen= seven cities).Starting in the 15thcentury, due to theincreasing frequencyof Turkish raids, the German settlers raised defence walls around their churches and evenmodifiedthe churches, which received defence features(embrasures were added to the church walls and the bell tower). Nowadays, around 100 fortified churches are still existing, and 7 of them are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
- Hike in the Carpathian Mountains. The Carpathian Mountains in Romania are800 kmlong, so there are plenty of hiking opportunities. From the sharp edges of theFagarasor PiatraCraiuluimountains to the slopes covered by forests ofApusenimountains, there is a hiking trail for every potentialtouristwilling to enjoy some time in nature.
- See the Danube Gorges. The Danube Gorges are a narrow canyon where the Danube separates the Carpathians Mountains (Romania) from the Balkans (Serbia). The sheer beauty of the gorges is given by the amazing views from the mountains bordering the Danube. An easy hike of about 30 minutes is leading to one of the best views of the Danube, from the peakCiucaruMare.
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