Fun things to do in Romania
Traveling to a new country is always exciting.
And there’s no point in arguing that Romania should be on your travel bucket list.
There are a lot of new places to visit, but unfortunately, our time is always limited. So to help you make the most out of your trip to Romania, we’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do in Romania, from landmarks that are worth visiting, to unique activities and experiences.
1. Visit the Mud Volcanoes in Buzău
Less than two hours away from Bucharest you’ll find a small village with a spectacular secret.
The Mud Volcanoes cover the land of the village and can give you the feeling that you somehow reached the moon. This area is one of the most photographed areas of Romania, and it’s a popular place for “trash the dress” photo sessions of young brides.
But watch your steps.
The soil is very slippery, and you wouldn’t want to get up close and personal with the mud.
2. See the Living Fires
Another weird phenomenon from Buzau is the living fire.
An emission of gas through the cracked surface of the ground generates flames of up to 50cm tall that have been burning for thousands of years. In addition, the sight from this area is quite spectacular as well.
The area is somewhat hard to reach, but you can easily get guidance from the locals or from a tour guide, and it’s well worth the effort.
3. Explore the Painted Monasteries of Bukovina
We can all agree that it would be a heresy not to mention at least one historical site on our list. And these monasteries represent one of the most important religious sites in Romania.
A trip to the Painted Monasteries of Bukovina will give you a glimpse into the history of North-Eastern Romania, filled with bloody battles and rich history told through a variety of architectural styles.
7 of the 8 Orthodox Churches have been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993, with Sucevita Monastery being added to the list in 2010. However, if your time is limited and you simply can’t visit all 8 of them, we recommend visiting at least 3 of them: Moldovita Monastery, Sucevita Monastery, and Voronet Monastery.
4. Take a photo at the Rock Sculpture of Decebalus
Decebalus was the last king of Dacia, who fought against the invading Roman emperors Domitian and Trajan to preserve the independence of Dacia, which later became Romania.
With an impressive size of 42.9m in height and 31.6m in width, the Rock Sculpture of Decebalus was created between 1994 and 2004 at the border between Romania and Serbia, at The Iron Gates, and it is the tallest rock relief in Europe.
5. Have a laugh at the Merry Cemetery of Săpânța
That’s right. A merry cemetery.
As it turns out, cemeteries don’t necessarily have to be cold and creepy. In Săpânța, Maramures, you’ll find the happiest cemetery in the world. The tombstones are colorful and they are decorated with images and poems that satirize the life of the ones buried there.
6. Ride the steam train through Oravița-Anina
If you’re still sad about not receiving your Hogwarts letter, there might still be a way to cheer you up a bit.
The Anina Steam Train will take you on a unique trip through the mountains, similar to the one that out favorite wizards took on their way to Hogwarts. On the ride, you’ll pass through 14 tunnels, 10 aqueducts, 89 bridges and around 21 kilometers of mountain area.
7. Explore the medieval castles and fortresses
Romania has a very troubled history, and over the years the country was witness to several brutal conflicts.
And the numerous castles and fortresses that you will find are a testimony to this statement. More commonly found in the regions of Transylvania and Bukovina, these fortifications are hundreds of years old, and they all have more than one story to tell.
Some of the most famous castles in Romania are Bran Castle, known for his alleged connections to Vlad the Impaler, and the Pelisor Castle and Peles Castle, built by King Carol I and served as the summer residence of Romania’s Royal family.
But there are several other medieval strongholds that are worth visiting, such as Corvin Castle, Rasnov Citadel, Poenari Castle, or the Fortified Churches of Transylvania.
Tip: The best way to discover the strongholds in Romania is through a Transylvania’s Castles Tour.
8. Visit the Scărișoara Ice Cave
Located in the Western Romanian Carpathian Mountains, the Scarisoara Cave houses the world’s largest underground glacier.
What’s even more surprising, is the fact that the glacier didn’t form because of any special weather conditions, as in most cases, but because of a special ventilation system that determines the cave’s climate. During summer, the average temperature is 0 °C, so if you’re looking for a spot to hide from the sun, this is it.
9. Wander around the Virgin Forest of Strâmbu-Băiuț
Not taking into consideration Russia, Romania is home to 65% of the remaining virgin forests in Europe.
Strambu-Baiut is one of the best-preserved natural areas in Maramures, and it stretches over 250 hectares, with trees that are up to 500 years old.
10. Visit the Geamăna Village
Geamana village is a place that shows the repercussions of greedy exploitation.
In 1977, Nicolae Ceausescu decided to exploit the massive underground copper deposit in the Apuseni Mountains, so he evacuated around 400 families to make way for the toxic waste generated by the mining pit. The toxic lake slowly engulfed the beautiful village, and all that remains today is an abandoned place where only the tower of the church and a few other houses are visible.
11. “Adopt a bear” at the Libearty Bear Sanctuary
The Libearty Bear Sanctuary in Zarnesti is home to over 70 bears that were saved from circuses and zoos that mistreated them.
Here, the bears can climb trees, swim, and forage on the vegetation. You can visit the sanctuary by yourself or in a guided tour, but be sure to call ahead in order to check the opening times, as they vary throughout the year.
For more details, check out their website: https://www.ampbears.ro/en/visit
12. Take a road trip on Transfagarasan
The Transfagarasan highway is probably one of the most famous roads in Europe. The road reaches altitudes as high as 2046 meters, and it spans over 92 kilometers. Along the southern section of the road, you can find the Poenari Castle, which served as the residence of Vlad the Impaler, the infamous voivode.
As Jeremy Clarkson put it, Transfagarasan is simply “the best road in the world”.
13. Watch the fish in the Ochiul Beiului Lake
Situated in Caras-Severin, the Ochiul Beiului lake is supplied from an underground limestone spring. It is only about 3.6m deep, but its water has a beautiful color and it is so clear that you can see the fish swimming in it.
A surprising fact about the lake is that it never freezes, its temperature staying between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius throughout the year. That is why, during winter, migratory birds such as wild ducks and the gray heron stay here instead of leaving.
14. Paint an egg in Bukovina
And don’t worry.
You don’t need to wait for Easter to come around in order to do this. Allow your imagination to guide you while learning how to traditionally paint an egg.
Fine lines, ancient motifs, rich vegetable colors, the magic tool called ”chișiță”, and a bit of guidance from the most experimented craftsmen and your egg will slowly become a piece of art. What could be nicer than returning home with your own handmade egg-souvenir?
You can even take a trip to the International Museum of Painted Eggs “Lucia Condrea” which has over 5000 exhibits on display.
15. Sample the local cuisine
Romanian food is truly something else.
Its dishes were deeply influenced by other cuisines, such as the Turkish, Hungarian, and German, but they were transformed using local spices and herbs.
We all know that food and drinks go hand in hand. So what better way to enjoy a traditional Romanian meal than with a glass of palinka? We guarantee that this fiery liquor will make you grimace, at least a little bit.
Palinka (pălincă) is a traditional brandy usually made from plums, but it can also be made from other fruits. It has more than 45% alcohol proof and it is mostly homemade. Romanians enjoy serving it at room temperature before the main course, but palinka is a multipurpose drink.
It can be served hot during the winter, or with pepper and honey to calm a sore throat. There is nothing that a good shot palinka cannot treat!
16. Spend a night in the Bâlea Ice Hotel
Spend an unforgettable night at Bâlea Lake Ice Hotel.
The Balea Ice Hotel is located near the Balea glacier lake, at an altitude of more than 2000 meters in the Făgăraș Mountains. During summer you can get there by car, but during the rest of the year you can get there by cable car. At the hotel, you can enjoy a traditional dinner on ice plates and frozen tables sitting comfortably on ice chairs covered in fur, and then and enjoy a defrost session at the Sub Zero Ice Bar with some extra-strong 45+° shot drinks to recover your senses.
Later, make yourself cozy in your ice bed and plunge into the warm fur sheets for a true Ice Age experience.
17. Delve into the Turda Salt Mine
Don’t let the name fool you.
The Turda Salt Mine (Salina Turda) is one of the oldest mines in the world, dating back to the middle ages, but today it is more of an amusement park and less of a salt mine.
Inside, you’ll find a Ferris wheel, a boating lake, and a museum. You can also play bowling, mini-golf or get a spa treatment session. That’s because the Salt Mine was turned into an amusement park, and it is the deepest underground attraction in the world.
18. Wander around Bucharest
Filled with touristic landmarks and places to be discovered, Bucharest is a must-visit for every traveler, and it is the perfect city to take walking tours in.
One of the best landmarks that you can visit in Bucharest is, by far, the Palace of the Parliament. This colossal construction was built during the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, and it is today one of the largest buildings in the world.
Pro tip: You can also take a Communist Bucharest history tour, which will reveal some of the marks that the Ceausescu regime left on the city.
Afterward, you can choose to relax in the Herestrau Park, discover the traditional Romanian life at the Village Museum, or attend a concert at the Romanian Athenaeum.
Bucharest is also a city renowned for its music festivals, especially during the summer. So if you find yourself here between the months of May and July, make sure to check out some of the upcoming events.
Pro tip: If you want a worry-free experience to discover the hidden gems of Bucharest, we recommend booking a Bucharest tour.
Hopefully, these places are more than enough to keep you busy throughout your holiday in Romania.
And if you’re still not sure why you should travel to Romania, check out our previous post.