Have you been asking yourself what are the best best cities in Romania to visit? Look no further!
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Over the past few years Romania has been gaining a lot more popularity among travellers. But despite this newfound popularity, there still isn’t a lot of information out there for prospective visitors. So if you would like to visit Romania but don’t know where to start, this article is for you. These are the best cities in Romania to visit:
I debated whether I should include this one or not because it can be a hit or miss for most people. You either love it, or you hate it! Bucharest is the most populous city as well as the capital of Romania. Its airport has the most international flights, which makes it a frequent connection for many travellers. If you’re passing through Bucharest, I’d say it is absolutely worth a visit.
That being said, I heard many foreign visitors say they disliked it, and as someone who lived in Bucharest for 7 years, I can understand why. It is really rough around the edges. I consider it a great place to live (there are many parks, low pollution, little crime and affordable cost of living), but not so much to visit.
There are a couple of attractions to see, and endless numbers of cafés, restaurants, bars, and shops. I’d say Bucharest is most suitable for history enthusiasts and young people who like to party.
Some attractions in Bucharest:
- Palace of the Parliament is Bucharest’s biggest attraction, literary. Construction was started in 1984 by former communist dictator Ceaușescu, and finished in 1997. It is the heaviest building in the world, and the second largest administrative building. Today it hosts the Senate, Chamber of Deputies, three museums and an international conference center.
- Romanian Athenaeum is a beautiful neoclassical concert hall dating back to 1888. If you like classical music, you can find affordable tickets online. Additionally, in September it hosts one of Eastern Europe’s largest classical music concert.
- Lipscani (Old Town) is a lively pedestrian only zone in the center of Bucharest. It is full of places to eat, drink, shop, and opportunities to people-watch. It was originally completed in 1589 and restored recently. Lipscani makes for a great opportunity to see what Bucharest looked like before the the Second World War.
- Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum is an outdoor museum right beside Herăstrău Park. Here you can see different styles of traditional homes from around the country. It is organized like a village so you are really getting the full experience.
- Herăstrău Park is the largest in the city and one of my favorite places to go. You can rent a boat, admire the Japanese Garden, go zip-lining at the adventure park, and more. There are also plenty of restaurants if you get hungry, so you can really spend a full day here.
- Arcul de Triump is a monument located next to Herăstrău Park that was originally built in 1878 after Romania gained its independence. The current one is made out of stone and it was built after the First World War ended, to replace the original one which was hastily built from wood.
Sibiu is my favourite Romanian city to visit because it has a little bit for everyone. It sits in the center of the country, in Transylvania and features strong Germanic architecture brought over by the 12th century Saxon settlers. History lovers will enjoy visiting the Medieval walls and towers. But beware of the Old Town because the roofs with eyes are spying on you! At least, that’s what people like to believe. In reality the eye-shaped openings in the roofs were most likely built for ventilation.
In 2007, Sibiu was designated the European Capital of Culture which greatly boosted its popularity. It was also named as one of Europe’s most idyllic places to live and a great place for gastronomy.
Sibiu is a very laidback city, and it makes a perfect destination for those looking for culture, relaxation and dining. You can get here by train from Bucharest (6-9 hours), Brașov (3-6 hours) or Cluj (4-6 hours).
Some attractions in Sibiu:
- The ASTRA National Museum Complex is an open-air museum where you will find traditional Romanian buildings from varying periods in time. There is also a mill and a ferry. The museum is located to the south of the city and can be easily reached by taxi.
- The Bridge of Lies is one of the most popular attractions in Sibiu. Legend has it that if you tell a lie while standing on the bridge, it will collapse.
- Climb to the top of the Turnul Sfatului (Council Tower), a 13th century tower and enjoy great views of the city. The climb is short but narrow, thus it could be claustrophobic for some.
- The Brukenthal National Museum is the former palatial home of Habsburg governor of Transylvania, Samuel von Brukenthal. Today it hosts around 1,200 paintings from the 15th to the 18th century. There are also engravings, books, and minerals. The Brukenthal National Museum is the oldest museum of its kind in Romania.
- The Stairs Passage dates back to the 13th century. It has a moderate slope, but it’s covered in cobblestone. The passage is very pretty, a great place for sightseeing and photography.
- Take a day trip to Ocna Sibiului, located just 10 km away. This is a small town that is known for its saline lakes. You can swim in the lakes and enjoy their healing properties, have a spa day, and walk around the town.
Take a 4 hour train ride from Sibiu and you will reach Sighișoara, is the most famous and popular town in Romania. It is quite small thus it’s more a town than a city, but it is worth a visit. You can either take a day trip from Sibiu, or choose to stay overnight. One-two days in Sighișoara will be enough depending if you plan on visiting any museums.
Sighișoara is a small medieval fortified city listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1999 and the only Medieval fortress in Europe that is still inhabited. It is a great destination for those interested in culture, history, and sightseeing. That being said, Sighișoara is covered in (old, uneven and slippery) cobblestone and countless stairs, so I would not recommend it to people with mobility issues. And if you do visit, bring comfortable walking shoes.
I would also like to add that if you find yourself in Sighișoara on the last weekend of July, make sure to visit the annual Medieval Festival. You will find local artisans selling handmade traditional items, concerts, dance performances, and stunt shows with knights in full armour.
Some attractions in Sighișoara:
- The Clock Tower of Sighișoara is the main entry point into the town and it used to act as both the town hall and defence tower. It stands at 64 meters tall and you can climb the stairs to the top to admire the views.
- The Citadel Square is located in the heart of Sighișoara and it is the place where all the events and gatherings took place during Medieval times. Today, it makes for a great place to grab something to eat and admire the Medieval architecture all around you.
- The Covered Staircase dates to 1642, and at the time was made up of 300 steps. It is covered by timber walls and roof, and was constructed to allow the children to easily reach the school at the top of the hill when it was snowing and slippery. Today it is still in use, but under 200 steps still remain.
- Vlad Dracul’s house is where Vlad the Impaler was born in 1431. If you didn’t know, Vlad Țepeș rulled Wallachia three times and he got his name because impalement was his favourite method of execution. Today, the house hosts a restaurant on the ground level and a weapons collections upstairs.
- Breite Nature Reserve is located right outside of Sighișoara and makes a great stop for nature enthusiasts. At 180 acres, it is the largest grassland plateau in all of Europe. It is a well-preserved wooded habitat with 500 trees, some of which are up to 800 years old!
The most popular city in Romania among foreign tourists, Brașov is a medium-sized, fortified city located in the historical region of Transylvania and surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. The city was once a center dominated by the Transylvanian Saxons, and an important commercial hub on the trade roads between Austria and Turkey. Thus, Brașov makes an ideal destination for those interested in history. There are also human traces that have been found in Brașov and date back to the Neolithic Age, an impressive 9500 years BCE!
Since it is surrounded by mountains, Brașov makes for a great year-round destination as temperatures are not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter. You can easily reach Brașov by train from Bucharest in around 2.5 hours.
Some attractions in Brașov:
- The Black Church (pictured) is the most popular and distinctive landmark in Brașov. It is also Romania’s largest Gothic church. It gets its name after the Great Fire of 1689 which blackened its walls, and destroyed most of the town.
- For a great view of the city, hike up Mount Tâmpa where the original defensive fortress was built. And if you’d rather not hike, you can take the cable car.
- Casa Sfatului (Council Hall) was first built in in 15th century as a Medieval watchtower. Today it hosts the County Museum of History which features tools from the Iron Age, Medieval ceramics, weapons, pharmaceutical artefacts, coins, and more.
- The Rope Street (Strada Sforii) is one of Europe’s narrowest streets at feet wide, and it was intended to be used an access route by firefighters.
- Visit the town of Râșnov and Râșnov Citadel. There are daily trains from Brașov to Râșnov that only take around 20 minutes each way. The town is peaceful, with cute and colourful medieval buildings. The Citadel dates back 700 years and was a small community on its own, unlike other citadels which were built for royalty.
- Take a day trip to Bran Castle, a national monument and landmark in Transylvania, on the historical border with Walachia. There are multiple daily buses that leave Brașov for Bran and the journey takes just under one hour.
- If you plan on renting a car, it’s worth taking a trip to Libearty Bear Sanctuary in Zărnești. With over 100 brown bears, this place is the biggest bear sanctuary in the world. Note that it is not appropriate for babies and toddlers as crying and screaming will disturb the bears.
Timișoara is the westernmost city in Romania, and one that was influenced by many cultures. It has been dominated by the Romans, conquered by the Turkish, and later it joined the Austrian Empire. As a result, you will find anything from Roman ruins, to Art Nouveau, Baroque, Secessionist architecture, and more.
If you are a fan of history, you may be interested to learn that Timișoara was the first city in Europe (and second in the world after New York) to use electricity to illuminate the streets. Additionally, Timișoara is also the place where the anti-communism movement began in 1989.
Timișoara has the second busiest airport in Romania. There are multiple international and national connections, thus the easiest way to get here is by plane. Moreover, Timișoara has a temperate climate and it is quite walkable. It makes a great destination for history and classical culture enthusiasts, as well as those looking to visit a relaxing yet cosmopolitan city.
You may also be pleased to know that Timișoara has been designated the European Capital of Culture for 2023.
Some attractions in Timișoara:
- Victory Square (Piata Victoriei) and the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral which stands at the south end of the square. In this square, on December 20th 1989 Timișoara was proclaimed the first city in Romania free of communism.
- Museum of the Communist Consumer is a privately owned museum that displays all kinds of household items from the communist era. This includes music records, clothing, toys, furniture, cookware, and more.
- Roses Park was first created for the Universal Exposition of 1891. It was used by the cavalry in the First World War, then it was replanted. It has been the largest rosarium in Eastern Europe since 1934. To see it in its full glory, visit in the spring and summer months.
- Theresia Bastion was once a part of the 9 bastions that fortified Timișoara. Today it is a commercial area with restaurants, shops, bars, and nightclubs.
- If you’re willing to rent a car (or a 3.5 hour bus ride), you can take a day trip to Corvin Castle (Castelul Corvinilor). This Gothic-Renaissance style castle is one of the largest in Europe and one of the 7 wonders of Romania!
Situated in northwest Romania, Oradea is well known for baroque and art nouveau architecture that dates back to the Austro-Hungarian empire. Since it is located very close to Hungary, Oradea is a blend of Romanian and Hungarian culture and lifestyle.
Although it is a small city, Oradea has an airport and the fastest way to get here is by plane. Additionally you could take a train from Budapest (almost 6 hours) or from Cluj-Napoca (almost 4 hours).
Some attractions in Oradea:
- Calea Republicii is located in the heart of the city and it is abundant with Art Nouveau buildings, as well as cafés and restaurants. It is a pedestrian only street and the buildings have been refurbished recently so they are looking bright and colorful.
- Apotheca Rodia is one of the oldest pharmacies in Oradea. It has been around for over 250 years and it now serves as a museum. You can see the original furnishings, murals, and artefacts.
- The Fortress of Oradea was originally built from 1114 to 1131, but got destroyed by the Tartars in 1241. It was rebuilt in Italian style from 1570 to 1589, and expanded from 1717 to 1780.
- Tarii Crisurilor Museum is a large museum that has been newly renovated and contains multiple divisions from art to natural sciences. You can see rocks from 1.7 billion years ago, mammoth skeletons, traditional clothing, paintings, and even reptiles.
- Darvas La-Roche House was built in Art-Nouveau Secession style between 1909 and 1912. After a restoration process, the house has been converted into the first Art Nouveau Museum in Romania complete with original furnishings and artefacts.
- Nymphaea Aquapark is an indoor-outdoor waterpark and wellness center. There are indoor and outdoor waterslides, swimming pools, a children’s playground, Turkish baths, jacuzzi, and massages. There is also a restaurant, so you can spend a whole day here.
Also know as Cluj, it is the third largest city in Romania by population. As a university city it has a youthful, energetic ambiance, making it a great destination for the young and young at heart. There are countless festivals, great food and coffee, as well as interesting contemporary museums.
In the past few years, Cluj has experienced significant growth, making it one of the main academic, cultural, industrial and business centres in the country. And this is evident in the locals’ lively way of life. They are alway out and about, dining and celebrating different festivities. As a result, Cluj won the European Youth Capital in 2015 and the European City of Sport in 2018.
That’s not to say there isn’t any history. Cluj dates back to pre-Roman settlement, when it was known as Napoca. In 1241 it was invaded by the Tartars, and in the 12th century German settlers rebuilt the medieval walls in stone. Furthermore, Cluj is one of the seven walled citadels built by the Transylvanian Saxons.
The easiest way to get to Cluj is to fly in. There are multiple direct flights from various European cities. Additionally, you can take a train from Oradea (around 3 hours), Brașov (7-10 hours), Budapest (8.5 hours), or Bucharest (9+ hours).
Some attractions in Cluj:
- The Union Square (Piata Unirii) is a fantastic place to stroll around, especially for architecture and history enthusiasts. It features Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance and Neo Classical buildings.
- Banffy Palace (Palatul Banffy) is located in Union Square and houses Cluj National Art Museum. The building itself was a residence of the former Austro-Hungarian governors and it is the best representation of Transylvanian-Baroque style. The museum displays paintings, as well as sculptures, weapons, and furniture made by Romanian artists.
- Pharmacy History Collection (Hintz Residence) is also located in Union Square. Here you can admire 2,300 pharmacy instruments and equipment. This is also the site of the first pharmacy to open in Cluj in 1573!
- Tailors’ Bastion (Bastionul Croitorilor) dates back to 1475 and is one of the two (along with The Firemen’s Tower) still standing structures that made up the old fortified town.
- For magnificent views of the city climb up the Fortress Hill at sunset.
- For a day trip outside of Cluj, you must visit Turda Salt Mine. You can take a bus to Turda town and from there a taxi to the salt mine. The mine is used for both recreation and holistic purposes and it is one of the most popular attractions in Romania. You can read more about it here.
Situated in the north-east close to the border with Moldova, Iași is the second largest city in the country and in 2018 it was named the Historical Capital of Romania. It is estimated humans lived human lived here since prehistoric ages! Iași received its German name Jassy in the late 14th, early 15th century when it was as a fortified customs post on the nearby trade routes. It later became a residence of the prince of Moldavia, was invaded by Turks, Tatars, and Poles, suffered a major fire and a plague.
Along with Timișoara, Iași makes a great destination for those who are interested in learning more about the communist past. During communist times, the dictator confiscated private land and built Soviet-style factories and apartment blocks. As a result, the city flourished and grew significantly in population.
Additionally, Iași is home to the the first Romanian university and the first engineering school, making it one of the most important places for research and education in the country. In fact, there are close to 60,000 students in Iași. And the young student population also gives the city a very vibrant and friendly atmosphere.
The fastest and easiest way to get to Iași is by plane. The international airport has multiple direct flights to major European cities. There are also trains from Bucharest (almost 7 hours), Brașov (9-10 hours), or Cluj (11-18 hours).
Some attractions in Iași:
- The Palace of Culture is a large Neo Gothic style building that is among the oldest in the city. It has been recently restored and houses four museums: The History Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, The Science Museum and the Art Museum.
- The Botanical Gardens are the first and largest in Romania, dating back to 1856 and covering 100 hectares. There are over 800 varieties of roses, tropical flowers, carnivorous plants, and more.
- Alexandru Ioan Cuza University was founded in 1860, making it the first university in the country. Enter the northern wing of the building and pay a visit to Gheorghe Asachi Technical Library.
- Moldavia’s History Museum is dedicated to the country of Moldova (which used to be a part of Romania). Here you can see thousands of artefacts dating back to the Paleolithic Age, including a 70,000-year-old mammoth skull.
- If you’re willing to rent a car, you can take a day trip to Neamț Fortress. It takes 2-3 hours depending on traffic. This used to be one of the best fortifications in Moldova during Medieval times.
- And for another day trip you can visit the Bicaz Gorges. The road twists and turns, slicing through 1,000 foot limestone cliffs, offering spectacular views.
Situated on the Black Sea, Constanța is one of the largest cities in Romania by population. As a coastal town, it enjoys warmer weather compared to the rest of the country. Thanks to frequent tourism, the city has grown significantly since the fall of communist.
That being said, Constanța isn’t all modern; there is also some deep history. In fact it is believed that Constanța dates back more than 2,500 years when it was founded by Greeks as a fishing village. It was then occupied by the Romans in 29 BC, spent 500 years as part of the Bulgarian Empire, and fell under the Ottoman rule around 1419.
As a result, today’s population is quite diverse. While Romanians make up the majority, there are also Turkish (3.3%), Tatar (3.1%) and Roma (2.7%) people.
I would recommend visiting Constanța outside of the summer months (mid-June to late-August) because it can get quite crowded as the whole country wants to escape to the seaside.
To get to Constanța you can easily catch a train from Bucharest. It takes under 3 hours and there are multiple daily trains.
Some attractions in Constanța:
- Constanța Casino is one of the most popular landmarks in the city. It was completed in 1910 in Art Nouveau style and it sits on a cliff overlooking the Black Sea.
- Museum of the Romanian Navy is organized chronologically and features ancient and modern boat models, navigation instruments, charts, photographs, and more.
- Constanta Aquarium was open in 1958 and features over 60 species of fish from the Black Sea, the Danube Delta, and nearby lakes. The collection of sturgeons is one of the largest in the world.
- Carol I Mosque was constructed in 1910 to serve the local muslims. Tatar and Turkish muslims have lived here for over 700 years! You can also climb the minaret to admire the stunning views of the city.
- The Archaeological Park contains Roman ruins from the 3rd and 6th century! The ruins are in open air, located in the north end of Parcul Primăriei Constanța.
- Techirghiol is a small town that is famous for its mud treatments. Lather yourself up with the organic mud, then sunbathe while the mud dries. Afterwards dip in the lake to clean off the mud. There are both nude and family friendly area.
- Mamaia is situated just north of Constanța and is one of the most popular resorts on the Black Sea. There is a water park, an amusement park, cable car, sporting and recreational facilities, a casino, multiple restaurant and a nightclubs. Mamaia makes a great place to spend a whole day.
- For a day trip, consider paying a visit to the Danube Delta, a UNESCO Heritage Site. Drive to Tulcea (takes under 2 hours each way) and from there you can opt for a private Danube tour. As one of Europe’s leading wildlife sanctuaries the Delta is a heaven for wildlife photographers, botanists, entomologists, and zoologists.
How long should you stay in each city?
The truth is, it depends on your expectations and pace of exploration. In my opinion, you could see all cities on this list, including Bucharest, in just 3-5 days. However, I would plan for at least a week if you wish to rent a car and have day trip or two, as well as if you wish to spend time at multiple museums.
To Summarize, the Best Cities in Romania to Visit: