That’s Romanian for ‘hi’ :)
Welcome to Romanian Friend! I’m Marius, the guy with the idea behind this website. I gave up a career as an international business lawyer and moved back to Romania to start this personal project - but more on this later. Meanwhile, you can check out my LinkedIn or Instagram to see that I'm a real person, just in case you're curious.
Romanian Friend was launched on 15 April 2017 and I like to think of it as a community-based social enterprise. Technically, it’s just an online marketplace with selected tours and travel experiences in Romania that you can book online, also offering lots of info to help independent travellers visit Romania.
How I like to think of it is if you imagine you had a trusted friend from Romania that you would ask I want to visit your country - how do I get there, what should I visit and what would you recommend I should do?
During my time living abroad and frequent travels, I've been asked this question SO MANY times I decided to do something about it. And since I am proud of my country and know the good stuff but I also know how hard it was for me to find useful trip-planning info and tours when visiting a new country -
Romanian Friend's mission is to create a network of handpicked, trusted local guides and small businesses offering authentic, off the beaten path trips and local travel experiences in Romania. These are selected by me and my team, because we want to help travellers discover our beautiful country by connecting you to the right local people with great services, extensive knowledge and real passion for what they do.
At the same time, Romanian Friend supports responsible tourism which helps local communities preserve their culture and way of life. No one else does, so they need our (including your) support. We like local travel and we know this is the best way to experience a new culture. We also know that by visiting Romania this way you will have a wonderful experience that will quickly become one of your favourite travel memories.
Meeting the locals, seeing our famous countryside (hello Transylvania!), hiking our wild Carpathian Mts., enjoying traditional meals and a glass of palinca or learning UNESCO handicrafts hundreds of years old - that's what your Romanian Friend recommends you should do if you visit Romania.
What we do
We’re a start-up from Romania operating this website where you can (a) find inspiration for things, trips and experiences in our country, (b) get up-to-date & modern info for planning your trip and (c) find fresh local insights & stories - all Romania-related. We offer a simple & secure online booking system and our full support for all of you travellers out there who want to discover Romania with an authentic travel experience, or maybe come back for another round. See how our booking works.
What we’re about. Our values
A lot. I’ll try to keep it short: Romanian Friend wants to help preserve Romanian cultural heritage and to support the survival and development of local communities by promoting very local people and small businesses around the country. We’re talking about local farmers, craftsmen, homeowners or communities that would benefit from your visit and the influx of cash you bring. When you buy a jar of homemade honey or a traditional Romanian blouse, have a locally sourced meal, go on a trip to a small village community or one that’s organised by a conservationist NGO - it really makes a difference for these people. In some cases, it’s their lifeblood. We’re about responsible travel.
We also want for you to get there - and explore Romania - in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. We have 3 groups of UNESCO villages and churches and the second largest natural biosphere in Europe, also UNESCO protected. We don’t want to cause a Cinque Terre type of issue.
Responsible travel is tourism that maximizes benefits to local communities, minimizes negative social or environmental impacts, and helps local people conserve fragile cultures and habitats or species. You can read more about these tourism-related terms here.
So, we look for and work only with local people, guides, small businesses and organisations that share our values, and not group tours travel agencies. We promote their activity the way it should be done in this day and age of internet travel, in ways our inefficient and/or incapable government can’t. We also want to support their growth by connecting them with like-minded travellers.
But we’re picky. The core Romanian Friend team is a smart, young and well connected group of locals. We do our own research, filter all the info, personally talk to all our partners and look at their credentials and reviews. We want to promote only the best and most authentic Romanian trips with local people that offer great value and high quality travel services. It's much easier for us - a bunch of well-intended locals - to do all this than for a corporate team halfway around the world with no idea about Romanian culture, values and local life. And we think reviews on TripAdvisor are unhelpful and representative for mass tourism.
The ultimate idea behind Romanian Friend is to build a network of friends, contributors and partners that will feed interesting pieces of info, really local recommendations and quality services to a single source - your Romanian Friend.
Put simply - would I, Marius, go on a trip in Romania there and with that person? Would I go there for dinner? Would I recommend it to someone from another country? If yes, than you'll find it here on Romanian Friend.
What’s in it for you
In case you decide to visit Romania with and make a booking with us, three things:
First - the combined benefits of what we do and our values: quality authentic local Romanian trips and experiences that you can safely book online with the full support of your Romanian Friend. You'll also find up to date tips for planning your trip over here, info on major attractions, events going on or fresh news from the local and urban scene from all over the country on our Local Feed.
Second - a meaningful personal reward: you will support in a real and direct way the development of local communities in Romania while learning about a new culture with its unique set of values and way of life. More diversity, understanding and appreciation is what the world needs right now, and a life experience and lesson from a different community might help us all become better global citizens.
Third - a great memory from Romania! Really, there’s no other way to put it: we’ve got interesting cities, delicious and completely natural food, beautiful countryside and challenging mountains - and very friendly people! Take your pick: walk, hike, bike, visit or eat. Discover some parts of the country that are still untouched by civilisation (see an example) or relax in the beautiful Romanian countryside with some weekend getaways. It's what Prince Charles of the UK has been doing since 1998. It's very peaceful out here and you can completely disconnect from the busy world outside and reconnect with yourself and nature.
To sum up - we’re saving you time by doing the Romania-related travel research and acting like your on-the-ground local friend from here that will give you the best handpicked recommendations and info on what to do when you visit Romania.
This is what your Romanian Friend is ‘about’ - helping you discover and have a great time in our beautiful Romania while making a difference for the local people and communities you visit.
Thanks for reading, sorry I couldn’t keep it shorter, a writer-lawyer habit :)
p.s. did you know that the U.N. declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism? :)