That’s Romanian for ‘hi’ :)
Welcome to Romanian Friend! I’m Marius, the guy with the vision behind everything you see on this website. I gave up a career as an international corporate lawyer to start this project and give something back to my country while doing something I'm (far more) passionate about: travel and helping others. You can check my Instagram or LinkedIn to see that I'm a real person, just in case you're curious :)
(me hiking in Romania, September 2017)
A story, of course!
Romanian Friend was 'conceived' in late 2016 and the website was launched in April 2017. I like to think of it as a community-driven social initiative. it’s just an online marketplace for tours and trips in Romania curated-by-natives with handpicked local guides. You can book these tours fast and easy using our custom-made secure platform, find lots of helpful info on our Local Feed blog (visiting suggestions, travel tips, a map, etc) and get help from us (travel advisor). Read more about how Romanian Friend works and what we do.
How Romanian Friend is this: imagine you had a good friend from Romania that you would tell: I want to visit your country - tell me everything! Where should I go, what should I see, eat and do?
That's Romanian Friend.
(if not interested, you can skip to What's in it for you part)
As a Romanian expat who likes to travel (a lot!) SO MANY people have asked me what else to visit in my country (except for Dracula Castle) that I soon realized there aren't any good recommendations, reliable info or modern websites out there to answer this question - so I decided to do something about it on my own.
At this point you might ask How bad is tourism in Romania? - well, pretty bad!
Low number of visitors (2,7 million in 2016 country-wide compared to 17 million in Amsterdam!!), lack of a clear and modern strategy from the Government to promote Romania as a travel destination, no information about representative and traditional local communities and sights (except for Dracula - again!), underdeveloped tourism infrastructure (city info points, maps, English boards, etc), a fragmented services market with lots of individual guides acting on their own with little online visibility or support, and the list can go on endlessly...
Since I'm proud of my Romanian roots and know the good - and less good - parts about my country, I founded Romanian Friend to solve these problems and be a friend to both travelers and local tourism.
With Romanian Friend I personally created a network of handpicked, independent and trusted local guides, small business owners and non-profit organisations all over the country who offer authentic, off the beaten path trips and truly local travel experiences. are selected and reviewed by me and my team because we want to promote the right people with great services, extensive knowledge and real passion for what they do. The best of Romanian tourism, really.
Why? Because Romanian Friend's mission is to support inclusive and responsible tourism through (our) tours that spread the financial benefits of tourism by including the on-the-ground economies of local communities. We connect travellers directly with locals in Romania - and that's one of the travel experience you can get.
No one else is doing this for my country, not even the Government; and foreign-based travel companies aren't as invested as I am, nor can they pretend to be without the dedicated local knowledge+network.
That's why I would appreciate with our mission - just confidently book a tour with us. That will support Romanian Friend and enable us to continue our work. We're self-funded, trying to grow into a sustainable business model, fyi. A start-up, if you will, since it's such a buzzword.
A lot, and here's why:
If you book any of our tours you will save precious time, energy and uncertainty because you don't have to look for guides and trips on your own on 10+ websites, contact them individually to ask for missing details or availability and possibly miss out on a great experience. Romanian Friend is a marketplace with the most interesting tours all over Romania (80+) and the most knowledgeable and friendly guide-partners (30+ ) -- everything you need in one place, with our instant and quick support!
Second, we make sure you get a great deal and value for money on any of our tours because we know the real costs of being a tourist in Romania and review tour prices so that they are fair for everyone. Nothing here is overpriced.
Third, you get a personal reward by doing local travel that benefits local communities - we believe this is the best way to experience a new culture, especially ours, and we know what a great Romanian experience should look like - that's why everything you see here is carefully selected.
Finally, you get our friendly help (aka travel advisory service) with whatever Romania-related questions you may have for planning your trip, as well as quick and instant support with your booking and travel planning. I've travelled a lot in my country, have an extensive network of contacts and know a lot of things. That's what a friend would do, right?
Meeting the locals, seeing our famous countryside (hello Transylvania!), hiking our wild Carpathian Mountains, enjoying meals with locals over a glass of palinca or learning UNESCO handcrafts hundreds of years old - that's what your Romanian Friend recommends you do if you visit our country - have a look at our selection of local life tours in Romania.
So that's what your Romanian Friend is ‘about’ - helping you discover the beauty of our country while having a great time on our tours and making a difference for the locals and communities you will see - our mission.
I invite you to explore our website, find inspiration on where to go in Romania and get help from us if there's anything you need! And if you want to just stay in touch for your future travel plans you can subscribe to our quarterly newsletter, we always have some goodies prepared :)
Thanks for reading and sorry I couldn’t keep this story shorter!
p.s. did you know that the U.N. declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism? that's how important responsible travel can be! :)
p.p.s. it's 2018, I know, but we can continue last year's trend :)