2023 Travel Guide for First Time Visitors in Romania

A practical, up-to date travel guide

2023 Travel Guide for First Time Visitors in Romania

If you're planning to visit Romania in 2023 for the first time (or returning!) and are looking for a complete travel guide with info on the best places to visit, when, how, why and other practical travel tips about Romania - this article has everything you need!

We'll tell you the most important things to know about visiting Romania, general information about tourism in our country and the best way to plan an amazing holiday here!

Is Romania worth visiting? In short, YES! For the long answer - read our articles linked in this post about Romania's top tourist attractions, things to do, culture and society, public transportation and guides to our most visited cities.

We're locals on a mission to support responsible, sustainable tourism in Romania - especially after 2 hard years of Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine scare... Since 2017 we've been helping travelers discover the beauty of our country beyond the typical 'count dracula' tours - ughhh - and to give back to local communities while traveling.

With our network of 40 handpicked, best guides from all over the country, we created authentic and unique tours and experiences you can easily book through our website - and won't find anywhere else :)

Check our tourist reviews to see more and if you need any help with planning your trip or want a custom tour don't hesitate to contact us - that's what we're here for!

This guide was last updated in January 2023. So, let's get started:

The Lower Town of Sibiu

Quick facts about Romania

Located in Eastern Europe, Romania is the 9th largest European country by surface with a rich and diverse geography and incredible natural sights. It ranks 6th by population (approx. 19 mil) composed of 85% Romanians and other ethnic minorities such as Hungarians, Germans, Italian, Turks or Rroma. Romania is a NATO member since 2004 and part of the European Union since 2007.

The capital or Romania is Bucharest with approx. 2,2 mil people. The second largest city is Cluj-Napoca (0,5 mil) followed by Timisoara, Iasi and Constanta. The local time in Romania is Eastern European Time (EET) +02:00 GMT

There are many reasons why it's worth visiting Romania. Top tourist attractions include:

  1. medieval castles starting with the famous Bran Castle, Corvin Castle, Poenari Castle, Rasnov Citadel or the ex-royal residence Peles Castle built by King Carol I)
  2. hard to choose which of the UNESCO World Heritage site is more popular: the 400-year old Wooden Churches of Maramures, the 500-year old Painted Churches of Bucovina, the 700-year old Sighisoara Citadel, the Dacian Ruins or Horezu Monastery.
  3. incredible nature thanks to the wild Romanian Carpathian Mountains which earned our country the title of Europe's last wilderness reserve
  4. eclectic sights mixing communist landmarks such as the huge Palace of Parliament) with historic buildings and medieval architecture, including in medieval towns like Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara and Targu Mures in the center of the country
  5. unique attractions such as Turda Salt Mine, Hoia Baciu haunted forest or the famous Transfagarasan Highway
  6. UNESCO World Heritage site and reserve Danube Delta - 3rd best preserved in the world and home to over 160 species of birds

Another famous reason for visiting Romania is its countryside life which is like a time-bubble, charming living history museum. Small villages scattered around picturesque hills where a simple, peaceful and archaic way of life is well-preserved by hospitable and wise villagers who grow their own food and keep communities alive. There are three traditional regions where this can be best experienced aka lived each with its own culture and typical Romanian cuisine.

Transylvania is undoubtedly the most famous and a big highlight of Romanian tourism. The famous ethnographic region of Maramures (North-West) with its famous Wooden Churches and folk costumes is likewise popular. And finally, Bucovina (North-East) with its 400-year-old Painted Churches and egg-painting tradition.

  • Local tip: if you want the real, authentic experience of the Romanian countryside you'll need at least 3 days in any of these regions!

Want to see the best of Romania in 2023? Check our 9-day shared group tour with 3 departures dates during Summer. We created this unique itinerary so you experience the best of what Romania can offer: history and culture, rural life, home-cooked meals and superb scenery.

Romanian history is like Game of Thrones but without the fantasy part: at the intersection of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Russian (later Soviet) empires, our history is full of twists and turns. Always caught between wars, invasions and foreign domination (hence the numerous castles in Romania and historical sites!), our history is a testimony of our nation's resilience and determination to unite the 3 historical regions (Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldova) into one independent state - which only happened in 1918.

As for Romanian culture and people, you'll see Romanians are very friendly and hospitable who love enjoying life, food and socialising. Our Latin blood and cultural affinity for Western Europe lifestyle mixes with a Balkan vibe and Eastern traditional values inspired by our Christian Orthodox religion.

Although there are some prejudices and misconceptions about our country and people, tourists who've visited our country were pleasantly surprised and impressed by what it can offer - and we hope you'll be too! And if you're wondering who are some famous people from Romania - you might be surprised!

Now, on to the practical travel tips with things to know and the latest information about visiting Romania:

1. Entry requirements & visa

Citizens of European Union countries do not require a visa to enter Romania. Citizens from all other countries of the world may be subject to getting a visa. For more info on travel documents needed, check conditions of entry from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the list of countries for which a visa is (or not!) required. Some tourists e.g. from the United States, UK or Canada don't need a visa when entering Romania if they stay under 90 days. Make sure to double check entry requirements on your own too.

You can apply for a visa online on the Ministry's (only) official website. Holders of a Schengen visa with multiple entries (and slots still available and valid!) are not required to apply for a Romanian visa. If you want to become a Romanian citizen or find out more about getting a residence permit - we can't help with that.

As of January 2023 there are NO Covid-19 restrictions or entry requirements in Romania. Our country is open for international travel and tourism normally. There are no vaccination, mask or other travel documents or limitations inside the country either. If things change we'll update this section.

2. Romanian currency, exchange houses and card payments

The Romanian currency is Leu (RON) or Lei in plural and can be found in notes of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500, all plastic and almost indestructible! 1 Leu is divided into "bani" which are coins of 50, 10 and smaller-don’t-matter coins. Although some prices in Romania are also displayed in Euros using Euros for cash payments is NOT accepted and if someone offers you an ‘in-house’ exchange rate - you should check official rates before accepting.

  • 1 Euro is about 5 Lei and 1 USD is about 4,3 Lei - check official exchange rates published by the Romanian National Bank here); prices in Romania are generally cheaper than in Western Europe: with 1 Euro you can buy: 2 x 0.5 bottles of water or a two-way bus/tram ride in most cities or 1-2 snacks from a street pastry shop

Paying by card is very common and safe in Romania in all shops, restaurants, hotels or tourist attractions in major cities. But not in taxis, farmers market or artisan fares where you need to have cash. Debit cards issued by VISA, MasterCard and Maestro are widely accepted everywhere, but American Express cards may not always work. If you're using credit cards from a non-EU bank, make sure it's authorised for international payments (also when booking tours on our website!).

When travelling outside of cities in rural areas or in the mountains cash is king so always have Lei with you and plan your budget ahead. Some guesthouses or restaurants in the countryside don't accept card payments, especially credit cards, so ask in advance.

  • Local tip: if you're not sure, or you're low on cash and want to eat, ask first if card payments are accepted

There are plenty of ATMs in Romania (bancomat) to withdraw money from. The most common banks with safe & secure ATMs are BCR (Erste), BRD (Societe General), Banca Transilvania (local), Raiffeisen or ING. For fees, check with your local bank. In rural areas it's harder to find ATMs but every village or small town should have one near the city hall.

What currency to bring when travelling to Romania: Euros, US dollars, UK pounds or Swiss francs are the easiest to convert anywhere. When you arrive don’t use exchange offices located in airports for more than 20 € / $ / £ for taxi fare as they usually have very bad rates aimed at unsuspecting tourists. You'll find lots of exchange bureaus (casa de schimb) in Romanian cities, easily recognisable by their yellow or white street boards indicating rates offered.

  • Pro tip: rates at exchange bureaus are usually better than at banks and 90% of them have a 0 exchange fee for small amounts

View from Tampa Mountain in Brasov

3. Is Romania cheap to visit? Tourist budget and holiday costs

In short - YES. Here's why:

  1. overall, a holiday (accommodation, meals and experiences) will be 30-40% cheaper in Romania than in most Western Europe countries (eg. Spain, Italy, France), and 15-30% cheaper compared to other tourist destinations in Southeastern Europe (eg. Croatia, Greece)
  2. generally, the value-for-money you get in Romania for tourist activities (e.g. guided tours, wine tastings, fine dining, spa, tickets etc) is quite high
  3. even if in tourist cities (Bucharest, Cluj, Brasov, Sibiu) accommodation and food prices are more expensive compared to the rest of the country, there are lots of choices for every budget; and when going into smaller cities or rural areas, prices are 30-50% lower

Now, the long answer. The economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 coupled with the energy crisis, rising gas costs and increased inflation left made everything more expensive in Romania.

Hospitality and tourism businesses were hit very hard in the last 3 years. Many guides had to get regular jobs and many small business and guesthouses went bankrupt. And the surviving businesses and guides had to raise their costs to keep up with economic conditions and stay alive.

  • With 40+ guides and local partners in the whole country, we saw the economic disaster firsthand. Our bookings declined significantly. Since 2017 our mission has been to support local communities by including their services, meals and visits in our tours. So if you book a tour with us you'll help small businesses and people in Romania!

The good news (ironically!) is prices in tourism and hospitality increased all over Europe, especially in 2023. So Romania is still cheaper to visit compared with most European countries. Something else tourists visiting Romania should know is that Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu and Brasov are the most popular places to visit for tourists and thus more expensive for accommodation, restaurants, services etc. But Timisoara, Constanta and Oradea are cheaper and offer great value-for-money.

A reasonable medium budget per day for a tourist visiting Romania ranges between 30-60 Euro for accommodation, meals and small expenses. In restaurants a main course is around 25-50 Lei (5-10 Euro), soups around 10-20 Lei (2-4 Euro), drinks starting from 7 Lei while alcohol from 15 Lei. Entrance fees to tourist attractions range between 20-70 Lei.

To give you a better idea of how expensive Romania is, a 3-day city break in Bucharest or Cluj-Napoca can cost around 200 - 350 Euro in total for 2 people (excl. flights and guided tours) with generous meals and drinks included, tickets and local transport. A 7-day guided tour starting from Bucharest going Brasov - Transylvania - Sibiu costs around 1,600 - 2,000 Euro / person with everything included (cost for 2 people, depending on hotels, activities and itinerary).

Tipping in Romania is very common and usually expected. Service fees or coperto is not included when going out in restaurants (unless expressly mentioned!) and a 7-10% tip on top of the bill is common. If you’re really happy with the service you can go up to 15%. Tips for small, personal services (body care & cosmetics, hotel concierge, drivers, etc.) are also welcomed. Tipping tour guides is also common on average 10-15% of the tour price or min. 100 lei. And if the tour guide doesn't say anything (because he's shy!) - just do what feels right to you.

  • Local tip: tipping taxi drivers is also common, usually by rounding up the amount and adding 3-5 Lei. Taxi drivers in Bucharest are notorious for trying all sorts of scams on tourists, and that's why we've prepared a Bucharest safety guide to help you have a great experience

Shopping in Romania is very popular and most cities have at least one shopping mall. They're usually huge, impressive and with lots of shops and food places. In Bucharest go to AFI Palace, Promenada Mall, Baneasa Shopping City or ParkLake. In other cities, look for Iulius Mall or just ask the locals. In the Old Town of Cluj-Napoca, Brasov or Sibiu Upper Town you'll also find some shops but in Bucharest it's filled with bars and restaurants.

  • Pro tip: Romania has a long tradition for manufacturing clothing and leather goods; local brands are fashionable, of high quality and very affordable!

This is Transfagarasan Road one of Romania's top attractions

4. Romanian geography and public transportation

Romania has been blessed with a rich and diverse geography with lots of natural attractions: the Black Sea coast and Danube Delta biosphere in the East, lots of woodlands, picturesque green hills in Transylvania and the wild, impressive Carpathian Mountains (also known as Transylvanian Alps).

See our selection of Romania hiking tours you can do

Going as high as 2,544m (Moldoveanu Peak) the Romanian Carpathians and their foothills occupy almost 40% of our country's surface and divide it into three main regions Transylvania (North - West), Wallachia (South) and Moldova (North - East) [don't confuse with our neighboring country, Republic of Moldova].

  • One big reason to visit Romania is for hiking and outdoor activities. With over 100 peaks over 2.300m altitude, lots of picturesque trails for all difficulty levels, many national parks (Piatra Craiului, Bucegi, Apuseni), caves and lakes, and a wildlife population that earned our country the title of Europe's last wilderness reserve - check our travel guide for hikes in Romania to see what our country can offer!

Travelling to Romania - the simplest and most convenient way of getting into Romania is to fly here. As there are close to 4 million Romanians living abroad, there are 7 airports in the whole country (besides the main one called Bucharest Otopeni) served by low cost airlines (Wizz Air, Ryan Air and Blue Air) with flights to over 100 locations in Europe, including major capitals. If you plan well and in advance, you can find tickets as cheap as 20 Euro / way!

You can also travel to Romania using direct trains from Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia or Thessaloniki. If you’re looking for an adventure, consider an Eastern Europe road trip or maybe something more relaxing like a boat cruise on the Danube River. We prepared an article on travelling to Romania so be sure to check it out!

Public transportation in Romania will be a little more challenging. Unfortunately our transportation infrastructure is underdeveloped for road traffic and trains. There are few highways and mostly one-lane roads which are heavy with traffic (including trucks) so driving 100 km usually can take 2h. And even though there are train stations all over the country, because tracks are old and trains go slow (average of 80 km/h). At least they're cheap!

For short distances (>200 km) a car, train or bus is a good choice. For medium or long distances (300< km) you should consider breaking your itinerary or catching an internal flight (eg. from Bucharest to Cluj or Timisoara). Visitors to Romania are well advised to have travel insurance before getting here. Check our guide on public transportation in Romania for more info.

5. Weather, climate and when to visit Romania

Romania has a temperate continental climate which used to be codename for standard weather. But in recent years, perhaps due to the climate changing, the transition periods between seasons are getting shorter.

  1. Summers (June-September) are hot with averages of 32-38 C and less rainy; in August (tourist high season) heatwaves are common, especially in tourist cities, but less so in the remote areas of the Carpathian Mountains
  2. winter in Romania (December-January) is quite cold but less snowy in the cities, more so in the mountainous areas
  3. Spring (March-May) and Autumn (Sept-Nov) are unpredictable as ever: cold in the mornings and evenings (5-18 C), warm and sunny during the day (18-26 C)

The best time to visit Romania depends on your interests. For sightseeing come anytime April - October when the weather is fair and days are longer. For food and wine tourism (which is growing in popularity!) the best time is July - Oct. Peak season for tourism is 15 July - 15 September so if you're traveling then make sure to book in advance!

The best time to go hiking is from late Spring to late October. It also depends where you're going because in Fagaras Mountains, Retezat or Bucegi there can still be snow until late June and weather is unpredictable at altitudes of over 2,200m. When this happens, cable cars in the mountains stop working. But our licensed hiking guides will help you plan your trip, check weather conditions locally and inform you.

For wildlife tours - we follow nature's rhythm. Animals - especially brown bears - are active from late Spring to late Autumn, depending on how warm and cold it is. The best time to visit with the highest chances of seeing wild animals is during Summer, but these trips usually have complex logistics, go into remote areas and are in high demand - so plan them in advance!

  • Local tip: our personal favorite time to visit Romania is Autumn: starting from early September a superb array of gold, orange and brown will cover the vast Carpathian woodlands, which means traveling in the countryside will be even more wonderful!

the UNESCO World Heritage site Ruins of Dacian Citadels

If you want to visit Romania's Black Sea resorts with their golden sandy beaches, the best time for that is starting late June. Peak season is 15 July - 30 August when lots of Romanians like spending their Summer weekends by the sea. So you should book accommodations well in advance.

For the Danube Delta reserve, another UNESCO World Heritage site, the best time to visit is April - October so you can see nature at its best: lush vegetation in full power, birds nesting or preparing their coordinated long flights and lots of fish.

If you’re a fan of winter sports you should know that Romania’s ski slopes aren’t very long but the resorts of Sinaia, Predeal and Poiana Brasov are a short drive from Bucharest (2h) and are great choices. There is a cable car in Sinaia and Busteni that will take you up to Bucegi Plateau. Check our travel guide on skiing in Romania to learn more and see which are the best ski resorts and how you can plan your trip.

6. Emergencies, health services and insurance

In Romania the emergency number is 112 and an operator will ask if you want to talk to the police, fire or medical services. There are no particular health concerns you should be aware of before travelling to Romania and there are no Covid-19 restrictions in force.

No special insects or food issues around here either. We don’t have pollution or air problems (except for Bucharest during Summer heatwaves). Vegetation is very diverse and rich, especially in rural areas, so those with pollen allergies should be prepared.

As regards medical services most hospitals are public and state-owned so they will take care of walk-ins or emergencies - and settle insurance matters after. Your best chance of finding someone who speaks English is to look for young doctors and nurses. Private hospitals don't have walk-in emergency rooms.

Unfortunately healthcare in Romania is severely underdeveloped and understaffed so better lower your expectations of what a hospital should look like and how you should be treated. But medical staff is usually kind and will do their best to help you!

There are plenty of pharmacies in all urban areas and you can easily get the usual over-the-counter pills for colds, aches, indigestions or bruises.

Finally, as with travelling to any other foreign country, we highly recommend you take a travel insurance. For EU citizens, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which offers health coverage EU-wide is a good option.

7. Where to stay in Romania. Booking hotels, guesthouses and homes

Romania offers lots of accommodation choices for all budgets, requirements or styles. All of them are listed on either Booking.com or AirBnB - spend some time on both to find the right place for you to stay on your holiday.

In the most visited cities you'll find a large selection of hostels, hotels and boutique guesthouses. Lots of apart-hotels too. If you're staying in Bucharest, choose a place close to a metro station as it will be the fastest and cheapest way to navigate the large city.

The other tourist cities are not that big so even if you're not staying in the "old town" or "union square" area (usually the city centre and most crowded areas), it will probably be a 5-15 min walk away. Besides walking, I personally like to keep my healthy routines while traveling and found some easy travel workouts to do.

When visiting the traditional tourist regions of Romania (Transylvania, Maramures, Bukovina, Danube Delta) accommodation usually means a family-owned guesthouse called pensiune or casa - and no hotels. That's normal and in fact you'll have a better experience as the owners are usually around to make sure guests have a great experience. Most of them offer half or full board (aka delicious home-cooked meals with locally sourced ingredients) and we suggest you take it since in some areas there will be few other alternatives to eat out.

For hiking trips villages at the base of the mountains usually have lots of guesthouses. But sometimes the hiking trails begin a little further away so you'll need a car or guide to get there. When going deep in the mountains you'll have at most 1-2 choices for mountain cabins or chalets as Romania's hiking infrastructure is not very well developed. Hut-to-hut hiking is not possible for this reason.

Due to their very limited accommodation options and very high demand, we highly recommend you book your hiking trips in advance (min 2-3 weeks). And if you just want to spend time in the beautiful Romanian nature and enjoy superb views, then you'll have lots of beautiful cabins to choose from - all of which are accessible only by car!

And here's one of the best things about the Romanian countryside. There are many unique and charming guesthouses you won't believe it: old boyar (aristocrat) manors, restored village houses (like that of King Charles in Viscri), modern eco-luxury villas built with EU funds, large old farmhouses converted for agro-tourism or small and charming cottages straight out of a fairy tale -- see some inspiration here and make your trip to Romania memorable!

Traditional folk singers in Maramures

8. Personal safety and social norms

Is Romania a safe travel destination? Yes! There are no terror attacks, violent protests or civil disturbances here. We have very strict firearm regulations - so no crazy people with guns either! Lots of protests against corrupt and incompetent politicians, but they're peaceful, funny and inspiring and won't cause any trouble to you.

So is Romania safe for foreign tourists? Yup, and even though you may have heard/read stories about the Balkans and Eastern Europe, just do what you normally do when visiting a foreign country: don’t look for trouble, beware of pickpockets or suspicious people, ignore drunkards and people pushing their services to tourists (like taxi drivers in North Train Station), be careful at night and don't disrespect people, traditions or clearly stated rules.

Is Romania safe for solo female travellers? Generally yes, though extra care is, as always, good to have just like in other countries. Some men might make you feel uncomfortable by staring intently, calling you names or making inappropriate comments or sounds. But few dare to get physical unless their intentions are really harmful. Keep away from people you don't feel good about or look suspicious and be careful in bars.

You may have heard stories about the rroma ethnic minority (improperly called gypsy) and how they're usually involved in small thefts, cons and begging. While their reputation might be bad, not all are like that. Most of the time you will see them as beggars, even using their children for money - but don't get fooled and give them anything as you're only perpetuating the cycle and not really helping them. On our tours in Transylvania we take people to typical Rroma villages to see their authentic culture and lifestyle firsthand.

Romanian people and society is generally conservative and adheres to traditional values, especially older generations who grew up during 45 years of Romanian communist regime. 85% of the population is Christian Orthodox so major religious holidays like Easter, Christmas or Ascension are observed through public holidays (including at the most popular places to visit for tourists).

Religion plays an important role in our society, especially in rural areas where people dress up and go to church every Sunday. There are lots of historic churches valuable for small communities where priests enjoy great influence.

But beyond their religious function, Romanian churches are worth visiting because they are the true symbols of our culture and folk traditions. Romanians, though being the majority of population, were historically persecuted (especially in Transylvania) for our faith, language and culture by foreign rulers. So churches were the only safe havens and community spaces Romanians had.

But Millennials and younger generations are very liberal, open-minded, friendly, tech-savvy and influenced by Western lifestyle and values. Most, if not all, young people speak English and are very eager to help foreign visitors have a good time in Romania.

  • Pro tip: Romanians like to complain about politics, the economy and time in traffic, and love talking about sports, family events, the beauty of our country and food – so pick any of these topics to start a conversation :)

Go on a brown bear watching tour in Transylvania

9. A travel guide on how to visit Romania

As a frequent traveler myself, I spend A LOT of time researching online to see what are the most popular places to visit and interesting things to do in a new country. I compare tours, prices, check public transportation options, read forums, travel blogs, check Instagram - the usual!

But this becomes confusing, stressful and leads to analysis-paralysis when planning to visit Romania because of outdated, incomplete or vague info. Because there's no official, coordinated and strategic marketing plan, assistance or portal from Romanian tourist authorities and small tourist agencies and guides are uncoordinated,

That's why I started this website in 2017, created partnerships with the best guides in the whole country and write many articles to help you plan your trip to Romania - so you experience Romania in the best way possible on your holiday! So here's how I suggest you plan your visit:

  • second, decide the basics like how many days you're going to spend, what's your budget for this holiday, what's the best way for you to get to Romania (hint: international flights) and where to being/end your trip
  • third, beware that most tourists underestimate travel times and want to do / visit too much in too little time! For example, if you want to visit a traditional region like Maramures or Bucovina where tourist sights are spread in the surrounding areas, you'll need 2-3 days on top of the time needed to get there; and to visit the Danube Delta you need to set aside min. 2-3 full days from Bucharest;
  • fourth, considering all of the above, think about what kind of holiday do you want in Romania? to visit as much as you can? to go hiking? to experience traditional village life through slow travel (the best way)? to explore medieval towns? as you'll see, Romania has much to offer and unless you have 10-14 days or so to see the whole country, you'll likely have to come back!

Finally, here's how we can help you:

  1. a a do-it-yourself itinerary: find places to stay on your own + use public transportation + book day trips from different cities (a lot of time + energy + stress planning, but cheaper)
  2. we prepare a fully guided private tour for you with everything you want using all our expertise and guides (a couple of emails/calls with us, no stress for you, and an amazing value-for-money holiday)
  3. if you need help deciding or making a plan - we know everything about tourism in Romania and are happy to help - just contact us

Important: because Romania is such an underrated + undiscovered tourist destination, tourist numbers are very low so there are NO group, shared or bus tours in Romania. ALL tours in Romania are usually private - except for some city tours or day trips to the famous Bran Castle which everyone offers cheap!

So it's best to plan in advance and book tours at least 2 weeks or more before your travel dates (and more if you're traveling in tourist peak season July-Sept). Otherwise our guides may get booked by someone else and you'll miss out. Our cancelation policy is very flexible (1-3 days notice for a full refund). In 2023 we'll run 2 shared, small-group tours with fixed departures in the Summer so check them out:

10. Romania means MUCH more than Dracula Castle...

Romania is very popular thanks to Count Dracula touristy stories surrounding the famous Bran Castle known by its touristy name Dracula's Castle. But there's so much more to our country than just one castle from the middle ages and a fictional Hollywood character! Even though most tourists visit Romania looking for Dracula legends, once they're here and see what our country is really like - surprise and wonder sets in!

The capital city Bucharest is a bustling city of contrasts. Though rough on the edges it is by far the most diverse and attractive for tourists. The Transylvanian historic cities of Brasov, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca are equally interesting but have at most 1/4th of what Bucharest can offer in terms of activities and sights. If you're a first-time visitor to Romania, you can also consider to visit Timisoara. Known as the "City of Flowers", Timisoara is a vibrant and charming city that has something for everyone.

But Romania's culture, history and people is best experienced when traveling outside of the most visited tourist cities and into our charming countryside and impressive natural sceneries. There are lots of things to do in Transylvania and many important tourist attractions in the traditional regions of Transylvania (center of the country), Bukovina and Maramures - which is where most of our UNESCO World Heritage sites are.

The ageing locals who preserved the traditional, authentic Romanian village life have done so by keeping a low profile, away from civilisation and mass tourism. The Transylvanian countryside which made the UK's King Charles fall in love with Romania and buy village houses here can't be experienced on a day trip to Brasov and Bran Castle. You need to go deeper into rural areas with a guide who can show you around, to travel with locals on horse-drawn carts, to enjoy Romanian cuisine the home-grown and home-cooked version and experience their way of life firsthand!

Sadly, time is passing for our elders. Many Romanian villages have been abandoned and lost their ways since younger generations are no longer interested in 'old ways' of living. And if you add Romania's underdeveloped tourism and transport infrastructure in the mix, then you'll see why our honest, friendly recommendation for the best way to experience Romania is to hire a local guide - 3 reasons why:

  • first, for a decent price, you'll have less stress with planning and transport (not easy!), and you'll actually understand what you're visiting instead of just taking a picture! besides telling you more about our history and culture, our guides have their own connections to locals, lesser known places and sights you wouldn't be able to find on your own especially in rural areas
  • second, since 2017 we at Romanian Friend personally built a network of 40+ guides and partners all over the country; we selected only those who are licensed and specialised in certain travel types (history, hiking, village life, wildlife, etc.) and geographical regions and deliver exceptional services so you get great value-for-money when visiting Romania; and despite the Covid and Ukraine shocks, we kept our network alive and well - check our traveler reviews
  • finally, our tours are unique and we created them to support responsible, inclusive and eco-friendly travel so your visit will directly benefit local people and communities; we work with non-profits and conservation specialists. This is our mission so booking tours with us will support local people directly

Our guides will organise home-hosted meals for you

Bonus: open your heart to Romanian people

Final tip: if you visit Romania, spend some time to get to know locals. Romanians are very hospitable, thoughtful and warm people. They enjoy having guests and will treat you like family, feed you till you drop (literally!), bring out their best wine or tuica and generally go out of their way to make sure you have a great time. In our guide to Romanian cuisine we explain how so much of our culture and social life is connected to food, hospitality and enjoying meals together.

But so much hospitality and friendliness towards strangers might seem too much at first, or even make you feel uncomfortable. But this is just how Romanians are and an integral part of our culture: family, friends and community play a big role in Romanian life - even if Bram Stoker never mentioned this in his Dracula novel! If you have the chance, go to any Romanian festival and you'll see what I mean :)

Abandon any pre-conceptions about Romania and open your heart and mind while you're here, explore the country and meet locals. Let them show you what a beautiful country we have. Despite the uncertainties of travel, Romania will still surprise you, I'm sure of it. Why?

Because I've heard this so many times from our clients:
Wow, I never thought Romania has so much to offer!


So that's it - I hope this will make planning your visit to Romania easier! I built Romanian Friend as a one-stop-shop for those looking to visit my country so you'll find everything you need on this website.

And if there's something missing, you have a question or need help with planning - just contact us - happy to help!

Your Romanian Friend (and founder)


Follow Romanian Friend on:
Share this with your friends: