20 BEST TOWNS IN ROMANIA
20 BEST TOWNS IN ROMANIA, one of the biggest and most culturally varied nations in the EU is Romania. You may travel an hour in any direction and see a significant change in the terrain. Rocky peaks give way to lowlands, undulating hills, and then back to mountains. A sizable portion of the country’s eastern coastline is made up of beach towns that provide views of the gorgeous Black Sea.
Several influential powers throughout history have shaped Romania’s people and culture. The name “Romania” means “Land of the Romans,” and you can even see traces of Rome inhabiting this land in archaeological sites scattered throughout the country. Their language more closely resembles romance languages like Italian and Spanish than those of their Slavic neighbours Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine.
More recently, Romania has undergone massive growth and change. In 1989, citizens ended over 40 years of Communism by ousting Nicolae Ceauşescu. Though they’ve developed ties with the west and ascended to the EU in 2007, you can still see remnants of their not-so-distant past in the form of monuments and architecture from Communist times.
20 AMAZING ROMANIAN CITIES TO VISIT
We couldn’t leave out the capital city.
Most Romanians bemoan Bucharest as “not a true representation” of their country or culture.
There’s a good chance your trip will begin here, though, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
You can’t miss the Parliamentary Palace, built by order of Ceauşescu during his rule.
This giant, white marble monstrosity is the heaviest building in the world and the second-largest building by area after the Pentagon.
Palace tours are available; if you don’t want to line up, book your ticket online here.
Take a stroll down their wide boulevards, typical of the communist style.
In the summer, endless patios and terraces line these streets from cafes and restaurants.
Walking tours provide an excellent opportunity to explore and get to know the city. They’re available in various themes, which you can browse along with day trip options here.
Constanța is the largest city on Romania’s Black Sea coast in the east.
It may not be as popular as the Bulgarian coast to the south, but it’s a hidden gem that most foreign tourists have yet to discover.
The city is a big port and naval base, but some beaches are walkable from the city centre.
The waterfront is alive with festivals and concerts during the warm months.
While walking the promenade, you can’t miss the city Casino. No longer in function, it’s still one of Romania’s most iconic pieces of architecture.
If you prefer a quieter getaway, Constanța is your access point to the rest of the seaside. From there, you can escape to smaller towns with beaches and villas like Costineşti. If time is limited, you can also do a day trip to Constanta from Bucharest.
Timişoara is Romania’s third-largest city, located in the far-western reaches of the country near Serbia and Hungary.
Its appearance differs drastically from that of Bucharest and the rest.
Rather than big, hulking apartment blocks from the communist era, they’ve held onto their Austro-Hungarian heritage and have one of Romania’s most beautiful town centres.
Standing in the middle of Victory Square, you’d think you’d been teleported to Central Europe with its colourful, baroque architecture.
One of the best places to pass the time in town doubles as a cafe and mini-museum.
Scârț, a Chill Place, is always teeming with locals stopping for a coffee or beer.
Its unique location inside a house gives it an incredibly inviting atmosphere.
Beer in hand, you can walk down to their basement, where the Museum of the Communist Consumer makes its home.
It’s a gallery of items commonly found in Romanian homes in communist times.
You can step inside this little time capsule for free to see a range of items, from TVs and toys to bottles of famous brandy and even framed photos of dictators.
Scârț, a Chill Place, and the Museum of the Communist Consumer are both located at Strada Architect Laszlo Szekely 1, Timișoara 300191, Romania.
Cluj-Napoca (pronounced “kloozh-napoka”) is in central Romania and is the first of many cities in this list worth visiting in Transylvania.
If you learned some Romanian phrases for your trip, you might realise that you’ll have difficulty understanding what people on the streets are saying.
Like many places in the region, the city’s identity reflects its strong ties to its Hungarian heritage.
You’ll see street signs in Romanian, Hungarian, and then English.
Despite the town’s traditional appearance, it’s one of the most youthful cities in the entire country thanks to its massive student population.
Find your way to Strada Piezişă on the weekend. It’s a street lined with pubs where the young folks hang out.
Cluj also has one of the country’s most diverse gastronomy scenes. Try gourmet editions of Romanian classics, Neapolitan pizza, craft beer and burgers.
Sibiu is another Transylvanian beauty located between Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca.
Unlike many of the Hungarian-influenced towns in the area, Sibiu boasts more of a German look.
It’s known far and wide as one of the best cities in Romania to try traditional Romanian food.
Typical of Eastern Europe, their cuisine consists of dishes that sustain you through long, cold winters.
Expect meat-heavy soups and stews with lots of pickled veggies on the side.
You can’t leave the country without trying mici (pronounced “meech”). They’re little sticks of mixed, minced meat char-grilled and served with mustard and bread.
Feeling a little more adventurous? Order some ciorba de burtă– a deliciously creamy, garlicky broth with tripe.
Sibiu’s centre is full of traditional restaurants. Crama Sibiul Vechi is a good example of one.
You can find them at Strada Alexandru Papiu-Ilarian 3, Sibiu 550160, Romania.
Sighişoara is in Transylvania, too, just over 90 km (55.9 miles) down the highway from Sibiu.
Their perfectly preserved walled city centre earned the city a spot on UNESCO’s world heritage site list.
No Transylvania visit is complete without a walk around it and you can go independently or with guided tours.
Automobile enthusiasts might be familiar with the area because of its proximity to Transfăgărășan, a stretch of mountain highway made famous in Top Gear.
It’s a popular test-driving site for new car models, and the scenery is incredible.
If you’re renting a car, you can take it on this highway. Relying on public transport? You can book a road trip through Transfăgărășan here.
Arad is in Romania’s western edge, an hour’s drive to the north of Timişoara and a popular stopover point for transportation between Budapest and Bucharest.
It’s one of the country’s most well-organised, pristine cities, with well-maintained green spaces lining the wide boulevards and town squares scattered around town.
A handful of churches are worth seeing, like the Red Church and the main Roman Catholic Cathedral.
You can also explore Romania’s Jewish heritage with the impressive Arad Synagogue in the centre.
Arad isn’t the most developed city for foreign tourists. Consider hiring a tour guide to get the most out of your time in the historic centre.
Braşov is in central Romania and is the most popular Transylvanian city.
Its beautiful town centre is surrounded by mountains on all sides, the tops of which are walkable from anywhere in the city.
Google “Braşov” and most photos will show its most iconic landmark, a nod to the Hollywood sign hanging in the mountains above, only it says “Braşov.”
Most people who visit insist on visiting the nearby Bran Castle, more famously known as Dracula’s Castle.
This former royal residence is said to have inspired the legend of Count Dracula.
Today, you can tour the place without fear of vampires. Book your visit via the castle’s official ticket portal, or join a tour that provides transportation and a trained guide for the trip. If time is short, take a day tour from Bucharest to visit Brasov, Bran Castle and Peles.
Nestled in between the mountains and located a convenient one-hour drive south of Cluj-Napoca, this town is a perfect escape from city life.
It’s the second UNESCO World Heritage Site on this list because it’s a perfect example of a typical Romanian countryside village in the past.
Most towns of this type have modernised and no longer have tiny cottage homes with wooden stove heating in the winter.
Rimetea has an ethnographic museum, but taking a walk around the centre is an even better look at how people used to live in this corner of the world.
Tour operators provide transport and guided tours of Rimetea from Cluj. It’s often paired with the Turda Salt Mine.
10- SIGHETU MARMAṬIEI
This town (pronounced “sea-get-oo Marmats-yay”) is nestled far in the northeast on the banks of the Tisza river, Romania’s natural border with Ukraine.
It’s one of the centres of cultural life in the Maramureș region – the country’s most remote and uniquely traditional part.
The people of Sighetu are incredibly hospitable and welcoming toward foreign guests.
You’ll likely sleep in this town if you come to the area. However, the most popular attractions are just 20 minutes down the road in Săpanțâ.
There, from the road, you’ll notice a tall cathedral coloured in elegant patterns with purple, green, and white tiles.
Behind this church, you’ll find the Merry Cemetery, a burial tradition like you’ve never seen before.
Over time, locals have buried their loved ones with quirky, colourful grave markers painted to depict their lives and careers and, sometimes, how they died.
Each grave has a story inscribed, describing what the deceased was known for.
Almost any tour operator in the Maramureș region will bring you to this area.
11- BAIA MARE
Baia Mare in Northeast Romania is the largest city in the region and the capital of Maramureș.
If you want to visit smaller attractions in the area but don’t care to camp or sleep in rural accommodation, then this is the place for you.
You can easily use it as a jumping-off point for hikes.
Baia Mare’s city centre has everything you need, including shops, cafes and restaurants.
There are few tourist attractions in the city centre, but it’s a nice place for peaceful walks.
Their museum of mineralogy is a unique option, as are their Orthodox Christian churches.
The mineralogy museum is at Bulevardul Traian 8, Baia Mare 430212, Romania.
Iaşi (pronounced “Yash”) is another excellent example of a city whose young student population breathes life into the area!
It’s a bustling college town with tons of nightlife and events catering to young people, but that’s hardly the beginning.
It’s also an important cultural centre with over a hundred historic churches and monasteries spread throughout the metropolitan area.
Several are spread along the main Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard, such as the impressive Mănăstirea Sfinții Trei Ierarhi.
Get up close and admire the intricate pattern carved out of its marble exterior from the ground up to the domes.
Don’t have much time in Iaşi? Get the essence of the city with an e-bike tour.
Ask a Romanian what you need to see and almost everyone will advise you to pay a visit to the Bucovina region as soon as possible.
Tucked away in the northeast, it’s a region full of lush green hills and small mountains shared with Ukraine.
Provincial life is alive and well here, with many of the region’s inhabitants owning farms or small shops.
Drive through in the fall and you’ll see roadside vendors selling the biggest mushrooms you’ve ever seen.
They pick them fresh from the surrounding forested hills and they’re a delicacy.
Suceava is your gateway to Bucovina.
Though lacking in tourist attractions itself, it has plenty of accommodation options.
You must visit the painted monasteries spread around the region’s villages. Many tours drive you from monastery to monastery.
14- SULINA (THE DANUBE DELTA)
A few hundred kilometres north of Constanța, Romania’s coastline is still going strong however, the landscape changes drastically from sunny beaches.
At the mouth of the Danube river stretches out a massive delta region.
This place, relatively unspoiled by foreign tourism, is one of the dreamiest places in Romania.
Sulina is the region’s biggest hub and is not reachable by car. Ferries and speedboats are this community’s lifeline.
You can access the region from the city of Tulcea, also situated along the river.
After a magical, three-hour boat ride towards the edge of the world, you get off the ferry in what seems like a different world.
Sulina, a fishing village and stopover for cargo ships, has plenty of guesthouses and affordable seafood restaurants which graciously welcome visitors.
You can get to Sulina by taking the public ferry, but many guides offer faster private transportation and tours.
15- CAMPULUNG MOLDOVENESC
Campulung Moldovenesc is a quaint little town in the heart of the Bucovina region.
You can walk around the centre in just an hour or two.
Try local food like mushrooms in cream sauce with mamaliga (polenta) in one of their many taverns.
It’s a great place to take easy walks through the nearby mountains and forests. Trails are well-marked and not too difficult.
Pietrele Doamnei is the most famous hiking destination just outside the town.
Hike up this quick trail and admire its glorious limestone formations.
Borșa is a small town in the Maramureș region.
Although it looks like a remote settlement on the map, it’s quite modern with several hotels, chain supermarkets, and pubs and restaurants.
In the summer, the town is full of hikers eager to conquer the Rodna Mountains National Park.
Romania’s mountain trails are world-class, well-marked and afford impressive views in the right weather conditions.
There are a few entrance points to the park, but Borșa is on the highway and the easiest to reach.
Leave for the mountains from here and you’ll likely see Varful Pietrosul, one of the park’s highest peaks with a couple of lakes nearby.
When people think of Maramureș, they usually think of rural communities where life is more peaceful and slowed down.
They probably don’t associate it with a world-class spa and resort.
Just off the highway in the village of Petrova is Dacii Liberi, a hotel and spa set at the foot of the mountains.
It’s a popular getaway for Romanians – most of their guests at any time are busy folks from Bucharest escaping the city on a long weekend.
For what you get, the place is affordable. Rooms include access to the spa and breakfast buffet, a selection of gourmet delicacies sourced from the region.
They also have a huge camper lot out back for backpackers and road trippers. Pay a small fee for the lot and get access to the buffet and spa.
Visit Dacii Liberi’s website for prices and availability and to read more about the rooms and spa.
18- MIERCUREA CIUC
This town (pronounced “myerkur-ey-ah chewk”) is another spot worth visiting in Transylvania.
You can learn about the region’s Hungarian heritage by visiting the Szekler Museum, a 17th-century castle converted into a gallery and learning centre.
You can see local art but also learn about the people who inhabited Ciuc past and present through the lives of famous historical figures presented in the museum’s exhibit.
The town is also a stone’s throw from the Ciuc Mountains.
Some of the trails are the most popular in Romania.
Make Dej another stop on your Transylvanian grand tour.
The small town has several tourist sites, including the Locomotive and Dej Municipal Museums.
Their city centre even has a tourist information centre, where they happily receive foreign visitors and provide them with intel on the best things to do in their town.
Be sure to check out their synagogue, located just a street over from the info centre.
If you have a car, take a 10-minute drive out of town to see the St. George Monastery. Taxis to the monastery are also a cheap option.
20- CHIŞINAU, MOLDOVA
Ok, we admit this isn’t a real Romanian city. However, it’s your best chance to visit the Moldovan capital with daily train connections from Bucharest and Iaşi and a local airport with few expensive connections.
It’s a logical choice to bundle Romania and Moldova together, as they share a common language, Romanian (some locals will refer to it as Moldovan, but they are almost identical).
The country was once part of the Soviet Union, so Russian is also spoken widely.
Though rarely considered a wine country, they have a long-standing tradition of wine production.
Moldovan wine is affordable and plentiful!
Chişinau’s suburbs are home to the world’s first and second-largest wineries in the world, Mileştii Mici and Cricova.