Today, I am here to share the list of the top 10 cities I think you must visit if you’re planning a trip to Romania. While it will be difficult to see them all if you only spend a week or less here, you can always come back and visit more.
No matter if you’re planning to visit Romania for a vacation or you want to move here for good, there are quite a few cities in Romania that should be considered must see.
I am talking here about major cities that I am sure everybody will love. But I have also shared a list of smaller cities to visit in Romania, which are lesser known. I’m sure you’ll love those to – so read that list after you’re done reading this one.
Now, let’s move one and check out my list of the top 10 cities to visit in Romania. I loved them all – and I am sure you will enjoy visiting them too!
I won’t write too much about Bucharest, as there are quite a few article about it on this blog, including the complete overview of the city – so you should check it out if you want even more details.
I will say that Bucharest is Romania’s capital and one of the most developed cities in the country, as well as the largest.
Here, you can see the famous Palace of the Parliament, explore the Old Town with its charming streets and great restaurants or simply stroll around trying to find a hidden gem that’s off the beaten path.
The architecture itself is not very impressive outside of the very center, but you will surely never get bored here, especially since recent and pretty much chaotic development over the recent years brought a fresh breath of air into the city.
We can say that Bucharest is a city of contrasts, one where anybody can find something to love or hate. And if you need more advice about it, here are the top 10 things to see in the city.
2. Cluj Napoca
Many people consider Cluj Napoca the most charming city in the country (fighting a close battle with my next recommendation), so you know you’re up for a treat when you visit!
Hosting Romania’s arts and cultural centers, the tallest church in the country and, especially in the central area, some amazing buildings and attractions, Cluj is really a city worth visiting if you ever come to Romania.
The people living there are considered to be more laid back than those in the rest of the country, more educated and with a more “western” mentality (not as in Cowboys, but Western Europe).
Plus, the food there is absolutely delicious thanks to its Hungarian influences and recent developments have really improved the already vast offering in all areas.
Elegant and romantic, with fortified churches, castles and art museums, Cluj is that type of city that you risk falling in love with!
I wrote more about it here, so make sure to check that article as well to get a better understanding of Romania’s gem.
A gem that is becoming more and more expensive to live in, following its recent developments – rental prices are going up, but fortunately at a similar pace with the city itself which is growing each day.
After being elected the Cultural Capital of Europe back in 2007, Sibiu grew in popularity among Romanians and foreigners and fortunately managed to improve a lot as a city too.
As a result, it is now one of the most beautiful in the country, while still offering that old-school charm that everybody prefers instead of the communist apartment blocks.
With Gothic architecture and a cosy feeling (even though it’s a large city), Sibiu offers some impressive attractions like the Brukenthal Palace – one of the oldest museums in the world.
As I said, it still has a bit of that medieval feeling alive and kicking in the areas that haven’t been touched by the communists and it is considered by many the most beautiful city in Romania (probably those who don’t consider Cluj to be the one). Either way, it’s definitely worth visiting so make sure to put it on your list!
One of our readers moved to Brasov a while ago and himself, as well as his family, love the city so chances are that you will really enjoy it too!
The central area, home of the Black Church, is absolutely amazing, while the surroundings are even better: you have mountains on the sides offering breathtaking views.
There’s also the famous Poiana Brasov just a stone’s throw away, a resort that turns into a real winter wonderland and comes as an added bonus when visiting the city.
You can also find the Rope Street in Brasov – the narrowest street in the country (and one of the narrowest in the world) – as well as many other attractions, including great places to taste delicious food and/or enjoy your time. Check out the best pubs in Brasov here.
Now, it’s not one of the blog’s readers, but yours truly who has moved to Constanta recently. And I have to say that I did fall in love with the city, although it wasn’t love at first sight.
Although the city itself is not insanely spectacular, it still has a lot to offer thanks to its close proximity to the sea, including some of the best beaches in Romania.
The city is right by the Black Sea, within walking distance to the country’s most popular resort, Mamaia and close to every other resort and village by the Black Sea (as well as our Bulgarian neighbors with their set of beaches and attractions) with quick connections by car, bus or train.
The city managed to grow a lot in the past few years and looks a lot better than it did in the past, so you should definitely visit it during the summer – and make sure you make a day trip to Mamaia and enjoy the beaches, even though it’s the most crowded time of the year.
I have to admit that I wasn’t really a big fan of Timisoara until recently and in my first draft of this article, I didn’t include it on the list.
But just like all the cities in Romania, Timisoara has grown and improved tremendously – as I found out during a visit to the city.
The central area is absolutely beautiful, most of it rennovated and in a great shape, with historical buildings catching your eye, with beautiful parks and an amazing river going right through the city.
This is where the Romanian revolution in 1989 began, the one that overthrew Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and gave birth to democratic Romania… and some of the buildings in the central area still have the bullet holes from those dark times.
7. Piatra Neamt
It’s time to start looking at cities that are not usually recommended by travel guides you can find online, but places that are definitely worth a visit since they are indeed truly spectacular.
Piatra Neamt is one of the hidden gems in the country, situated in the Moldavia region.
A smaller city (around 80,000 people live there), Piatra Neamt is surrounded by beautiful hills and forests, also offering a breathtaking gondola lift to the nearby Cozla hill, where you can ski during the winter.
The city itself is one of the greenest in the city (“green” as in parks and green spaces) and it’s also close by to the Ceahlau and Vanatori national parks, the charming Neamt monastery and basically opens up the road for visiting some of the greatest monasteries in Romania.
It’s not one of the easiest cities in Romania to get to by train or car, but it’s certainly worth all the trouble of getting there! This also makes it a gem that’s not particularly spoiled by tourism yet and as Romanian as it gets.
8. Alba Iulia
Just a few years ago, I would’ve said that Alba Iulia is one of the ugliest cities in the country, but fortunately things have changed a lot after its entire central area and surrounding citadel ruins have been modernized with EU funding. And the city kept improving ever since!
So now it’s a real joy to visit Alba Iulia and there’s a lot to please the eye! And it’s not just the renovated central area and the beautiful citadel nearby the city that you must see.
It also has an impressive natural park (spread over 20 hectares) where you can admire over 1,000 different species of plants and trees, enjoy the nature and realize that Romania’s not bad at all.
This is also a smaller city, but of great historical importance, since it is here where the modern Romania was born, following the grand meeting on December 1st, 1918 after which Transylvania joined the then-called Kingdom of Romania, together with other regions of the country.
As a result, it is Alba Iulia where the largest celebrations take place on the country’s National Day (December 1st) so you’re up for a major treat if you visit during that time.
I would say that Iasi doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It should be talked about more (even here on my blog, I admit it.)
Iasi is one of the largest cities in Romania, and a city with a rich history – and therefore plenty of things to see.
It was the capital of Moldavia back in the 16th century, but also Romania’s capital between 1916-1918. So yes, you can imagine that you have some solid reasons to visit.
For anyone looking for a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, this is a city that should be visited, although it usually goes under the radar.
10. Drobeta Turnu Severin
I am, of course, a bit biased with this recommendation, as it is my home city, but it’s definitely worth a visit for a weekend at least.
You’ll see everything there is to see about this city in one day, most likely, but you’ll be impressed: we’re talking about a city that’s clean, never crowded and quite beautiful, situated right by the Danube river.
It’s also really close to Orsova – a small town that you have to visit if you get here, especially for the ride on the Danube and then go even further (just a bit) either to Baile Herculane for some refreshing thermal baths or visit the world-known Bigar waterfall.
The city itself is one of major historical value, as it is here where the Romans built their bridge across the Danube back in the 100s, and the place where their armies marched in the area, basically giving birth to the Romanian nation.
You can still visit part of the bridge (called Trajan’s bridge, based on the Roman emperor that built it), as well as parts of the Roman fortress that was built here back in the first century (as well as a medieval fortress, overlooking the Danube).
In other words, a really really charming city that has a lot to offer and is definitely off the beaten path.
Is Romania worth visiting?
Yes, Romania is worth visiting as it has plenty of amazing cities with a rich culture and history, amazing places to visit – and all at a really low price compared to other cities in Europe.
Unfortunately, the communist spell that Romania was under until 1989 has left most of our cities with completely unspectacular concrete apartment buildings that look horrendous, but also with a relatively poor infrastructure and few more modern attractions, even though things have improved dramatically since Romania joined the European Union.
What I am trying to say is that if you come to Romania hoping to be impressed by the architecture and the cities themselves, you will most likely be disappointed – unless you really like looking at apartment buildings from the communist times…
On the other hand, if you come with lower expectations, you might actually be pleasantly surprised as there are still some hidden gems – either entire cities that have escaped the communist “destroy and rebuild” trend or parts of cities that still maintain their old school charm.
The truth is that most of the larger cities have that “old town” area – usually the city center, where you can still find a LOT of charm and things are getting even better lately, with renovations turning nearly derelict buildings into eye candy.
For a tourist, in the end, these will be the areas that will be visited, so you will only have amazing memories. After all, even the most popular cities in the world still have areas that are not as spectacular…
And if you you want to know for sure if you’ll like these top cities or not, there’s just one way to do it: come visit the country!
Those who did it definitely liked what they saw – but do have in mind that it’s a rough diamond here and not a fully polished one!
Most of the lists available online, as well as suggestions that you might get from people living in Romania, will usually stick to the biggest cities in the country: Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Timisoara, Constanta, most likely followed by high rising (in popularity) Brasov and Sibiu.
The truth is, as you saw above, that there’s a lot more that Romania has to offer and sometimes, staying away from the beaten track might come with some pleasant surprises.
But for first time visitors, it doesn’t hurt to go with those places that have already been tested and approved by many – myself included. I am sure you will really enjoy them. And there’s always time to come back and see more.
32 thoughts on “Top 10 Cities in Romania to Visit This Year”
Great to hear from you again! Yes, Romania has so many beautiful cities to offer. I think Timisoara also deserves to be on the list, but that’s just my opinion. I love even very small towns in Romania, especially the ones built by the Saxons like Biertan. Maybe it’s not your area of expertise, but I think Romania has so much to offer in the arts and in literature. I just read a book by Zamfirescu called “Viata la Tara.” It was tough going, I had to look up just about every second word in my dictionary, but it was well worth the effort. Now I’m plowing through Ibraileanu’s “Adela” which I think Nabokov ripped off for his “Lolita.” Well, sorry to get off tangent. If you or your wife know of some Romanian literary gems or want to tell us about your favorite artists and writers, don’t hesitate! I have found a site which has downloadable Romanian eBooks that are free (they are so old, the copyrights have expired). Last comment back on topic, I thoroughly enjoy walking the streets of Romania through Google Earth Streetview. Unlike Germany, which seems very paranoid, Romania has give Google free rein to put all Romanian cities and towns in Streetview. I highly recommend it.
Hello Stuart, I too believe that smaller towns deserve to be visited as there is a lot of hidden charm here and there. I have never been (virtually or otherwise) to Biertan, but I will surely check it out!
Regarding the Romanian literature, I could say that I am not a huge fan of it as I am not a huge fan of classical literature. However, I can recommend – based on what friends and family consider great Romanian literature and what you enjoyed, the following: Morometii by Marin Preda, Maitrey – Mircea Eliade, Descult – Zaharia Stancu and Camil Petrescu’s books.
PS: I also love to explore cities with Streetview. I consider it one of the best things technology can offer.
Keep telling us more. Your insight is invaluable. I will only be in Bucharest and Timisoara this spring but this is good information for future trips and virtual exploration!!
That’s a very good start, Tim! I really hope you will enjoy your stay in Romania!
I already knew l would like Bucharest and Brasov, but now l have to add Cluj and Sibiu to it. They look great from the images. There are no flights from Seville to Romania, but l recently discovered that Wizz Air flies there from Malaga, so it has come back on my radar, even though it looks like we are filled up once again till October, but we will get there at some point.. :-). Great post.
I’m happy to hear that I managed to add some more cities to your list and I can only hope that you will enjoy them if you manage to get here. I personally believe that the best time to visit Romania is during the summer (if we don’t have the green grass and trees, then all the grey concrete buildings make everything look more sad)… but then again there are surely better places to visit during the summer :))
I know that there are no direct planes to Seville, but Malaga is indeed an option and there are other cities in Spain that offer flights to Bucharest, so you could surely find something!
Such gorgeous buildings, C!! Much more breathtaking than the modern buildings of today. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
There are a few left, indeed. Hopefully the new ones they build will be as impressive for the people in 100 years from now as these old ones are for us today.
I will be in Drobeta Turnu-Severin this Sunday 24th April until the following weekend.
Could you point me in the right direction, please, for seeing Baia Herculane and Orsova (I’m up for a boat ride!)? Also is the waterfall near Drobeta or near Baia Herculane?
As well, do you know anything about gyms I could use for either a weekly membership or a pay as you go basis? Or failing that, any hotels that have a gym available with weights, etc.?
Looking forward to seeing your part of Romania!
Hello, Mark! Seems that Chiajna gave you the perfect opportunity with their schedule to stay for one week here 🙂 This weekend is the city’s celebration so if you arrive early in the morning, you might still catch a bit of that as well.
Regarding the nearby towns, I am not 100% sure that there are any tours to them from Drobeta, but both are a very short bus/train ride away. I know for sure that Herculane has tours in Orsova, including surroundings and boat trip (if not, it’s still very easy to set up a boat trip visit when you get there, as there are people waiting for customers). The Bigar waterfall is relatively close to Orsova.
There are a few gyms available here so it all depends on where you will be staying. If it’s OK with you, we can talk via email – either send me one using the Contact Me page that’s on the light blue bar at the top of the website, or I can send you an e-mail – just let me know if that would be OK.
Hi Calin, yes, and it falls during my 2-week holiday from work which is perfect. So I’ll see the great Chiajna play both in Timisoara and Craiova and also get to see Pandurii vs. Dinamo for good measure!
Sounds like the easiest thing to do is go to Orsova and organise all the fun from there…..
Yes you can email me, please do!
I will be staying at the Hotel Continental for one day and then at the Traian for 4 days, though I may change my booking if it is easiest to use a hotel gym at one of the other hotels.
For when we visit in Romania, how can a traveler from the US use their cell phones? I have an old Iphone 4 that we can take. But we have monthly contract phones in the US as they are much cheaper to use. Not sure how all of this would work in Romania. Please help.
I am sure you could easily use your US cell phones, although Roaming fees might be high (you should check this with your carrier). Alternately, you could buy a sim card here in Romania which would cost as low as 3 Euros and use it instead. Finally, you could take advantage of the high speed internet and numerous free WiFi locales and call back home via the Internet using Skype, Facetime or anything like that. If you’re planning to move here – so not just a visit – then you should know that a decent monthly contract for mobile phones would be as low as 6 Euros per month for unlimited minutes and text messages and 500 MBs of internet – that’s surely cheaper than in the US!
Good points, but beyond just buying a sim card in Romania, how do the actual phone prices compare for something comparable to a Samsung Galaxy or iphone 6 in Romania ? If I can get a comparable price there to the U.S., then instead of upgrading here, I’ll just hold onto mine until I leave and give mine to my cousin, and just get a new one when I get over there. Thanks!
I don’t know what the prices are compared to the US, but you can check them out on emag, which is the biggest online store in the country: http://www.emag.ro/brands/telefoane-mobile-accesorii/brand/samsung/all-products?ref=banner_1_1
However, the prices above are for buying the phones only. If you get them from one of the mobile companies and sign a contract for two years, the cost of each phone model drops quite a bit, some older models being offered for free, depending on the contract you sign. Either way, I believe that it won’t be more expensive than in the US.
Thank you very, very much for your website. My husband and I found your site because we’re thinking of moving to Romania. We’ve now read every article you’ve written here. Your site is by far the most useful resource that exists for understanding life in Romania as a resident. Realistic, honest, broad in focus and thorough in depth… really, this site is a goldmine of information. Thank you.
We’d like to ask you – and your readers – for a suggestion of a city/town. We plan to live in Romania for 4 months, May through September. I feel sheepish to ask for personal suggestions of a great location, particularly as your site has wonderful pages about well-known cities as well as lesser known towns, but we’ve spent a lot of time researching so far and haven’t managed to find a good place on our own.
What we’d like:
1. Warm weather from June to September. For us, that means daytime highs above 25 (C) and nighttime lows no lower than 14. That eliminates some great mountain places like Piatra Neamt, for example.
2. A really pretty place. “Eye candy”, as you write on your site :). Could be great architecture: cobblestone streets, medieval buildings. Maybe amazing views of a mountain, river, or forest. Or in the best of all worlds, architecture plus nature!
3. Walkable. Easy to live life without cars or public transportation. Pleasant atmosphere, not having to walk along large highways to go to the store, etc.
4. Possibility to actually live in a pretty part of the city. What I mean is this: We’ve found several Romanian cities which have a pretty, historical area. But in the cities we looked at, it seems that the center area is very small, and the rest of the city isn’t so pretty. Unfortunately, most furnished apartments/houses for rent we’ve found in these cities aren’t in the historical center; instead, they’re in the non-descript, characterless neighbourhoods.
We’re flexible on everything else. Any size: small towns up to cities. Any location in the country.
We don’t care about restaurants, nightlife, museums.
Our budget for rent and housing expenses is 700 eur/month.
About us: we’re an older couple, very active, very healthy.
Regarding language, we’ve been studying Romanian for several months. We speak several other Romance languages fluently, so after the initial hurdle at Romanian’s (many!) dissimilarities, it’s not been so bad. We won’t be fluent when we arrive, but will speak more than enough for communication. And hopefully when we leave, we’ll speak passably!
And finally, thank you again for such an informative site. It truly is the best resource that exists about living in Romania.
Thank you for your message. I might not have the perfect answer for you, but I will share my two cents here and hopefully you’ll be able to make a decision.
Most places in Romania are hot during June – September, but the climate is changing and we had some freak cold streaks and wind during the month of June and extremely hot days in September (when it’s usually colder and rainier). Of course, the places near the mountains are colder, but I still believe that most cities in Romania would meet your temperature criteria.
You are also correct about the cities. Most of them have charming areas around the city center and not much else in the rest of the city. Your best bet, in my opinion, is to find a larger city and stay as close to the center as possible. That would make it walkable (as you’ll have no reason to visit the streets filled with nothing but apartment buildings) and charming. But cobblestone streets… these are getting more and more difficult to be found here 🙂
I would suggest you to look at some cities and see which one meets most of your demands: Oradea would be probably closest to what you’re looking for (look for the Olosig area), Cluj Napoca, Iasi, Sighisoara (probably too small for 4 months) or maybe even Abla Iulia.
The problem with Romania is that the architecture is not its greatest asset and as you said, the architectural beauty and heart of the city is usually in the center, with little else happening in other areas.
You could also try AirBnb to find accommodation – that’s usually a bit more expensive than regular listings, but in better condition and areas and on AirBnbs you have all fees included (rent and expenses for water, electricty etc). You could also consider spending two months in a city and two in another to increase the chances of finding something you like.
If our readers have some recommendations of more off the beaten path cities, I’m sure they will share them with you but I honestly don’t think that we have a city to tick all your boxes.
Thank you for your kind response. It was very helpful for us.
– Thank you for your suggestion of the Olosig area of Oradea. We had already explored Oradea after reading your informative November, 2018 article about the city, but we hadn’t examined the Olosig neighbourhood in detail. After (virtually) exploring that area more, it seems quite pleasant. Very Hungarian. We still find that the nicer areas aren’t so expansive. But your advice on staying close to the center is quite good: if we could get lucky to find accommodation in exactly the right location, it seems we could build a life within a charming bubble of this city.
– Your message that most places should meet our temperature criteria made me think I was missing something and spurred me to investigate more about the weather of Piatra Neamt. It turns out there are several very conflicting reports about the average climate there. For example, this site (https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/romania/piatra-neamt/climate) shows that July has highs of 16 and lows of 8, which would be far too cold for us and why I ruled it out. But now, with more research, I’ve found several sites which show significantly higher average temperatures for July: 25/14 (https://www.unipage.net/en/city/670889) and 26/15 (https://www.worldweatheronline.com/piatra-neamt-weather-averages/neamt/ro.aspx), which is an enormous difference and would make us very interested.
I haven’t been able to find any official Romanian data source about weather to verify the accuracy of these reports.
So, as basic as it is, we’d be very appreciative if you or anyone might have information about how exactly is the weather generally in Piatra Neamt from May to September.
– Alba Iulia. Very pretty renovated area in the center, but we had categorized it as a city that’d be nice to visit but hard to live in. We couldn’t find any charming neighbourhoods for living. All the neighbourhoods with apartments/houses which we found in our (virtual) search are fairly non-descript areas that look difficult for walkability. The virtual street views we’re using might be dated, so at least what we see shows that the reform is limited to the historical centre. Would you have any suggestions on areas for living in the city which might be more charming?
– We’ve used Airbnb in several other countries and had good experiences. In Romania, there isn’t so much offered on Airbnb outside the big cities compared to the massive supply in Western European cities (an issue which is increasingly controversial in many places, as you know). But browsing the Romanian listings on Airbnb has definitely been useful for us to get a feeling for what is available and where, at least in the higher-end of the tourist-oriented market.
– We’re ok with small places. We’re academics, so we have our own projects to keep us busy during the summer, which is why we’d also be quite content with any small place that is just sweet and charming, even if it is doesn’t offer much of restaurants or cultural events. Any smaller cities/towns occur to you or any of your readers here, let’s say 15-40,000, that are charming?
The July highs of 16 degrees Celsius are surely wrong for Piatra Neamt. I think that it’s warmer that that even in the higher-placed cities like Brasov. I found this in Romanian for yearly averages: https://www.accuweather.com/ro/ro/piatra-neamt/274800/july-weather/274800 but you can also check out https://www.accuweather.com/ro/ro/piatra-neamt/274800/july-weather/274800 where they show you historic averages for the upcoming months. So highs of 26 degrees and lows of 15 would be more accurate for July, with lower temperatures (but only on rare, exceptional occasions around 16 for your dates).
Unfortunately, though, I don’t think you can find the charm you are looking for in a smaller city and just in limited areas of the larger ones. This is one of the reasons why I always said that Hungary looks much better. 🙂 Hopefully fellow readers will prove me wrong, although they are mostly people looking to visit and not those with a lot of experience actually living here…
However, I will love to hear what’s your decision and, once this is all over, how it all was for you.
Thanks for your great ideas about cities in Romania. I waited to respond until I had more info. So now, here we go: weather info to give to you, and city/town questions to ask you.
The discrepancies between published data about Romanian weather was making our decision difficult, so I had a month-long correspondence with the ANM (Administraţia Naţională de Meteorologie). The summary:
– The ANM doesn’t publish weather data. It’s only for sale. The basic weather data I’d like, which is freely available on the national weather sites of other countries, would cost thousands of euros from the ANM. Even averages aren’t freely available for each station. Quite a pity.
– If you consider ANM data to be correct, then many international websites have somewhat inaccurate data for Romanian weather. I don’t know the details, but it seems that many of the websites get their data from sources other than the ANM, hence the discrepancies from one website to another as well as the inaccuracies compared to the ANM data.
– ANM can’t give me the detailed info I’d like to understand the year-to-year variability in many areas. But they were kind enough to give me the average min/max by month over the last 30 years for a few cities. In the summer months of June, July, Aug, it is:
Brasov: 24/11, 26/12, 26/12
Sibiu: 25/12, 27/14, 27/13
Piatra Neamt: 25/14, 27/16, 26/15
Year-to-year variability could make a big difference, but this is the best data we’ll have. So based on our goal of warm summer weather with nighttime lows above 14, then Brasov is too cold even in the summer, Sibiu is on the border, and Piatra Neamt is ok.
About cities, now that I understand weather better, we’ve focused to a few places. I wanted to ask your opinion of some specific places:
Piatra Neamt – As you write in your page about beautiful lesser-known cities, Piatra Neamt’s natural setting really seems beautiful because of the geography. So we understand why it’d be considered so great, and we were quite excited about it. But at least from the pictures, the city itself doesn’t seem to have charm: it seems like a beautiful nature surrounding a fairly plain, nondescript city. Are we missing something? What’s your opinion of the city from the perspective of charm: pretty, cute architecture and walkability?
Gura Humorului, Suceava:
These cities seem intriguing. Gura Humorului, the geography is beautiful, but the city itself seems plain, without charm. Suceava, from photos it seems not so charming, not so pleasant for walking. What’s your view?
Medias – Our impression from photos is that Medias seems to have charming architecture with great walkability, at least in the center. Although it does seem fairly touristic in the center, not so many residents? But perhaps in Romania the charming places are mainly just the touristy areas. Outside the center, not so nice. What do you think of Medias?
Best wishes to you!
During the communist regime, especially under Ceausescu’s rule (over 2 decades), most buildings were destroyed and the ugly apartment buildings still standing today were built. Very few managed to escape, and this is the main reason why in most parts of Romania, it will be difficult to still find the charming architecture you are looking for. Also, this is the reason why most city centers are better than the outskirts, since he fortunately started his projects from the outside and didn’t have time to ruin everything.
Romania doesn’t have a going out, eating out mentality and except for some specific areas (usually the center), you won’t have much to do and see except for many apartment buildings. This is the case of all cities in the country.
It’s also the natural beauty that attracts people, and that is mostly the case of Piatra Neamt or Suceava / Gura Humorului (the latter is way too small for you in my opinion). Medias also has most of its charm in the central area. So in the end, it looks like you will have to compromise a bit and either choose a larger city with larger central areas and things to see, or trade away the eye candy for a smaller city.
If warm weather is what you’re looking for, it’s worth mentioning that the warmest city in the country is Drobeta Turnu Severin – again, a city that lacks in terms of beautiful architecture, but scores on cost of living, proximity to the Danube and warmth 🙂
Thanks for the great tips, Calin!
I hadn’t realized that cities were ruined from the outside under Ceausescu. Wow.
The architecture and development of Romania definitely seems to have evolved in different ways in the 20th century than in Hungary, Czech, and Slovakia, and the results seen today seem quite stark. We’re now understanding your point well.
You’re right about compromise. With your insight, we realized that it’s not so easy to get a feel for a city in Romania as it might be in other countries. So we decided that the most prudent course is to take some time to see for ourselves several of our top places, and then settle down in our favourite.
We’re desk-bound older academics, so for us, this is our big adventure of the year. I’ll write again at the end of the summer to let you know how it goes on our adventure. Perhaps what we learn might be useful for others of your readers, and at the very least, it might be interesting for you to hear more stories of foreigners living in your fascinating country.
Thanks and best wishes,
I can’t wait to hear how your adventure goes and what country/city you choose, Angela. Have a great time!
I have been visiting Romania for the past 20 years. Each time I return, I fall in love with either a new region or city. In 2018 it was the area between Sibiu and Brasov. In 2019 it was Bucharest.
In 2003 I lived in Cluj for a year and loved it. This past year I spent 10 days there, and while I loved seeing old friends, I was overwhelmed with the traffic and overcrowding.
My most visited region is Maramures, where I lived for a year with a peasant family in 1999. My host family welcomes me with open arms and my favorite homecooked foods.
I will keep returning to Romania, as there is no shortage of what one can see, do, experience, and learn. Not to mention, meeting some of the warmest, intelligent, and robust people.
I was set to return this coming October, though that is on hold due to the Corona Pandemic.
I am happy to hear that you had such a great time in Romania and that you’re always happy to return. Traffic is becoming a problem in most cities these days but hopefully the authorities will come up with some measures to prevent it from ruining our experience.
I have been to all of these cities except for Drobeta Turnu Severin and Piatra Neamt. I spent almost a month in Brasov. Indeed, my favorite city in all of Romania. I was mostly there because I was staying in Miklosvar (Miclosoara) which is not far from there. I love being in the heart of Transylvanian region with all the wonderful fresh air and mountains. But I do love Sibiu as well. There is a restaurant right before you get to old down, across from the giant hotel there, that is an old wine cellar. I can’t remember the name, but for sure had the BEST cream of mushroom soup I’ve ever had. No matter what country I’ve been to. I loved it so much, I went to this place four times in as many days just for this soup!
My least favorite was Cluj. I think it’s because that the central area doesn’t have a central old town the way Sibiu and Brasov do. I did like the fact that the taxi cabs were cheaper than Bucharest however.
Hopefully I will be able to move to the Brasov area when I retire. Even though it is more expensive there since it is a tourist town, I would be happy outside the city like Ate Mare, or Barolt or even Miclosoara. Brasov is close enough to drive back and forth. And with the American dollar, it would still be cheaper than living in the states.
Happy to hear that you had a pleasant experience in most of the cities. Cluj is now very expensive – sometimes considered more expensive than Bucharest (rental prices at least). Brasov is indeed a good destination. Sooner rather than later they will also complete the airport there, so another bonus.
Cluj-Napoca is expensive now? Well, I have read reports that it is now considered one of the top cities in the country. It’s been 10 years since I was last there and it was MUCH cheaper than Bucharest back then. And the streets were less chaotic. So that was a big plus. But coming from a tourist point of view, I found less activities to do there compared to Sibiu and Brasov.
Yes, Cluj Napoca has become the hub of the IT companies in the country (still behind Bucharest, I would say), which has driven prices insanely high, especially for apartments and houses. It has grown a lot in the past 10 years – even the Old Town area has grown a bit and it’s mostly for pedestrians, with shops and restaurants around – but still not comparable with Bucharest or Timisoara (in my opinion).
Salut, sa nu incluzi Timișoara in top orase Romania este o mare greșeală…este orașul cu cele mai multe premiere din Romania si chiar din Europa. Este un oras muzeu cu o istorie impresionanta, un oras cosmopolit si multicultural. Intr-adevăr, in ultimul timp nu a beneficiat de o promovare activa asa cum sunt alte orase din Romania, chiar daca sunt mai putin dezvoltate din orice punct de vedere. Nu iti mai spun despre alte curiozități despre Timisoara, te las pe tine sa le descoperi, asa poate iti schimbi părerea, sigur va fi alta, succes!
Timisoara has grown tremendously in the past several years and it is indeed a beautiful city. But it is on the list – it’s the sixth recommendation. (I will keep your message for a couple of days, so you can see my answer, then remove it as this is an English language blog. But I appreciate your visit and taking some time to comment).
For long stays like 4 months as a Romanian I would choose Brasov. Being a big city in romanian standards you can have a lot as comfort.
1. First you have Brasov old city and new city.
2. Then you have Brasov neighborhood Poiana Brasov in the mountain, a touristic neighborhood inside the city. Lots of hotels and restaurants there including ski resorts. You can go by walking on a mountain ROAD from Brasov to Poiana Brasov through forest for 4 hours. Forest means no restaurants and no taxi. Also you can take bus for 30 min both ways. In Winter you can take bus up and sledding back for 30 min. In summer you can go up by walking in a forest for 4 hours and down by bus is super nice.
3. Then you have small cities around like 30 000 people Zarnesti, Rasnov, Codlea
4. Then you have Fagaras 1 hour by train. It is a city with around 30 000 people. It has a castle in the center of the city and a nice park. Very nice movie theater. Movies are spoken in english with romanian caption.
5. Near Fagaras you have 2 villages safe. Sambata de sus monastery complex . Very good air close to mountain. You probably can live in the monastery for several days or one week. Very quiet . Then Dejani village . It has its own monastery there. I had an aunt in this village and stayed there . Super beautiful but the super cool thing was that I ate from her own produces. Same day eggs. A very good very fat milk from black cows called bivoli taken the same day. 100% organic food. Domestic animals around .
6. Then by train you have access to beautiful touristic mountain cities Busteni, Sinaia, Predeal. Sinaia is the city where former royal family used to stay. Super beautiful.
7. Then you have Bucharest 4 hours by train.
8. Then you can go to a church or a touristic company and book a 1 week Moldova monasteries tour.
9. You can go to a touristic company for 1 week tour of Greece and for men you can go to Athos.
10. Some touristic companies offer 1 week Jerusalem tour in Israel