Living in Drobeta Turnu Severin, Romania: Guide to the City

Drobeta Turnu Severin is not the first city that you hear when people are talking about visiting Romania or relocating here. But this is my home town, actually and I consider it a very underrated one. You have a lot to see here, living in Drobeta Turnu Severin is cheap and the city itself is beautiful, clean and safe.

So today we’re going to talk more in-depth about Drobeta Turnu Severin: we’ll learn more about the city and why you should visit it or consider making it your new home.

We already talked about the best restaurants in Drobeta Turnu Severin, so make sure to check that article as well.

Now, back to the city of Drobeta Turnu Severin… why should you even consider visiting it? Definitely not for the long name – it’s a real gem of a city, with many pleasant surprises for those who decide to go off the beaten path and visit it.

What and where is Drobeta Turnu Severin?

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Some of the most important attractions in the city

Called by locals “Severin” and the rest of the country “Drobeta”, this small city is situated in the southwestern part of the country, on the bank of the Danube river.

It is an extremely old city, dating back to the Roman times. It was in Drobeta where Roman architect Appolodor of Damascus had built Trajan’s Bridge (in the early 100s AD), the bridge over the Danube: the place that the Romans used to invade and conquer Dacia almost 2,000 years ago.

It was the first urban center in the region and the third in the country. It can also be considered the birth place of the actual Romanian civilization since here’s where the Romans entered… and the rest is history!

However, the city has been destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries and just a few structures from the Roman era are still standing. But you do have them around, so that’s a huge bonus for the history buffs. I mean… being able to visit a city that’s at least 2,000 years old is not something you should easily pass!

Right now, Drobeta Turnu Severin has a population of around 90,000 people and in the past years has been under some serious modernization, becoming one of the more beautiful cities in Romania, in my opinion. And definitely one of the greenest (in terms of parks and other green areas, not recycling).

I decided to write about it after taking some photos in the city center a few nights ago. Even though my camera is not the best – nor are my photography skills, I am sure that you can use your imagination to see how beautiful this part is:

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The main kinetic fountain, one of the best attractions in the city
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Pietonal area near the park and kinetic fountain. Not seen are the restaurants and bars on each side of the park: they offer some great views!
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There’s also a short video I took before rage stopping it because it was mostly out of focus. I only managed to film about a third of the park (which is the smallest in the area, but also the cutest as you can easily see in the photos above and the video).

For some reason, I can no longer embed it – but you can check it here. Or look at my new YouTube channel, Romania Experience where much of the content is shot in the city.

PROs of moving to / visiting Drobeta Turnu Severin

– this is one of the cheapest cities in the country – from rent to buying a house or apartment to food and service costs.

– it is on the border with Serbia and in 15 minutes you can be in another country, eating a traditional pljeskavica and enjoying the other (and slightly better looking) bank of the Danube.

– you can easily walk from one side to the other of the city in about 30 minutes. Usually, you can get anywhere in about 10 minutes of walking. A taxi ride between the two farthest points of the city would be about 2 Euros.

– It has great parks and quite a few attractions, including the Danube river promenade, but also a medieval citadel and the old Roman ruins.

– It is really close to Orsova, a beautiful touristic spot on the Danube, as well as Baile Herculane (named after Hercules) with thermal baths and extremely clean air.

– It is relatively close to two major cities: Craiova (about 110 KM) and Timisoara (220KM). Bucharest is some 320 KM away.

– It’s being modernized constantly and it can be considered extremely safe, with minimal traffic and almost no crime

– Although it doesn’t offer that many options, there are still quite a few really nice pubs, bars and restaurants in the city where you can spend your free time.

– It’s never crowded: you’ll feel as if you are always on vacation in a silent, relaxing area.

– It is considered one of best cities in Romania regarding the weather and one of the hottest cities in the country with the mildest winters.

CONs of moving to Drobeta Turnu Severin

– It has one of the highest unemployment rate in the country, meaning that it’s one of the poorest cities in Romania. As a result, you would have a very, very difficult time finding a job here. So only come here if you have a guaranteed monthly income or if you are a tourist.

– The population is mostly made of very young people (up to high school age) and elderly people. Students and middle aged people usually prefer to move to the nearby, larger cities, although the recent pandemic has forced some to come back home.

– Older people have poor-to-no English skills, although they might know French or Russian (but this goes for the entire country).

– It’s not a very lively city and during the week it usually turns off (save a few spots – like the central area) at around 10 PM. If you’re all for the fun and parties, you won’t get a ton of those here – at least not a ton of options and variety.

– The health system is considered by locals somewhat sub-par and many choose Craiova or Timisoara for investigations or treatment. Still, there is a state hospital in the city and quite a few private clinics with good doctors so unless you have some very rare conditions or problems that require very modern tech, you should be more than fine.

– The expat community is small here (but locals are extremely friendly, like most Romanians and would certainly do their best to make you feel at home).

– It doesn’t offer a lot of options for your spare time in the city: very little in terms of entertainment, art, social clubs and so on – like most, if not all, smaller cities in the country. However, its proximity to Serbia as well as Orsova and Baile Herculane really make up a lot for that!

– It isn’t well connected to other Romanian cities (no Express roads or two-lane roads), so it’s a bit out of the regular routes. There are talks about a highway being built – but that’s still several years away (at the very best).

Top Things to See in Drobeta Turnu Severin

There are lots of attractions here in the city, but I will take a different approach now and share photos of the main ones. This way, you know exactly what to expect:

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The Kinetic fountain and theater during the day
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Large replica of Trajan’s bridge. It’s really spectacular during the night!
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The iconic water tower
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The same tower during the night
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And Trajan’s Bridge replica during the night
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Long pietonal area that’s starting to be called the “new city center”. In the central region of this street, there is a huge stage for events, small water fountains and pubs. It’s also the place where the ice skating rink is open during the winter and a large swimming pool awaits for cooling off during the summer days.
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The main boulevard, decorated for the winter holidays
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The city during the winter

Apart from the photos shared above, we also have the Medieval Citadel which also offers some spectacular views over the Danube:

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You also have the Museum, where the Roman ruins can be found. That is still currently being renovated at the moment of writing this article, so I haven’t visited it recently, but I have these photo from the official Facebook page to give you an idea (but in all honesty, the photos make no justice to the place which is much more beautiful):

Drobeta Museum Roman Ruins
Drobeta Museum Danube view
Drobeta Museum Building

Conclusion

All in all, I am sure that the right kind of person would manage to fall in love with Drobeta Turnu Severin: especially those who prefer a calmer place, a smaller city and natural, raw beauty (parks, green areas, promenade and other natural “wonders”) to man-made entertainment and feel-good places.

Also, it is a must to have your monthly income guaranteed and not come here job hunting, or only visit for a few days up to a week, as the job scene doesn’t offer much right now.

[Source for some ofthe photos, excluding the night ones in the park: Mehedintiul Meu]

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25 thoughts on “Living in Drobeta Turnu Severin, Romania: Guide to the City”

  1. Wow! It’s a lovely place C! Looks very relaxing and lovely. It sort of reminds me of Houston suburbs which are built like this. I think it would be a nice place to retire in as long as you didn’t need a job like you said (pretty much goes for all of Spain, save for the big cities). Amazing the reach of the Roman Empire . Trajan was born in Santiponce Seville, and has a bridge named for him all the way over there. It would be cool to see the Danube over there, we went on a cruise in Budapest and it was so lovely. I like this series 🙂 .

    Reply
    • I didn’t know where Trajan was born and he’s considered one of the most important people in Romania’s history. There are some really nice things to see on the Danube here – actually near Orsova (30 km away)… and then some nice restaurants to chill at 🙂

      Reply
  2. Drobeta-Turnu Severin looks cute with all those fountains. Is there any nature nearby, like for hiking or swimming? The Baile Herculane area looks nice. The Danube looks very imposing, does it ever flood? Google Maps has what looks like strip mines just to the northeast. Is that the outline of a fortress that I see on Insula Simian? I like Drobeta-Turnu Severin very much, but I would worry that I would feel a bit isolated there. I think I would end up bothering you and the Mrs. too much.

    In English, we say “pedestrian” not “pietonal” and we usually talk of medical examinations, not investigations.

    On the subject of refugees, I hope this doesn’t go bad for Germany. Sweden has been taking in many refugees from some of the same hot spots over the years and I’m afraid it hasn’t gone that well for them. We also shouldn’t forget that 70% of the “refugees” come from Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia and African nations, in other words, most are economic migrants and not war refugees. But there isn’t anything that can be done about it now. I have already noticed the cheap rents have dried up in some of the German towns I was eyeing for retirement. One has to shake one’s head when one considers the Germans have destroyed some 40,000 apartment units in East Germany since reunification in an effort to get the vacancies down and the rents up.

    Reply
    • Hello Sturat, there are a lot of areas for hiking and swimming nearby, as well as nice bicycle routes in the nature, outside the city (as an add-on to Teil’s questions). The Danube never floods because we have the Portile de Fier (Iron Gates) nearby, which is the hydroelectric power plant of the country and also serves Serbia. In other words, it’s all under control and even if there were any dangers, the city itself is a few tens of meters above the Danube.

      I wouldn’t mind you “bothering” us a lot, it seems that there are still a lot of things – basic things – that I have to learn about the English language.

      Regarding Simian, there’s an interesting story about the “fortress” there: when Portile de Fier were built, the island Ada Kaleh sank. It was the home of the largest Turkish population in the area, with houses, shops and all the nice stuff – my grandmother used to tell nice stories about the place. However, everybody left when the island sank and the government decided to rebuild, later on, a replica of their fortress on Simian Island. But apparently it was not enough and nobody decided to move there. There are talks for a few years now about turning the island into a touristic attraction, but I don’t think that will happen too soon.

      Reply
      • Calin, the last thing I want to do is give you a complex about your English. It is very, very good. I just want you to get that last bit of polish so that you dazzle even brighter than you do already!

        I had an interesting experience at a pen-pal website where I contacted a Romanian retired teacher. I wrote him in Romanian and he responded with, “Sa nu crezi ca ai scris foarte bine in limba romana. Ai ceva greseli…” Talk about taking the wind out of my sails! What did he expect? Perfection?

        Reply
  3. Question about possibly retiring to Romania. Will I have to pay Romanian taxes? If I have a monthly social security and other incomes totaling $2,000 u.s would I have to pay the 16% flat tax? I plan to ask a Romanian tax preparer too. I am very serious about retiring to Romania and Drobeta Turnu Severin sounds very nice. Figuring out how to hold on to my precious retirement income is important as I expect to have no means of earning money or getting a job in Romania.

    Reply
    • Hello Otto, I think that it would be best to speak with a tax person as they know better and even if you have to pay the 16% in tax (which might go as high as 21.5% if you also have to pay for national health insurance) – they can find ways out.

      As far as I know, if you are already paying tax for the money (or, better said, this is the income after tax) you should not have to pay tax again – it would count as double taxation. But surely a taxperson knows best.

      Reply
  4. Hello All, I am taking into cosideration all previous comments, where the comment of Otto is important to be clarified. However, what about cost of properity is it high ? in terms of renting to own small appartment or house.
    Thanks

    Reply
  5. olx.ro is the best website for finding real estate and cars in Romania. I have spent hours fantasizing about which house I would buy or which apartment I would rent. I never knew purple was such a popular color for painting one’s interior walls! I have already “selected” the Dacia 1410 with only 105,000 km on it that I am “going to buy” for a whopping 400 Euros…

    Reply
  6. I’ve really enjoyed your blog and your retirement series is a great idea. My wife and I plan to retire in Romania in less than two years. We’re looking at Cluj but are open to suggestions. Read in one book there are an unusually high amount of English speakers in Oradea.

    Reply
    • I am happy to hear that, Wade! The North-Western cities are usually my recommendations too and we’ll surely cover them all – although I won’t have a personal knowledge on them as I do with Drobeta.

      Reply
  7. It’s nice seeing other places covered. Great idea for a series of posts! I had considered this area until I realized how hot summers were there compared with the more mountainous regions. I definitely can’t wait to visit though.

    Reply
  8. Thanks a lot for this accurate report about your out of the beaten tracks city.
    Do you know how easy or difficult it is to get to Drobeta Severin from Cluj by bus or train?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hello Julien,

      I don’t know anything about buses – there might be some direct rides, but most likely they will go just like the trains. The train ride is divided in two: Cluj – Timisoara, then a train from Timisoara – Drobeta. It’s a 10 hour ride on the train, though…

      Reply
  9. Really great info! It would be really helpful to expand this series to other, less known cities that may be good for aspiring retirees.

    Reply
    • I am happy you found this useful. I am planning to cover the major cities first and while I do that, I am doing research on other hidden gems as well. Not going very fast since this is a one-man-show, but we’ll get there 🙂

      Reply
  10. Hello C
    Recently I started searching about Romania,especially about Drobeta Severin
    . I’m polish ,who lives in London …. I met love my life who is Romanian he comes from your city . We are planning to live there, so glad that I found your article ,but a bit concern if I will be able to work in your country 🙁 with English language . As I read in that city is not many opportunities to work especially if I don’t know Romanian 🙁

    Reply
  11. I’m an expat living part-time in Severin. C.’s evaluation is spot on. It’s like a storybook town especially in the winter when it snows. But it’s 3.5 hours to the nearest airport.

    Reply
    • I am happy to hear that you agree with everything I’ve said about the city. There’s a closer airport than Timisoara – it’s in Craiova and it has international flights too, but the offer is extremely limited at the moment.

      Reply
  12. Hello C. Love your articles, insight, photos and videos. Looks like a wonderful place to retire and enjoy life. Retired 54 year old male and his 50 year old wife (we are active and workout 5 days a week) but would like somewhere cheaper and more relaxed pace of life than here in the U.S. Debating Romania, Serbia and Ukraine. Strong state retirement income, but a bit concerned about taxes on my retirement income abroad and health insurance. Any guidance on which of the three countries would
    better suit us. Thank you

    Reply
    • Ed, I am sorry, but I know nothing about Serbia and Ukraine. But I do believe that prices would be similar in all these three ones, so probably choosing the easiest one to retire to would be the best option.

      Reply
  13. C, thank you for your super fast response and advice, I appreciate it. Also, thank you for keeping us all informed about the pros and cons.

    Reply

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