10 Best Things to do in the Transylvanian Alps – Romania
Population: 1.96 Crores
Currency: Romanian Leu
Romania has a very rich history and has a very interesting background: conquered by the Romans in 105AD, Romanians consider themselves to be descendants of the Romans and the Dacias who ruled the country simultaneously before it came under the Ottoman and the Byzantine empires for the longest time followed by the USSR’s communist regime which lasted from 1944-1989. In the year 1990 the first elections were held.
Here are my top 10 best things to do in the wonderful country:
1. Spend a day in Bucharest and wander around the city to soak up all the remnants of the various empires that ruled and shaped this country. You could take the Bucharest walking tour and ask for Catalina as your guide – she is sheer joy. She tells you tales of Romania in a very captivating way.
Roaming around the streets of Bucharest
With a soccer champ
2. Treat yourself to a meal at Caru’ Cu Bere– the oldest restaurant in Bucharest. Built in 1924 in a neo-gothic style architecture, it boasts of distinctive nouveau interiors including stained glass and mosaics. Being one of the oldest and having visitors make a beeline once they land, needless to say that the food here is delectable.
The oldest restaurant in Bucharest
Time to have a drink with some live music
3. In case you are strapped for time and can only visit one castle then Peles castle should be ‘the one’. It’s simply gorgeous and the interiors consists of walnut tree carvings, the best Murano crystal chandeliers, mind blowing frescoes and paintings that you can’t take your eyes off. It’s on the way from Bucharest to Brasov, so you could stop there on the way.
Peles Castle – my favourite
Inside the Peles Castle
Monkeying around in the cafe outside the castle.
4. Rent a car and drive your way around the Translyvanian triangle which consists of the cities of Bucharest – Brașov – Sighișoara – Sibiu -Transfagarasan highway – Balea lake and right back at Bucharest.This was my favourite part of the trip.
The long winding roads of the Transfagarasan Highway
5. Spend time in Brasov – it was my favourite city in Romania due to the sheer liveliness and colorful old town which is always bustling with people. You can rent a car at the airport and drive to Brasov, which is a 2.5 hours drive. While here, visit the Black Church,the Rope street (narrowest road in the world) and after that if you are craving more of the city then take the cable car up to Tampa mountain to enjoy a stunning aerial view of the city.
The Rope street – The Narrowest road in the world
Last but most importantly, everyone who visits Brasov doesn’t leave without a trip to the Bran Castle which is believed to be the castle where Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ ( whose character is also believed to be based on the character of Vlad III the Impaler) apparently lived. In my opinion, it’s kind of a tourist trap: absolutely overcrowded and there is always a long queue due to the narrow passageways – I wouldn’t have my thumbs up for this. Another word of advice – there is a time tunnel please don’t waste your time on it either. There are far more beautiful castles than this one; the Peles Castle and Rupea Castle for instance.
6. Time to tend to the tummy while in Brasov – have a meal at La Ceaun in the Centre of the old town – it was the best meal of the trip which consisted of Chicken Cauldron, Mititei (lamb kebabs ), Lamb Stew and the Aperol Spritz. Have the crepes at Mad Crepe and the gelato at Emma La Dolce. Also the best place for breakfast in Brasov is Bistro Del Arte – I recommend you get a table outside.
My best meal in Romania at La Ceaun
Breakfast at Bistro Del Arte
Brasov’s best ice cream
7. Sighisoara is a charming and pretty town. Visit the old town which is a UNESCO world heritage site and walk by the quaint alleys with colorful houses on both sides. It’s a tiny town, so 2 hours is good enough to explore it.
The room where Dracula was born
Pretty & colourful streets of Sighisoara
8. There is a lesser known magical village in Romania called Porumbacu de Sus and rightly so since it is not a mainstream tourist destination. Valea Zalendor is a fairy village and has peculiar shaped huts which are really cute. These huts surrounded by the mighty Fagaras mountains and a brook flowing by it, adds to its charm. It’s about a 40 minutes drive from Sibiu and is a must visit.
The village of the fairies
The House of the Fairies
9. Definitely drive on the Transfagarasan Highway & stop at Balea Lake, which is the highest point of this highway at 6673 feet. This highway is rated as one of the most beautiful roads in the world by Top Gear and thus, it is a must visit.The long winding roads through forests and dams makes this a stunning drive.
Sitting on the Transfagarasan highway
The highest point of the highway
10. Balea lake – it is a glacier lake that you can either drive to once you reach the Balea cascade take a cable car.We did the latter and the aerial view of this highway was a sight to behold. The lake was totally frozen and it was surreal to walk on this frozen lake. You must go up to the vantage point from where you get great views of the cascading highway.
The frozen Balea Lake
The wonderful cable car ride
If you are planning a trip to Romania and have any questions, please feel free to write to me.
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I am a fearless, unguarded and fun loving traveller. The word ‘cannot’ doesn't often appear in my life’s dictionary. I was bitten by the travel bug a long, long time ago and it has taken me to more than 60 countries and countless destinations ever since. A born networker—I have met and made a gazillion friends across the world and the experiences so far, has more often than not, left me speechless. The more I travel, the more I realise that how much there is left to travel.
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