If you are simply unable to put away your camera even for a day, this post is for you. If you are a passionate amateur lover, always thinking in frames and perfect compositions, this post is for you. Even if you just occasionally love to indulge in photography – no matter with phone or professional DSLRs – this post on the best places to visit in Romania is for you also. Love for travel photography shouldn’t be a competition. That being said, Romania will definitely will put you in full-on intense mode. There is just so much to capture during your Romania sightseeing trip!
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Model in header image is Diana from In Between Pictures.
Bicaz Canyon National Park and Its Lake Landscapes
Three different Romania attractions in one national park? Yes, that is Bicaz Canyon. The Canyon of the same name winds for 8 kilometres along with Bicaz River and forms the passageway between Transylvania and Moldavia. That in itself makes for breathtaking views. Try to stop at both ends of the Canyon as that will yield entirely different views.
What is astounding about the national park is that it holds both the largest artificial lake in Romania and the largest natural mountain lake in Romania. You should definitely add these places to visit in Romania. Bicaz Lake, the lake created by the 127m tall Bicaz hydro-energetic dam is called Izvorul Muntelui or Bicaz Lake. Lacu Rosu, the Red Lake, on the other hand, is entirely natural and located close to the town of Gheorgheni. Its name derives from the reddish iron hydroxides and oxides found in the sediments.
When you visit Romania and explore the area within a day trip, why not also stop by Neamţ Citadel? It is an old medieval construction with an impressive round bridge providing an entrance and extra protection against possible onslaughts (no longer likely unless it’s tourist groups). The citadel can be easily explored within an hour.
Painted Churches of Moldavia
You don’t have to be religious or Roman Orthodox to appreciate the larger-than-life artworks that the painted monasteries are. They will be a definite highlight of any Romania sightseeing trip!
If you want to get most out of your trip, have a local guide introduce you to the layered meanings of the intricate paintings within and without. Why Aristoteles is ingrained there as a King of Knowledge, where to find the story of Jesus Christ and how to read calendar for every day of the year covering the walls of the entrance room.
Two of the best places to visit in Romania for that are Moldovița Monastery and Voroneț Monastery in the town of Gura Humorului, also known as the Sistine Chapel of the East. Both are located in Suceava County. Just be reminded that photography isn’t allowed inside and it goes without saying that you should be respectful. (In other words, don’t smoke, walk the flower beds, leash your dogs, etc. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be common sense.)
Painted Villages of Bucovina
While the painted villages are not nearly as stunning as their clerical landmarks, one village stands out, Ciocănești. It was the village that initiated a trend that would inspire other nearby villages, namely to imprint traditional patterns onto house facades. Romanias are very proud of their heritage and culture.
A particular local skill and handicraft are the painted eggs. Every house will have uniquely painted eggs, skilfully and minutely ingrained with coloured wax onto a starched egg shell. A local egg museum has a range of local designs as well as international pieces on display and even if you are not appreciative of kitsch, it will leave you quite speechless. Here, art, skill and dedication merge seamlessly.
Even if you can’t make it to the annual Easter Egg Festival, you can still admire the folk patterns on the houses. The tradition started with Leontina Țăran who asked the village artist Dumitru Tom to decorate her house. Seeing that it attracted tourists and nosy people, the mayor made it mandatory for every new house to be likewise decorated and painted in bright colours, with the town paying for the expenses. Now, not only are the houses dyed in the village, but also the churches! The better the paintings, the better your reputation as a household owner.
Peleș and Bran Castle
If you only have one day trip option during a stay in Bucharest, I highly recommend visiting Peleș Castle. It is by far the most stunning building I have seen in Romania and deserves to rank in the top three for any must-see Romania attractions lists. Its design is neo-Renaissance and is a bold mix between several European castle styles, such as Italian and German. It also serves as a museum and you can see marvellous and well-preserved furniture inside.
To tick off another castle in one go, walk up the hill next to Peleş Castle and marvel at the smaller Pelişor Castle. That’s where King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie of Romania once lived. As of now, this castle is still the property and private residence of the Royal family, which the late Michael I of Romania insisted upon.
In case you want to fit in another popular castle, often ranking as one of the best places to visit in Romania, then schedule in Bran Castle as well. Just be aware that even though the castle is advertised as Dracula’s Castle, it was only a very vague source of interpretation to Bram Stoker’s famous novel. And Vlad the Impaler, on whom Dracula was based, never lived here either. (I even made a video about it.)
Clay Castle of the Valley of Fairies
A very unique and personal project can be found in the aptly named Valley of Fairies. A local Romanian decided to fulfil his childhood dream and build a fairytale home for himself. You can even rent out rooms at Castelul De Lut din Valea Zanelor if you like to feel straight out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is excessively cute albeit not yet finished. Still, you can visit even if you are not staying (it is very popular).
How to Get to the Best Romania Attractions
If you have your own car, you can easily get around. Even trains and buses are relatively easy to use to get around Romania. However, getting to more remote areas proves to be difficult. So, if you want the hassle to be taken out of it all, why not join a tour? I swear even if you are a solo traveller, it can be so much fun as you meet like-minded travellers. (That’s how I travelled Australia!) Plus, with youth travel tour providers there often are up To 50% Off Travel Tours!
Have you ever heard of any of these Romania attractions? Which did you think were the best places to visit in Romania?
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