Romania is a lesser-known tourist destination, which is a shame, considering the beauty of these lands. From castles to museums and natural beauties, our country has it all. If you are already curious, here is a list of Romanian tourist attractions worth visiting!
1. Bran Castle, Brasov County
Many tourists come here searching for Dracula, but in the end, they become interested in Romania’s real history instead. The Bran Castle was built in the 14th century and served as a fortress against the Ottoman Empire’s expansion. After the country’s unification, the Bran Castle becomes the residence of Queen Maria of Romania. Therefore, the rooms in the Castle bear her and King Ferdinand’s name. If you visit the Bran Castle, be ready to explore secret passages, to behold armors, weapons, antique furniture, and to expand your knowledge of our country’s turbulent past.
And while you’re here, you have to try the Time Tunnel, which is not for the faint of heart. A lift will transport you through 100 feet of stone into a multimedia gallery that describes the Castle’s history from medieval times to its fame as a vampire den.
Aside from visiting the interior, you can also take a walk in the peaceful estate gardens. Sometimes, historical re-enactments of knights fighting and medieval dances occur there, which are a sight to behold! For directions and more information, check out the official Bran Castle website!
Tourist tip: If you want to discover more about the real Dracula, you can start in Sighisoara!
2. Peles Castle in Sinaia, Prahova county
The Peles Castle was the regal residence of the first Romanian royal family, Carol I of Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen, and Elisabeth. The Castle was built at the end of the 18th century in the German neo-Renaissance style. The lavish interior houses silverwork, art, and weapon collections, as well as furniture and objects that had belonged to the royal family members. Thematic rooms – such as the Royal Library and the Music Room – take the tourists back to a time of political and social turmoil, when the young nation was still fighting for international recognition. Nowadays, the Peles Castle occasionally houses expositions and cultural events.
At a walking distance on the castle grounds, there is another Romanian tourist attraction: Pelisor Castle. It is a smaller royal residence build for Prince Ferdinand and Princess Marie. Her Royal Highness designed some of the Castle’s interiors, mixing Are Nouveau with traditional Romanian elements.
You can find information about the collections and tickets on the official Peles website.
3. Turda Salt Mine, Cluj County
Situated almost 400 feet underground, the Turda Salt Mine is one of the most interesting Romanian tourist attractions. The salt extractions in the area date back before the Romans conquered Dacia, so almost two thousand years ago.
The salt mine is an engineering wonder, with its maze, elevator, underground amphitheater, ping pong tables, recreational areas, and SPA. Visitors can also see how the old salt extractions equipment and the workers’ routes. The Turda Salt Mine is a mesmerizing combination of old and new technologies, of wood and steel, of darkness and electrical light that is a must-see for every tourist.
More information about this attraction here.
4. Sarmizegetusa Regia, Hunedoara County
Sarmizegetusa Regia is the oldest Romanian tourist attraction on this list. Dating from the first century B.C.E., it was the capital of the Dacian people. The Fortress’s most enigmatic element is a circular sanctuary that somehow resembles the Stonehenge monument. Sarmizegetusa Regia is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Over time, it sparkled a lot of controversy regarding the culture, development level, and tradition of the Dacians, the native people of nowadays Romania. Unfortunately, the Romans destroyed most of the site in 106 C.E., and nature has reclaimed the rest ever since. As a consequence, the archeological efforts haven’t revealed much about the Dacians.
But if you enjoy nature walks, you can also visit Fețele Albe (The White Faces), which is thought to be part of the old capital. Locals believe that religious ceremonies and sacrifices took place there, only 2.5 miles away from Sarmizegetusa Regia.
5. Alba Carolina Citadel, Alba county
Alba Iulia is the second most important Romanian city because the grand unification took place there in 1918, during King Ferdinand and Queen Mary’s reign.
The Alba Carolina Citadel is a star-shaped fortress with a complicated past. The Romans built the first edifice and used it in the 2nd and 4th centuries C.E. Between the XVI-XVII centuries, the medieval Bălgrad citadel was built on its ruins. The Habsburgs have built the third and last part of the Fortress at the beginning of the 18th century.
Consisting of seven gates, numerous passageways, bastions, and even a restored underground torture chamber, this location is a gold mine for history enthusiasts. This list contains all the touristic objectives you can explore
The Alba Carolina Citadel has witnessed the birth and evolution of this nation. It thus deserves its place on our list of Romanian tourist attractions worth visiting.
The seaside city is one of the most complex and beautiful Romanian tourist attractions. It has everything you could ever want, from natural and history museums to art expositions and even religious tourism. When you get tired, you can always enjoy the sun and the breeze by taking a walk on the seafront. The Constanța Casino, an Art Nouveau wonder, is situated right on the seashore, and it’s a sight to behold.
If you happen to be in the area, make a detour and visit the Enisala Fortress and the Histria Fortress. They both were Roman edifices with great commercial importance back in the Roman Empire days.
7. Carta Monastery, Sibiu county
There are many religious institutions in Romania, each with its particular design and history. Still, the Carta Monastery has a unique appeal. A former Benedictine monastery from the 12th century, the remaining ensemble looks like a place from a fairytale. Even though it’s situated in a dreamy rural landscape, the locals believe that the long-dead monks haunt it. I want to point out that the monastery in the horror movie The Nun was inspired by this particular tourist attraction (but the movie was filmed in Hunedoara).
8. The Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, Maramures county
How can a cemetery be happy? Well, by turning life and death into humorous epitaphs to celebrate the deceased person. I feel like only the Romanians could come up with such a crazy yet creative idea.
The Sapanta Graveyard consists of over 850 wooden crosses, painted in the distinctive Sapanta blue, decorated with a portrait and a short poem about the deceased. Stan Ioan Patras made the first cross in 1935. His disciple Dumitru Pop Tincu continues his work. This is one of the Romanian tourist attractions that has attracted over 50.000 morbidly curious people a year. You can visit the Merry Cemetery daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
To make you curious, here is the funniest epitaph, dedicated by a man to his dear mother-in-law (source):
Under this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother-in-law
Three more days should she have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up, please try
Cause’ if she comes back home
She’ll scold me more.
But I will surely behave
So she’ll not return from the grave.
Stay here, my dear mother-in-law!
9. The Seat Fortress of Suceava, Suceava county
The Fortress served as the capital of the historic region Moldavia between the 12th and 16th centuries. It was a part of a Medieval defense system against The Ottoman Empire, and it held off numerous attacks on their part. The most resounding name linked to Suceava is Stephen the Great: he was one of Moldavia’s skilled rulers, who built a church for every battle he won.
The Suceava Fortress has undergone two stages of development and a recent rehabilitation period. A deep defensive ditch surrounds it; the only access way is a long stone bridge. Recently, the Fortress has housed the rock music festival Bucovina Rock Castle and other cultural events.
10. The Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance from Sighetul Marmației, Maramures county
The Memorial is a museum dedicated to the memory of the political prisoners detained and who lost their lives during the Romanian Communism era. Set in a former prison, the Museum can be overwhelming with its walls covered in the faces of its victims. I haven’t seen anything like it, so the barbed wires, the jail bars, and the personal objects of people who no longer needed them shocked me – as it should have.
This destination might be a surprising one on our Romanian tourist attractions list given its grim past purpose. Yet, the Memorial serves as a history lesson and a bitter reminder of the price of freedom. The Museum can be visited every day except Monday from 9.30 a.m. until 4.30 p.m.
Our list of human-made Romanian tourist attractions worth visiting has come to an end. I hope you’ll include them in your vacation destination ideas. Stay tuned for the second part of this article, where we’ll explore natural Romanian tourist attractions that will make you fall in love with our country!