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Romania Travel & Holiday Tips
 
 
 

General

Romania is the largest of the Balkan states, sitting at the crossroads of Europe, whose nationals are proud of being ‘an island of Latinos’ in a ‘Sea of Slavs’. The country has seen several empires come and go – Roman, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian, all leaving their legacy.

Romania has a rich cultural and natural diversity. Its dramatic mountain scenery includes the densely forested Carpathian Mountains, the Danube Delta (the largest wetland in Europe) and 70 km (43 miles) of fine white sandy beaches on the Black Sea Coast.

In picturesque valleys and on mountain slopes are many health and winter resorts. Romania’s cultural heritage can be experienced in the Saxon towns of Transylvania, also home to Bran Castle, of Dracula fame, the painted monasteries of Bucovina and the rural village idyll of Maramures.

The capital, Bucharest, earned the nickname ‘Paris of the Balkans’, but it is the stunning medieval city of Sibiu in Transylvania that was crowned European Capital of Culture 2007.

Bucharest

Legend says that the Romanian capital was founded by a shepherd called Bucur, whose name is recognisable in the Romanian version of the name Bucharesti. Located midway between the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea, in southeastern Romania, Bucharest has not earned the nickname ‘Paris of the Balkans’ by accident. Its astonishing range of architecture – from Wallachian wooden and bell-towered mansions to Byzantine-style chapels, neo-classical buildings, striking 1930s modernism and even the post-Stalinist absurdities of Ceaucescu’s megalomaniac regime – cannot help but leave the visitor in awe at the varieties of vision that have taken place in this city over the centuries. But Bucharest has also been the epicentre of the country’s many upheavals, with the stages of the country’s history like vivid tattoos etched across the city’s surface, each telling a different chapter of the story. There are a number of buildings which are of constant interest to visitors: The 19th-century Roman Atheneum, the Palace of the CEC, the University, the Palace of Justice, the Town Hall and the Old Parliament Building, built in 1907. Churches of interest include the 18th-century Stravropoleos and the 17th-century Partriarchal Cathedral. Bucharest is also home to the second largest building in the world, after the Pentagon. The Parliament Palace, built in the 1989, was initially called the People's Palace and it admired for both its colossal size and its exceptional facilities.

Among the most important streets in Bucharest is Calea Victoriei (Victory Road) which holds the The Vernescu House and The George Enescu Museum (Museum of Collections). Boulevards Gh. Magheru, Carol I, Calea Mosilor, Calea Dorobantilor and Soseaua Kiseleff are also important. The Romanian capital has many interesting museums such as The Museum of the Romanian Peasant which was awarded the 'European Museum of the Year' in 1994, The Museum of History of Bucharest, The National History Museum of Romania, The Art Museum of Romania (situated in the former royal palace) and the National Museum Cotroceni within the Cotroceni Palace.

Bucharest now boasts trendy bars and clubs, some capitalising on the history of Vlad the Impaler, Bucharest’s most infamous son, with cobwebs and dank underground dancefloors. Beyond Bucharest are the palaces of Mogosoaia, Buftea and Heresti and old buildings and monasteries in Snagov, Cernica, Pasarea, Caldarusani and Tiganesti.

Black Sea Coast

This coastline is the principal tourist area of Romania and ideal for family holidays. Its 70 km (43 miles) of fine white sandy beaches boasts many resorts, the main ones being Costinesti, Eforie Nord, Eforie Sud, Jupiter, Mamaia, Mangalia, Navodari, Neptun, Olimp, Saturn, Techirghiol, Venus and Aurora. There are boating centres for watersports on the sea and lakes, and both daytime and evening cruises. The curative properties of the salt waters and the mud from Lake Techirghiol (whose thermal springs have a year-round temperature of 24°C/75°F), Mangalia, Eforie and Neptun make the Romanian Riviera popular with those seeking spa treatments, especially for rheumatism. The Greek/Byzantine port of Constanta, founded in the sixth century BC, merits a visit, and inland there are interesting archaeological sites including the ancient Greek city ruins of Histria, Tomis and Callatis. The area is inhabited by foxes, otters, wildcats and boars and in the migratory periods one can see over 300 species of birds.


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