Bistrita-Nasaud is one of the most beautiful county in Romania... forgotten by tourists. Me included unfortunately... I was a little reserved to write a review about a place I haven't visited yet, but the lack of info in English convinced me. I only know a little more than you do, thanks to the online research of some Romanian websites, and to the confirmation of my lovely wife who has been luckier than me! So, whether you like it or not, this is your most reliable online English source about Bistrita County, provided by a guy who hasn't seen it in 33 years, but has done a very thorough research! I just hope by the end of this reading, you will wish to travel to Bistrita as much as I do right now!
Let's start with what I know, from personal experience.
2002 was when I spent two amazing weeks in Maramures and Bukovina. In order to connect these regions, you need to cross the Carpathians through TIHUTA pass - an experience I will never forget! It is considered among the most dangerous roads in Europe, probably because it displays some of the most spectacular mountain scenery of Romania, thus distracting the eyes of the driver...
Photo source: Turist de Romania
And, it's located in Bistrita, your most likely gateway to this beautiful region of Romania.
What I haven't done was to stop and admire the landscape... We hurried too much to Bukovina, and I am so sorry today as I gaze at photos from this area. Check out this Instagram collection to see what I mean - the deeper you dig, the more you'll like Tihuta!
In order to avoid my big mistake, you need to spend a few nights in PIATRA FANTANELE at the edge of Tihuta Pass. You can either choose one of the regular facilities or you can lodge in Hotel Castel Dracula...
Photo source: Booking.com
The castle is a perfect replica of the one described by Bram Stoker in his famous "Dracula" novel. It is a true masterpiece, displaying an interesting mix of medieval and modern architecture. Since it's located up on a hill, panoramic views should be wonderful, but also the restaurant, the parties and services, the "hellish" atmosphere are positively appreciated by its customers.
Piatra Fantanele is also the starting point for exploring the Carpathian massifs of Bistrita - Calimani and Birgau. I also found out it's pretty popular for skiing in winter, since slopes are less crowded than in other areas of Romania.
It seems to be a paradise for experienced mountaineers, but it's equally interesting thanks to the picturesque hills around. Locals promote destinations such as Dealul Zimbrului (Aurochs Hill), Poiana Vinului (Wine Meadow) or La Borcut Spring - names which can only mean diversity, beautiful landscapes, genuine experience and peace...
Photo source: Booking.com
28 km away from Piatra Fantanele lies one of the most beautiful lake in Romania! Experts agree upon two things: it is the most important landmark in Bistrita, and words cannot express the beauty of this area...
Photo source: Bistrita Turistica
COLIBITA is a 13-km long artificial lake arranged on the Bistrita river. The lake and the resort with the same name are often named "the sea in the mountain". For very good reasons...
It is one of the very few locations in Romania where swimming, water sports and hiking are to be found in the same place. It is guarded by the two massifs of Bistrita - Bargau and Calimani, in a place where civilisation is represented only by the few people living in the resort.
You can surround the lake in about two hours by car, a trip that is more than worthy thanks to the spectacular landscapes revealed by the wild combination of water and mountains.
It is a perfect place to spend a few days of peace and relaxation, a good alternative to the crowded coastline of Romania at the Black Sea.
Photo source: Rapitori Mania
If you drive from Cluj-Napoca and you feel Colibita is a little far, then you should know you have a beautiful alternative in BECLEAN.
Baile Figa is one of the newest resort in Romania. It doesn't really benefit from the same astonishing landscapes as Colibita, but it's more tourist-oriented and with a wider variery of facilities. People from Cluj and Bistrita consider them the best place to spend a summer weekend in, as it is really close to both big cities and has an offer for every member of the family.
Beclean is also an interesting town to have a walk in. The town reveals some wonderful medieval architecture, thanks to the famous Hungarian noble families Bethlen and Banffy who have lived in Transylvania for many centuries.
Bethlen Pal Castle Beclean. Photo source: Romanian Resorts
I have always heard rumours about the beauty of this city. It cannot be different with so many hills surrounding the city, with the strong medieval legacy that's still to be spotted nowadays.
BISTRITA is one of the seven cities that gave the German medieval name of Transylvania - Siebenburgen (seven cities). Up until today, the small streets from the city center reveal typical medieval architecture, a wonderful atmosphere, a peaceful area where life seems more relaxed than in any other touristic gem.
One day should be more than enough to fully understand this beautiful city. Here are the most important things to see in Bistrita:
Turnul Dogarilor (Cooper Tower) - the sole reminiscence of the former medieval fortress. Photo source: Turism Nasaud
Sugalete - 13 Renaissance buildings united by a beautiful gallery, seemingly the most relevant architecture masterpiece from Middle Age Transylvania, still standing tall today; Photo source: Turism BZI
The Evangelical Church - impressive for its rock tower (75 m, the tallest in Romania!), its 3-centuries old pipe organ and its beautiful interior. Photo source: Ghid Video Turistic
Saxon House in Livezile village (11 km from the city) - a beautiful representation of the life and customs of this interesting German nation that strongly left its mark in Transylvania.
The second city which gives the name of the county is equally interesting as I can see.
NASAUD gives access to two interesting museums, in the memory of some of the most remarkable writers in our history: George Cosbuc and Liviu Rebreanu. They both have delivered beautiful stories with which we all grew up, so don't miss out the opportunity to understand a piece of our very rich history!
Last but not least, locals also recommend Muzeul Graniceresc Nasaudean (Border Museum) as a very interesting feature inside the city. It is located in a historic building, former military headquarters of Austrian - Hungarian troops. Nowadays it houses a nice etnographic museum depicting local tools and clothes, as well as a section dedicated to important figures around the city of Nasaud.
Photo source: ARD Romania
This was me, diving into the unknown and discovering together with you another beautiful region of Romania. As far as I read, it is no wonder to be known by locals only, as no efforts were ever made to turn it into a touristic area. Apart maybe from Hotel Castel Dracula, which is a private investment speculating the myth of Dracula that made us famous.
I consider myself guilty that I haven't yet given a chance to Bistrita-Nasaud County... If you feel you need more info or anything seems wrong, please invite me to start researching again!
The Golden Romania
Apuseni Mountains - the Best Place to Fall in Love with Nature!
35 Romanians who Have Marked Our History
Dear Terra, Meet Romania! The latest democracy lesson our country has given to the world!
Oradea - the Rising Star of Romania
Iasi - the Place to Be in Moldavia
7 Reasons to Visit Cluj Napoca
How to Plan a Vacation in Brasov Area
No, Bucharest Is Not a Bad City Break Destination!
One Week Road Trip Idea Through Transylvania
Best of Romania - the Tourist Attractions Which Top Worldwide Classifications!
7 True Facts About Romania