In the last 7 months, I wrote about the best places to travel in the country: cities, mountains, the Danube, seaside, the counties - all areas worth a visit are to be found on The Golden Romania platform. My goal today is to highlight the most popular areas in Romania, the perfect starting point for planning your future dream trip to the cheapest most beautiful country in Europe!
For some time now, I have an Instagram account. I use it for daily inspiration about Romania, and I am really proud with what I have so far: lots and lots of beautiful places, gathered on one profile and proving the diversity of my golden country.
There's also a lot to learn from the persons I follow. About the beauty of this planet. About things which inspire people.
I see photos from all over the world, amazing places and outstanding talent in photography! You have good reasons to check on it - you can find me as @mihnea_tgr if you are curious!
Instagram is also an excellent source for finding the best places to travel in the country. I browse through the network on a daily basis, and I can easily clasify their obvious preferences. Thousands and thousands of Romanians and foreigners travelling around Romania, in search for their most desired destinations.
People in awe with the beauty of nature. With our marvellous architecture. With our medieval legacy or the extended opportunities offered by top cities.
Some of these preferences confirm what I know. Others are great, beautiful surprises.
Let's forget about what I know for a moment, and let me tell you more about these preferences!
... by far...
... BRASOV METROPOLITAN AREA!
It benefits from the highest number of tourist attractions, the most beautiful landscapes provided by the Carpathians, and the best branding in Romania!
Here, you will find Bran and Peles Castles, the two most visited sights in Romania.
You can also enjoy the village where Prince Charles of Wales owes a property, and heavily invests in preserving local customs. It's a perfect chance to understand typical life in the Romanian countryside, a goal that seems to attract foreign tourists despite poor infrastructure and an exhausting 8-km road before reaching Viscri village.
People have also heard about the magnificent views from Rasnov Citadel, one of the most impressive medieval site in Romania, located up on a hill on the road between Brasov and Bran.
But the most wonderful captures are shot on top of the marvellous Carpathians around Brasov... There is probably no other area in Romania with a similar display of nature than in Bucegi, Ciucas and Piatra Craiului Mountains!
Bucegi alone encompasses over 40 mountain routes! Both the hikes and the destinations are true corners of paradise for anyone aiming to conquer the trails of the world's most beautiful mountains... There is no difference between Austrian, Swiss, French or Romanian mountains, so why not try our Carpathians sometimes?
Sunrise in Bucegi, June 2017. Photo credit: Alex Coman
There is so much to do around Brasov, so I have a plan ready for you to organize your time, in this article. It covers almost everything worth visiting in and out of one of the most offering city in Europe.
Popular and desired can also mean crowded and commercial unfortunately... For that, here are some tips to take into account before travelling to Bucegi, so that you know what to expect apart from fantastic sceneries.
Enough with Brasov, now let's go on and find out what Instagram has to say about...
...former European cultural capital...
...SIBIU! Or Hermannstadt, how it used to be called in Middle-Aged Transylvania!
Wait, it's not Bucharest, the capital?!?!?! No, it's not!! Or at least, not for visiting purposes...
Bucharest is very welcoming for business opportunities, for excellent expat jobs, for some of the best parties in Europe. Tourism in our capital is just a pleasant side effect. But what about Sibiu?
Nothing in Romania can compare with the atmosphere in Sibiu... It is the living proof of Transylvania's medieval architecture, and in the same time is a vibrant, modern city that proudly carries its German heritage.
Big enough for entertainment opportunities, mainly German style but with strong Romanian influences. And at the same time - cozy, neat and extremely likeable. A combination nowhere else to be seen in the country!
Everyone loves Sibiu! You can see it in their photos, capturing one of the many events held in the Great Square. Or the fairs from the Little Square, depicting countless Romanian traditional customs. Or from the small streets revealing some of the most beautiful architectural masterpieces...
I always like to say this: Sibiu should be a top priority when planning a trip to Romania. Don't you dare to miss it!
How can you reach Sibiu? It's pretty easy, since it is in the middle of the country. But one of the most beautiful option is...
It is opened for traffic only between July 1 - November 1...
It leads to the roof of Romania...
And it has been chosen by Top Gear as the best road in the world to drive on...
Yes, my friend, I am talking about TRANSFAGARASAN!
It looks like a grey snake waving its body through a green, uneven landscape. Every car is a tiny mosquite that slowly makes its way up to the head... just to realize reaching the top is only half way through, and the second part is equally spectacular!
After its official opening on July 1, it becomes the most desired destination in Romania. People driving from Bucharest usually follow the same routine. They make their first stop in Curtea de Arges to admire one of the most important monastery in the country.
They pass by the immense Vidraru barrage, thinking how small we people are in front of the majesty of nature...
And, when they thought they've seen it all, here comes Transfagarasan, with its upward curves, its imposing peaks and its fabulous views...
Everyone is here for finding the perfect angle to take a picture. When they thought they have it, suddenly something better arises, so they stop again. And again... and again... The most beautiful trial and error process!
Photo credit: Mira
What most people don't usually do is spend a night in the region. Probably because accommodation opportunities are very limited, and bookings have to be made very very early.
For a complete experience, I totally recommend the trails around Balea Lake, the highest reachable point on Transfagarasan (2034 m). They give access to even better destinations, not to be seen from the road, such as Capra Lake or Balea Waterfall.
Balea Lake and Hut (2034 m). Photo credit: Iasmina
Capra Lake at the end of an amazing hiking trail. Photo credit: Ionut Iordache
And, with a little luck, they can reveal some wonders of nature, such as the rare Edelweiss plant, the protected-by-law black goats or mountain eagles.
They only live here, where crossing the Carpathians is possible thanks to our most beloved communist ruler Nicolae Ceausescu. Probably his best/only good idea of his life...
... and by pleasant surprise I mean...
... me realizing how many things are to be done in the area I am going to tell you in a second...
... mainly thanks to my new Instagram network...
... so, the most popular pleasant surprise is...
CLUJ-NAPOCA, and especially its surroundings!
Some years ago, I spent several weeks in the unofficial capital of Transylvania. I know from personal experience the city is absolutely fabulous.
Among its many highlights, I will only name two: it held the title of the European Capital of Youth, back in 2015; and it has been listed as the friendliest city in the European Union for foreigners!
You can read my 7 reasons to visit Cluj for more - they are still perfectly legit, but...
Knowing what I know today makes me look like an ignorant. Like a superficial who hasn't finished his research, despite 7 more months pasing by... I need to add one more reason, and that is about its absolutely exquisite surroundings!
It is not only about reaching Turda Salt Mine - the coolest underground place on Earth. Or exploring Apuseni Mountains - probably the best place in Europe to fall in love with nature.
It is about the undiscovered paths, thanks to the great input of Cluj citizens on Instagram... Places I knew about but I've always taken for granted. I thought that, ok, they should be nice, I'll see them sometimes...
I was so damn wrong, and now I envy people from Cluj even more! Check out these fabulous places, and tell me how badly you wanna fly to Cluj right now!
Tarnita, the narrowest dam in Romania. Photo credit: Andrea Gyarmati
Turda Gorges, the best chance to enjoy hiking, without going deep into Apuseni Mountains
Blue Lagoon - one of the most picturesque swimming place in Romania. Photo credit: Loredana Gavril
Fantanele Lake, offering the most breathtaking views in Cluj County! Photo Credit: Corneliu
Sic, the reason for Cluj people not needing to travel to the famous Danube Delta
There are so many things to do around the city... Maybe even more than they could do inside. Especially for a nature guy like me.
It may not be a suprise for others, but for me this was huge... So an already popular city became even better for me, after understanding its beautiful surroundings!
My time is up for today, so I'll stop right here. In my following article, I am going to show you a few more popular destinations in Romania.
I also intend to reveal some other areas which are not so popular, but still very worth a visit. They are suitable for tourists wishing to go deeper in the beauties of this country. To stay away from the wonderful yet commercial Romania, and to explore as much as possible jewelries of nature in their original state, unaltered by too many tourists.
For now, remember that the best places to travel in the golden Romania are Brasov, Sibiu, Cluj and Transfagarasan! I hope you will add them to your bucket list and consider them for your future vacation!
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