10 Iconic Landmarks and Attractions in Romania You Should Explore
Updated On: November 08, 2023
Travel enthusiasts are always hunting for noteworthy destinations with a plethora of hidden gems and captivating mysteries awaiting unfolding. The more the country isn’t overcrowded, the better chances there are to come across places of splendour. While the grandeur of Romania is no secret to the world, it remains among the European countries that receive less attention than it deserves.
Romania is known to be overflowing with picturesque landscapes and historical monuments and is the birthplace of iconic legends. It’s home to the renowned Danube River and the majestic Black Sea, not to mention the abundance of ancient castles associated with unique superstitions. The most exciting part is that it’s suitable for all sorts of travellers and all walks of life.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, have a penchant for all things spooky, or are just on vacation with your family, there’s always something to pique your interest. We believe Romania deserves to have the spotlight shift onto it, for it’s an awe-striking blend of rich history, unique culture, and remarkable natural beauty.
Here are our top picks of Romanian landmarks and attractions that you should add to your itinerary:
1. Visit Bran Castle, Dracula’s Castle
For many years, Romania has been a hotspot for Halloween enthusiasts who admire the gothic architecture that dominates the buildings of Transylvania, in particular. Thanks to the macabre novel of Bram Stoker, Bran Castle has become entirely associated with bloodsucking vampires that wander about at night. He was responsible for bringing the legendary Dracula into creation, making this ghostly castle his home.
Locals have come to believe that the majestic castle still has vampires haunting it. Interestingly, such superstitions worked in favour of the castle, drawing the attention of the daring souls instead of warding people off. As a result, it became a top tourist destination in Romania over the years.
The ancient castle dates back to the 14th century, and it was brought up from the grounds for the sole purpose of protecting Transylvania. It is one of Transylvania’s most prominent national monuments and one of the most treasured indeed. It serves as a private museum, with plenty of artefacts and art displayed within its walls. It also houses tons of costumes and weapons from an era long gone. The impressive fortress will surely enchant you with its magic, especially during the spooky season.
2. Walk Through the Old Town of Bucharest
Romania promises everyone a good time; there will be no room for boredom during your trip. History buffs will definitely love to be present somewhere where remnants of a bygone era are in sight, and Romania leaves no room for disappointments. The Old Town of Bucharest is a unique destination that will grant your wish, leaving you in utter awe.
Locally known as Centru Vechi, the Old Town of Bucharest is a historic destination that piques the interest of history enthusiasts. Each corner of the town is laden with rich layers of history waiting to unfold. This beautiful town is tucked away in the middle of Bucharest’s huge buildings, covering a relatively small area that makes it easy to explore on foot, yet it has a lot to offer.
This ancient spot in the middle of Romania’s capital city embraces many old churches to explore and small old inns to discover. It’s also home to the oldest brewery, where you can step in to grab a beer or a bite of authentic Romanian food. Museums are also plentiful, with the National Museum of Romanian History being the most prominent.
3. Don’t Miss Berca Mud Volcanoes
Romania has been widely associated with gothic-styled fortresses and dark legends that people have often overlooked the other inspiring landmarks. Little do people know that Romania is home to spectacular phenomena, including the vast terrains of muddy volcanoes. Situated near Berca town in Buzău County, those mud volcanoes are the region’s most prominent feature.
The area encompassing the mud volcanoes is known as a natural park offering a surreal landscape. It features an unusual occurrence where the mud-covered lands seem to come alive, with all the bubbling taking place thanks to the natural gases erupting in the area. These gases emerge from the crates in the form of bubbles.
Although it doesn’t resemble a typical volcano, they’re named small volcano-like crates due to salty mud drying out. The ground may seem unstable and dangerous to step on, but it’s quite safe. Moreover, these grounds are home to two of the world’s rarest plant species that are the only ones able to survive insanely high levels of salt in the soil.
4. Travel Through the Transalpina Panoramic Road
Roads around different places in the world may offer scenic views to boost your travel, yet nothing can beat the sweeping scenes featured around the Transalpina road. It’s the highest paved road in all of Romania, making commuting from one city to another an unforgettable journey. This road is located in Parang Mountains, connecting Transylvania with Wallachia.
Known as the Road of the King, Transalpina was built in 1938 by King Carol II of Romania. It stretches to about 2,100 metres, featuring winds and narrow bends along the way. On such a long distance, you are expected to be rewarded with many attractions and landmarks to stop and marvel at their splendour.
Novaci town is situated in a region north of Wallachia, featuring old little houses that are joyful to explore. To top it off, Ranca, another small village that you will come across down the road, is one of Romania’s most famous ski resorts. It’s important to note that while the road may be open all year round, it can definitely get affected by the weather conditions and is sometimes closed for safety measures.
5. See the Romanian Sphinx
The Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt seems to have a Romanian version that drew thousands of people from all corners of the world. Situated in the Bucegi Mountains, the Sphinx of Romania seems to be among the several rock formations embellishing the Bucegi plateau. The area became an ideal hiking spot among the mountains, perfectly completed with beholding works of nature.
This particular rock, the sphinx, got its name due to its resemblance to the Egyptian Sphinx. It displays what seems to be a head of a human emerging out of the rocks. Although the rock has been around for quite some time, it only got its name in 1935, which made it even more popular.
Though rock formations occur due to wind erosion and are found almost everywhere, this one, in particular, paved the way for several legends and myths. Many have not bought the scientific theory of the rock’s formation; thus, a new theory was brought into being, stating that a secret tunnel beneath the ground connects the two sphinx figures to one another, with treasures and religious truths hidden within the tunnel. Another theory claims that the Dacians built it for religious reasons.
6. Visit Bigăr Cascade Falls
Waterfalls always serve as beautiful tourist attractions in whichever part they cascade in the world. Interestingly, Romania has no shortage of such beautiful forms of nature, offering the world its iconic Bigăr waterfalls. This slice of paradise is located in Caraș-Severin Country, in the southwestern part of Romania.
Bigăr Waterfalls is situated within the Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park. It’s been declared by The World Geography among the world’s most unique waterfalls, ranking first on the list. The waterfalls gained this recognition because as the water spreads, it forms smaller shreds of water before landing into the Minis River beneath.
Unfortunately, the waterfalls were announced to have collapsed in 2021 as a result of the increased moss and travertine. Nonetheless, the area is still open for visitors to observe the wondrous elements of nature that surround the area, including the fascinating trees and shrubs that cover the land.
7. Witness the Heavenly Landscapes of Cazanele Dunării
Romania embraces a plethora of natural beauty that will leave you spellbound and totally in love with what’s filling your vision. Danube River is one of the prevalent landmarks in Romania; however, the best part is yet to come. While visiting places where the river courses are quite an adventure, the Danube Gorge is not to be missed, where the river splits Romania and Serbia.
Known among the locals as Cazanele Dunării, this wondrous region is located in the southern part of Banat, near the renowned Carpathian Mountains. It’s a large area of captivating landscapes that the people of Romania speak highly of and with evident pride. The Danube also runs its course through stunning hills and vast greenery terrains. This place is ranked among the best natural landscapes in Romania.
Even more, the area is embellished with carvings and rock formations. One of the most prominent features is the depiction of Decebalus, the Dacian King, where his majesty’s face is carved in a rock relief, known to be the tallest in Europe. It’s a true wonderland that deserves to be explored while enjoying the exquisite beauty of nature.
8. Explore Scărișoara Cave
Adventurous souls would agree with the fact that venturing into caves can be one of the best experiences ever. These peculiar formations of nature always speak of mysteries to solve and tales to unfold. If you wish to immerse yourself in one of such wonders, Scărișoara Cave in Romania is here to grant your wish.
Not only is Scărișoara Cave a dazzling cave to explore, but it’s also home to one of Europe’s largest underground glaciers. It’s deemed one of the world’s natural wonders, having such a hidden marvel tucked away. Yet, it never seems to melt off. This beautiful ice cave is located in the Apuseni Mountains of Romania, confined within the Apuseni Natural Park.
Legends have it that this wondrous ice cave came into being during the Ice Age when snow and ice collapsed to reside at the bottom of the cave potholes. It’s also said that the cave is over 3,500 years old. While venturing into such a wondrous cave is a surreal experience at any time of the year, it’s much better during summer when you can find a chilling spot away from the scorching heat.
9. Witness the Spectacular Undergrounds of Salina Turda
Romania may be overflowing with unearthly natural landscapes, yet it also embraces man-made sites that are worth visiting. Salina Turda remains on top of the list of theme parks you should visit at least once. It’s a fascinating underground salt mine located in the Durgău-Valea Sărată region of Turda, right into the depths of the renowned Transylvania.
Salina Turda is one of Europe’s oldest salt mines that turned into a theme park in 2009. It offers activities for all family members, including the panoramic wheel, bowling lanes, mini golf trails, table tennis, and sports field. The best experience of all is a relaxing boat ride in Theresa Mine while observing the spectacular setting.
The underground park doesn’t include food and drink facilities, and even snacks aren’t allowed. It’s all in the attempt to eliminate the build-up of trash, polluting the air and environment. Interestingly, it’s rated among the places with clean air and minimal bacteria. We ought to inform you that bringing a jacket along is a life-saver since it’s pretty chilly down there.
10. Sense Tranquility at Bucharest Botanical Gardens
Immersing yourself in the colours of nature is one way to ward off negativity and enjoy the stillness of the world. Botanical gardens can have this whimsical effect on one, and Romania is no short of them. Bucharest Botanical Gardens is one of the best places to be among thousands upon thousands of plant species and spacious greenery lands.
It’s one of the most famous tourist attractions in the capital city of Romania, covering around 45 acres of land and including more than a few greenhouses. It sits in the Cotroceni region in the western part of Bucharest. The garden is deemed part of the Botanical Institute of Bucharest University and is open to visitors from all parts of the world.
The gardens are now named after its founder, doctor Dimitrie Brandza, but it’s widely known as the botanical gardens of Bucharest. It offers thousands of different plant species that are pretty unique and rare, which you cannot find elsewhere. The Old Greenhouse is one of the prominent features of the garden that you should explore. A fun fact, this greenhouse was used in filming the Botany class scenes on Netflix’s Wednesday series.
If you deem yourself among the keen travellers, it must be pretty apparent by now that you should visit Romania at least once in your lifetime. There’s an evident display of sheer beauty and exquisite wonders that you don’t want to miss there.