Updated: Nov 13
Before the pandemic, travel enjoyment was harder and harder to come by while doing your best to wade your way through the throngs of visitors converging on a few magnet locations of Europe because they are excellent examples of certain cultural, socio-political, or artistic movements. But if you want to get to know the feel of a place, especially since large crowds seem to be something to frown upon for at least another year, then increasingly more people have been showing interest in aiming their wandering steps towards Romania.
Nonetheless, in the years just before the “tourism hiatus,” the country’s best-promoted attractions had started to contest, and now there is a chance for the others to show their splendor.
1 The Seaside
Enjoying a relaxing time on the Romanian wide beaches, dancing the night away on them in the youthful Vama Veche, attending the soon to return Neversea music festival, or getting the nature experience while wondering at the flora and fauna extravaganza of the Danube Delta, will put you in the right spot for a visit of Histria. The DNA of ancient European civilization is deeply engrained in this abandoned town. Founded by Greek colonists in the 7th century BC, about a hundred years before the destruction of the Temple of Solomon by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, it flourished for 1300 years under mostly Hellenic and later Roman rule until barbarian invasions and changing natural environment forced the locals to abandon it. What is left behind are the remains of a town frozen in time as a testament of communities from the dark ages that did not survive the switch to the middle ages. With barely another person in sight most of the time, you can wonder the now silent streets, reimagine the lives of the past inhabitants in your mind’s eye or strike up a conversation with the archeologists that are scouring a building here and there whenever the weather is agreeable.
2 The Mountains
Having a more extended track through the country will surely take you over the Carpathian mountain range and the pass closest to the capital. While everybody wants to see the Peles Castle (spectacular summer palace of Romania’s old royalty) or the Bran Castle (supposedly fabled home of Dracula), the same pass is the less known Fagaras Fortress. Its never conquered walls and the massive fort make their way occasionally into travel publications worldwide as one of the largest and best-preserved medieval fortresses that Europe has to offer. It is one of the last still surrounded by its original water-filled moat. The moat’s purpose nowadays isn’t repelling attackers anymore, having settled on the less warlike purpose of providing a home for swans. The fort went from the property of chivalrous knights and sturdy kings to oppressive communist political prison. It is a good-sized and well-organized local history museum that displays, through both its exhibits and its restored halls, the lifestyle and everyday items used by its inhabitants.
3 The Plains
Halfway between Bucharest and Sibiu (Romanian 1st and 3rd most visited cities by foreigners), it might not be uncommon to have your interest peaked by the UNESCO-protected Horezu Monastery as a perfect example of the unique local Brancovan architecture (Romanian Rennaisance). What many fail to realize is that just minutes away from the main roads, tucked away in the inconspicuous villages, are almost totally unvisited comparable gems. The few short years since the restoration and opening to the public of the Potlogi Palace have not given it the time to get the popularity that it will undoubtedly gain. While the previous century’s neglect has robbed us of the details of the interiors, the harmonious architecture and layout of the buildings, along with the manicured gardens that hide behind them, will transport you to the 18th century since there will not be another selfie stick insight for the illusion to be broken.