Romania is a medium sized European country with the capital of Bucharest in the South, a couple of hours inland from the Black Sea Coast. You might have heard about Romania in connection with some famous names like Inna (the singer), Simona Halep (the tennis player), or Dracula (the Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire character). What attracts a large number of tourists to Romania is the promise of picturesque natural beauty and the interest in Romanian historical sites. For such visitors, traveling from Bucharest to Transylvania might be just the thing they came for.
Romania has a special place in my heart – it was one of the first countries I visited without my parents – a school exchange when I was just 12 years old and a return visit aged 14 to see our pen friends.
Bucharest receives many visitors every year including businessmen and tourists. While in Bucharest, there are a few things every visitor must do including the Old Town, Palace of Parliament and Bucharest Nightlife. Follow this link for more detailed Bucharest Tours.
Things to see and do in Bucharest – The Capital of Romania
See the Palace of Parliament
The Palace of Parliament building in Bucharest is the largest administrative building in Europe and the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. Built by Nicolae Ceausescu, the building is a statement of the thirst for grandiosity of the Communist regime.
Have a stroll and a drink in Bucharest Old Town
The Old Town is represented by a cluster of historical buildings that have escaped the Communist rage. During his dictatorship, Ceausescu was on a mission to destroy the old buildings and build his new vision of the city instead. However, some of these old buildings have survived his regime. The Old Town area is filled with cafes, restaurants and shops where people can stop and relax with a drink and a meal.
Experience the Bucharest Night Life
Bucharest is known to have some of the best nightlife in Europe. The clubs, bars and lounges in Bucharest cater to every musical taste, with both live shows and parties.
But it would be a real pity if you went to Romania and all you saw was the capital, because Romania has so much more to offer.
Traveling from Bucharest to Transylvania would give you the opportunity to see and experience different facets of Romanian culture. Such a journey involves crossing the Carpathian mountains from South to the North. This is a trip that has a lot of potential to become an unforgettable experience, but that also depends a lot on the type of transportation you might choose.
Bucharest to Transylvania – Transportation
Traveling from Bucharest to Transylvania can be done in three main ways: by air, by train and by car. Of course, you might choose to join an organised guided trip that uses buses, and that’s also great. But let’s discuss the choices you have when you are in charge of organising your own trip details.
Bucharest to Transylvania By Air
There are several cities in the Transylvanian region of Romania that have an airport. If you are planing to go to Cluj-Napoca or to Timisoara, for instance, you can do that by plane. Flights depart daily from both Otopeni International Airport and Baneasa Airport in Bucharest. The advantage of air travel is that it is fast. However, you’ll not be able to experience the beauty and the charm of the Carpathians and of the Romanian country side.
Bucharest to Transylvania By Train
Train is a great way to travel in Romania because the railway network covers the whole country. Train tickets are quite affordable, and the prices vary depending on the railway company that organises the trip, and on the type of train ride you are getting on. You will find that some private railway companies are cheaper than CFR (The Romanian Railway Company), and trains that stop in more stations and, hence, take longer to arrive at the destination, will also be cheaper.
Bucharest to Transylvania by Car
You can rent a car and experience Romania by road. That would probably be the best way to make the trip from Bucharest to Transylvania, because it would give you the chance to drive on the best road in Europe… Yes, crossing the Carpathian Mountains from South to North will take you through Fagarasi Mountains, on the Transfăgărășan road, which was named the best roads to drive on, in the world, by the Top Gear star, Jeremy Clarkson. The ride is scenic, with amazing landscapes, perfect for a 2-3 days long road trip. You’ll have the opportunity on the way to stop in some picturesque locations like the area around Bâlea Lake, and to visit places of historical interest like the Peleș Castle in Sinaia.
Transylvania does not only have a rich history, but it has gained its place in the pop culture thanks to Bram Stoker and Pixar. You must have heard about Transylvania in connection with the legendary fiction character, Dracula, and in connection with the popular cartoon series, Hotel Transylvania. So what is there worth seeing while in Transylvania?
What to see in Transylvania
1. Beautiful cities and villages
Some of the most visited cities in the region are Brasov (a beautiful city with a rich German heritage, located in a mountain depression), Cluj-Napoca (the unofficial capital of Transylvania, best known as the host of Untold music festival), and Sibiu (a city with rich historical and artistic roots, designated European Capital of Culture in 2007).
While you are in the area, you could also visit the medieval city of Sighisoara, one of the few medieval cities in the world that are still inhabited. Sighisoara became UNESCO world heritage site in 1999, and it is the host of an annual Medieval Festival that takes place at the end of July.
A good idea would be to experience the authentic Transylvanian lifestyle by choosing to spend a few nights in one of the agro-touristic households in one of the villages in the area, where you can breathe in the fresh air of the country side and taste the local authentic cuisine.
2. Imposing Castles
You cannot pass through Translylvania without visiting two of the largest Romanian castles in the area, Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s castle, it is located in the vicinity of Brasov) and Corvin Castle (imposing castle built in the Gothic-Renaissance style, located in the Hunedoara region). You might also be interested in the best Fortified Churches in Transylvania.
3. Unique Natural Sites
If you find yourself in Cluj-Napoca, you can take a day and visit the Salina Turda (salinaturda.eu), the salt mines located in the protected area of Durgău-Valea Sărată near Turda. The mines have been transformed into an impressing recreation centre where people go to spend time breathing in the therapeutic salty air. The mines have an underground lake with a boat renting service, and visitors can play table tennis, billiards, bowling, minigolf, badminton and handball. You can also pay for an 8 minutes ride in the big wheel. In the the mines, you can also find shops, a restaurant, and a museum.
If you love being in the middle of nature, you should take the time to travel to some of the natural parks in the region, like Retezat National Park (an area with over 100 glacial lakes that was declared Biosphere Reserve in 1975), Bucegi National Park (located in the Bucegi Massif, it has unique flora, fauna and geological features), and Apuseni Natural Park (a great place for explorers, featuring waterfalls, gorges and caves).
There is plenty to do and to see when one travels from Bucharest to Transylvania. Whether you are interested in history, in nature, or in just having a good time, this is a trip that can cater to every taste and expectation.
Remember that there are some fantastic Romania tours bookable online.
Packing for Romania
It really does depend on the time of year that you go to Romania as to what to pack. If you are going in the winter, you will need jeans and sweaters and a rain jacket. Walking boots are great regardless of time of year as there are some amazing hikes in Romania.
- Removable insole, Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
- Performance suede leather and mesh upper. Protective rubber toe cap. Molded nylon arch shank
- 5mm lug depth
If you are travelling in the summer, you will need lighter clothing that is comfortable for the high 20s and beachwear if you are heading to the Black Sea.
Pack a couple of dressier items such as a long Maxi dress or skirt and blouse in case you want to go to the Opera or night out. Include one pair of nice shoes for evenings as girls do dress up in Romania.
The people in Romania are extremely generous and so it can be a good idea to take gifts from your home country such as biscuits or drinks for people you meet along the way and for anyone who helps you on your travels.