Header image: Peles Palace Sinaia
A charismatic country in the Balkans, with a landscape of rugged stone churches and jaw-dropping castles ripped straight out of the Middle Ages, Romania is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.
By European standards, Romania is well and truly off the beaten path, though for those willing to venture into the (relatively) unknown, the country offers one of Europe’s most authentic experiences; a wonderful blend of history, culture, and religion.
Fascinating urban centers like Bucharest offer sharp and constant contrasts; blending a cosmopolitan vibe with well-preserved medieval buildings. Rural villages offer the chance to witness fascinating age-old traditions, and come into contact with Saxon fortresses, Gypsies and wild bears.
Romania is also home to some of the most unspoiled wilderness in Europe, and from Delta villages built of reeds, to magnificent Gothic churches and castles backed by the majestic peaks of the Carpathian mountains, those seeking outdoor adventure are truly spoiled here.
How to Spend 5 Days in Romania
Tourism in Romania
A surge in visitors from the United Kingdom, especially from London to Romania, has been observed in the last couple of years. So it’s well worth traveling while much of the country’s cultural authenticity is still preserved.
Romania is the ideal place for brief and cheap vacation. However it’s still not a common destination by European standards, so if you’re not confident in planning a trip yourself, the professional help of a renowned travel agency UK can come in handy.
You can easily reach Romania from any airport in the UK. There are no shortage of flights to the country, but try to fly as early as possible so you can get the most out of your first day. The flight time from London to Bucharest is 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Even though 5 days are not enough to completely explore one of the most fascinating countries in Europe, you can definitely get a taste of Romania and sample many interesting parts of the country.
If you’re hoping for an immersive experience you can also consider tours in Romania that are led by locals. After-all, nobody knows their country better than a local!
Day 1: Bucharest
Spend your first day discovering the energetic city of Bucharest. The capital of Romania, Bucharest is full of tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Époque buildings, city parks and trendy cafes.
When it comes to buildings, the city center is modern and garish, though you’ll find a really fascinating mismatch of Art Nouveau, medieval, and abandoned communist buildings. A guided walking tour of Bucharest is the best way to tick off the main sights in the city.
Pro Tip: Bucharest’s metro is a fast and cheap way to get around town. If you take a taxi, make sure you use a reliable company to avoid overcharging.
Don’t miss the gargantuan Palace of Parliament. This is a spectacular building, the second largest administrative building in the world. Though controversial as it was built at great economic sacrifice to the country during the communist era. You’ll need your passport with you to purchase a ticket and enter the building.
Then hit the Old Town. Known as “Paris of the East” for its cobblestone streets and trendy bars and restaurants, this is a pretty place to walk around. Grab some lunch and then explore the streets; historic sites include plenty of old churches like Stavropoleos, Zlatari and Selari.
Don’t miss visiting the Village Museum; this is an open-air ethnographic museum in Herăstrău Park with over 200 authentic peasant farms and houses from all over Romania. For dinner, there are a couple of high end restaurants in the park, or you can head back to Old Town.
Photo by Dennis Jarvis (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Day 2: Bucharest – Brasov
Today you’ll leave the city behind for castles and medieval villages. Jump on a CFR train from Bucharest to Sinaia. The train takes around one and a half hours and shouldn’t cost you more than $10 USD.
You’re stopping in Sinaia to visit the gorgeous Peles Palace (pictured at the beginning of the post). The palace was a private getaway for Romania’s royal family and is considered by many to be one of the most stunning castles in Europe (you must join a guided tour to go inside).
Sinaia is the gateway to Transylvania, so after spending half a day exploring the charming town and famous palace, head back to the train station for the hour journey to Brasov; a medieval gem resting at the feet of 12th century Mount Tampa.
Bran Castle (above) is the main attraction here; 30 km from Brasov this region is well-known for being the mysterious land of bloodthirsty vampires and scary howling wolves. Learn about the myth of Dracula, the stories of Vlad the Impaler and find the iconic figure of Queen Mary.
This region is bordered the Carpathian Mountains in the east, which still feels very undiscovered. If you’re not keen on staying in Brasov, many companies run day tours from Bucharest which take in both above-mentioned castles.
Day 3: Brasov – Sighisoara
Choosing to stay in Brasov the previous night will make it relatively quick this morning to visit the medieval fortification of Rasnov Citadel. With 800 years of history this is the best kept fortification in Transylvania, and one of the oldest structures of it’s kind.
Built in the 13th century to protect Transylvanian villages from foreign invasions, and surrounded by thick forest full of bears and other wildlife, no invading army ever conquered Rasnov. You can take a taxi from Brasov for around 35 Lei ($9 USD).
From there, head back to Brasov where it’s a 90 minute north to the UNESCO World Heritage Viscri Fortified Church (it’s a bad road but it’s worth the trip). Viscri is only one of the Saxon villages of Transylvania, though it’s one of the most popular fortified churches in Romania.
Transylvania is home to 150 fortified churches, but Viscri is the oldest. Built in 1100 (others weren’t built until the 14th century), this is one of the oldest religious structures in the region. It has unique Gothic architecture and is surrounded by a beautiful picturesque village where descendents of the original Saxon settlers still live.
You can then head a further 40 minutes north to UNESCO listed Saschiz and have a traditional Romanian lunch here. End your day by stopping by Sighisoara, which is another UNESCO listed site and one of the best preserved medieval citadels.
Within the citadel, you will find bright streets, old workshops, gatehouses and Boehme cafes, where you can have a nice dinner. Your third of the medieval fairytale has come to an end. Stay overnight in Sighisoara.
Photo by Dennis Jarvis (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Day 4: Sighisoara – Sibiu
Your second-last day in Romania will also take you to a UNESCO listed site. One of the most beautiful Saxon villages in Transylvania, Bietran is famous for its 16th century Fortified Church; a hilltop medieval construction surrounded by three fortified walls.
Bietran is a 40 minute taxi ride southwest of Sighisoara. After enjoying a peaceful afternoon in the village, head to Sibiu (an hour drive), which is another medieval wonder of Transylvania.
Sibiu was founded over 800 years ago by German settlers whose old city is surrounded by well-preserved 15th-century fortifications. It is home to some of the greatest Gothic, baroque and Renaissance architecture you’ll find in Romania.
You can end your fourth day by having an incredible dinner at Crama Sibiul Vechi, where you will enjoy delicious traditional dishes in a cozy environment and beautiful ambiance. Stay overnight in Sibiu.
Photo by Andrei-Daniel Nicolae (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Day 5: Sibiu – Home
Your final day in this wonderful country will take through some of the most incredible scenery in Romania.
On your way back to Bucharest from Sibiu you will cross the Carpathians on the Transfagarasan, which is known as one of the world’s most scenic drives.
The cheapest way to get from Sibiu to Bucharest is to bus it which costs around $16 – $20 USD and takes 5 h 32 min. Though the fastest way is to fly; you can catch a flight from Sibiu to Bucharest from $220 and get there in 2 h 42 min.
OUR FAVORITE ROMANIA TRAVEL GUIDES: CLICK PHOTO ↓
SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓
Amazing place! I would love to spend a vacation there!
It really is! I hope you have the chance to travel soon :)
I love how Romania is off the beaten path Meg. Makes me planning a trip more exciting. We will visit eventually; my granddad grew up in Transylvania so need to enjoy some of that brilliant fare he served us when we were kids. Excellent post.
Absolutely Ryan, so much more authentic than the huge Western tourist hubs people typically flock to in Europe. So fabulous that you have a family connection to Transylvania, that should make a trip even more special for you :) Hope you have the chance to visit soon!
Hahaha, I just came back from Romania 10 days ago and visited Sibiu also. I am originally from Bucharest and we go back there almost every year. It was my first time in Sibiu however. When I lived in Romania I dreamed of visiting other countries. Now I’m a tourist in my country of origin. Isn’t this funny?
Fabulous Anda! I’m finding the same actually of me in Australia, I’ve spent the last 10 years traveling far and wide, but haven’t spent the time traveling my own country. I’m dedicating the next year to seeing what’s in my own backyard. Really is funny how we tend to do that!
One of the most stunning countries in Europe!
Sure looks like.
I am glad that they are recovering after so many years of abuse and oppression.
I was born in Bucharest and lived there for 30 years, before moving to California. Romania is a beautiful country, but it has a very poor infrastructure.
It’s one of those double edged swords – you want the infrastructure to improve for the best quality of life for citizens, though at the same time the lack of tourism as compared to other European nations is what retains its authenticity and keeps it unique.
You are probably right. It also keeps the prices very low, if you noticed. However, with no roads it’s difficult to have a booming tourism.
YES! Brasov is the most wonderful city in Romania. I`m in love with this country and with the tiny and historical street. I had ate the most delicious food there and also today I`m thinking about papanasi :) They were the best!
So glad to hear you had a fabulous time Carla! Hope you have the chance to revisit soon :)
Hi Carla & Meg! I fell in love with this country when we first visited in fall 2019. We spent about 10 days, Bucharest + countryside. Not knowing what to expect and looking for local experiences we booked the service of a private guide. We had read about the dodgy road infrastructure and the somehow careless drivers and we kind of chickened out. But really there is nothing to be afraid, Romania is much more developed and safe than we anticipated. So renting a car or using public transportation is absolutely risk-free. We also adored the food, we even dined with a local family & friends, more like a social dinner thing.
Hoping to go back later this year for a longer period to visit the Danube Delta and the Western part of the country. Ran into this article while doing my research.
Lovely post, Meg
Hi Anne, so glad to hear you had a wonderful time in Romania too! Arriving not knowing what to expect often leads to the richest experiences, because you’re open to anything and ready to be surprised :D
Isn’t the food just incredible! Totally agree that this is one of the highlights of the country.
I hope you do have the opportunity to visit again later in the year – the Danube Delta and the Western part of the country will be incredible to dive into :)
Hello Meg! Im going 5-6 days to romania in mid september. Your route looks amazong! I’m going on my own and not planning to rent a car. Do you think I could so a similar route bu public transport?
Hi Anna, how exciting that you’re heading to Romania – it’s a seriously magical, and massively underrated country!
Renting a car is so easy, but you can definitely do this route on public transport. I would work it as follows:
Bucharest – Brasov by train. Book tickets in advance – you can buy online from cfrcalatori.ro or buy tickets at the Bucharest North Railway Station. You’ll probably pay around $14.
Brasov – Sighisoara. Since you won’t have a car I would do this as a day trip from Brasov instead of staying overnight. You can take a taxi from Brasov for around 35 Lei ($9 USD).
To then get from Brasov – Sibiu you can get a train via the same train website above, or there are buses.
For finishing the journey, you can go from Sibiu to Bucharest is to bus which is cheapest ($16 – $20 USD) and takes 5 h 32 min. Though the fastest way is to fly; you can catch a flight from Sibiu to Bucharest from $220 and get there in 2 h 42 min.
Hope that helps! Have an amazing time in Romania :)
I can’t tell exactly when you came to Romania but a lot of things have changed in the country since your visit. Generally speaking, Romania is going in the right direction but at a very slow pace. Very slow! Now, there are more possibilities for going by train from Bucharest to Brasov. There’s even a train line that will take you from the airport to the main train station in Bucharest (Gara de Nord). Besides CFR (Romanian Railways – state owned company), there are several other private trains that offer better conditions and similar prices. Just search for Astra Transcarpatic, Softrans and RegioCalatori. Tickets can be bought online, in advance and you don’t even have to print the tickets.
Or you can choose a transfer service that will take you from the airport to Brasov, at your hotel and back, when you leave the country.
Speaking about Brasov, there are a lot of things to do in Brasov which you haven’t mentioned: bear watching is probably the most interesting activity one can do in Brasov. And it doesn’t require a whole day, just 3 hours in the afternoon.
See this list and choose wisely (btw, Brasov is wonderful as a base for exploring the surroundings): https://outdoorholidays.eu/blog/top-things-to-do-brasov-romania/
For your next visit to Romania, I recommend going to Bran and visit the nearby Bran National Museum as well. Entrance is very cheap and it’s just across the street from the castle. Inside, there are fabulous exhibits, old furniture, weapons, clothing and a lot of interesting stuff. After Bran, you can go to Moeciu de Sus, for beautiful hiking trails or even explore the idyllic mountain villages of Magura and Pestera and why not, Sirnea.
Hi Robert, thanks for reading, and for leaving such a detailed updated reply. It’s so great to hear that Romania has been progressing in terms of transport and infrastructure – I really do have to get back soon! I much prefer train travel if I have the option, so that’s great to hear :)
Thanks for sharing your list of things to do in Brasov – both myself and my husband are very passionate about wildlife, so bear watching would be right up our alley. And thanks for the tips on Bran! So much to do that we missed!!
These travel blog websites are much needed in the time of this pandemic. As we can’t travel right now so we overwhelm by reading travel stories.
Thankyou Soy, I’m so glad that our post could bring you inspiration until we can all travel again :)
Next time you should also go on Transalpina, the highest road in Romania. Some say it’s even more wonderful than Transfagarasan. You can have a preview on https://romaniawow.com/transalpina-road/. Safe travels, Meg!