Romania is actually a hidden gem in Eastern Europe and a highly recommended travel destination to visit. It’s easy to get to, inexpensive, fascinating, and beautiful. And believe it or not, it’s also a great place for Romanian Jewish heritage tours.
Trips to Romania go far beyond the story of the Jews in Romania. The country offers a captivating blend of breathtaking castles, rich Jewish history, delightful cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and stunning natural wonders.
The cities in Romania are beautiful, all with their own history and influences from Hungarian to German. The history is at times terrifying, including Vlad the Impaler, and at other times inspiring.
With its fascinating history, Jewish culture, vibrant traditions, and a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage sites, Romania invites travelers to embark on an unforgettable adventure.
So let’s clear some of the most common questions first.
Is Romania friendly to tourists?
Romania is very friendly to tourists and has many activities that make trips to Romania unforgettable. However, traveling is sometimes unpredictable. It can be helpful to hire a travel company that is familiar with the country and knows what will be open and which cities are most important to go to.
Do they speak English in Romania?
While the language in Romania is Romanian, most locals speak English. It is very easy to get around the country with only English, and many locals are happy to speak to English speakers.
If you are not hucked by now this blog post, will explore the 12 most compelling reasons why Romania should be in your sights as your next trip (or maybe the next one :)).
You can visit Romania for the breathtaking castles
Romania is renowned for its enchanting castles that seem to have emerged straight out of fairy tales. From the iconic Bran Castle, often associated with the legend of Count Dracula, to the magnificent Peleș Castle with its Neo-Renaissance architecture, these architectural masterpieces will transport you to a bygone era.
If you’re having trouble choosing castles, Bran is one of the classics. It’s built on a 200-foot rock and is the most visited castle in the country. It’s a bit crowded, though, so other castles might be better if you want to skip the touristy spots.
Peles Castle is near the beautiful town of Sinaia, so on a road trip around Romania, it is likely an easy stop. It’s built in a German new-Renaissance style and looks like it comes straight out of a fairy tale. It was the first castle in Europe to be entirely lit by electricity.
Corvin Castle is another crowd favorite. It’s huge and a trip there feels straight out of Game of Thrones. It’s gothic-style and is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Of all the castles in Romania, this one is the most memorable and should be a top priority if you visit Romania.
Jews of Romania have a long and storied history
Romania’s Jewish community has a rich and storied heritage. From the historic synagogues and Jewish quarters in cities like Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca to the moving Holocaust Memorial în Maramureș, exploring Jewish culture in Romania is a deeply meaningful experience.
Today, Bucharest, the capital, is home to around 5,000 Jews, while smaller Jewish communities can be found in various towns across Moldavia-Iasi, Dorohoi, Succeava, Radauti, and Transylvania, including Cluj, Arad, Timișoara, Satu Mare, Târgu Mureș, Oradea, and Baia Mare.
Jews of Romania can be traced back to Roman times, during the country’s period as the province of Dacia.
Romania is the birthplace of Yiddish theatre and Bucharest supports a small Yiddish Theatre. In Bucharest, where the Jewish community is more concentrated, there is a Kosher restaurant.
If you’re looking to look outside of Bucharest for Jewish culture in Romania, one great location in Romania to go to for Jewish heritage is Sighet. There, you can visit the Elie Wiesel Memorial House. Elie Wiesel, a Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor, was born in Sighet and spent his childhood there.
The memorial house is a tribute to his life and works, serving as a museum and educational center dedicated to promoting tolerance and remembrance. Visitors can explore exhibits that chronicle Wiesel’s life, his experiences during the Holocaust, and his literary achievements. Jewish heritage tours to Romania are unforgettable.
Trips to Romania are a great chance to try interesting food
Romanian cuisine is a delightful fusion of influences from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Turkish traditions. Indulge in mouthwatering dishes like Sarmale (cabbage rolls), Mici (grilled minced meat rolls), and Papanasi (traditional Romanian doughnuts). Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of Palinka, a local fruit brandy.
One of the highlights of Romanian food is its meat-centric dishes. Mici, a popular street food, features grilled ground meat rolls seasoned with garlic, thyme, and other herbs. Sarmale, cabbage rolls stuffed with a flavorful mix of ground meat, rice, and spices, are a staple on festive occasions.
Another beloved dish is mămăligă, a cornmeal mush similar to polenta, often served alongside various meat dishes or topped with cheese and sour cream.
Romania also has its fair share of delicious desserts. Papanăși, fluffy fried doughnuts topped with sour cream and jam, are a delightful indulgence.
You can’t visit Romania without visiting the nightlife hub of Bucharest
Bucharest, the vibrant capital of Romania, boasts a thriving nightlife scene. From trendy clubs and bars to live music venues, the city offers endless entertainment options. Enjoy the energetic atmosphere as you dance the night away or sip cocktails in the hip neighborhoods of Lipscani and Dorobanți.
The Old Town, also known as Lipscani, is the epicenter of Bucharest’s nightlife. This historic district is packed with lively bars, pubs, and clubs, creating a lively atmosphere that attracts locals and tourists alike.
Trips to Romania aren’t complete without a visit to one of the rooftop bars that offer breathtaking views of the city skyline.
The Natural Wonders are Beautiful
Romania’s natural beauty is awe-inspiring. From the dramatic Carpathian Mountains and their picturesque hiking trails to the breathtaking Danube Delta, a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, Romania’s landscapes will leave you spellbound.
One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty of Romania is through the national parks. Rodna Mountains National Park is home to the majestic Pietrosul Rodnei, the highest peak in the Eastern Carpathians, which stands proudly at an impressive 2,303 meters. There are also glacial lakes, gushing waterfalls, and crystal-clear rivers that add to the park’s natural allure.
If you’re looking for activities, Rodna Mountains National Park offers exhilarating opportunities for mountaineering, rock climbing, and trekking.
You can also visit Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park. One of the park’s highlights is the stunning Cerna Valley, home to the Cerna River, renowned for its crystal-clear waters.
Trips to Romania are great by car
One of the best ways to visit Romania is on a road trip. Travel along the famous Transfăgărășan Road, winding through the Carpathian Mountains, or explore the scenic beauty of the Transylvanian countryside. The road trip possibilities are endless.
A road trip would take you to the breathtaking Carpathian Mountains, a natural paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. A road trip also gives you the chance to go to some amazing cities like Sibiu and Brasov.
Sibiu, a European Capital of Culture, showcases a well-preserved medieval center with cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and cozy squares. Brasov, nestled at the foot of the Carpathians, is home to the impressive Black Church and serves as a gateway to the nearby Bran Castle.
Of course, Romania is also great on foot. Check out some of our walking tours in Europe.
The History is really interesting
Romania’s history is a tapestry of ancient civilizations, medieval kingdoms, and communist rule. Explore the imposing ruins of the Roman Empire at the Histria Archaeological Site, marvel at the fortified churches of Transylvania, and delve into the mysteries of Vlad the Impaler at Poenari Castle.
Of course, Jewish heritage tours to Romania will also delve into the rich Jewish history of the country.
It’s a Great Place to Experience Local Festivals and Traditions
Romania’s calendar is filled with vibrant festivals and traditions that offer a glimpse into the country’s cultural richness. Witness the colorful Easter celebrations in Bucovina, experience the lively folklore festivals in Maramureș, or immerse yourself in the traditional customs of the winter holidays.
But what are some interesting festivals you can attend?
- The Hangariada Air Show and Performing Arts Festival in Iasi combine aerial displays and music performances. Held from May 19 to 21, this festival showcases captivating air shows by military and civilian pilots, alongside breathtaking performances by top Romanian artists.
- The Sounds of Oradea – Classical Music Festival takes place in Oradea from June 16 to 18. It is a three-day celebration of classical music, featuring performances by renowned musicians from around the world.
Romania is Home to Many UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Romania boasts an impressive number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. From the well-preserved medieval towns of Sighișoara and Brașov to the painted monasteries of Bucovina and the unique wooden churches of Maramureș, these sites showcase Romania’s architectural and cultural treasures.
Which UNESCO sites are worth visiting while in Romania?
- The Historic Center of Sighișoara is a charming medieval town located in Transylvania. It’s the birthplace of Vlad III the Impaler, who inspired Bram Stoker’s famous novel “Dracula.”
- The Dacian Fortresses of the Orăștie Mountains are the oldest of Romania’s six cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Dating from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD, these six fortresses were built by the Dacians to protect themselves from the expanding Roman Empire.
Interested in exploring more UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Check out our destinations heritage map page.
Along with Jewish culture, Romania is Home to Rich Folklore
Immerse yourself in Romania’s folklore and discover captivating tales. Most people are familiar with the Dracula story, but there’s plenty more folklore about where that came from.
One such folkloric figure is the Solomonar. Known as the great sorcerer of storms and winds, the Solomonar possesses immense power over nature. They can control the weather and one of the theories is that the myth descended from the Jewish community in Romania.
Have we piqued your interest in Romania? Check out our Jewish travel agency here.