Romania Accommodation

Romania's Transylvania

Eastern Europe is opening up to tourism and Romania certainly is at the top of the list for holidaymakers looking for natural beauty, history and great value for money, holiday travel destination.

The capital Bucharest is served by many of Europe’s airlines, and it’s worth a look for the French-influenced neo-classical architecture which earned Bucharest the title of Little Paris after World War One.

The Palace of the Parliament near Bucharest’s centre is the second biggest building in the world, after the Pentagon.

When you arrive at Bucharest Airport, you’re likely to see scores of locals sitting out on the lawn scrutinising visitors, unlike western airports. World’s Best Holidays' tip is to head north through Transylvania to beautiful towns including Sinaia (named after Sinai in the middle east), Bran, Brasov and the beautiful Sighisoara.

Romanian Vila Camelia
Beautiful Vila Camelia in Romania

Romania is synonymous with the legend of Count Dracula and also Communism, but it’s interesting to note that this is a very Christian country with historical churches that are ornate and beautiful. While some people may be nervous about driving through Transylvania because of the Dracula connection, it’s the exact opposite. Superb countryside where friendly locals still drive horse and cart.
horse and cart

Romania now has a freedom that was suppresssed during the harsh Soviet bloc dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu from 1967 to 1989. At the time, religion in Romania was practised in secret by 60% of Romania's Orthodox population.Ceasescu was overthrown in a people's revolution in 1989 and shot by firing squad on Christmas Day, in what's now known as Revolution Square in the capital Bucharest. Other interesting sights include the Romanian Athenaeum and the Peasant Museum.

It's worth arriving in Bucharest then taking the beautiful drive north through Transylvania with its historic towns before flying out of Romania in the north.

Transylvania
View of Transylvania from Dracula's castle

While many major international airlines fly into Bucharest in the south, a number of airlines also fly from Romania's delightful north direct to Europe, including Carpatair which has cheap air fares to Romania and leaves from the beautiful northern town of Timisoara. You can also fly out of Sibiu in the north, Cluj-Napoca or even Targu-Mures.  Other Romanian airlines are the state-owned Romanian Tarom, and also Blue Air and Wizzair with cut-price fares to Europe.

If you want a holiday full of history natural beauty and at very cheap prices, Romania is the travel destination in Europe of choice.

ROMANIA -WHERE TO GO

Less than two hours north of the Romanian capital Bucharest is the pretty little town of Sinaia, just before the start of Transylvania. Here you’ll find the famous Peles castle and the historic great church of the Sinaia monastery, built in 1843.  Right next to it is the "old church" which has stood since 1695 with its beautiful painted frescoes.


The dedication to God here is tremendous, with meticulous and colourful work that’s lasted nearly 200 years.  Peles castle itself has many great rooms full of history and belongings that transport you back to the days of Romania princes and princesses.  The construction of the castle began in 1875 and the building was inaugurated in 1883. The castle has 160 rooms all opulently decorated.  The oldchurch has a stunning priceless fresco of Judgement Day at its entry. Almost 80% of frescoes in Romania also depict judgement day.

It's also worth seeing Sinaia's casino,commissioned in 1912 by King Carol I of Romania. It's an exact replica of Monte Carlo's famous Casino Royale. For an excellent tour guide, try "Daniel Sorica" at dsorica@hotmail.com.

As you drive north into the beautiful Transylvania region you’ll see lush forests heading toward the major town of Brasov, near Sinaia and only an hour north, and now becoming  a major tourist attraction.  Before you get to Brasov, turn left toward the gypsy town of Rasov and past thatyou'll find the town of Bran, famous for Dracula’s castle that belonged to the infamous Vlad the Impaler at one time.

Count Dracula's Castle
Photo of Count Dracula's Castle

This impressive stone castle was built in the late 1300s and was used as a defence against the marauding Ottoman Empire from 1438. In 1442 Prince Vlad and his father and brother were captured by the Ottoman Empire and thrown into prison.

When he was released, Vlad was allowed to return home to Transylvania, but quickly imposed a reign of terror to keep control of his territory.This includes the legend of impaling opponents en masse on sharpened tree trunks, to scare sometimes greater numbers of invading forces into turning back.

In more recent times Bran castle was used as the beloved residence of Queen Marie from 1920 until the overthrow of Romanian royalty by the communists in 1948.

Bran castle in Transylvania - Vlad the Impaler's bedroom


Dracula's castleis a must see experience and not at all scary.  The architecture is magnificent and likePeles castle, it's one of Europe's most impressive castles.

While Romanians are reluctant to highlight the notoriety of Bran Castle as the home of Count Dracula, merchants in the markets at Bran just outside the castle are quick to sell all sorts of items that highlight the blood sucking legend of Count Dracula in Transylvania.

The atmosphere in these markets is terrific, but watch your belongings because of the occasional light-fingered gypsies.
Bran market
Bran market with Dracula's castle in background

As you travel further north through Transylvania, another must see is the historic old town of Sighisoara, an hour and a half past Brasov. Sighisoara was settled by the King of Hungary in the late 1100s because of this region's natural beauty. By the 1300s it was a favourite of European kings and is now a heritage site, full of colourful shops and interesting cafes.

Here in Sighisoara you'll find fascinating historic sights such as the covered wooden walk way that completely encloses very old stone steps up to Sighisoara's famous old church.

Sighisoara town square

Sighisoara town square

Sighisoara's landmark is the 13th century clock tower at 64 metres high, which today is a museum of history. Around the corner you'll find a bust of Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Count Dracula, near his birthplace.  The Sighisoara citadel built by the Saxons in the 12th century is also worth seeing.

ACCOMMODATION IN ROMANIA

Driving north from Bucharest is the beautiful hill town of Sinaia where the impressive Peles royal castle and monastery is located.

Vila Camelia is undoubtedly the place to stay in Sinaia because of its history, architecture and the compelling story of its current owner, Allegra. As you arrive, you're greeted by rolling lawns and beautiful red camelias after which the Villa was named.
As you walk inside, you marvel at the grand timber staircases andtimber doors rich with ancient wood grain.
Vila Camelia
View from Vila Camelia's front door in Sinaia

Vila Camelia was built by the same architect who built the royal Peles palace nearby. Allegra's grandfather bought this grand building from the Royal Family's lady-in-waitingin 1937.

Allegra grew up in this "little palace" until shehad to leavefor Italy aged 8. The communists took herVila Cameliain 1948 after the war.

There are 22 rooms at Vila Camelia and the communists made all the ground floor grand rooms into a boarding school for elite communist party children. After the communists were overthrown,

Allegra returned to her family's home and started asking for it back in 1994. It took her 8 years to get itreturned before sheconverted the lovely old building into accommodation for everyone to enjoy. Allegra will tell you with sincerity she's not doing it for the money, but to keep alive the memories of her ancestors.

inside Vila Camelia
Romanian architecture in Vila Camelia's lounge

Good places to eat in Sinaia include Snow for delicious Romanian food, or Tirol for Austrian fare.

Brasov is the next major town north of Sinaia where there is plentiful accommodation for day trips to notable parts of Transylvania, including Bran (Dracula's) Castle. Try "Chambers 'n Charm" Boutique Hotel, "Bella Muzica" or "Hotel Casa Wagner", dating back to 1477. All of these hotels are excellent value at under $100 a night.

Good places to eat in Brasov include "Casa Belvedere" with a great view, and Hirscher which is in a romantic setting andhas good Italian food.

As you keep driving north, make sure you make time to see beautiful old Sighisoara. Hotel Binda Bubi and Stag House are both romantic and charming, while good places to eat include Cositorarului and Vila Franka.

North of Sighisoara, you can fly out of Romania from the airport at Cluj-Napoca with Carpatair.  This is a big town with plenty to see, but it's easy to get lost.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu near Cluj-Napoca airport

We found a taxi driver to help direct us to a good value place to stay called Deja Vu, which had something familiar about it.

This is asmall 14 room hotel from only $29 a night including breakfast in a tyoical Romania hotel dining room before you fly out from the airport, which is less than 10 minutes away.

Deja Vu is a lovely old building with a very Bohemian exterior dating back more than a hundred years. The front office staff are very friendly and typically Romanian in creating a family atmosphere theh otel describes as "romantic.".

Deja Vu is in a side street and offers peace and quiet in the hustle and bustle of this busy city.

ROMANIA SUMMARY

Romania is a refreshing surprise for the weary tourist looking for new sights in increasingly overcrowded Europe.

Tourism in Romania is starting to flourish , yet it still has an old world charm that makes it a new favourite among our World's Best Holidays.

There are many beautiful towns in Romania with historic sights including Peles Castle and Bran Castle, the one-time home of Prince Vlad, also known as Count Dracula.

A visit to the historic northern town of Sighisoara is also a must.
Monasteries right through Romania are remarkable religious works of art that rank right up there with Europe's best.

Like most cities, once you leave the madness of the Romanian capital Bucharest, you're in for a natural and historic experience you'll long remember.

Car for our travels through beautiful Romania provided by Touring Rent Auto, economical car hire with offices at Bucharest's airports and 5 major cities in Romania.  
For western tourists, Touring Rent Auto is the official owner of US car rental franchise Payless Car Rental, offering quality cars and service for English-speaking tourists arriving in Romania.  Website:www.touringrentauto.ro

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