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.
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.
Beautiful Vila Camelia in 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.
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.
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
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
ROMANIA -WHERE TO
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
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
As you drive north into the beautiful
Transylvania region you’ll see lush forests heading toward the
major town of
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.
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
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 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'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.
walk inside, you marvel at the grand timber staircases andtimber
doors rich with ancient wood grain.
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,
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
Romanian architecture in Vila Camelia's lounge
Good places to eat in Sinaia include Snow for
delicious Romanian food, or Tirol for Austrian fare.
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
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 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
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 is a refreshing surprise for the weary tourist looking for
new sights in increasingly overcrowded Europe.
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.
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.