Romania’s destination cities range from well-preserved medieval walled cities to urban centers with modern appeal, to a combination of the two. Each destination city in Romania is a unique window onto the country’s culture, complex mix of ethnicities, and daily life. Some cities act as good starting points for exploring the Romania that few travelers get to see: out-of-the-way architectural treasures, pristine countryside, thick wilderness, or hidden castles.
Known in German as Kronstadt, or Crown City, Brasov is indeed one of Transylvania’s crowning glories. Many travelers make their way to Brasov due to its nearness to Bran Castle, the so-called Dracula’s Castle, but Brasov has plenty to offer in its own right, including a fortress, historic churches, and a centrally located mountain with hiking opportunities and panoramic views.
Bucharest has been the capital city of Romania since the 19th century. Located on the Dambovita River, it lies in the southern part of the country. It’s possible to visit many other cities in Romania via Bucharest, either by train, bus, or airline connection.
Constanta was originally a Greek city and now is a Romanian port on the Black Sea. Constanta enjoyed several centuries of excellent trading, during which the city became wealthy. Today, the city is wealthy for other reasons: ruins, dating back to Roman times, an active nightlife, and a position by the sea make Romania’s city and excellent destination for travelers who want to experience yet another facet of Romania’s diversity.
Cluj-Napoca, also known as Cluj, is the unofficial capital of Transylvania. Cluj was known as Klausenburg to the German settlers who built up its defensive systems and acted as a part of a network of fortresses known as the Seibenburgen, or Seven Fortresses, the German name for Transylvania. While Cluj, like all major cities, encourages visitors to see a number of important historical and cultural sights while they are there, it’s big enough for the on-foot explorer to find surprise after surprise in its side streets and courtyards.
Iasi is located in the region of Moldavia and is one of Romania’s oldest cities. It is famous for its numerous orthodox churches as well as its history of education and publishing. As a cultural center, Iasi isn’t short on museums, sights, and other activities that will bring visitors close to both regional and national art, traditions, practices, and beliefs.
Sibiu was once known as Hermannstadt to the Germans who settled there, and today it preserves charming architecture from the past. And Upper Town and Lower Town contain sights specific to the city’s history, and a remarkable covered stairway joins the two levels of the city.
Sighisoara is said to be the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler. The house where he allegedly lived as a child with his father is still standing in the UNESCO-protected medieval city center with its well-preserved fortifications. A medieval festival, complete with jousts, old-time craftsmen, and performances, draws crowds of visitors every summer.
Snagov is associated with Vlad Tepes, and an island church is said to contain his tomb. Travelers who want to see the final resting place of the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula must take a boat across the lake to get to the island
Suceava contains the ruins of a fortress and acts as a hub for exploring the surrounding Bucovina region with its painted churches and open-air museum.
Targoviste was Vlad the Impaler’s capital city. Monuments associated with the famous leader’s rule can be visited, as well as a museum detailing his life.