Favourite food: Dishana: Mămăligă, a polenta mash served as a side with most mains. Alvin: Ciorba de Burta, a delicious buttery tripe soup
Favourite site: Peleș castle. While fairly new in history, it’s interior has been well preserved. It has one of the most stunning interiors we have ever seen.
Must try: Gelato de Bruno in Timișoara. While gelato is not Romanian, you can’t complain about paying $1 for the creamiest gelato you’ve ever had.
A day in Bucharest
The Soviet Union’s girlfriend moved into his bachelor pad and added the feminine touch. Bucharest is what a Soviet city should be. Wide highways laid out in perfectly-planned grids. Large squares and buildings boasting the strength of a unified people. And yet culture and beauty is maintained through the intricate cathedrals scattered through the city.
How we got there: We flew into Bucharest Airport from Istanbul. The ticket costed $132 AUD each, one-way.
Nights stayed: 1
Accommodation: Cozyness Hostel. As the name suggests, a cosy place with cute decor and clean showers. Each bed has its own fan and powerpoint. Although slightly far from the main area, it is near a metro station.
- Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral: A beautifully decorated Orthodox Cathedral near the city centre.
Notes: Theres nothing wrong with Bucharest, but like any capital city, it is just that: a city. We prioritised other parts of Romania with the time we had.
Sinaia (Peles castle)
How we got there: We caught a train from the main Bucharest train station to Sinaia, en route to Brașov. It took about 2 hours and costed 40 RON pp.
Nights stayed: 0 (day trip)
- Peleș Castle: Definitely a highlight of our trip. Entry costs 20 RON for a mandatory guided tour through the castle. Filming and photography costed 32 RON, which seemed quite steep. However, we regretted not buying it, as the interior was spectacular; a true representation of King Ferdinand’s wealth.
Notes: There is baggage storage at Sinaia station for 10 RON per bag. You should schedule 3-4 hours for a day trip here.
A fitting Hollywood-esque sign; Brașov certainly feels like a movie set. As if stepping back in time, the 13th century city is so well maintained that it looks surreal. Brașov was colonized by the Teutons on commission from the King as to protect the border of the Kingdom of Hungary. With the teutons came their architecture and wealth. Still standing today is the delicate Hungarian architecture and monuments, which survived both the great fire of Brasov, and the communist reform.
How we got there: After a day trip to Sinaia, we bought a ticket for the next train to Brașov. It costed 7 RON and took 1 hour.
Nights stayed: 4
Accommodation: Kismet Dao Hostel. Good location, and well equipped. Kitchen was a bit overcrowded at times, and the vibe reminded me of orientation camp at Uni. Props for giving a free drink per night spent.
- Bran Castle: Regular buses to Bran will cost 14 RON return trip from Brașov. The entrance into the castle is 35 RON. Our opinion (and our opinion only) was that the castle was slightly underwhelming. Maybe because we saw Peleș castle, but we didn’t think we got our money’s worth coming here.
- Walk up to the Brașov Sign: A pleasant 30min hike of easy/moderate difficulty to the brasov sign for beautiful views of the city.
- Free Walking Tour of the City: The ‘Walkabout Free Tour‘ organisation provides daily walking tours which are both well organised, and entertaining. Tour goes for about 2 hours, and visits all the main sites of Brașov i.e. the Black Church, the old romanian part of Brașov, and finishes with a climb to a tower for a nice view of the city. Tips are encouraged at the end of the tour, but they are well deserved.
Notes: Initially we wanted to see both Sighișoara, and the Transfagaran. The latter was hard to reach without a car. Sighișoara was going to be a day trip en route to Sibiu. Unfortunately we missed all three morning trains (i think the last one was around 8:30), and the next one didn’t leave until around 2pm.
How we got there: Caught a train from Brasov main train station. It costed 45 RON and took 2.5 hours.
Nights stayed: 3
Accommodation: PanGeea Hostel. Very nice dorm areas, very close to everything noteworthy, and well equipped kitchen facilities. Does not accomodate for many people so was quite intimate. Only downside is that because it is behind a bar, it gets very loud. There were people up at 5am when we woke up early to take a bus to Timișoara.
- Brukenthal National Museum: A large collection of European paintings. Creaky floors. 20 RON entry.
- ASTRA National Museum Complex: Ok so we got lazy and didn’t end up doing this. But it seemed like the one suggested thing to do in Sibiu, so check it out for us and tell us how it is.
- Climb the Tower of the Council: 2 RON entry for an easy climb to the top of the Sibiu tower. Nice views of the city, but heat rising + no open windows = quite warm.
- Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral: Based off the design for the Hagia Sophia, orthodox cathedrals never fail to amaze us. Free entry.
- Day trip to Salina Turda: A nice day trip from Sibiu (2.5 hour drive) to Business Insider’s ‘most beautiful underground place in the world’. Spend a few hours exploring the salt mine, and play—wait for it—ping pong, mini golf and/or bowling among other activities, at the bottom of the mine. Despite the randomness, it really is a very beautiful, other-wordly attraction.The trip will cost you 52 RON return for a bus to Turda from Sibiu, 20 RON return from Turda to the salt mine, and 20 RON for entry into the mine.
Notes: Just like above, we wanted to visit Corvin Castle en route to Timișoara, but we didn’t realise how far Timișoara was. Rather, a day trip from Sibiu would have been better suited, but we realised this too late.
How we got there: took a bus from Sibiu to Timișoara costing 58 RON. The drive was 6.5 hours long.
Nights stayed: 1
Accommodation: Freeborn Hostel. Close to the main square, large lockers, and plenty of showers. Cleanliness was not horrible, but not super clean.
Sites/activities: We didn’t explore much of Timișoara.
How we got out: Bought a ticket from the Timișoara Nord to Belgrade. You need to get off at Vrsac (there are no direct trains) and wait for a train to Belgrade. The ticket bought in Timișoara will cover you all the way to Belgrade.
Notes: Our main reason for staying at Timișoara was as a stop off before continuing on into Serbia. We can’t say we really explored the city well.
In total we spent 9 nights in Romania. Had we stayed longer, we would have organised a day trek, and would have loved to observe the wild life. If we had more money (not that it is very expensive), we would have hired a car; most sites and cities are within an awkward distance from each other. Too far for day trips, and too close for overnight stays. We love helping you guys plan your trips so please send through any questions in the comments below, or in our contact form. Drum Bun! (that means Bon Voyage).