Romania; Incredible Countryside Views

Before I get into what's worth seeing in Romania, I feel it important to first bring your attention to Romania's acts of goodness to humanity.

The first picture above is the tents set up for Ukrainian refugees (with WIFI!) arriving into Bucharest. These were at the Bucharest North train station. The second picture is an information board right as you enter the main entrance at Bucharest's Otopeni International Airport. The last picture is of an information pamphlet at the information desk for Ukrainians arriving in Bucharest. The desk was complete with information for veterinarians, housing, hospitals and everything else. There were several people staffed at the desk. I couldn't confirm but it's probably safe to say the people staffed at the desk spoke Ukrainian.


I deeply admire the hospitality of Romanians towards their neighbors in Ukraine. I truly admire what they are doing for a neighbor and a friend in distress.


I even met a Ukrainian refugee in Bucharest. I didn't want to harp on the war too much but I said I'm sorry for what's happening to your country and I hope your family is all safe.


Now without further ado...


Bucharest

Size: Bucharest is not a particular large city. It has a population of just over 1.80 million people. It's easily manageable by foot if you're staying in the right place. I highly recommend the Old Town area.


Public Transportation: There is an above ground tram system and underground train system. There are also city buses. If you're coming from the airport (there are two!!!) it is quite easy to get into the city by express train. The cost is the least expensive public transportation I've ever experienced around the world. It was one dollar and a few cents for the train from Otopeni International Airport (the further airport) to Bucharest North train station.


Taxis: I have no experience to speak of with the city Taxi's in Bucharest. They're the one's you'll see in the yellow cars clearly labeled taxis. That being said, my wonderful Romanian castles tour guide said the taxis in Romania are a total scam and the drivers are untrustworthy. They will turn their meters off and up-charge you if they know you are a foreigner. He claimed if you demand they turn on the meters in their cab they will make up some story about how it's broken.


Uber: Uber is pretty cheap in Bucharest. I paid 15€ for a trip from inner-city Bucharest to Otopeni International Airport. A 17km trip that took 27 minutes for 15€, which includes a 20% tip.


Places Of Interest: If you find yourself in Bucharest you must do a tour of the (#1) Palace of the Parliament. It is both a palace and home to the Romanian parliament. Unfortunately, when this magnificent building was started (1984), it was under the orders and direction of a brutal, Communist dictator. It was later finished in 1997. The interior is absolutely stunning and it's shear size is confusing.


It is the third largest administrative building in the world.


To reach the office and start of the tours of the palace there is a public park called, "Parcul Izvor" on the north side of the palace right after crossing the river. Walking along the fences of the palace you will find a parking lot gated entrance and there you can find an English speaking guard who will tell you the office is through the gate entrance. The tour costs less than $9.

(#2) Around the corner from the Palace of The Parliament, is the Catedrala Nationala. As of 2022 it is still under construction and won't be finished for several more years. Since you're already at the palace it's worth taking a look at. When completed it is believed it will be the largest Orthodox Cathedral in the world. **I cannot confirm this but my tour guide to the Romania castles told me that the construction project for the cathedral stole Covid-19 recovery money for the project and this is something Romanias are widely annoyed with **


(#3) Old Town Bucharest is the place to be. Especially after dark. It's the most modern and well kept part of the city. Restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs can all be found here. The best food in the city is found here. It's very evident that this is the preferred place for tourists, the wealthy people of Bucharest and the young people of the city.


My Thoughts: I don't take pride in having to talk down about a place. Everywhere is special in its own way. Every place offers something unique to everyone. This includes Bucharest. That being said, it's clearly a city still struggling to form its modern identity. It's a city still working to overcome its past. These things don't happen overnight and I'm sympathetic to it's history and modern struggles. Ultimately the city left me unimpressed and it's not somewhere I could see myself encouraging others to go. BUT...the Palace of the Parliament is worth every second of the tour. Old Town is by far the best place to be. The city buildings lit up at night are spectacular.


Romanian Countryside

This is everything I encourage you to go to Romania to see. The views are absolutely stunning. Farm land, tall mountain ranges, picturesque small cities, incredibly friendly people. This is why you should go to Romania.


If you're a skier or snowboarder, Romania has some of the best skiing and snowboarding resorts in Europe. Taking a look at the snow capped mountains driving through the countryside, it's easy to understand why.

Snowcapped Carpathian Mountains in Central Romania

Peles Castle: Nestled in the stunning Carpathian Mountains 77 miles outside Bucharest, this famous castle was built from 1873-1914. It officially resides in Transylvania. If you think the outside is beautiful, just wait until you go inside!

Bran Castle: It's likely you know Bran Castle better as Draculas Castle. While the author of the famous book probably never knew this castle existed, the Dracula character is certainly based off of the infamous Vlad The Impaler. Personally, I didn't find this castle quite as beautiful as Peles Castle but it is still very much worth experiencing.


Brasov: This small city that's the hub of Transylvania boasts a population of just over a quarter of a million people. Brasov (pronounced "bras-chov" in Romanian) is about as picturesque as a small city in Romania gets. Complete with a stunning and colorful city square that has shops, restaurants, bars, and consulates. Brasov has ancient city wall ruins that have survived the test of time and has the skinniest walkway in Romania. "Rope Street" as it is formerly known was built for the firemen of Brasov so they could cut through the buildings straight to the city cathedral. More or less it was built as a firehose shortcut.

Brasov City Square