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City break in my country, Romania !

Things to see in Bucharest: University Library

One of the most popular travel offers which popped up from the brain of the travel marketers across Europe and not only, in the last decade is the idea of “city break”… Targeting people with jobs and careers who would like to escape a bit from their usual weekends to discover new destinations… Usually, people enjoy these city breaks in fall and spring between their summer seaside holidays and winter skiing escapes (or Christmas – New Year breaks). Paris, London, Rome or Barcelona are full with these city breakers during these normally off-season months… But have you ever considered doing a city break in Romania, as well ? I guess few of you… maybe because Romania is not so well-known, maybe you don’t know what you can visit here… and why you should do a city break in Romania… So, that’s why I want to present a few of the cities which can delight you !

Bucharest

You will love it or you will hate it. It is chaotic, but surprisingly quiet in the weekends, it is an eclectic mix of communist grey buildings and 19th century French architecture. It hosts the second largest building in the world after Pentagon – the infamous Ceausescu’s Palace, now turned into the Parliament headquarter, some museums, conference halls, etc, etc… You could easily fit all the EU countries Parliaments. And only few steps away, you can get into Europe’s most hip bars & restaurants neighborhood – it just boomed in the last 2 – 3 years. After decades of neglect, the picturesque small streets from the Old Center were refurbished, repainted and opened for business… and nowadays, thousands enjoy a coffee, a beer and a multi-national cuisine. Bucharest is well-known for some of the most spectacular (and expensive) clubs from this side of the Berlin wall, so if you want to drink and dance until you drop, there are few places in Europe which can match the capital of Romania… Historic buildings, super-cool bars and clubs, parks, one of Europe’s nicest football stadiums… I told you Bucharest is a mix of everything…! You might enjoy it, many do ! On top, I am around and if I am in town (yes, sometimes it happens), drop me a mail and I will show you some hidden corners of my native city !

How to get here: countless airlines fly into Bucharest International Airport. There are two major low-cost companies flying from dozens destinations to Bucharest (Paris, London, Brussels, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, all are connected). Just check out the offers of Wizz Air and Blue Air… even the traditional airlines could offer you extremely competitive fares.

Sibiu

The Cultural Capital of Europe in 2007 is a city which reinvented itself… well, based on a very strong cultural history. It was settled by Germans almost 1000 years ago and it is a traditional German burg… but a special one, with a Latin flair. It was one of the outposts of the Germanic culture, but it could not neglect the Romanian surroundings. Here you will find those small narrow streets which many Western cities demolished, quiet and atmospheric. You can climb the mighty towers of the old City Hall or of the Protestant Cathedral for great views… You can even visit the Sibiu-replica of Istanbul’s St. Sofia Cathedral, but you will enjoy at full the nice small privately owned restaurants, pubs and wine bars hidden in cellars, in the undergrounds and in some unexpected parts of this fortified city. Did I tell you Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture in 2007 ? Well, it continues to be even unofficially. There are practically no weekends without a happening – either a rock festival or traditional folkloric gathering, maybe an off-road event or exhibitions, parades and so on and so forth.

How to get here: flying directly from West is restricted… Sibiu has a nice and modern airport, but it lacks flights. Until recently, it was the most expensive airport of Romania and all airlines avoided it at all costs. Tarom connects it with Munich, the same does Lufthansa, while Austrian Airlines can bring tourists from Vienna. If flying from Italy or Germany, you might arrive here by the other Romanian airline, Carpatair, but the fares can be expensive – they mostly target businessmen !

Sighisoara

Think of a town which did not change too much since the 17th century. Well, it got electric light and now some funky restaurants, but if you walk a bit away from the touristic center, you will discover the quietness of history. As Sibiu, Sighisoara was settled by Germans, but if Sibiu evolved into a bigger town (it was briefly the capital of Transylvania in the 19th century), Sighisoara remained at the Middle Ages scale… the old houses and churches were not demolished to make way to Art Nouveau or Neo-Gothic styles, it remained as it was… 400 years ago. Sighisoara hosts one of the most popular festivals of Romania, the Medieval Festival when you can meet knights and princes parading the city, medieval concerts and all the stuff… This is when Sighisoara turns towards its history, but the main disadvantage is the large number of tourists. And talking about history… here was born Vlad the Impaler, king of Vallachia who was the model for Bram Stocker when he wrote Dracula… the character so much connected to Romania !

How to get here: Sighisoara does not have an airport, but don’t despair ! The airport of Tg. Mures is just 60 km away and this is the place where the low cost airline WizzAir flies from London, Paris, Rome, Munich, Madrid, Barcelona or Budapest. If you are in Budapest, you can also take the night train… you leave Budapest in the night and arrive at Sighisoara sometimes in the morning.

Piatra Neamt

Romania is formed of three major provinces, which were full-fledged states during their history. The three Romanian principalities are Wallachia (South), Moldova (East, the two merging in 1859) and Transylvania (West, which joined its sister-provinces in 1918 after WW I). I wrote about Bucharest (in Wallachia), Sibiu and Sighisoara (in Transylvania), I should write about a city in Moldova, as well.

The problem with Moldova, it does not have too inspiring cities. Iasi, the capital of Moldova is a nice city, but pretty difficult to reach, however, I can present you Piatra Neamt. Again, in this case, you will not have a proper city break, walking and enjoying one city, but it is compulsory to rent-a-car or negotiate with a taxi-driver.

Piatra Neamt itself is a nice town, but without many attractions of its own. The small historical center overhaul is almost finished (I visited the town in September, and it was almost finished), but it is something you can see in a couple of minutes. You can definitely climb one of the hills which surround Piatra Neamt by cable car (there is also a small skiing slope if you are here during winter or early spring) and a pretty nice Historical Museum, but you really need a guide to enjoy it.

But what it is really fabulous is in the area around Piatra Neamt, in the county of Neamt (you guessed it ! Piatra Neamt is the capital of Neamt county !). What can you see ? First of all, don’t even think of missing Bicaz gorges. Found at almost 50 km away, it is the natural gate between Transylvania and Moldova, the gorges will certainly impress you. Few kilometers away, in Transylvania, you will find Lacu Rosu (Red Lake) a lake formed almost 200 years ago from a landslide which blocked a few springs… An area was flooded, but this area had a lot of iron reserves… the trees from the flooded area did not disintegrate in water, but they were naturally protected by iron and survive to the day… like a forest of pales getting out of the lake… Right, we are the country of Dracula, the Impaler !

Going North, you will be amazed by the picturesque area around Bicaz lake, an artificial lake created for a major Communist-era hydro-power project. And the nature is so beautiful in Neamt, why don’t you check out its animals as well… Here is one of the few places in Europe where you can see the European buffalo, a rarity – as it is the case with America, the buffalos roamed freely centuries ago, but as the people settlements multiplied, the buffalo disappeared. It was reintroduced in Romania from Poland and Germany and there are efforts to move some individuals into the wild. However, despite the fact they are huge and apparently powerful animals (you don’t want to meet an angry buffalo at large !), they are very fragile – all the European buffalos who still live across Europe are the heirs of only 12 different animals (the only ones which survived decades ago) – inter-breeding makes them genetically fragile…

Talking about animals, why don’t you go and ride some horses… In Neamt, it is the so-called “stallions warehouse” where the best stallions are cared for the sake of all the Moldovan mares :). For really few euros, you can ride some of the most impressive horses this side of the Carpathians !

The last, but not the least, don’t forget the mighty Neamt Citadel, one of the most impressive citadels around (recently restored) and the large number of Orthodox Monasteries. It is said that Neamt has the second highest density of monasteries in the world after Athos Mountain… and some are really beautiful !

How to get here: Piatra Neamt does not have its own airport and it is quite far away from any other major important European cities. Even from Bucharest, you will make around 5 – 6 hours by car or train. However, there is an airport in Bacau, another major (but characterless) city, just 70 km away from Piatra Neamt. Bacau airport is the hub for the Romanian low cost airline Blue Air and you will be surprised to find out that you can fly here straight from Dublin, London, Brussels, Paris and 5 airports in Italy !

I could write novels with the cities of Romania worth of city breaks. However, I wanted to pick up a few and to give you a sample of what you can see, experience and enjoy. And I hope you will take Romanian cities into consideration when planning your city break getaways… and as said, if you consider coming to Bucharest, just drop me a mail !

This article was written as part of the Romanian travel blogs initiative to promote the idea of city breaks in Romania. A lot of Romanian travel blogs wrote today about various city break destinations trying to convince Romanians that a wonderful city break can be also done in Sibiu or Bucharest, not only in Prague and Paris. If you speak Romanian, you can find the list of published articles at the end of this post. In case you don’t understand Romanian, I would rather recommend you to read posts written by other foreign bloggers who visited Romania and loved it !

Nomadic Matt about Brasov

Wandering Earl about Sinaia

A Dangerous Business about Sighisoara

Sunshine and Siestas about her Romanian trip

The Blonde Gypsy about Bran and Rasnov

One Step 4ward about Bucharest

Sights of Romania

Things to see in Bucharest: Savings Bank of Romania

Savings Bank HQ in Bucharest

Things to see in Bucharest: Old City

Old City

Things to see in Bucharest: Princely Court of Walachia

Princely Court of Walachian kings in Bucharest

University Library Bucharest

University Library of Bucharest

Things to see in Sibiu: Brukenthal Museum Sibiu

Brukenthal Museum of Sibiu

Things to see in Sibiu: Main square

Main Square of Sibiu

Things to see in Sibiu: old city

Small historical alleys !

Things to see in Sibiu:city by night

Sibiu by night… wonderful, isn’t it ?

Things to see in Sighisoara: up to the old town entrance

Climbing to the old town of Sighisoara

Sighisoara - medieval town

built on a hill

Things to see in Sighisoara: back streets of old medieval town

Quiet back streets

Medieval festival of Sighisoara

While during the Medieval Festival, the city is full with warriors and tourists :)

Things to see in Piatra Neamt: old town center

Center of Piatra Neamt – Stefan’s Tower and his church

Things to see in Neamt: Bicaz gorges

Bicaz gorges

Things to see in Neamt: European buffalos

Happy family of buffalos

Things to see in Neamt: Neamt citadel

Neamt citadel

Things to see in Brasovi: Black Church and old city

Other wonderful cities – old city of Brasov

Things to see in Alba Iulia: Changing guards ceremony of Alba Iulia

Changing the guards at the Alba Iulia citadel

Things to see in Timisoara: Unirii Square

Unirii Square of Timisoara

Costinesti seaside resort

and … the most popular city break in Romania – summer on seaside !

Până acum există "19 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. […] calatorii au publicat astazi articole pe aceasta tema si va recomand sa le cititi: Turism Market, Imperator Travel, Placerea de a calatori, Lumea Mare,  Hai la Bord,  Viajoa, Travel Girls, Calator sau turist, […]

  2. […] au publicat astazi articole pe aceasta tema si va recomand sa le cititi: Travel with a Smile, Imperator Travel, Placerea de a calatori, Lumea Mare, Hai la Bord, Viajoa, Travel Girls,  Calator sau turist, […]

  3. […] Ciric, Hai la Bord, Calator sau turist, Turistu, In turneu, Turism Market, Imperator Travel, Imperator Travel (in limba […]

  4. […] pe aceasta tema si va recomand sa le cititi:  Travel with a Smile , Imperator Travel , Imperator Travel (in limba engleza), Placerea de a calatori, Lumea Mare , Hai la Bord , Viajoa , Travel […]

  5. […] aceasta tema si va recomand sa le cititi: TurismMarket, Travel with a Smile, Imperator Travel, Imperator Travel(in limba engleza), Placerea de a calatori, Lumea Mare, Hai la Bord, Viajoa, Travel […]

  6. […] In versiunea engleza a blogului Imperator Travel am scris despre city break-uri in Romania […]

  7. Larissa says:

    Thanks for including me, friend!

    WOW – what a detailed post, you’ve really got me wanting to go back ASAP now that I know there are buffalo.

    P.S. I’ve also got a little somethin, somethin on Sighisoara

    http://blonde-gypsy.com/2011/10/18/lost-in-transylvania-day-trip-to-sighisoara/

  8. Corina says:

    nimic despre Cluj?

  9. Laurie says:

    Great place with so much history to view.Makes me want to return for a holiday again. Will view more posts soon.

  10. […] interesting article about Sibiu on Imperator Travel Blog. /* Alina crede în potenţialul turistic al ţării ei. De aici secţiunile în engleză […]

  11. That seaside looks amazing! I have yet to visit Romania but it is one that is certainly on my bucket list!

  12. Simona says:

    We are waiting for you in Timisoara !

  13. Vince Loius says:

    Romania is a great tourist destination. Lots of tourist attractions to vist. I have visited last year there, specially Bucharest one of the most beautiful town.

  14. […] sau turist, Turistu, In turneu, Turism Market, Travel with a smile, Imperator Travel, Imperator Travel, Trans-ferro, Ciprian Caraba, Marius Pop, Ioana Budeanu, Travelbadgers, GTD20, Enciclopedia […]

  15. go-indochine says:

    Great landsacpe. Very colorful city. Like traditional and mordern combine together. Looking for more great article from you in the future.

  16. David Jones says:

    Nice blog you have wrote this is so good .
    I really appreciate it.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

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