Going to Romania had been on my bucket list for as long as I could remember. Just kidding, who goes to Romania? No one I knew. As a matter of fact, all I knew about Romania, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, was that Dracula came from there. And that novel was mostly set in the UK anyway.
What I did learn was that flights to Bucharest were really cheap, so off I went for nine days in spring. And when I was there, I also learned that people do go to Romania! One segment in particular that goes there is older Spanish and Italian people who don’t speak foreign languages, because those who work in the tourism industry in Romania seem to speak EVERY language. Plus, with all the nice Italian food on offer, Italians must feel right at home.
Our itinerary for nine days in Romania
Where we stayed
Bucharest (1 night)
Sibiu (2 nights)
Sighisoara (2 nights)
Brasov (3 nights)
Bucharest (1 night)
Train travel in Romania
We traveled by train between the cities, which was really convenient. The trains were of high standard, were quite punctual, and we could choose between several trains each day for our destinations. For all of these routes, except from Sibiu to Sighisoara, we booked tickets online in advance. I found the website easy to navigate, and all info is available in English. I received the tickets by emails as pdf files to be printed out.
For the local train between Sibiu and Sighisoara, we just showed up at the station and bought the tickets from a window inside. The person who was there at the time didn’t speak much English, but as we were traveling with the next train it was easy. If you are booking for a later train it would probably help to look up the time and write a note with the hours beforehand. All trains seemed searchable on the website, even those that weren’t possible to book.
Bucharest was not a charming city. We stayed in the old town, which is not a quaint and tourist-friendly place, but where all the clubs are. Still, we found enough sights to entertain us for a few days. There is some history, after all.
Sibiu was a lovely small town with a great historical center, and lots of little things to see, such as the museum of pharmacy. We also strolled to ASTRA, the open-air rural history museum with real buildings from the past, located just outside of town, a perfect half-day excursion.
I’m really not one of those people who can’t walk through a quaint little town without stopping at every corner to take a picture. Oh, wait, apparently I am. Sighisoara is hands down one of the prettiest towns I’ve seen. We spent the better part of two days just strolling around a very small area, chilling on the square and drinking coffees at every place in town that sold them.
Moving on to Brasov meant getting used to traffic and city life again, but also to excellent dining, long walks both in nature and the city, and to finally get to see the famous Bran castle, also known as Dracula’s castle although there is in reality no connection other than that it’s scary enough.
Some of my favorite guesthouses in Europe
Accommodation is cheap in Romania compared to Western Europe. On average, we paid around €30 per night for really nice double rooms with breakfast at small and homey guesthouses. The standard was really unbelievable. I would highly recommend Casa Timpuri Vechi in Sibiu and Pension am Schneiderturm in Sighisoara. But it was hard to choose, and probably hard to really go wrong, as the review scores for guesthoses in these towns on Booking.com are through the roof.
Being a vegetarian in Romania
I eat cheese and eggs, and in Romania I ate a lot of that. I think I really would’ve struggled as a vegan, as far from all restaurants could offer a single meat free dish that wasn’t a plate of lettuce. The traditional Romanian dishes didn’t work for us, but luckily the Italian influence is strong and the quality of food in general was amazing. We had some really fancy pastas that didn’t seem like the last resort as Italian food often does where vegetarian food is scarce. In Brasov in particular we found some really nice and vegetarian-friendly restaurants, and we also did manage to try a more traditional dish, the mămăliga, a polenta-like baked dish with a fried egg on top. It tasted a lot nicer than it was presented.