Located in southeastern Europe, Romania is the largest country in the area and is mostly made up of mountains, hills, and wide-open plains, with the Danube River flowing through it en route to the beautiful Black Sea coastline.
The impressive Carpathian Mountains dominate the heart of its territory, but there are, in fact, 14 mountain ranges for you to explore! Romania also boasts some of the largest and best-preserved forests in Europe; these cover about a quarter of the country.
In Romania, nature really is all around you; almost half of its territory consists of natural ecosystems, and this is evident when you’re traveling around the picturesque countryside.
Making up the center of Romania, Transylvania is both the largest and most famous region in the country, as it is home to a diverse mix of landscapes, people, and cultures. Tucked away amongst its mountains, hills and forests are over a hundred castles, fortresses, and fortified churches for you to check out; Bran Castle – or ‘Dracula’s Castle’ – is the most impressive of the lot.
Ringed by the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania has a unique Hungarian, German, and Romanian heritage, with the cities of Brasov, Sibiu, and Sighisoara all well worth a visit alongside Cluj-Napoca – ‘the heart of Transylvania.’ Each of the cities is bursting with historical sights, cultural landmarks, and delightful old town centers.
The natural beauty in the region is also stunning, with the towering Transylvanian Alps and the forested slopes of the Apuseni Mountains offering fantastic hiking. Retezat National Park is an outdoor lover’s dream destination, home to over a hundred glacier lakes, each more beautiful than the last.
The westernmost region in the country, Banat exhibits a diverse range of habitats. It is made up of beautiful hills, forests, and mountains in the south that contrast starkly with the vast plain in the north.
In the lowlands, Romania’s third-largest city of Timisoara is particularly worth adding to your itinerary, as are the lovely old spa town of Buzias and the wonderful vineyards and wineries that surround Recas. Nestled away amongst the mountains in the highlands, you can find a number of interesting old mining towns such as Anina and Sasca Montana; both of these now act as gateways to the natural bounties nearby.
Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park, for instance, is very impressive to visit. Caves, waterfalls, and gorges dot the park. Iron Gates Natural Park is a top-rated destination in Banat, boasting some awe-inspiring scenery in the form of eyecatching gorges and the Danube Canyon.
Oltenia is a land of contrasts. While interesting monuments, monasteries, and mountains adorn the northern parts of the region, the south is very desolate and deserted and is almost desert-like in its appearance.
Beautiful nature does abound, however; one of its most spectacular sights is God’s Bridge – the second largest natural bridge in the whole of Europe. The scenic Bistret Lake also attracts many visitors, as do the gently flowing waters of the Olt River. The Fagaras and Parang mountain ranges both provide some fantastic skiing during the winter months, not to mention the most picturesque, snowy views to take in while sipping on a hot chocolate.
Oltenia also has some fascinating historical sights for visitors to enjoy, with the splendid monasteries at Tismana, Horezu, and Strehaia the pick of the bunch.
Tucked away in the northeast, Southern Bukovina is very picturesque, pleasant and peaceful as there aren’t really any big cities of note with most of the region consisting of rolling hills and endless farmland.
It is so named because the historic region of Bukovina was divided in two in 1940 due to the Soviet Union annexing it with Romania taking the southern part and present-day Ukraine the north.
Ruled by everyone from the Moldavians to the Hapsburgs, the region is home to some of the nation’s most spectacular sights in the shape of its incredible Painted Monasteries that are located in picturesque rural countryside, farmland and forests.
The most famous and indeed impressive of them are those of Humor and Voronet although Sucevita and Putna are also well worth visiting with their brightly painted exteriors, peaceful gardens and ancient churches.
Bordering Ukraine in the north of the country, Maramures is full of incredible mountain scenery for you to gape at. The region really does feel as if time has stood still; age-old villages and rickety wooden churches can be found scattered around its many slopes and valleys.
Traveling here is like stepping back in time. In addition to its awe-inspiring natural sights, Maramures is also home to a fascinating cultural heritage, as Romanian, Hungarian, and Ukrainian are all spoken here. As such, there is a very multicultural feel to it, which is surprising yet welcoming given its secluded location.
To really get a feel for the region, make sure to head to the small villages of Breb and Ieud, which are nestled away amongst the mountains. Both are home to lovely wooden churches and many delightful old buildings. For an unforgettable experience, taking a train ride on the Vaser Valley Forestry Railway is a must. The brilliant old steam train takes you through some breathtaking scenery as you sit back and relax in style.
Often overlooked by visitors to Romania, Crisana in the west of the country is actually home to a lot of different interesting sights. Its cities and towns have a very Central European feel to them, as the region was once ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Oradea acts as the administrative and economic hub of the region and is a captivating place to visit. It displays lots of lovely baroque architecture, wonderful cultural landmarks, and is a bilingual city due to Crisana’s proximity to Hungary.
The geography of the region is also very varied; numerous rivers course through Crisana, and it is bordered by the Apuseni Mountains to the east and the Mures River to the south. Some beautiful wild and remote nature can be found here and there, and numerous caves and gorges dot the area. For those wanting to spend some time exploring the great outdoors, the majestic nature reserve of Pietrele Galbenei offers fantastic hiking.
Lying on the Black Sea, Northern Dobruja is home to Romania’s only coastline and its beautiful beaches, sunny climate and seaside resorts make it a popular place to visit, especially in the summer time. It is part of the historic region of Dobruja that was divided in two between Romania and Bulgaria following the Treaty of Craiova in World War II with the latter taking the southern part.
The southern part of the region is home to fantastic seaside cities such as Constanta and Costinesti which are both replete with captivating historic sights, museums and restaurants and have a wealth of wonderful beaches for you to check out. In addition to this, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern Dobruja is the summer resort of Mamaia which has some of the purest white sand beaches in Europe.
In contrast to the south, the northern realms offer up a quieter and more relaxing experience as it is here that the Danube Delta and the river of the same name drain into the Black Sea. As such, there is a lot of lovely nature on show and it really is a birdwatcher’s dream as flocks of migratory birds nest in the delta as well as the nearby Macin Mountains National Park which is equally delightful to behold.
Located in the northeast of Romania and bordering both Moldova and Ukraine, Moldavia is a captivating region to explore, with a diverse array of landscapes, people, and cultures on offer.
Lots of rolling hills, vineyards, and forests are found in the region. Dotted away amongst them are some amazing gorges and canyons, with those of Bicaz, Bicajel, and Sugau being the most impressive. Castles, lakes, and monasteries are also scattered around here and there.
Its cities are equally interesting to visit due to their multicultural nature, and Bicaz and Bacau are both well worth fitting into your itinerary. Iasi, the capital of the region, acts as the commercial hub of Moldavia. The lively university city exhibits a lot of fine architecture, as is best demonstrated by its magnificent Palace of Culture.
Also going by the name of Wallachia, due to the Wallachian princes and princesses that used to rule the region, Muntenia is located in the south of the country. It is here that you’ll find the nation’s bustling capital of Bucharest.
Bucharest boasts massive monuments such as the colossal Palace of the People (the second largest building in the world), and its beautiful historic center and wealth of museums and old churches is certainly worth a visit. However, there is much more to the region than the city known fondly as ‘Little Paris.’
The north of Muntenia, for instance, is full of sprawling mountain ranges and valleys for you to explore. Visit beautiful Peleș Castle located near Sinaia or take a scenic drive along the Transfagarasan, which snakes its way through the Carpathians.
As well as spending some time getting to know Bucharest, you can explore several of the regions larger cities. Buzau and Pitesti have a lot to offer visitors, and each has a unique vibe.