If you’re planning on visiting Romania in 2022 and you’re on the lookout for the best things to do and the best places to visit in Transylvania, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll outline everything you need to know, along with some local top tips!
Located between Central and Eastern Europe,Romania continues to grow as an up-and-coming European holiday destination. It’s not somewhere that you might think of going as soon as someone says “Europe”, but it is one of the cheapest places to visit in Europe, and one of Europe’s most beautiful hidden gems.
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Romania, there certainly are a lot of places you could add to your Romania bucket list! It would be a pity not to head to Transylvania even if you land in Romania’s capital, Bucharest. The rumours are true, I’m afraid. There’s something magical about the land beyond the woods. Legends of vampires in medieval castles and a slower-paced, more rural lifestyle make Transylvania a wonderful place to visit. This is the perfect place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, remove yourself from your screens, and just enjoy being in the countryside with local people.
Its territory is wide and varied. There are many things to discover and many challenges to face. Here are only seven places to visit in Transylvania, but they’re guaranteed to leave you feeling like an explorer. So if you’re looking for a new destination to visit this year, consider visiting Romania. Here are the top things to do in Transylvania, including my personal favourites and local top tips, along with the best places to visit in Transylvania. Just a note: we’re focussing on remote villages in this post, great for hiking and getting away from the world, and we’re not including the more “obvious” destinations such as Dracula’s castle.
Are you ready to start your journey? Here we go…
Other travel guides you might find useful…
- The best places to visit in Romania
- Europe: the ultimate travel guide
- Top tips for travelling in Europe
- The best places to visit in Europe on a budget
- Hidden gems in Europe that you must visit
- A bucket list of road trips in Europe
- The best places to visit in Greece
- The best things to do in Croatia
- Top things to do in Austria
The best places to visit in Romania...
…that are not Dracula’s castle!
In this list of places to visit in Transylvania, we will focus on small villages, starting from central Romania/southeastern Transylvania, heading west, then north, and end up in the east. If you’re wondering about how to get around Transylvania, renting a car or riding your bicycle is the preferred and fastest way to go. However, you’ll be able to get to every destination below by using public transportation and counting on the kindness of the locals – you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re looking for places to stay in Transylvania, you won’t be disappointed. Rural Transylvania is home to many old refurbished buildings, in the style of the region. Stay in one! You’ll surely be spoiled with a hearty breakfast. Use local apps to book or show up. The rates have increased in the past two years. RON 180-200/night, breakfast included, is a fair deal.
While many of the activities are in the wild and free, you’ll need some food to keep you going. Depending on the area, you’ll be expected to pay around RON 25 for breakfast; one-course lunch/dinner (plus dessert) will be RON 40-45.
Speaking of food… you’ve got to try some of the local cuisine as you travel around Transyvania. The plum dumplings, gomboti cu prune, are a famous traditional dessert, and were not only the dessert but the main course every August of my childhood and teenage years. My two grandmothers would bake them for me using the sweetest of plums. I still remember their taste and I try to recreate it every year, during the last summer month.
Without further ado: The best places to visit in Transyvania…
1. Holbav: best for good views
This is one of those underrated Transylvanian villages. The charm of Holbav lies past its regular boundaries. It’s very quiet here, and the perfect place to disconnect.
Things to do in Holbav:
1. Walk or cycle about 2km from the edge of the village. It is scenic all the way, irrespective of the season.
2. Climb one of the hills for unforgettable views and a taste of freedom. The local children will tell you which dogs are friendly and which are not.
3. Continue to Paltin for some extra wilderness.
2. Meşendorf: go cheese tasting!
Local producers should always be encouraged to continue their traditional activities. They preserve the heart of a place. And that’s what happens in Meşendorf, one of the best places to visit in Transylvania. Meşendorf is a typical Saxon village… full of surprises.
Things to do in Meşendorf:
1. Book a cheese tasting. It’ll come ‘equipped’ with local nuts, sweets, and drinks.
2. Hike the hills around the village for beautiful views and some much-needed tranquillity.
3. Bring your bicycle or rent one – there are many forest trails connecting Meşendorf to other lovely Saxon villages around. You’ll be surprised by where these trails end.
3. Cisnădioara: travel back to the Middle Ages
A tiny village with just over 400 residents! It’s the up-and-down those village roads that makes Cisnădioara grow in a traveller’s heart.
Things to do in Cisnădioara:
1. Walk the streets and enjoy the village’s sights and sounds.
2. Trek to Michelsberg, the fortified church of Cisnădioara.
3. The area is famous for its apples. Have a break at a restaurant to try the local cuisine – and an apple pie/strudel, of course!
4. Gârda Seacă: good for hiking in remote areas...
The best adjective to describe Apuseni Mountains could well be ‘enigmatic’. Gârda Seacă is one of those places where there is no reception, yet you feel at ease. If you’re looking for places to visit in Transylvania and you want to go hiking, this is one of the best villages to head to.
Things to do in Gârda Seacă:
1. Hike to Izbucul Tăuzului, a magical spring that will make you forget that you’re still in Europe.
2. Casa de Piatră Village is 8 km away and Vârtop Cave comes highly recommended. It is an adventure cave; getting there is part of the adventure.
3. Buy syrups and jams made by the locals and try them in crêpes or stovetop pies.
5. Valea Drăganului: go kayaking and cycling!
Mountains meet water. The roads are bad, but they’re worth the struggle. If you’re looking for places to visit in Romania where you can get active, this might be the one for you!
Things to do in Valea Drăganului:
1. Head to Drăgan-Floroiu Lake and make your way to the water. Kayaking here will be some of your wildest ever!
2. Alternatively, cycle around the lake. The forest is dense and mysterious!
3. From the edge of Valea Drăganului Village, walk or cycle to Crişul Repede River, local style.
6. Sic: some of the largest reed beds in Romania...
These are the largest reed beds in Romania, after the ones found in the Danube Delta. There is so much peace in the neighbouring countryside! If you’re looking for places to visit in Transylvania where you can switch off and spend time in nature, you’ll love Sic.
Things to do in Sic:
1. The easy way to see the reed beds is on the right side after you enter Sic Village, by walking on a wooden bridge.
2. Go past the village, riding a bicycle or simply walking. Feel the energy of the forest on your left and enjoy the wells on the side of the road and the clean air.
3. When you get to the water, stop, watch the birds, and just be.
7. Inlăceni, the ‘labyrinth village’
The legend goes that a mailman went to deliver letters to Inlăceni and found himself there even 3 days later. How come? Well, he couldn’t find a way out.
Inlaceni is as remote as it is wonderful. Bears sometimes visit the villagers while they are out in the fields. However, when the traveller reaches the village, it doesn’t seem cut off from the outside world. The villagers have everything they need there – and everything is centred around the old white church.
Things to do in Inlăceni:
1. The village is remote but very picturesque; you’ll get there after an interesting ride. While walking around its streets, try to remember your starting point.
2. Visit the Unitarian church – it is a beautiful example of the area’s culture and traditionalism.
3. Watch the sunset from one of the nearby hills. It’ll be like an enormous orange painting.
Where are your favourite places to visit in Romania?
Where are your favourite places to visit in Transylvania? Anything you’d add to this Romania travel guide?
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