Castles and medieval cities? Check. Incredible architecture? Check. Beautiful landscapes and outdoor adventure? Check. If Romania hasn’t been on your bucket list, it should move ahead several spots. Here’s why: 

The natural scenery is staggeringly diverse. 

In fact, Romania is the most biogeographically diverse country in the EU. Whether you’re into snowy mountains, lushly forested hills, vineyards or sandy Black Sea beaches, it’s here. 

Along with this variation come numerous outdoor recreation opportunities. Hike through the Carpathian Mountains into remote, wild areas or take a leisurely walk on the saddle of a mountain and drink in the views.

Visit the Turda salt mine, where, believe it or not, you’ll find the only underground amusement park in the world. Marvel at the Bigar waterfall, the living fires of Buzau, the Berca mud volcanoes and the Scarisoara Glacier, Europe’s second-largest subterranean glacier. Go birdwatching in the Danube Delta, visit a bison reservation and keep an eye out in the forests for lynx, wolves, deer, badgers and brown bears. 

The architecture is marvelous. 

If you’re into fanciful Art Nouveau, Grecian columns and Gothic cathedral ceilings, you’ll adore Romania. Like the country’s landscape, the styles are diverse, including medieval, interwar, communist, Stalinist and contemporary. 

The castles alone will keep you captivated for days. Visit Dracula’s abode - the Bran Castle - then continue on to Peles Castle, with its Neo-Renaissance design and 170 rooms in an array of styles, from Art Nouveau to Moorish. 

The Palace of Culture in Iasi is a fantastical blend of Neo-Gothic, Romantic and Neo-Baroque. And don’t miss the “Sixtine Chapel of the East,” the Voronet Monastery in the Bucovina region, known for its detailed frescoes and particular shade of blue. 

The culture runs deep.

If you like racking up UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Romania is for you. There are eight sites awaiting your attention: Moldavia’s painted churches, the Orastie Mountains’ Dacian fortresses, historic Sighișoara, the Danube Delta, the Carpathians’ Primeval Beech Forests, the Monastery of Horezu, the fortified churches of Transylvania’s villages and the wooden churches of Maramures. 

Tradition is everything in Romania. Soak up folk culture through traditional legends and customs. This is a country where everyone gets a caroller at their door at Christmastime and a garlic-bedecked St. Andrew on one’s windowsill keeps evil spirits at bay. Join the locals at a thrilling festival, celebrating everything from classical music to a local flower.

The food is delicious. 

Move over mac-and-cheese; Romania is the ultimate comfort-food destination. Hearty and sustaining, meals here aren’t fussy, but you can tell they’ve got that all-important ingredient: love. Largely homemade with an eye to authentic ingredients, traditional Romanian cuisine includes storceag, a sturgeon soup cooked outdoors in a kettle over an open fire; bulz, grilled polenta balls stuffed with soft sheep-milk cheese; and mici (or mititei), small, but plump and juicy sausages made with minced pork, beef, lamb, garlic, thyme, pepper, caraway seeds and more. 

Ready for Romania? A small-group tour, self-drive vacation or solo journey is the most immersive way to experience this beguiling country. Let’s chat! You can sign up to schedule a consultation or sign up for my weekly newsletter for more inspiration.