TOP 5 EXPERIENCES YOU CANNOT MISS IN ROMANIA
Image: Top 5 Experiences You Cannot Miss in Romania
With its towering gothic churches, stunning palaces and monasteries and gorgeous blue Danube river that winds along its border, Romania is one of the most interesting fairytale-like countries in Europe.Of course Transylvania, home to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is Romania's most famous province. It is easy to see how it inspired such darkly romantic stories with its magnificent timeworn castles that erupt into the moody sky, cobblestone laneways that coil snake-like through enchanting villages and ancient citadel remnants that lie peppered throughout the picturesque region.
Although we love Transylvania for its beauties and its legends, Romania has so much more to explore, and much more than the average traveller would expect. In fact, we would urge you to go to Romania before everyone else discovers its hidden wonders.
To help you plan your incredible holiday, here are our five favourite things to do in Romania.
Bigăr Waterfall, the Avatar-like World
Image: Bigăr Waterfall
Credit: Thousand Wonders
The IzvorulBigăr is located on the Anina River in the CheileNerei-Beușnița National Park. Bigăr Waterfall is often described as a‘rounded waterfall’ because of the way it flows in countless little streams over the apex of a fat, rounded stone that is covered with an unusual and dramatic green carpet of moss. At almost eight metres high, the effect is otherworldly. Interestingly, this landmark is located precisely on the 45th parallel, halfway between the Equator and the geographic North Pole.
If you enjoy sci-fi movies, Avatar would be the film this landscape evokes. And just like the verdant world portrayed there, Bigăr Waterfall is absolutely magical! The waterfall also carries a romantic and dramatic legend. There once was a young girl who was desperately in love with a boy named Bigăr. But she was under a gypsy’s curse – if she ever fell in love, she would die. Her parents, trying to protect her from love, locked her in a small cave close to the falls. In her desperation the girl called on the gypsy witch to help her. The gypsy transformed her hair into a waterfall. The boy drowned in its waters, and the two lovers were united forever.
Salina Turda, the Underground Sci-Fi Park
Image: Salina Turda
Credit: Business Insider
Located in Turda, Transylvania, Salina Turda, one of the oldest salt mines in the world, has over 2,000 years of history. Salt extraction began here in antiquity and expanded underground during the Roman occupation. When salt mining ceased at Salina Turda in 1932, it left enormous caverns, galleries and even structures hewn from the salt, behind.
Now this former salt mine is a futuristic underground wonderland with a brightly lit moderntheme park. You can go boating on an underground lake, attend a concert in a 180-seat amphitheater and ride a carousel deep within a salt cavern. There is even a museum and a health spa. All of this lies nestled 120 metres below the surface of the Earth. It is truly one of the most awe-inspiring places in the world.
Address: AleeaDurgăului 7, Turda 401106, Romania
Hours: 9am – 9pm Mon to Sun, except Wednesday
Navy Day/Dormition of the Mother of God might affect these hours
The Merry Cemetery
Image: The Merry Cemetery
Credit: Africa Thoughts
Imagine walking through a colourful cemetery and pausing for a moment to read the following on a gravestone:
Under this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother-in-law…
Try not to wake her up
For if she comes back home
She’ll criticise me more.
But I will surely behave
So she’ll not return from the grave.
Stay here, my dear mother-in-law!
This might sound like a joke or an inappropriate gesture for some, but not for the residents of the town of Săpânţa in Romania. At theirCimitirulVesel or ‘Merry Cemetery’, over 600 wooden crosses bear the life stories, dirty details and final moments of the bodies they mark. Displayed with no shame or embarrassment, cheery pictures and playful stories are shared about the people of Săpânţa who have passed away.
Take your time walking through the cemetery and look for the memorial to the man who started the whole thing, Ion Stan Patras. The message carved on his cross says that he began making the crosses because he loved people and he still wanted to have people come and visit him, even after he died. He certainly seems to have accomplished that.
You won’t find another cemetery where you feel inclined to smile as much as at the Merry Cemetery.
Berca Mud Volcanoes, the Moon Walk
Image: Berca Mud Volcanoes
Credit: Romania Tourism
Situated in Scortoasa commune close to Bercain Buzau County in Romania, the BercaMud Volcanoes, or VulcaniiNoroiosi, are a spectacular sight. You would be forgiven for thinking you’d left planet Earth as you walk around this area – the mud volcanoes create an odd moon-like surface, with their conical shapes surrounded by badlands of water-cut ravines in a gray and pocked landscape. This phenomenon occurs due to the underground eruptions of mud and gases from deep within the continental crust. As the mud dries, it forms a hard conical structure, much like a volcano, and covers the surrounding area with a barren crust of mud. Visitors can walk around the area viewing the eruptions amidst this surreal landscape. What an adventurous spot, and a must-see for photographers looking for unusual scenery!
Thanks to itsuniqueness and the rare plant species found here, namely hardy halophytes, the Berca Mud Volcanoes area is now a protected botanical and geological reservation.
Admission fees: 4 RON per adult. Access is only permitted on dry days.
Wooden Churches of Maramures, the Time Machine
Image: Wooden Churches of Maramures
Credit: Painted Monasteries of Bucovina
Thanks to its picturesque bucolic scenery, timeless traditions and nearly 100 wooden Orthodox churches sprinkled around, visiting Maramuresis like stepping back in time.
The gorgeous high timber churches of Maramures, with their unique bell towers, appeared at a time when the ruling Austrian-Hungarian Empire had forbidden the locals from building Orthodox churches with stone. Nevertheless, the solution of the inventive craftsmen was to use wood, their traditional construction material. This proved to be successful in conveying the message of their religious beliefs over the centuries.
In fact, nearly one-third of the wooden churches built nearly 200 years ago still stand today, a true testament to the carpenters and other craftsmen who designed and built these architectural masterpieces.In recognition of their cultural significance and beauty, eight of the extant wooden churches have been given the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are Bârsana, Budesti, Desesti, Ieud, Plopis, PoienileIzei, Rogoz and Surdesti. A visit to these inspiring gothic marvels will be a highlight of any trip to Romania.
Bârsana: No entry fee. Open 9am – 5pm daily.
Budesti: Entry fee, 3 RON. Ask at Budesti Hall for tour information and times.
Desesti: Entry fee, 2 RON. Contact the priest who lives in the house behind the church for tour information and times.
Ieud: Entry fee, 3 RON. Call the phone numbers posted at the church for tour information and times.
Plopis: There is no entry fee, but donations are welcome. For tour information please call +40-741-203676.
PoienileIzei: Entry fee, 4 RON. For tour information please call +40-726-387120.
Rogoz: No entry fee, but donations are welcome. For tour information, please call the phone number posted at the church.
Surdesti: No entry fee, but donations are welcome. For tour information, please contact the priest at the house next to the church gate.
If you’d like more travel information, please don’t hesitate to contact our team on 1800 242 373.
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