Romania is a country running deep with history. From the stories of Dracula to incredibly preserved medieval citadels, Romania has lots to see. The country’s major cities attract their fair share of travelers with a combination of historic charm and modern class. Start with these cities to get a feel for the country but don’t be afraid to explore beyond, into the small towns, hidden castles, and dense forests of the country.
More a large town than a true city, Sighişoara is home to a beautifully preserved historic center. First built in the 12th century, the city’s old center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, giving visitors a glimpse into Romania’s past. The windy cobblestone streets are filled with old traditionally built homes and grand towers. The city is most famous for being the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind the character of Dracula.
Most of the city’s highlights are located within the old walled citadel. The 60 meter tall Clock Tower, standing at the top of the hill, should not be missed and right next door you will find the Biserica Mânăstirii church, designed in a late Gothic style. Other sites in the old citadel are best found by just wandering. You will run into some great museums, churches, and spot interesting medieval architecture no matter what way you turn. If you are visiting during the summer, try and arrive during the Medieval Festival to see what it feels like to have stepped back in time.
Located in almost the center of the country and surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, Brașov is not only a beautiful city itself but also a jumping off point for some of Romania’s top sites. The city is one of Romania’s safest, most popular with travelers, and most convenient with good public transportation. It is part modern city, part medieval town.
Highlights are spread around the old town, with more examples of great medieval architecture. The Black Church, renamed in 1689 after being partially torched and blacked with ash by Habsburg invaders, is the city’s most famous site. What makes Brașov the top tourist spot in Romania is not the city itself but its close location to Bran Castle, nicknamed “Dracula’s Castle,” more so for its imposing architecture than due to historic fact.
One of the largest cities in Transylvania, Sibiu is a major cultural center of Romania. With a strong German minority since medieval times, much of Sibiu’s architecture is unique in Romania. The majority of the old center has been beautifully restored and the city even earning the title of European Capital of Culture in 2007.
The old historic center is split into the Upper Town where you will find many of the city’s historic sites and the Lower Town with its windy cobblestone streets and picturesque squares. As you wander, be sure you stop to see the Brukenthal Museum, Huet Square, and some of the city’s great churches. Just outside of town the “ASTRA” Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization is also worth visiting. With over 300 historic buildings, it is the largest outdoor museum in Europe.