If you’re still undecided about where to spend your holiday in 2023, here are five reasons why Romania should be on your list:
Did you know that the Romanians are speaking a Latin language? If you visit the country, you will hear a peculiar blend of Italian, Spanish and Slavic on the streets. Because the Romanian vocabulary is 70% Latin, fundamental words should be easy to grasp if you know another Latin language.
“Eastern European Latins with a Balkan twist” is probably the best description of Romanians. Of course, the historical backdrop shaped Romania’s cultural behavioural pattern to a greater or lesser extent. The Balkan spirit is more dominant in the country’s south, where it was closer to the Ottoman Empire; the northeast is influenced by Ukrainian Slavic culture; and Transylvania, Romania’s western province, is closer to Central-Europe, as it used to belong to the Austrian-Hungarian space for centuries.
The country was blessed with amazingly beautiful nature. Romania has it all: rugged mountains, rolling hills, an aquatic paradise made by one of Europe’s major rivers, the Danube, and the Black Sea coast.
Romania’s mountains are the Carpathians, a mountain range that begins in Poland and ends in Romania at the Danube gorges. They cover around 30% of the country’s land area and provide countless chances for enjoying nature and outdoor experiences.
Romania’s fauna is one of the richest and most diverse in Europe, including rare or even unique species. Romania is home to more than 60% of Europe’s bear population and is one of the continent’s last countries with wolf or lynx populations. The European bison, the continent’s biggest animal, was recently reintroduced, and stable groups were able to develop freely in the wild.
The Danube Delta, Europe’s biggest surviving natural wetland is one of the continent’s most vital ecosystems for wetland fauna. This aquatic paradise consists of a labyrinth of channels, tree-fringed lakes, extensive marshes, reed beds, islands and floodplains. Is a popular site for birdwatchers as well as foodies.
When it comes to food, Romanians excel. There are some unwritten characteristics that can define it: the food must be delicious, filling and the portions generous. The history of the Romanian cuisine is influenced by its historical context and geographical position. Located at the crossroads between the West and the East, the traditional Romanian cuisine is an original synthesis between the Balkan and Central European.
“Mamaliga”, the corn porridge, was a staple food that became almost a celebration food. Although it is not unique to Romania, here we find it in any menu with traditional food, both as an accompaniment to a main course, and as a main course, in various combinations with cheese and meat.
Soups are part of the daily diet and include a wide variety of ingredients and combinations. The most popular but also the most controversial soup is the tripe soup, obtained from slices of beef stomach, boiled for a long time and seasoned with garlic and cream. Speaking of garlic. The Romanian garlic sauce called “mujdei” is so concentrated in garlic that it is not recommended to drink a fizzy drink after it.
A specific type of soup is called “borș”, but it is totally different from that of our Ukrainian neighbours. Romanian borscht is a normal soup to which a sour liquid called borș is added, obtained from the fermentation of cereal bran.
4. Castles and palaces
Despite the fact that Dracula is a myth, several aspects led Bram Stoker to set his renowned Dracula castle in Transylvania. One of the reasons is the presence of a castle which suited very well the idea of vampire residence. I’m referring to Bran Castle, the medieval stronghold, located at the foothills of the Carpathians, perched on an imposing rock. Bran Castle has never been the residence of a bloodthirsty figure. It was built as a border stronghold, and before being transformed into a touristic attraction, it used to be a royal residence. But that doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of tourists to flock the castle every year, in search of thrilling memories and memorable pictures with the castle.
Bran Castle is not the only castle in Romania. We also recommend visiting the Corvin Castle, a fairytale-like residence built by a medieval hero, John of Hunedoara, who distinguished himself as a great military leader, deafening the region from Turkish aggression.
Peles Castle is another great place to visit. It was erected by the first Romanian king starting the end of the 19th century in a gorgeous natural setting, also at the foothills of the mountains. Since its debut in 1914 it impressed its visitors with its remarkable interior design, the rich collections within and nevertheless, the original architecture which makes you think of the German alpine palace.
5. The authentic rural life
For a long time, Romania was one of Europe’s least developed countries. Although it has made significant progress, there is still evidence of discrepancies between a Western European nation and Romania. However, this condition allowed for the preservation of the authenticity of rural life, as it used to be all throughout Europe a few decades ago.
While travelling through the Romanian countryside, tourists can still encounter horse-drawn carts, farmers working the field, haystacks, or herds of animals coming from the pastures The Romanian alpine pastures are dotted with flocks of sheep in the summer, and the cheese is still manufactured in the traditional wooden huts at the top of the mountain.
During the holidays, the locals in the Romanian countryside dress in traditional attire trying to keep their traditions and customs alive. We propose visiting the villages of Maramures, Romania’s northern province, around Christmas to witness carolling and other winter traditions, some of them have strange names: the Goat, the Bears dance, the masked men dance or the “Sorcova”.