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Must-Visit Cities in Romania: Exploring the Heart and Soul of the Country

Cities of Romania are real hidden gems, the perfect destination for a city break in the Balkans or you can simply include them into your itinerary when exploring Romania.

Combining these cities with picturesque villages, medieval fortresses, and outstanding nature and you will obtain one of the best holidays in your life.

Holidays in Romania are full of fun, joy and this country offers more attractions than you could imagine.

Romania is split into multiple regions and in this article, we chose one city from each of these regions so no matter which part of the country you want to visit, there is definitely an iconic city you have to see.

Bucharest, Timisoara, Brasov, Sibiu, Cluj and Iasi are just some of the most famous cities in Romania and this article will tell you everything you need to know about each of these towns.

I know that you most probably associate Romania with vampires, but this country offers much more behind this Dracula tourism so prepare to discover a wonderful country, extremely affordable and way beautiful than you can imagine.

You will most probably land in Bucharest, the capital city of the country and from there you can rent a car and explore the medieval fortress from Transylvania, the wild side of the Carpathian Mountains or the unique biosphere reserve, the Danube Delta.

Besides the natural wonders and the untamed scenery, Romania is packed with modern cities full of attractions with vibrant nightlife and incredible culture.

Romania is a unique and interesting combination that reflects perfectly its multicultural past, a country that pays respect to its ancestors but it is extremely open to 21st-century trends.

And trust me, there is no better place to discover this interesting mix of past and future than visiting at least one of the cities mentioned in this article.

What I want you to know is that the Romanian cities from this list are located across the country, some of them being quite close to Bucharest which makes them the perfect destination for a city break, while others are miles away and you should consider a few days to visit them.

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Best cities of Romania


Bucharest is the capital city of Romania since 1862 and it is the largest city of the country and the most populous city.

It is located in the south part of Romania and is very easy to reach because of its international airport Henri Coanda Airport, Romania’s main gateway to the world.

Bucharest the largest city  of Romania
Bucharest the largest city in Romania

The city of Bucharest was also known as “Little Paris of the East” at the beginning of the 20th century because of its elegant architecture and the Romanians’ passion for French culture.

It was quite often to send your children to study in France, or to go to attend different cultural events or simply go shopping in Paris.

But during the communist era between 1947-1989, the leaders trying to urbanize the whole country built many ugly communist buildings (Stalinist architecture).

Exactly this combination of the Stalinist architecture with the beautiful and elegant French buildings makes Bucharest an interesting and unique city which worth be visited.

The Palace of Parliament or Casa Poporului as Romanians call it was built during the communist era.

This building is actually the heaviest building in the world with its massive structure and more than 7 stories built underground.

Pay a visit to the Palace of Parliament and then head to the Old Town to see medieval churches and beautiful architecture and when you feel tired stop to one of the many modern cafes and bars and sip a cocktail and grab a snack.

Parliament building Bucharest Romania
Parliament building Bucharest Romania

A visit to Bucharest is not complete unless you book a Communism Tour and a food tour, as Romanian cuisine is an interesting mix of Greek, Hungarian and Turkish mix plus unique dishes which you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

But Bucharest is not just about communism, food and Old Town, there are plenty of other interesting attractions which you don’t have to miss.

You need about 3 or 4 days to visit Romania’s capital, one of the most beautiful cities of Romania.

You even can book a day for exploring the Romanian seaside, as the Black Sea is just 3 hours away from the capital city Bucharest.

Don’t forget to include in your travel list the following attractions:

  • Arc of Triumph
  • National Museum of Romanian History
  • Revolution Square
  • Palace of Parliament
  • Stavropoleos Monastery (a Unesco World Heritage Site)
  • Carturesti Bookstore ( see here the full article about one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world)
  • Dimitri Gusti National Village Museum
Carturesti Carusel Bookstore Bucharest
Carusel Carturesti Bookstore Bucharest

After an interesting day spend visiting this unique and magnificent city head to the Old Town to party till late in the evening, as Romania has one of the most vibrant nightlife in the Balkans.

Best hotels for exploring Bucharest

Choose a hotel located in the heart of the city to be close to major attractions and just a few steps away from the bars and restaurants where you can try local cuisine and drink some really tasty wine produced in different parts of the country.

Our top pick is Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest, located just right in the Old Town and a few minutes walk from a metro station, which is the most comfortable and fastest way to travel in Bucharest.

If this hotel is not what you are looking for, don’t worry as there are plenty of other options, suitable for every budget.

I drop below a list with all the accommodations in Bucharest Romania area << click and you just have to pick your favorite one.

Find the perfect accommodation for your stay in Bucharest

Now that you saw all the attractions from Bucharest is time to leave behind this beautiful city and head to the countryside area as there are plenty of interesting things to see there, too.

The fastest and most comfortable way to explore Romania is with a rented car.

Have a unique experience by exploring the area in your own rented car

Whether you prefer day trips from your hotel or a tour around the country, car rental is the best way for creating your own experience and live your dream vacation

No matter if you are traveling to the Romanian seaside, or want to explore the beautiful and emblematic Transylvania country, or the monasteries from Bucovina, the best way to move around is by car.

So you have the freedom to go wherever you want, stay for how long you want, and have access even to the remotest parts of this country.


Brasov is a nice city located right near the Carpathian mountains, an interesting destination for holidays in Romania.

It is surrounded by mountains and is a good spot for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.

Visit the most iconic cities in Romania Brasov - holidays in Romania
Visit the most iconic cities in Romania Brasov

Nearby Brasov is Bran Castle, Peles Castle, and mountain resorts, each of them being a perfect destination for a day trip or for a tour.

This is one of the most important cities in Transylvania, conveniently located about 180 km from Bucharest (3-3.5 hours drive from Bucharest depending on traffic).

Brasov is the capital of Brasov county and it has been inhabited since the Neolithic era, the first documentary attests the existence of the city in 1234.

The country developed rapidly during the Middle Ages and become an important trade center in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The architecture of the building is fascinating, an interesting mix of renaissance, gothic and baroque architecture.

Brasov Romania Transylvania
Brasov Romania Transylvania

Among the most popular attractions from this beautiful city located a few steps away from the mountains I would like to mention:

  • Black Church, which is the largest gothic church in Romania
  • Council Square with its impressive defensive towers, bastions, and gates that once protected the city
  • the narrowest street in Europe called Rope Street
  • Prejmer fortification which is located a short drive from Brasov
  • Bran Castle, the castle that inspired Bram Stoker in writing Dracula
  • Poiana Brasov, the most exclusivist mountain resort in the country
Bran Castle near Brasov Romania
Bran Castle near Brasov Romania Dracula, Vlad the Impaler

To explore the whole city and its surroundings you will most probably need about 2 or 3 days.

Best hotels for exploring Brasov

Brasov is a great choice for a city break not only because of its proximity to Bucharest but also because of its closeness to many emblematic attractions of the country and to the mountains.

Book your overnight stay at one of the hotels conveniently located close to the Old Town and explore the nearby area, including Poiana Brasov and Dracula’s Castle.

Our top pick is Grand Hotel Belvedere, conveniently located about 700 meters from the Old Town, offering a wonderful view of the city.

The location, services, and facilities are simply perfect, while the indoor pool is perfect for relaxation after a long day of exploration.

If this hotel is not what you are looking for, I drop here the list with the hotels available in Brasov city accommodations in Brasov area << click

Find the perfect accommodation for your stay in Brasov


Another important city in the Transylvania region, an important cultural center located about 4 hours drive from Bucharest and 2.5 hours from Brasov is Sibiu.

Sibiu has an airport and there are direct flights from Bucharest to Sibiu, so you should consider taking a domestic flight if you don’t have enough time to drive from Bucharest to Sibiu.

Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture in 2007 and in 2019 was Europe’s gastronomy capital in Romania.

It is one of the oldest Saxon towns in Europe that still exists today and resembles perfectly with German towns.

visit Sibiu Transylvania town
visit Sibiu Transylvania town

Visiting this fairy tale town is like traveling back in time; you feel that the time stopped centuries ago and you are a princess/ prince from the Medieval age.

The city was founded in the 11th century by the ruler of the Austro-Hungarian empire who invited the Saxons to settle in the area.

Shortly, the town became a really important cultural hut, home to many ethnic groups which influenced the architecture of the area.

During the communist era, most of the Germans who settled in Sibiu emigrated to Germany and left behind the beautiful architecture that stands out even today.

The city hides many secrets and stands out for its unique architecture and cozy atmosphere.

Sibiu cities of Romania
Sibiu cities of Romania

There is no better way to discover this city than taking a sightseeing tour to discover the secrets of one of the most beautiful cities in Romania.

Just a few steps away from the historical center and the museum lies a series of villages where the traditions are still alive and you can see how people live on the countryside.

Only Sibiu: Surrounding Villages Guided Tour allows you to discover the Romanian countryside and gives you an idea about how people live on the countryside.

There are 8 villages you will visit and all these settlements are representative for Transylvanian countryside life.

Among the most important things you have to visit when in Sibiu, I would like to mention:

  • Old Town
  • Grand Square
  • Stairs Passage
  • Upper Town and Lower Town
  • Holy Trinity Orthodox church
  • Astra Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization which is among the largest open-air museum in Romania
  • Biertan village
  • Sighisoara medieval fortress still inhabited
  • the red rooftop houses with Eyes
  • Liar Bridge which is a 160 years old bridge that can sense if you are lying and makes all kinds of noises

If you want to explore only the city without its neighborhoods one day would be enough, but it is a pity to go to Sibiu and ignore its countryside.

One thing that really helps me whenever I plan my next travel is - to stay focused and organised! Check out this gorgeous Vacation Planner printable - with pre-trip to-do lists + accommodation and flight research + activities and car-rental + packing lists (empty and even pre-filled) to make sure you don't forget anything when you travel

Vacation Planner 45 pages



Related: Trip research planner (a lighter version of the Vacation Planner)

Best places to stay when exploring Sibiu

Stay in the historic city center to be close to the main attractions and the vibrant nightlife.

The good thing about Sibiu is that all the major attractions from the city are within walking distance so if you book a hotel close to city center you won’t need public transportation.

Ramada Sibiu is located right near the Old Town and offers rooms with incredible views of the city and great services. A tasty breakfast is included in the room rate, and in less than 5 minutes you reach the Old Town from the hotel.

Ramada Sibiu hotel Sibiu
Breakfast at Sibiu Ramada

If you are not a fan of Ramada hotels, then I drop here a list with other interesting accommodations in Sibiu Romania area << click.

Cluj Napoca

Located in the heart of Transylvania, Cluj Napoca is an important IT hub in Balkan Peninsula Region.

Today it is a charming city, cosmopolitan and vibrant packed with monuments, museums, and interesting architecture, the perfect destination for wonderful holidays in Romania.

Cluj Napoca was named in 2015 the European Youth Capital and it is an interesting mix of history, beautiful nature, vibrant nightlife, the artsy culinary world, cultural events, and home to the world-famous music festival UNTOLD.

Cluj Napoca cities in Romania
Cluj Napoca cities in Romania

It is one of the most important university cities of Romania hosting about 120.000 students each year so you’ll love the atmosphere, for sure!

According to historical sources, the city has about 2.000 years old and its architecture, culture, and traditions had been shaped by different cultures and nations.

First, the Dacian and Roman people were here; the city also survived a Mongol invasion that destroyed almost the entire city.

Then the Saxons came and they rebuilt the city and during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Cluj Napoca became a very important cultural hub.

Cluj Napoca became part of Romania just after WWI when Transylvania united with Romania.

During the communist era, the city suffered major changes due to the urbanization plan when the city was filled up with communist buildings with ugly architecture and grey colors.

But today Cluj Napoca stands out as a modern city, with beautiful architecture, incredible people, and a lot of interesting attractions that are waiting to be discovered.

Cluj Napoca City of Transylvania
Cluj Napoca City of Transylvania

The city has an international airport, operating direct flights to many European cities and domestic flights that connect Cluj with the main cities of Romania.

Among the most important things to do and places to see I would like to list the following:

  • The Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral
  • Hoia Baciu Forest famous for its paranormal phenomenons
  • St Michael’s Church was built in the gothic style
  • Cluj Arena, home to concerts, matches, and big social events
  • Astronomical Observatory
  • Cetatuia Park
  • Tailor’s Bastion
  • Hazsongardi Cemetery
  • Banfy Castle ( see here a list of the most beautiful castles from Transylvania)
  • Turda Gorges
  • Turda city and the only salt mine with a lake from Europe
  • Botanic Garden
  • King Matthias Corvin Statue

If you plan to stay just one day in Cluj Napoca then you definitely should book this guided walking tour that shows you the main attractions of the city and discover interesting details about each attraction in the city.

I think one day is not enough to discover this beautiful city and its surroundings so that is why we recommend you book 2 or 3 days for Cluj and its neighborhoods.

Something that you should not miss is the beautiful and unique Turda Salt Mine, the only salt mine in Europe with a lake where you can go by boat.

Turda Salt Mine Romania
Turda Salt Mine Romania

You can choose to rent a car from Cluj and drive on your own as there is less than one hour drive from Cluj Napoca to Turda, or book a full-day tour with a local guide and explore the Salt Mine, hike the Turda Gorge and see the picturesque Rimetea village.

Get the best price for your car rental today

Best accommodation for exploring Cluj Napoca

One of the most beautiful hotels from Cluj Napoca, conveniently located close to Old Town is DoubleTree by Hilton.

This fabulous hotel features decorations combining traditional design with modern elements and offers a fitness area, a swimming pool with a stunning view and a secured parking.

If DoubleTree is not what you are looking for then check the list with the available accommodations in Cluj Napoca Romania area << click and pick the one you like most and suits your budget.

Find the perfect accommodation for your stay in Cluj Napoca


The third-largest city of Romania, Timisoara is a modern town located right near the Serbian and Hungarian border.

It is pretty far from other iconic cities in Romania so the car is not necessary a good option for traveling there. I would recommend you to take the airplane from Bucharest or Cluj if you want to visit this place.

Timisoara, the beautiful city of Romania is located about 8 hour’s drive from Bucharest and just 4 hours drive from Budapest, the capital city of Hungary.

Visit the most iconic cities in Romania Timisoara
Visit Central Square Timisoara

It is an important hub for businessmen, and students and home to many different cultural events that take place all year round.

This is another Romanian city with beautiful architecture and rich history marked by the events that happen along with history: the Tatar invasion, and the domination of Turks, Germans, and Austrians.

The most important event that took place in Timisoara is the anti-communism demonstrations that happen on 15-17 December 1989, which evolved into a national movement that ended with the collapse of the communist regime.

5 best Transylvania castles
Corvin Castle Transylvania

Among the most important things to visit when in Timisoara, I would like to name the following:

  • Art Museum
  • Castle of Hunyad
  • Bruck House
  • Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Victory Square
  • Roses Park
  • Museum of Communist Consumer
  • Banat village museum
  • Theresia Bastion
  • Corvin Castle
  • The Dacian ruins from Sarmisegetuza

Best place to stay when visit Timisoara

The good news is that all major attractions are located close to each other, so if you book your hotel close to the historic center you don’t need to use public transportation to move around.

Old Town Hotel is the right option for your overnight stay in Timisoara, as it is conveniently located right in the Olt Town and features large rooms with a TV with satellite channels and a private bathroom with good quality toiletries.

If this hotel is not in your budget, then check this list with all available accommodations in Timisoara Romania area << click

Find the perfect accommodation for your stay in Timisoara


Located on the northeastern part of Romania, Iasi, the city on the seven hills is an important cultural center where personalities like Grigore Ureche, Dimitrie Cantemir, Ion Neculce or Miron Costin worked and lived here.

The city is located about 6 hours drive from Bucharest but there are also domestic flights that operate between the capital city Bucharest and Iasi.

Before the unification of Romania, there were three main principalities: Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldova.

Iasi city of  Romania
Iasi city Romania

Iasi was the capital city of the Moldova Principality, a powerful and important economic and cultural center.

Here, in Iasi, you can find the oldest and the first university of Romania, called Alexandru Ioan Cuza so don’t be surprised to see lots of students and young people roaming around.

Like Cluj Napoca and Timisoara, Iasi is also an important university center packed with talented people, and business-minded youngsters.

Iasi is a city like no one else in Romania; if most of the cities from Transylvania and Banat have Saxon heritage, Iasi is completely different, with a different vibe and different architecture.

Among the most important things you have to visit when in Iasi, I would like to name:

  • Palace of Culture
  • Botanical Garden
  • Golia Monastery
  • Art Museum
  • Romanian National Opera
  • Moldavian Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mihai Eminescu Museum of Literature
  • Alexandru Ioan Cuza University ( the first university from Romania)
  • Saint Nicholas church

Don’t leave Iasi before going to a wine tasting tour as the most famous wine from Romania comes from a wine region in Iasi.

It is called Feteasca Neagra and is a full-bodied, spicy, smoky, dry red wine that you definitely have to taste.

Another interesting day tour you can book is Bucovina Tour, a great way to admire the most famous painted monasteries in Romania, most of them part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The painted monasteries in Romania Bucovina
The painted monasteries in Romania Bucovina

Where to stay when visit Iasi

Unirea Hotel & Spa is our top pick for this magnificent city of Romania, a modern hotel conveniently located in the heart of the city, just a few steps away from major attractions.

On-site there is a fabulous spa that offers a long list of treatments and therapies that help you relax after a long day exploring the city.

Unireas Hotel & Spa is not what you are looking for?

See here the complete list of accommodations in Iasi Romania area << click and pick the one that you like most!

Find the perfect accommodation for your stay in Iasi


No matter what cities you choose to visit, each of them is unique and has its own charm and for sure you will be fascinated by its history and people!

The cities are spread all across the country so no matter which part of the country you will choose to visit, there is a wonderful town to explore!

Plan your trip ahead and book a few nights in one of these cities as they are packed with historical monuments, beautiful architecture and vibrant nightlife!

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation
We always use as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money.

When we go for longer trips around the world we get Globelink Insurance as it offers a good cover for an affordable price.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected costs caused by medical events like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.



Saturday 25th of May 2019

You mentioned that Sibiu Europe's gastronomy capital, which sounds like my kind of city! I love trying new foods as it can provide a different perspective on a country or culture. Great post!

Alex Hash

Sunday 26th of May 2019

Hi Paloma,

Thank you for your beautiful words! We definitely recommend you to visit Sibiu! It is one of Romania hidden gems! Please do not hesitate and contact us when in Romania! Share with us your experience!