Most people that I met while traveling made big eyes and funny, Dracula related jokes when they heard I’m coming from Romania. It’s because the world doesn’t really know anything else about this Eastern European country other than the legend of Dracula. While that’s impressive already that people have heard at least this, I’m here to tell you: Romania is not all about Dracula, as the matter of fact for locals the spooky story doesn’t represent much anymore. On the other hand the beautiful medieval towns and the nature can always be a good reason to visit.
One of my dearest Romanian towns is Timisoara. Timisoara is located in the western part of the country, only two hours away from the Hungarian border and it’s considered the Little Vienna due to it’s similar architecture to the Austrian capital. It’s the city where the revolution started, but it’s also the city where nowdays the western culture finds its way into the Romanian society. Very laidback university town, Timisoara is lively and rich in cultural events and festivals, being chosen as the European Culture Capital for 2021.
The city center is a great spot not only for shopping, strolling, people watching but also relaxation, because right next to the dominant cathedral there is plenty of green space and on both sides of the Bega river serve as jogging or walking locations.
It’s considered also the town of flowers and as the name suggests springs is a great season to notice the numerous flowers planted all over the place. In front of the opera house kids and adults feed the pigeons, which are already so acostumed to people that it’s common the have them on your shoulders if you’ve got some food for them. A few steps from the city center there is Unirii Square, another nice place to hang out at. The church and buidings around the square offer a diverse view and for architecture lovers a good opportunity to notice the beauty of the baroccan style. While it’s the oldest square in town, it’s vibe is not at all outdated. The big number of terraces, where one can taste the typical Romanian food or enjoy a glass of wine, sometimes offer also live music and definitely a lively atmosphere.
From the west let’s travel to central Romania a bit and discover one of the prettiest medieval towns I’ve visited. Sighisoara has a unique charm that touched my heart instantly as I walked around a bit. Surrounded by the old walls and the towers of the Citadel, the town is listed by Unesco as World Heritage Site and it’s a definitely must visit place if you are in Transylvania and especially if history interests you. The defence towers of the town served as defense during the wars and were hollow and contained elevators inside.
In Sighisoara you will found also a few churches , the most significant being the Church on the Hill, which is right next to one of the oldest schools from Transylvania, to which also nowdays pupils walk through the covered stairs that have been built as a protection. From the hill the sights are beautiful and peaceful. Locals are friendly and keen on sharing their own life experiences and stories in an outstanding English.
If you’ve made your way to Sighisoara you can’t miss out on Brasov, another medieval town, much bigger an noisier, but with more options for the curious tourist. In winter it’s perfect for sports lovers, having well maintained ski resorts, in spring it has been good for hiking.
Tampa mountain is just a few minutes walk from the main square and in less than one hour hike you are on the top and can admire the stunning view.
If one hour hike sounds like a lot, the easier version is to just walk at the base of the mountain or to one of the fortresses that are located on the hills surrounding the city. The views are still nice and very little physical effort is required to reach them.
In Brasov there are already plenty of signs of the German influences, one main example being the Black Church, which is the main gothic style monument in the country and it has the biggest six-ton bell.
In Sibiu the German influences are even more obvious than in Brasov, but the inviting atmosphere on a sunny day is the same pleasant. The typical big square with churches and shops around, lots of pigeons and relaxing people are a reminder that you are still in Transylvania.
Walking around I’ve discovered also the most beautiful street of Sibiu according to the sign and I can tell that it was indeed nice with all the colorful houses and flowers in front of them.
Romania’s oldest castiron bridge is called the Bridge of Lies and it’s right here, in Sibiu and it’s the pride of the town.
I haven’t met Dracula while being in Romania and shame on me, but I didn’t even go to the castle. On the other hand spending a little time in the towns and noticing the differences between them, probably was something I needed to do. Romania has its beauty, sometimes hard to see it, but it’s there.