With my time in Romania running out, I wanted to get out of my apartment and visit parts of the country I hadn’t yet had the chance to see. And since Romania was beginning to reopen travel, I decided to go on a eleven day train trip across the country. I followed all of the rules and guidelines issued by the Romanian government and took all the precautions necessary in order to stay healthy and safe. I’m so glad I had the chance to take this trip and I enjoyed traveling over 2,000 kilometers across the beautiful countryside.
I stopped in Oradea on my way to Cluj and had a really enjoyable time looking at the art noveau buildings, walking along the river, and making my way up a hill to a gorgeous view of the city. Highlights included the striking stained glass as Palatul Vulturul Negru, the numerous churches and states in Piata Unirii, and the panorama view on Ciuperca hill.
Cluj + Turda
Ended the night in Cluj-Napoca, which quickly became one of my top cities. It has the activity of Bucharest but with much better architecture for the most part. I loved the botanical garden (although was disappointed that the greenhouse and water tower were closed to visitors), had a delicious lunch a Roata (romanian restaurant that provided the traditional shots of house-made palinca or visinata as a aperitif), and walked over 12 miles in a tour across the city. I also took a bus to the nearby down of Turda to visit the underground salt mine that they have converted into a museum and amusement park of sorts. I love anything underground and this was no exception (although I had to constantly remind myself not to lick the walls).
Oh my what a wonderful gem of a city! I was instantly charmed by the cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and quaint feel of the citadel/fortress area. I climbed the Scholars Stairs, stopped by the Dracula Investigation, an immerseive exhibit that tells the story of Vlad Tepes from his perspective, and walked through a serene cemetery on the hill. It was a wonderful two days there (and did I mention the colored buildings?).
I was looking forward to visit the black sea and Constanta did not disappoint. Piata Ovidiu was active and a relaxing place to people watch. Enjoying the beach, visiting the astounding art museum, and watching the sunset while eating seafood and looking out over the water made for the perfect weekend. I also took a train ride down to Lake Techirghiol to participate in a traditional Romanian spa treatment of mud baths. We slathered the dark (somewhat smelly) mud all over us and then let it dry in the sun before rinsing off in the lake. I’m not sure I’m sold on the health benefits but it was a fun experience!
I pulled an all-nighter on the train ride from Constanta to Sibiu due to not having a sleeper car so I was rather tired when I arrived. Despite this, I had a delightful time sitting in Piata Mare feeding the pigeons and drinking some coffee. I also enjoyed the beautiful architecture and climbing the old town hall to see the incredible view from above.
This place pleasantly surprised me. I added this to my trip somewhat last minute because it was on the way to some of my other locations and I’m so glad I did. I spent such a fun and relaxing day wandering through the clean, educational, historical, and updated citadel. It felt so fresh and modern, very different from the other towns I had been visiting. There were interesting statues throughout the citadel, like the one of the lady selling roses.
This was another town that impressed me beyond what I was expecting. Deva was really just a stopping point on my way to visiting Hunedoara, so I hadn’t made many plans or preparations. Instead, I wandered the town in the evening after checking into my hotel. The city was so full of life and energy with beautiful lights, parks, and decorations everywhere I went. I also climbed the seemingly endless stairs up to Deva Fortress and enjoyed spectacular views of the entire area.
My last stop on my trip was the famous Corvin Castle in Hunedoara. Visiting this felt like stepping out of Romania and into the world of Harry Potter or King Arthur. I LOVED everything about this castle and I can easily understand why it is voted one of the best castles in Europe. As I was walking back to the train station I noticed a cool doorway that looked like it was the front of a train. Turns out there is a model train museum in Hunedoara and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the adorable worlds they created. One of my favorite things of traveling is getting to explore things that weren’t initially part of the plan, and the train museum was the perfect example of that.