Travelers looking for an off-path holiday might find just what they’re searching for in this lesser-visited eastern European country.
Vampire legends, a quirky replica Arc de Triomphe, ancient thermal baths, a hit Netflix series, and some of the fastest internet in the world, all in one destination? Romania is definitely worthy of its newfound offbeat popularity.
Find out why tourists are flocking to Romania this year:
Set Jetting To The Wednesday Sets
Romania has long been linked to spooky characters, drawing Dracula fans to castles all over Transylvania for decades. This year, however, a new gothic character is leading the jet-setting trend in Romania – the hit Netflix series Wednesday.
Right in the heart of Bucharest, you can find groups of Wednesday fans peeking through the windows of Casa Niculescu-Dorobantu, touring Monteoru House, and exploring Bucharest Botanical Gardens, all to see the pieces of Nevermore Academy with their own eyes.
More dedicated superfans make the trip up to the Carpathian Mountains to see the true facade of Nevermore Academy: Cantacuzino Castle in Busteni.
Even if you’re not a Wednesday fanatic, the imposing hillside castles and historic baroque buildings of Romania are certainly worth exploring.
The Charm And Affordability Of ‘Little Paris’
If you didn’t know that Bucharest was known as the ‘Little Paris of the East’ from the turn of the 20th century, don’t worry – the replica Arc de Triomphe would have clued you in eventually.
For a fraction of the cost of the true French capital, travelers can revel in French architecture, charm, and cuisine right in the heart of Romania’s capital.
From the romantic French architecture and patisseries of Calea Victoriei to the distinctly Parisian glass-encased Pasaj Macca-Vilacrosse, Bucharest has earned its reputation as Paris’ protégé in eastern Europe.
Locals can even be heard thanking each other with a French ‘merci’ (which is much less of a mouthful than the Bulgarian equivalent, ‘blagodarya’). You’ll have a chance to practice your ‘merci’ when ordering a genuine croissant Mara Mura or reveling in the French fine dining experience at Ici Et La.
Timișoara, Romania’s Cultural and Creative Capital
If Bucharest is “Little Paris,” Timișoara is “Little Vienna.”
Timișoara just can’t seem to slow its award-winning roll. The EU honored Timișoara as one of three European Capitals of Culture 2023, while TIME selected it as one of the World’s Greatest Places 2023.
But Timișoara is used to topping lists and being ahead of the curve. It was the second city in the world to have electric lighting (just after New York), one of the first in Europe to use horse-drawn trams, and the “first free city in Romania” to shake off the yoke of communism through revolution.
Travelers can see Timișoara’s cultural prowess for themselves on an architectural walk around the city starting from Unirii Square. Roman ruins, brutalist communist blocs, Baroque palaces, Gothic spires, colorful Byzantine churches, and Art Nouveau splashes of color all come together to compose an art lover’s paradise.
- Take in a show at Mihai Eminescu National Theater
- Wake up your musical ear at the Romanian Opera House or Banatul Philharmonic
- Enjoy Timișoara Art Museum, located inside the historical baroque Old Timișoara Palace
Brașov Old Town
Nestled in the inner curve of the Carpathian Mountains, Brașov is one of the historic hearts of Romania. This 13th-century storybook town benefited from strong Middle Age fortifications that helped secure and preserve it as the historic Transylvanian icon it remains to this day.
Key historic attractions include:
- The “Black Church,” which got its charred coloring from Brașov’s Great Fire of 1689
- Rope Street, the self-proclaimed narrowest street in southeast Europe made just for firefighters
- Strada Republicii pedestrian street and Council Square, the center of Brașov’s buzz
- Pharmacy Cafe, offering craft cocktails with a side of time travel
Bucharest and Budapest share something more than a similar name: thermal baths.
The most well-known of these are the Herculean Baths. One of the oldest thermal baths in Europe, this two-millennia-old mineral spa has been attracting health-focused travelers since the Roman empire, but exploded in popularity for leisure travelers in the 19th century.
Romania is full of serene rejuvenating hot springs often overshadowed by the famous Herculean Baths:
- Balvanyos Baths
- Verena Thermal Baths
- Calimanesti Caciulata
- Thermal Baths Acas
- Vatra Dornei
- Salt Baths of Praid
Plenty of resorts and spas in the Carpathian mountains offer rustic baths and wellness retreats for travelers’ health-centered holidays.
Perfect For A Workation
When travelers are through exploring gothic castles, enjoying fascinating architecture, and recharging in thermal baths, they can get to work with the 10th fastest internet in the world.
Romania is the perfect destination for a workation. HomeToGo’s Workation Index lists a whopping four Romanian cities, including two in the top 20 locations for a working holiday.
Romania is red hot in the digital nomad scene right now. This up-and-coming remote work destination is generating buzz, attracting working travelers, offering digital nomad visas, and opening new coworking spaces at the double.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com