Romania, a hugely underappreciated and underexplored country, is the perfect destination for those who want to be challenged and surprised. Simplify, slow down and reconnect in Transylvania's beautifully preserved and wonderfully wild nature that's laced with rich history and deep traditions. You will reap the rewards of somewhere largely untouched by mass tourism with bags of character in its guesthouses (so much so that Prince Charles made himself a home here) and its people. Kate, one of our resident Europe specialists, is here to share why it's hard not to be utterly charmed by Transylvania.
People – Craftsmen & Traditions
Transylvania is one of the best regions in Europe for authentic local interactions. Here, you can meet craftsmen, shepherds and the Roma people, and get an insight into local ways of life. From the skilled weavings of Maria in Malancrav - whose feet twitter rapidly at the loom to make the ornate costumes of the Saxon Romanians - to the jolly brickmaker in Viscri who demonstrates the rudimentary technique of tile making as seen on the rooves of the impressive fortified church in the village, it's hugely refreshing to see ancient skills alive and well. Passed down through the generations, untouched by industrialisation, these age-old techniques are a wonderful celebration of the region's heritage and traditions.
Nature – Mountains, Flowers and Wildlife
Each season offers something new in Romania. Head to the meadowlands of the Piatra Craiului National Park, in the Southern Carpathians, to experience the changing scenery in all its splendor. In spring, the park is blanketed in wildflowers and home to bears, lynx and eagles. Come summer, when the temperatures start to peak in the cities, the park offers the perfect escape. Explore a multitude of forest trails on foot, by bike or on horseback and don't be surprised if you stumble across one of the local shepherds who roam the hillsides fueled by excellent local brandy. Book early though, as the limited guesthouses usually fill up a year in advance! Autumn, meanwhile, brings a wonderful palette of burnt orange, yellow and red. At this time of year, the summer crowds begin to wane, but temperatures often still hover in the 20s, promising plenty of picturesque pre-winter strolls. Whichever season you travel in, the natural beauty of the region is abundantly apparent. Take it all in as you enjoy the space, silence and staggering views over the mountains and endless forests.
History – Saxon History & Restoration
When the Saxons arrived in the 12th century they set about forming small communities - each with their own fortified church and rows of pastel-coloured houses - as well as the seven larger cities including Sibiu, Brasov and the UNESCO-listed old town of Sighisoara. These once-deserted Saxon villages are now slowly coming back to life thanks to Prince Charles' foundation and the Mihai Eminescu Trust. From restoring beautiful facades to their former glory, to turning some of the houses into traditional guesthouses which employ locals, these charming crumbling villages are being regenerated. Other excellent examples of this can be seen in Cinscsor where a Transylvanian Saxon lady and her husband have returned to rediscover her heritage by transforming the school she went to as a girl into a thriving restaurant, gallery and guesthouse - a truly sustainable model for the future of tourism in Romania.
Thinking about booking a trip, but not sure where to visit in Romania? Get in touch and we'll be happy to help.