Hunedoara Castle (Corvin Castle or Castelul Corvinilor) A 5-day Romania road trip: Castles, 2000-year-old ruins and natural wonders

A 5-Day Romania Road Trip: Castles, 2000-Year-Old Ruins and Natural Wonders

Are you planning a road trip through Romania? Here’s a 5-day Romania road trip itinerary and all you need to know (Banat and Transylvania).

Are you planning a road trip through Romania? You’ve come to the right blog.

Check out this Romania page, with all my travel resources and tips about Romania.

I want to help you make the best out of your Romanian experience, and make sure you return to your home country, telling others about how great your Romanian road trip was.

As a Romanian, I understand that there is a culture and an occasional language barrier between international tourists and locals.

Although most locals understand English, or at least there will be some younger people around willing to help, Romania has many things that are tied to its culture and are hard to understand when you’re a foreigner.

That’s why I started writing more about my home country, explaining in great detail each mountain hike and road trip I take through my beautiful Romania.

You can find this itinerary saved on Google Maps here:

Driving and Car Renting in Romania

If you want to plan a road trip through Romania, your best bet is to rent a car.

While driving in Bucharest can be overwhelming for some, most Romanian cities are less busy and should be no issue for an experienced driver.

If you have an EU driver’s licence, then you can use that to drive in Romania.

If you have a driver’s licence issued by a country outside of the EU, then you need an international driver’s licence to be able to drive (and rent a car; I used RentalCars and it was ok) in Romania.

Roads in Romania

Romania is a beautiful country (nature-wise), but it can take a while to get from one point to another.

Roads in Romania are mostly national and European roads, with only one lane in each direction. That’s why it’s heavy traffic towards and away from Bucharest, especially during the summer and on the weekends.

The main reason for the state of the roads in Romania is the lack of highways and the high number of cars.

That’s why I strongly advise you to plan your road trip through Romania during the week. That way, you will save more time on the road, and your destination will be less crowded.

5-day Romania Road Trip Itinerary (Banat and Transylvania)

Romania is a big country. Roads in Romania aren’t the greatest. That’s why you’ll need more than one road trip through Romania to discover it ALL.

That’s why you’ll need far more than a few days to see it ALL. So forget about planning one Romania road trip to see it all, and think about what you want to see the most and start from there.

Think of Romania as a bundle of ancient ruins, medieval castles and churches, breathtaking nature and cute villages.

I want to share with you my most recent 5-day road trip through Romania that started from Bucharest and got us all the way near Cluj.

Of course, this is a suggestion for your Romania road trip, and you can skip some of these places and add others in between.

I will also suggest some stops which you can add to your road trip through Romania.

Romania road trip Day 1: Bucharest – Cheile Nerei (Beușnița National Park)

The first day of one of the longest, as you will need to drive all the way from Bucharest to the Banat area.

After waking up at 4 am wake, I drove all the way to Cazanele Dunarii (Danube Gorges)

1 pm: Cazanele Dunarii (Danube Gorges) 

This is the place the Danube creates a natural border between Romania and Serbia.

The nature here is breathtaking. 

Bucharest to Danube valley road trip places to see in romania cazanele dunarii Danube gorges Dobova motor boat tour

I wrote all about this first day, all the things you can do at the Danube Gorges and around, and what else to see on the way in Bucharest to Danube Valley road trip itinerary.

On the way there you can stop and visit Craiova and Drobeta Turnu-Severin.

After you go on a speed boat tour on the Danube, you can hike on Ciucaru mountain for a better view. If you want to take it easy, you can find accommodation nearby in Eşelniţa and spend the rest of the day in the area.

I didn’t have the time to spend the night there, and most places were already booked. 

I advise you to book accommodation near Cazanele Dunarii before you get there. In this way, you can sure you find what accommodation you want. There are some gorgeous villas (Riviera 990, Danube Village Resort, Complex Egreta). All have lovely pools that oversee the Danube. Often but they’re fully occupied. So book in advance.

7 pm: UNESCO water mills in Eftimie Murgu

I decided to drive a little more after visiting the Danube Gorges. I ended up in a small and cosy mountain village called Eftimie Murgu.

places to see in romania eftimie murgu unesco heritage site water mills

I later discovered this village is famous for its UNESCO-recognised water mills. I’m planning to go back, that’s for sure! 

What else to visit on the way to Cazanele Dunarii (Danube Gorges) coming from Bucharest?

  • Craiova: Church of Cosuna Monastery, The Art Museum, Madona Dudu Church and Oltenia Museum
  • Drobeta – Turnu Severin: Severin Fortress,Castrul Roman Drobeta, Cultural Palace Theodor Costescu, Iron Gates Museum and the Water Tower.

Romania road trip Day 2: Cheile Nerei (Beușnița National Park) – Hunedoara

The second day of the 5-day trip around Romania was sprinkled with natural waterfalls, a spectacular train ride and some 2000-year-old Roman ruins.

That sounds like a lot to do in a day. Here’s the itinerary for the second day of this 5-day Romania road trip.

9 30 am: Bigar waterfall, called the most beautiful waterfall in the world

We woke up early to make it among the first to see the spectacular Bigar waterfall. It was featured as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world.

I’m not sure if Bigar waterfall from Romania is indeed the most beautiful there is, but it’s well worth a visit.

There is a parking lot not far away from it. You have to walk, from the parking place, alongside the road back to the waterfall. 

Although Bigar waterfall is visible from the road, you will enjoy it even more if you go down the stairs.

10 45 am: Oravita Train Station

Arrive at Oravita train station by 11 am at the latest, so you can jump on the green train (the only one in the train station) and enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery.

Oravita to Anina train ride: The oldest railway in SE Europe Romania

The train goes through 14 tunnels and 10 viaducts over the course of 17 km. 

The ride takes two hours each way. And it has a 1.5-hour stop in Anina. 

From there, you will have to take the train back (and admire the same beautiful landscape once more). Or you can get a taxi (that will ask for at least 20 Eur) to get you back to Oravita.

Check out the Oravita to Anina train ride for all the details (and awesome photos).

If you decided to take the same road trip as I did (All described in the Oravita to Anina train ride blog post), then you will arrive back in your car in Oravita at 4.40 pm. 

If the theatre in Oravita is open for visitors, go and check it out (It’s one of the oldest theatres in this part of Europe).

6.30 pm: Sarmizegetusa, the Roman Capital of Dacia

After Oravita, I suggest driving a bit north towards Hunedoara. 

On the way there, you will pass through Sarmisegetusa, a village set on an old Roman establishment.

Sarmizegetusa, the Roman Capital of Dacia

Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa was the Roman capital of Dacia, built in 106.

Pay it a visit to discover how great the Roman empire was.

By the time you end your ancient visit, it will be evening. 

You can either stay in Sarmizegetusa (the village has a few nice budget spots) or drive all the way to Hateg (another village full of accommodation options).

Because I wanted to get up early the next day and visit Hunedoara castle, I drove a bit more and found a nice budget accommodation in Hunedoara.

I stayed at Relax Haus, and it was all good for the budget price I paid.

What else to see around Oravita:

Romania road trip Day 3: Hunedoara – Sebes

The third day of this beautiful road trip through Romania started early morning in Hunedoara.

9 am: Hunedoara Castle (Corvin Castle or Castelul Corvinilor)

One of the most famous and beautiful medieval castles in Europe is located in Hunedoara, Romania.

Hunedoara Castle (Corvin Castle or Castelul Corvinilor) A 5-day Romania road trip: Castles, 2000-year-old ruins and natural wonders

As with any tourist place, get there as soon as they open to avoid the crowds and have more time (and space) to take cute photos. 

You’ll also get to park in the parking lot next to the castle, hassle-free, for a 10 lei fee.

I suggest you schedule at least 2 hours to visit Corvin Castle. Also, save some time by visiting the museums located in the yard, in front of the castle.

By the time you finish your visit, it will be lunchtime. 

Right next to Corvin Castle, you’ll see a cute (and yummy) restaurant, which I sincerely recommend. It’s called Werk restaurant, and it has great food and friendly staff, and the interior is just stunning.

2 pm: Deva Fortress

After lunch, I drive to Deva, which is only 17 km away from Hunedoara. The drive shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

If you decide to have lunch in Deva, I recommend Grizzly Restaurant.

After lunch, I drove to Deva Fortress. The mighty stone structure is visible from the city centre.

Deva Fortress A 5-day Romania road trip: Castles, 2000-year-old ruins and natural wonders

Although it is located on a steep hill, you can drive up to its gate.

There are arrows to guide you on the narrow, uphill streets, and Google Maps will also help you. Still, I don’t recommend this uphill drive to unskilled drivers. It gave me chills as I was going up.

I recommend parking next to Parc Cetate and then walking on the road all the way to the fortress. It’s not a long way from there.

There is also a cable car, which you will pass by once you begin your ascend on foot, on the paved road of the fortress. Unfortunately, the cable car was not functioning when I was there. 

The cable car was supposed to get you from the city centre all the way to the fortress. Some local friends said that most of the days it’s not working and that you can’t rely on it.

If you visit in summer, make sure to bring a cap and water and comfortable walking shoes, as there is no shade and the sun is burning on most summer days. There is a soda machine next to the fortress, but there is little shade to hide from the sun.

A rustic accommodation for the night (with pony)

After visiting the Deva Fortress and admiring the land of Transylvania from higher ground, it’s time to drive to the next stop or to find accommodation in Deva.

I drove all the way to Sebes, taking the famous Transylvania High Way.

On the way there, you will pass by Râpa Roșie, a naturally eroded red rock. 

If you decide to visit Râpa Roșie, you’ll need to exit the highway to Daia Română and then follow the road. The best view of the rocks is from the top of them, so bring some sports shoes for the short hike.

On the 3rd day of this road trip, I was looking for countryside accommodation. I was looking for something far away from any city, preferably a nice house with a yard in which to have a cup of wine before bed.

I found it in Sasciori, at Vila Maria Sasciori. The owner is extra friendly (he greeted us with free wine and brandy and upgraded our room for free). And they have a pony!!!

If you have more time to spend around here, do visit the ruins of Căpâlna Dacian fortress (yes, the entire area is full of Roman and Dacian ruins).

While this location might not be the best if you want to head to Cluj for the next day of your Romania road trip, it might be great if you want to turn around and head towards Transalpina, the highest road in Romania.

Another option would be to find accommodation in Alba Iulia.

You’ll miss the nice views of country-house accommodation, but you’ll get to wake up in the first capital of Romania.

If you have more time to spend in Deva or around, I recommend visiting these places:

  • Simeria Arboretum (over 2000 plants and trees from all over the globe)
  • I Giardini di Zoe, Banpotoc.
  • Arsenal Park, Orastie
  • The ethnographic museum, the Lutheran and Reformed Churches in Orastie
  • Germisara Roman ruins
  • The Roman Baths, Clocota waterfall and Grota Haiducilor, Geoagiu-Băi
  • Aurel Vlaicu Museum, Geoagiu
  • Capela Romanică – Capela “Rotonda”/ Biserica reformată calvină rotunda, Geoagiu (the oldest rotonda medieval church in Romania)
  • Cheile Madei, a natural river valley, you can walk through for 1.3km

Romania road trip Day 4: Sebes – Tg Mures

After a lovely self-made breakfast in the garden of Vila Maria Săsciori (and a last session of petting the pony), I got in the car and started driving towards Turda to visit Salina Turda (Turda Salt Mine).

That’s a 100km drive, and it shouldn’t take longer than 2 hours on a normal day.

10 am: Alba Iulia

On the way, you will pass through Alba Iulia, the original capital of Romania. I strongly advise you to take a break and visit the cobble-stoned citadel, if only for one hour.

Every day, at noon (12 pm), there is a change of the guards in front of the Obelisk. The guards dress up and delight visitors with a full show. They use horses and real cannons. Check out all the details on the official website of Alba Iulia.

If you wake up early, you can reach Alba Iulia by 9 or 10 am. If you spent the previous night in Alba Iulia, then you can spend the entire morning visiting Alba Iulia.

12 pm: Turda Salt Mine

Turda Salt Mine is the best salt mine you’ll find in Romania.

Turda Salt Mine A 5-day Romania road trip: Castles, 2000-year-old ruins and natural wonders

There are two entries for the mine, so make sure to park in front of the new entrance (Aleea Durgăului 7, Turda). There is a bigger parking area.

The ticket to enter the salt mine costs only 40 lei (~8.3 Eur). There’s no time limit for how long you can stay, but please consider the opening hours (9 am – 7 pm during the summer). 

There are no guided tours, and you can enter the mine by yourself. Bring a sweater and sneakers to wear inside the mine. The average temperature of the mine is around 10 degrees Celsius.

Inside the mine, you will find different-sized rooms, which display the way salt was extracted.

The biggest chamber and the most spectacular is Mina Rudolf. 

It has a lake (they rent boats!!), a Ferris wheel, an amphitheatre, bowling, mini-golf, a baseball court and a playground for kids.

The elevators are always busy, so I recommend taking the stairs both ways. 

Where to eat in Turda?

There is no food store inside the mine. When we left, at around 4 pm, we were starving.

Luckily, we found fast food in Turda. We got some to-go falafel wraps and chips (ORIENT KEBAB TURDA is the place, in case you are on a tiny budget).

Otherwise, I’m pretty sure that Potaissa Hotel and restaurant will please any fancy taste. I’m under the impression that this hotel has the same management as the salt mine.

4.30 pm: Mormantul lui Mihai Viteazul (the grave of Michael the Brave)

As I was driving out of Turda, I saw the sign for Mormantul lui Mihai Viteazul (The grave of Michael the Brave – the first leader of Romania in 1600).

He played a major role in Romanian history, and he is recognized as a national symbol of Romania. But Mihai the Brave isn’t something you’ve heard about if you are not Romanian.

On his tomb is a 1601 cm tall obelisk, which marks the year of his death. Next to the tombstone is a beautiful church, Biserica Mihai Vodă (Mihai Voda Church). Don’t be shy and go inside the church to admire its beautiful paintings.

The road isn’t the best, and it seems like it’s going nowhere. You’ll have to trust the GPS. Not a lot of people visit this place, so you might find it empty.

6 pm: Lavender Land (Tărâmul Lavandei, Mădăraș)

So off I drove towards Targu Mures, another great city with a citadel.

Lavender Land romania (Tărâmul Lavandei, Mădăraș) A 5-day Romania road trip: Castles, 2000-year-old ruins and natural wonders

The drive from Turda to Targu Mures is about one hour and a half. However, If you find yourself on this Romania road trip itinerary in June or early July, then I have a suggestion for another stop.

If you are making this road trip in June, then stop at Tărâmul Lavandei (Lavender Land).

This purple field is located in a tiny village. You will have to make a small detour to get there, but it’s worth your time.

Lavender Land is actually a family business located on a hill next to some corn crops. The last few hundred meters, before you reach the house and the actual parking lot, which is on a field in the dirt.

From the place you parked the car, you will need to walk up the hill, on a dirt road, for another 200 m or so.

I mentioned all of these details because you might want to skip them if it’s raining.

I would say that the best moment of the day to visit this lavender field is at sunset, which is around 9 – 9 30 pm in June. That’s when you’ll get the best light and when most people are already gone, so you’ll have more lavender to yourself.

Just so you know, they do ask for a 10 lei donation to enter the field, and they gift you a small lavender bouquet.

8 pm: Targu Mures

Finally, reaching Targu Mures. What is there to see in Targu Mures?

  • Târgu Mureș Citadel
  • Rákóczi staircase
  • The Ethnographic Museum
  • Apollo Palace, the most representative building of the baroque Târgu Mureș.

Because it was already late, after all the driving and the sightseeing, I decided to find a budget accommodation in Targu Mures to spend the night.

My evening consisted of a well-deserved wrapped falafel from Pelit Istambul Kebab and spending the rest of the evening in a nice room at Pensiunea Muresul.

Romania road trip Day 5: Tg Mures – Bucharest

After a good night’s sleep, I got up ready to drive all the way to Bucharest. That’s a 350 km drive from Targu Mures to Bucharest.

On a normal day, with normal traffic, it should take up to 5 hours. However, it was a Sunday when I did this and it took way longer than that (somewhere around 10 hours). What is the moral of the story?

Do not, under any circumstance, drive on the route Brasov – Bucharest on a Sunday. Trust me! Especially during the summer!

On the way to Bucharest, you can add a few stops:

  • Sighișoara, the only medieval citadel in Europe that is still inhabited
  • Cetatea Rupea (Rupea fortress)
  • Racoș, where you will see the Basalt columns and the extinct volcano
  • Cetatea Feldioara (Feldioara fortress)
  • Brasov. Check the old centre where the city hall is (Piața Sfatului), Promenada Warthe, and Promenada de sub Tâmpa

I hope this 5-day Romania road trip itinerary will inspire you to plan your next visit to Romania.

Let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can help you with!

Don’t forget to book your accommodation in advance if you are on a tight schedule and rent the car you want for the most comfortable road trip through Romania!

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A 5-day Romania road trip Castles 2000-year-old ruins and natural wonders optim
Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog,

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