Planning your first Romania road trip is hard? Do you know why? Because Romanai has so many beautiful places you need to visit. But for you first trip to Romania, you need to experience some of its most important heritage, to understand the cultural background of this Eastern European country.
It is hard to choose and put together a heritage itinerary in Romania, but with the help of the Romanian Heritage Institute, I got to experience and write a perfect heritage Romania road trip itinerary for you.
There are many places I recommend visiting while in Romania, but if you truly want to discover the core of the Romanian traditions and culture, then I recommend planning a heritage trip in Romania. This round-trip starts from Bucharest.
This trip is for experimented travellers, who will drive long hours to get off the beaten path, to discover authentic traditions and villages.
And since you are planning a Romania road trip, consider the 5-day road trip itinerary through Romania which will take you through Banat and Transylvania.
How do you start planning a heritage Romania road trip?
First off, you’ll need a car and GPS.
There are no buses that will take you where I’m about to tell you to go. Planning will be the next thing you’ll need to do. Good thing you have this guide to an awesome Heritage Trip in Romania.
You will need to book your accommodation in advance, since some remote places can be full, especially in the summer.
I am sharing these awesome heritage Romania road trip insights after being part of an amazing group of Instagrammers and bloggers who were invited by the Romanian Heritage Institute on this road trip. This trip was part of a series of trips and events meant to bring these heritage stories and places to the digital world using digital storytellers, like myself.
Therefore, I hope you bring your own bunch of fun friends along, as some areas have no network service and you cannot play all those road trip car games on your own.
A Romanian friend would also be a nice addition to the group since most remote areas of Romania are not that English friendly. Although people are, but to ease everything, it would be a great advantage to a Romanian speaker within the group.
Heritage Road Road Trip Day 1
Grab some coffee and a snack (and some for the long road) and hit the road. I would say to get out of Bucharest early before everyone gets up and wants to get to work. So before 7 am you have to be up and running (driving).
This the itinerary for the first day of the heritage road trip in Romania:
- Leave Bucharest at 7 AM
- ‘Cula Greceanu’ and ‘Cula Duca’, Măldăreşti, Vâlcea County
- Transalpina road
- Sarmizegetusa – The old Dacian settlement
- Corvin Castle, Hunedoara
‘Cula Greceanu’ and ‘Cula Duca’
The first stop will be Măldărești, Vâlcea County. Here is where you will find a few traditional houses of the wealthy people of the 16th century. The actual word used to describe this particular type of house has no translation in English; “culă” is derived from a Turkish word and basically means tower.
Once you arrive there, you will take notice of the shape of these houses. Both have stone fences and wooden gates, and the tall, massive shape, like a tower and verandah. The properties are open 10 am – 6 pm (summer) and 9 am until 5 pm (winter). Monday it’s closed (as most Romanian museums). It’s always a good idea to call ahead and schedule a visit, as the properties might be closed if nobody has booked a tour of the houses. (+40350 401 898 click on the number to get more info in Romanian about the houses)
The highest road in Romania will impress you for sure. It’s my favourite road and I can tell you from the start, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Transalpina it’s beautiful and you will want to stop every 500m to take another photo and a panoramic video. But that’s just not possible as the road gets extremely narrow at the top, and you will not be the only car on the road. The road has some small, special places where you can park, but it can be crowded.
Please do not stop in the middle of the road! Think about the other drivers. This is a beautiful road, but a dangerous one too. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginner drivers.
On the parapets, you will see the same message over and over again, and a phone number. It’s guerilla marketing for car towing. I’m just putting this here so you get a better sense of what kind of road this is. Nevertheless, most drivers are just fine.
This road is on the itinerary of my 4-day road trip around Romania. Check that out too.
Sarmizegetusa – The cradle of Dacian civilization
This place is magical. It was my second time here, and I cannot wait to go there again. Many people say this place has a special energy. Some say that special rituals were performed here, long before archaeologists discovered this ancient area.
I say it is a miracle how we could still find marks and cultural stories older than 2000 years ago. Before the Romans invaded these lands. Before the people on these lands even spoke Romanian. Long before everything we know ever existed.
This place is called Sarmizegetusa Regia and it was the capital of the Dacian civilisation. Go and see the temples, the roads, the stone fences. According to archaeologists, only a fraction of the settlement has been excavated, and each year, they are uncovering more of this ancient city.
Read more about Sarmizegetusa – The cradle of Dacian civilization
After this fantastic visit, it’s time to continue your heritage Romania road trip to Hunedoara.
Since you are around Târgu Jiu, make sure to check out Brancusi sculptures in Tg Jiu, if you have the time.
Corvin’s Castle in Hunedoara
Did you know that one of the most beautiful medieval castles in Eastern Europe is right here, in Romania?
Corvin castle is part of Romanian heritage and you will love it. Even if you don’t have enough time to visit it, it’s worth a spot just to see the outside, which is impressive.
After this long day of visiting, you will probably get to Hunedoara around sunset, depending on your pace. After sunset, the castle is lit up beautifully and most tourists will have already be gone. Pay it a visit. Or wake up super early, before anyone else gets here and take as many pictures as you wish. I was here from 7 to 8 am and it was all clear.
Next to the castle, Werk, a beautiful restaurant is welcoming you to dinner. For sure, that is the best place for a drink and a meal in Hunedoara.
Heritage trip in Romania: Day 2
Good morning, Hunedoara!
Grab a big cup of coffee, as you will need it for the long day ahead. After you’ve got your morning pictures at the Corvin Castle in Hunedoara (before they open and the place starts being flooded by tourists), it’s time to hop in the car and head to your next stop.
The itinerary for the second day of the heritage Romania road trip looks like this:
- Rosia Montana
- Rimetea village
Rosia Montana is a former miner’s village, which had attracted people from all around Europe ever since ancient times. Why? Because you will be standing on mountains of gold. And other rare minerals of which names I cannot pronounce. Fortunately, you can still visit here the oldest Roman mines. A tour takes about 1 hour and it is done by a local former miner.
The guide speaks Romanian, but even without understanding, you will feel his voice and see the place and get more than a feeling of what is going on. Also, that Romanian friend I told you to bring along, will come in handy here.
If you decide to spend more time here, and/or you need some guidance and directions to explore the village, the hills and what’s left of this deserted mine and mountains.
I recommend getting in touch with Adrian Petri from Casa Rosia Montana. When asked how long do I need to spend here to discover this natural oasis, he replied 3 days. I had only a few hours there, and he made a great guide for the group.
Râmetea village (Rimetea)
Remetea is a traditional village in Alba County, Transylvania.
This is a very popular holiday place for Hungarian tourists, as well. Most houses in the village still look the same way they were built hundreds of years ago. Today, tourism is the main source of income for the locals.
This village is so popular, it is very hard to find a place to stay, especially for larger groups. So book ahead if you want to spend the night here.
Check out accommodations in Rimetea village, Transylvania.
Heritage Romania Road Trip: Day 3
Take your morning pictures of Rimetea village, and head towards the heart of Alba County, to discover a true Romanian traditional mountain village.
Râmeț, Albești village, Alba County
Rîmet is one of the scattered villages of Transylvania. Although the locals are mostly old people, who stayed behind and refused to move to more accessible areas, they live the same way they used to 100 years ago.
The houses blend perfectly into the natural heritage of the area. The building methods are those they used originally to build the houses and you will not see more than 2 or 3 houses next to each other.
Somewhere in Transylvania, in a village called Vințu de Jos, Alba County, the ruins of a medieval castle still stand. It seems this castle’s stories go way back, to 1550. It was declared a historical monument since 2010.
Some local myths suggest the castle is hunted or that it guards some hidden treasured. That’s up to visitors to discover.
This is the entrance to the castle. Behind me, across the street, you will see the fence of a private events venue. Go around, and right behind it, you will find an old fortified medieval church. Unexpected, right?
Sibiu is the capital city of Sibiu County, in Transylvania, Romania. This is one of the most important and flourishing cities from Transylvania, and one of the main establishments for the Romanian Saxons.
For the last years, Sibiu has been under a great deal of economic and cultural growth. In 2007, it was declared the European Cultural Capital. Sibiu had many streets you will love to discover and walk on. Take your time, and if you must, spend the night in this medieval gorgeous city.
After a walk around Sibiu, it’s time to head back to Bucharest, the final stop of this Heritage trip in Romania. It’s going to be a long way, so get ready to spend around 4 hours in the car.
You made it! This was an extremely tight schedule for a 3-day heritage trip in Romania, but of course, you can spend more time and if you have the time, why not? Of course, you will find more places you will want to discover around the stops I’ve mentioned in this heritage trip around Romania, so why don’t you?
Now tell me, have you been to all these places? Is there anything missing (anything nearby this trip)? Are you excited about coming to visit Romania?
I just came from these places and I want to go back. My only issue would be the poor internet connection. But trust me, we all need to get offline from time to time.