What is Romania known for?
If you ask a foreigner, you might get Dracula as an answer or perhaps Hagi or Nadia Comaneci, but if you ask a local (you are on the right page for that), you will discover that Romania is famous for much more than that. Let’s find out together what Romania is best known for and I promise to include some fun facts about Romania too.
What is Romania known for?
Romania might not be on your radar, but it should be. While Romania isn’t a famous tourist destination, it’s best known for some beautiful places and because of some very famous Romanians. Who are they, and what are the most famous places in Romania? Read more to find out all these things about Romania. It will not disappoint you.
Famous Romanian People
Whenever I’m travelling abroad, people ask me what country am I from. And then, they try to connect with me and try to say something about Romania. Over the course of many years and trips, I’ve noticed a few ways in which this conversation goes. It’s usually about Famous People in Romania.
Of course, it depends on who’s asking and what their general interests are, but many questions will be about one of the following most famous Romanians.
Sports fans from all around the world know the name Halep, especially after she won against Serena Williams in 2019 and became the first Romanian to win a Wimbledon singles title. Simona Halep is a tennis player who was ranked as number 1 in the WTA rankings for the first time in 2017. Romania is known as the home country of Simona Halep.
This the most common reply to what’s Romania known for amongst football fans. Probably one of the most famous European footballers of all time, Hagi had a brilliant football career in the ’80s and ’90s. The entire football world remembers the 1994 World Cup, in which the Romanian team got to the quarterfinals. The national team is also famous for the incident in which the entire team dyed their hair blond for the 1998 World Cup. The outstanding results from that period were thanks to Hagi and his brilliant teammates.
Die-hard tennis fans have to know about the Romanian tennis champion, Nastase. He was the world’s number 1 in ’72 and ’73, after winning numerous tennis tournaments, including US Open and Roland Garros.
To put it simply, a lot of women born after ’76 were named Nadia, in her honour. Indisputably, one of the best gymnasts of all times, Nadia Comaneci was the first gymnast to get a perfect ten at the Olympic Games. In her entire career, Nadia won five Olympic gold medals, and she is regarded as one of the best gymnasts of all time.
Romania is famous for its communist era and Nicolae Ceausescu is one of the most famous dictators of Europe and endured capital punishment after an unexpected rebellion during a socialist gathering in December 1989. Ceausescu was the communist leader of the Socialist Republic of Romania, which is known today as Romania.
World famous sculptor and artist.
Vlad Țepeș (aka Dracula)
Romanian ruler from the 14 hundreds, who stands at the root of the Dracula story.
Inventor of the aeroplane.
The inventor of the self-propelled monoplane
World-famous musician, known as “The Master of the Pan Flute”.
The list of famous Romanians can go much longer, but this selection will get you to start a conversation when you’ll come and visit Romania. Feel free to reach out to me and suggest other names of famous people in Romania to add to the list.
The famous vampire of Transylvania, Dracula (and Bran Castle aka Dracula’s Castle)
Stepping away from Romanian famous people, which not all age demographics might know of, and saying the word that started an entire world hysteria: DRACULA.
Dracula is a legend based on the cruel punishments of a 1400s Romanian ruler, Vlad Tepeș. It is said that his punishments were so brutal, that people of the time had given him the nickname The Devil (Ro: Dracul), hence the name of the character, Dracula.
In all stories, Dracula is associated with a place, namely Dracula’s Castle or in Romanian, Bran Castle. Discover the entire story of Dracula and everything about his castle here: A visit to Dracula’s Castle.
Religion is one of the main things in Romania. As an Eastern European country, with deep Orthodox beliefs and a large population who practice their religion.
Churches and monasteries are omnipresent in the Romanian culture, and the most famous and beautiful monasteries have been spare even by the unorthodox Communist party.
As with any Orthodox country, Easter is the most important religious holiday and each year we have all of these Romanian Easter traditions going on.
Moldova is a country, but it is also a region of Romania, and it is home to some of the most famous and beautiful Orthodox monasteries.
The most famous Moldavian monasteries are:
Romania is famous for its traditional cuisine, and many foreigners come to experiment the local Romanian food.
Food is part of the Romanian culture and it one of those things about Romania you will hear and read about everywhere you look.
The Romanian cuisine has developed during the century of foreign occupation (Romans, Ottoman, Soviet), and all the neighbouring cultures inspired it.
Romanian food is one of the things that will amaze you once you visit Romania.
Here are some of the staple Romanian dishes:
- Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls)
- Mămăligă (Polenta)
- Mici (Grilled Minced Meat Rolls)
- Ciorbă de burtă (Beef Tripe Soup)
- Pomana Porcului (Ro: Honoring The Pig)
- Cozonac (Sweet Bread)
- Drob de miel (Lamb Drob)
- Salata De Boeuf (Beef Salad)
- Cârnați (pork sausages)
- Tochitură (pork stew)
- Piftie (pork’s tail, feet, and ears in aspic)
- Cheese – Telemea (cow’s or sheep’s milk white cheese), Brânză de burduf (kneaded cheese from sheep’s milk), Cașcaval (semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s or cow’s milk)
Photos by @gabyandtheworld
And we cannot forget about the famous Romanian drinks:
- Țuică (plum brandy)
- Palincă (a strong, double-distilled fruit brandy)
- Vișinată (sour cherry liqueur)
- Must (grape juice in the fermentation process that hasn’t become wine yet)
Bucharest, the Romanian capital
What’s the capital of Romania?
Bucharest is the capital of Romania and the largest city in the country. Bucharest is the most prosperous Romanian city and the 4th most populated European capital.
Bucharest is also regarded as the European city with the highest tourism potential for development. What’s there to see and do in Bucharest, you ask? Check out my recommendations (as a local) on some amazing things to see and do in Bucharest, Romania.
I also recommend checking our some rooftop bars in Bucharest, try the vegan restaurants and check out the only urban delta in Europe, Vacaresti Delta in Bucharest.
Romanian Carpathians (mountains and hikes)
Another thing about Romania that attracts a lot of tourists each year is the breathtaking landscape.
Romania has a diverse geography and it is famous for its Carpathian Mountains. The highest peak is Moldoveanu Peak (2544m) but there are many natural parks that offer plenty of trails and hiking inspiration.
The Romanian Parliament
Built during the communist era, the Romanian house of parliament, also known as the House of the People (Ro: Casa Poporului) is the second-largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon in Washington, DC, USA.
And it is the heaviest building in the world. It is literally sinking. This is one of those curious and fun things about Romania to tell your friends.
It was commanded by the former communist leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, who was inspired to build it after a visit to North Korea. He wanted Romania to have the greatest building in the world, made exclusively with Romanian materials.
The Romanian Parliament is one of Bucharest’s main attractions, and it does offer regular tours, despite the fact it functions as a parliament. That’s how big it is. It has over 1000 rooms and so many halls that you can get lost in it. That’s why all tours are guided.
Dacia (the car)
Dacia is the most famous car brand from Romania, which takes its name from the ancient historical region of what we call today Romania.
Dacia was founded during the communist times, in 1966, but the French group Renault owns it since 1999. Dacia is one of the most affordable cars in Europe, and it is sold even outside the continent’s borders.
I have debated with a friend, whether or not to mention the beautiful women as a point for which Romania is known, and I have decided to be fully transparent.
Romania is known all around the world for its beautiful women. It sounds weird, but it is true. Men especially find this a cool conversation starter when engaging with a Romanian woman.
When I was in Jordan, a few locals asked my boyfriend where we are from and then they pointed out that Romania has beautiful women (and asked my boyfriend how much he paid for me). Maybe it was a joke because they told us they were looking for Romanian wives.
The most beautiful roads in the world: Transfagarasan and Transalpina
Regarded as the world’s best road by the British TV show, Top Gear, in 2011, Transfagarasan is one of the main attractions in Romania, although it is just a road.
Well, Transfaragarasan isn’t just a road. It will let you drive up to 2km above sea level, and it’s the starting point of the trails towards two of the highest mountain peaks in Romania.
While Transfagarasan literally unites two regions of Romania (over the highest mountains in the country), it is not the only road you can take between the two regions.
Read everything you need to know about it on my ultimate guide for Transfagarasan.
Not far away from it, is the newly opened to the public (since 2016) Transalpina, which is the highest road in Romania (up to 2145 m high) and the most beautiful road I’ve seen and drove on. Check out this vlog from Transalpina on my YouTube channel.
Both roads are opened only during the summer (June – September, but it can vary each year), and they have some restrictions. Driving on either of these roads is forbidden at night. For instance, Transalpina is opened only between 7 am and 8 pm and has a speed limit of 30km/h. It’s probably the most dangerous road I’ve driven on and it is recommended only for experienced drivers.
The Romanian Danube Delta is second largest in Europe, but it is the best-preserved delta on the old continent.
The Danube springs from Germany’s Black Forest mountains and flows all the way to the the Black Sea.
As the Danube splits into three rivers, the Delta takes form of wetland that’s famous worldwide. This UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site is home for over 5,500 flora and fauna species.
Romania is also famous as a poor country and for its gipsy minority
Unfortunately, Romania has some bad tags attached to its name, and I will not hide this from you. They are, in the end, not only bad tags, and the entire thing is more complicated than that.
To address the elephant in the virtual room, I (as a Romanian) will answer the question on most foreigners’ mind: “Is Romania poor?”
The short answer is: NO, ROMANIA IS NOT POOR!
Get over that, and stop asking everyone about the economic situation because you’re deeply mistaking poor with affordable.
Of course, there’s more to it and the full answer to that question is more complicated than that.
Yes, there are some poor regions in Romania, but I highly doubt you will get to see them or even hear of them if you come to Romania just for a short while.
Also, Romania is very much developed, and it is probably one of the best destinations to live in Europe, at the moment, if you have a well-paid job. Yes, the traffic is not great in Bucharest, but you get a lot for your money and the services in all industries are some of the best I’ve seen. And they are the most affordable.
By the way, did you know that people from all around Europe come to Romania for dental work? Yes, it is true.
Also, to brag a little, Romania ranks high as a leading country of professionals in many industries but shines when it comes to IT.
Oh, and Romania has one of the best internet speed and data connection services on the planet. Is that what you associate a poor country with?
Let’s talk about gypsies
Another big fear most foreigners think of, and are shy to express, is the gypsy minority topic.
There are TWO main things to keep in mind when talking about Romanians and gypsies.
1 We are not the same (It just happens that they lived on these lands), and
2 It just happens that they call themselves RROMI (or Romani people – to be on the same page as Wikipedia), which actually has nothing to do with Romanians.
In fact, most of the Eastern European and Balkan countries have a gipsy minority living within their borders. It is believed that they originated from India, and made it this far due to their nomadic nature.
As many countries worldwide, we have some minorities living in Romania, and the gypsy minority is one of them. They have their specific culture and traditions, and they rarely like to mix with other cultures. That’s why they stand out so much.
Unfortunately, some have troubles adapting to modern life. After many generations with poor formal education (if any), some gipsy families that have originated from Romania, have received unwanted international media attention.
This is a concise description of what to expect if you want to visit Romania, but I’m sure you’ll have a great time, no matter what part of this beautiful country you choose to visit.
As you can see, there are many things for which Romania is known, and many people made Romania famous.
Romania is also one of the cheapest European destinations at the moment, so it’s well worth a spot on your European travel bucket list.
So, when are you coming to Romania?