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  • Writer's pictureMonica Tudor

Visit Romania - part 1

Why am I writing this? Good question!


Hi, I’m Monica and I am from Bucharest, but my life is now in Guildford! I have lots of friends who said to me that they want to visit Romania, but they don’t know from where to start since it’s such a big country but so closed to tourists.


I’ve started thinking of how I could introduce my friends to my very close to my heart country. The obvious way to do this is to start with the capital, Bucharest. Probably 3 to 4 days in Bucharest would be enough. But then, Romania is not Bucharest, it’s so many other places which are entirely different. We have Carpathians mountains, the Black Sea and everything in between.


Places to visit on your first trip: Bucharest, Sibiu and Balea Lac


For the first trip to Romania, and please keep in mind that my friends are very sporty, I am planning to visit Bucharest, Sibiu and Balea Lac without hiring a car. I might change my mind closer to the time but for the moment, since I don’t know how many people will come with me, it’s easier if I try to stick to the public transport.


Length of holiday: 8 days including flights.


If you are after a long weekend and not a proper holiday, you can still do it but I defo suggest 4 days including flights and nothing less. When you come from UK, you need to consider the flight with is 3.5 hours plus 2 hours time zone difference.


Cost


After adding everything up, I came up with this table of expenses. Please take this just as an estimate and please read the blog until the end to find out how I came up with these numbers.






Journey


Bucharest


How long


Fly there - 1 day, explore Bucharest - 2 full days and if you just want a long weekend, then fly back on day 4.


How to get there from London


The flights are very cheap now because we are still recovering from the pandemic so in the future the price might double.

My preferred flight is the 8:30 AM from Heathrow because it get’s me in time for a late lunch to Bucharest just before 2 PM.

From the airport to the hotel get a taxi for ~£10. They take cards but cash would be better and they like a 5RON tip which is £1. You can request the taxi from a terminal situated in the airport so it’s very easy.


Accommodation


The accommodation in Bucharest can be as expensive or as cheap as you want with prices for something decent starting from £36 per night per room.


This is a good option because of the very central location:


https://www.booking.com/hotel/ro/piata-unirii-cozy-inn.en-gb.html


I suggest going on booking.com and search for any of these places Piata Unirii, Universitate, Cismigiu, Piata Victoriei since these are central places with good Metro connections. Bucharest is a big city so you don’t want to spend all day in traffic.


Things to do


1. Party hard in the heart of Bucharest (in the Old Town)


You can come here during the day and have a lovely time but I suggest going there after 9PM. It will be buzzing with music and good atmosphere.




2. Visit Casa poporului (Palace of Parliament)


The Palace of the Parliament (Romanian: Palatul Parlamentului), also known as the Republic's House (Casa Republicii) or People's House/People's Palace (Casa Poporului), is the seat of the Parliament of Romania. The Palace reaches a height of 84 metres, has a floor area of 365,000 square metres and a volume of 2,550,000 cubic metres. The Palace of the Parliament is the heaviest building in the world, weighing about 4,098,500,000 kilograms, also being the second largest administrative building in the world.







3. Time your visit with the Bucharest Days


There will be lots of things happening in the centre including an amazing laser lights projections on the Palace of Parliament and lots of concerts (around 18th of September).




4. Run or walk around the lake in Herastrau Park now known as our former king Regele Mihai I. (4 metro stops from the Old Town)






5. Walk (free) and/or hire a rowing boat in Cismigiu park for £3 per hour (you can walk there from the Old Town)






6. Shopping


In any big city there are lots of places to go shopping and Bucharest have lots of them starting with Unirea shopping centre, Bucharest Mall, Promenada Mall, AFI Cotroceni, Veranda Mall, Mega Mall ...


7. Spa


The best place to relax for 3 hours including a pool with a bar in the pool, a level with 10 different saunas, a level with lots of water slides and everything which you imagine, but better!

Being close to the airport, it would be a good option to go there just before your flight back to UK.



Full experience for ~£20




Sibiu


A real European city, as if detached from an Austrian landscape





How long


I will be here for only one night but you can extend it for as long as you want.



Travel from Bucharest to Sibiu


The relaxing way is to travel by train. The online websites are not very accommodating for outsider but you can give it a go.


Tickets can be bought from here but closer to the time:


https://mersultrenurilor.infofer.ro (Bucuresti Nord to Sibiu)

If you hired a car, then also expect a 5 hours journey with some challenging driving but beautiful views.


Accommodation


Again, prices for accommodation in Romania can vary a lot but there is something for everyone usually starting from £34 per night per room.


https://www.booking.com/hotel/ro/city-spirit-sibiu.en-gb.html


Things to do


This is our stop for the day which gives us access to the mountains in the next day.

There are lots of things to visit here including an amazing big square and the famous "Podul minciunilor" (The bridge of lies). The legend says that the young couples sworn eternal love to each other and the ladies sworn they were still virgins.



Balea Lac


Bâlea Lake is a glacier lake situated at 2,034 m of altitude in the Făgăraș Mountains, in central Romania. It is accessible by car on the Transfăgărășan road during the summer, and the rest of the year by a cable car from the "Bâlea Cascadă" chalet.





Travel there from Sibiu


Bus: Sibiu to Cascada Balea + cable car from Cascada Balea to Balea Lac


To get to Balea Lac, we can take a bus to Bâlea Cascadă for 55 EUR return and then a cable car. If we don't want the cable car, for an extra 15 EUR the bus will take us there by road. You need to time this one right because the bus is available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


You can read more info regarding the bus here:


http://muntii-fagaras.ro/transport


Don’t forget to book your ticket before traveling from here:


https://www.baleabus.ro/en/





You can read more about the cable car here:


http://muntii-fagaras.ro/telecabina


Less than 10 EUR for 3.7km going from 1.200 m to 2.040 m offering stunning views.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDqFzMTfaJ8&ab_channel=LucianIonescu

Accommodation


There aren’t many choices of accommodation so if you don’t find anything then plan something else.


This is my preferred place to stay:


https://www.balea-turism.ro/en/Accommodation-cabana-paltinu


£50 per double room per night and I would suggest 2 nights.


Things to do


Here is a nice link for you to check out some beautiful walks starting from the accommodation:


https://www.balea-turism.ro/en/trails


One easy route:


· Paltinu Chalet 2050m - 2507m Peak Vanatoarea lui Buteanu (which is 1 or 2 hours)


One tough route which can be done only if we have good weather and if we wake up early: go to the highest peak in Romania:


· Paltinu Chalet 2050m (from the accomodation) to 2544m Moldoveanu Peak.

This is going to take us 8 to 9 hours. Would be a good idea to order a map even though the route is very well marked.


Here is a blog which I found about someone who did it in one day.


https://carmenalbisteanu.ro/2015/08/03/traseul-balea-vf-moldoveanu-si-inapoi-intr-o-singura-zi/ (use google translate)



Back to Bucharest


After you finished all the walks and you’ve had enough of the mountains, I suggest to pack and spend 1/2 day traveling back to Bucharest exactly the way you came: cable car, followed by the 4:30 bus (check the correct days) and train from Sibiu to Bucharest.

Personally, I’ll spend another day in Bucharest and I’ll head back home on day 8 but feel free to change things around to accommodate your needs. And don’t forget the 3 hours Spa just before the airport, you’ll thank me for that!


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