Tucked away in Eastern Europe (between Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria), Romania is a truly stunning and unspoiled corner of the continent. But what are some its most beautiful locations to explore?
Apuseni National Park
Located in Western Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, Apusen National Park is a nature lover’s dream. Its 76 hectares are home to glorious gorges and valleys, stunning mountain peaks, and steep hills perfect for long walks. But the park is best known as a caver’s paradise. In fact there are over 1,500 caves in the park area, 19 of which are of international importance, mainly because of their interesting cave fauna. The park is home to many natural reserves, such as the Scarisoara Cave, the Pietrele Galbenei geological reserve, the Cave of the Living Fire Iceberg, and the Cave of the Ogres of Onceasa.
The medieval citadel of Sighișoara was founded by the Transylvanian Saxons in the 12th century, and today it is well worth a visit because it has preserved its valuable ancient architectural centre. So important is its history that Sighișoara was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city seems like something out of a fairytale, and undoubtedly stands as one of the best preserved and most beautiful fortresses in Europe. But you should also be aware that the city is said to be the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, and many locals consider Sighișoara to be haunted!
Lacul Roșu (Red Lake)
In the Eastern Carpathians of Romania you can find Lacul Roșu (Red Lake). What is interesting is the lake was formed by natural damming, and is the largest natural mountain lake in Romania. It formed in 1837 after storms led to a large piece of stone falling from The Killer Mountain, which blocked the Licas Creek, the Red Creek and Oil Creek. Lacul Roșu lies right at the base of Hasmasu Mare mountains, close to the city of Gheorgheni. Its name comes from the reddish alluvia (iron oxides) which are deposited in the water. Its rich animal life and stunning flora and fauna mean the lake is a popular walking destination for nature lovers.
Located in Romania’s atmospheric Carpathian Mountains, on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, you can find Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle, because it seems so similar to the fortress depicted by Bram Stoker). If you’re looking to experience the intrigue and the power of Translyvania, this is a must-visit landmark. It is located 25 kilometres (16 miles) southwest of Brașov, and is perched dramatically on a hill, rising up from the forest. More than 600,000 tourists flock to the castle every year, and it is Romania’s most popular attraction.
Sarmizegetusa Regia is arguably Romania’s most important archeological site, and is often described as the country’s version of Stonehenge. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Sarmizegetusa Regia was the capital of the ancient Romanian Dacian Kingdom, and today is an impressive historical landmark. Located in Orastioara de Sus, Hunedoara, in Southern Transylvania, this ancient fortress was once the most important location in Dacia (which corresponds to the present-day countries of Romania, Moldova and parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia). Sarmizegetusa Regia is located in the Sureanu Mountains, which is a brilliant hiking destination, home to beautiful wilderness and quiet mountain paths, which are incredible to explore.
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