Romania is very old and, at the same time, startlingly new. Bordered by Hungary, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia, it also has a stretch of the Black Sea coast. EU membership in 2007 has opened up the country and increasing numbers of UK and Irish flyers are searching for cheap flights to Romania.
The popular notion of Romania is as Vladislav Dracula’s homeland, the nobleman who inspired the name of the vampire in Bram Stoker’s famous novel, but there is so much more to this country than Bran Castle (where Vlad is said to have lived).
Its capital is Bucharest, known not only for its historic city centre – in the 19th century, it was known as “Little Paris” and it even has l’Arc de Triomphe – but also for the Palace of Parliament, the world’s second-largest building (after the Pentagon), built by Nicolae Ceausescu.
Brasov is the second-largest city. Close to the city centre, Poiana Brasov is the country’s largest ski resort, with ten miles of runs. One of Romania’s most famous tourist attractions are the painted monasteries of Southern Bucovina (near the Ukrainian border), many of them Unesco-listed.
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The climate in Romania is temperate, with four seasons. The spring is pleasant with cool mornings but warm days. Summer is warm especially in the lowlands of eastern and southern Romania. Temperatures often hit 30 degrees in July and August. The mountains are always cooler. The autumn months are cool and dry (the foliage rivals New England for vibrancy). Winters can be cold, particularly in the mountains. Snow may fall between December and mid-March.
The summer months, July and August, are high season.
In general, the winter months; however, this is when skiers and snowboarders step off their Romania flights and head for the slopes of Poiana, Sinaia (known as Carpathians Pearl), Busteni, Predeal and Azuga.
Spring and autumn are great, shoulder-season times to visit Romania. They’re outside peak season but the weather is usually pleasant.
Most of the major car-rental companies are represented in Romania.
Public transport is decent. Several bus companies offer reasonably priced services between the cities and there is a well-developed railway network as well. Tickets are inexpensive. Finally, taxis are plentiful. It’s a good idea to settle on the fare in advance.
(prices quoted are from London)