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Romania in Winter: is it really worth visiting? 

Looking for an epic trip to Romania in winter?

Romania is a stunning country all your round. However, it becomes even more magical during winter. Romania in winter has a lot to offer.

For example, you can enjoy the breathtaking winter scenery and Transylvania’s tourist destinations, such as Bran Castle, charming Christmas markets, and medieval buildings.

The Carpathian Mountains are also a great place if you’re a thrill-seeker to go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and dog sledding.

If you’re looking for a special winter trip, Romania is a magnificent and unforgettable experience

What is Romania best known for?

Romania is a country with a rich cultural past that has been shaped over time by numerous empires and civilizations. The Carpathian Mountains, which provide a variety of outdoor activities like skiing and hiking, are well known for their breathtaking natural beauty.

Another popular destination if you appreciate the outdoors is the Danube Delta. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Besides its stunning natural scenery, Romania is known for its historical sites like Bran Castle, which is connected to the famous vampire Dracula. The country has a long history of folk music, dance, and art that is still cherished today.

Bran Castle
Bran Castle

Romania also offers a robust cuisine that features delicacies like sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls) and mici (grilled ground meat rolls) in addition to premium wines made in various locations. Romania is an intriguing destination that provides a distinctive fusion of history, culture, and unspoiled landscapes.

What to see or do during your stay?

There are plenty of fun and great things to do during your stay in Romania when it’s winter:

1. Ski and snowboard opportunities

Romania is home to a number of ski resorts that are situated in the Carpathian Mountains, including Poiana Brasov, Sinaia, and Predeal.

With a variety of beginner to expert slopes, you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding while admiring the breathtaking winter surroundings.

Carpathian Mountains,Romania in Winter Time: Is it worth visiting
Carpathian Mountains

2. Explore the medieval fortified city of Sighisoara

This medieval city, which is a well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site, has vibrant architecture, cobblestone streets, and a hilltop citadel. You can enjoy a festive ambiance with Christmas lights and decorations during the winter.

city of Sighisoara
City of Sighisoara

3. Visit the traditional painted monasteries in Bucovina

One of Romania’s most distinctive cultural and artistic legacies is the painted monasteries of Bucovina. The murals on the monasteries’ exterior walls, which portray scenes from the Bible, are known for their vivid colors and minute workmanship.

It’s a pretty cool piece of art!

Painted monasteries in Bucovina
Painted monasteries in Bucovina

4. Ice sculptures at the Ice Hotel in the Balea Lake area

Situated in the Fagaras Mountains, the Ice Hotel is a popular tourist attraction during the winter season. You’ll find some magnificent ice sculptures here, you can stay in ice rooms, and enjoy winter sports such as ice skating and snowshoeing.

Ice Hotel
Ice Hotel

It is also a great place for a romantic dinner with your partner in the ice restaurant.

5. Discover the medieval city of Brasov

Brasov is a lovely Romanian medieval city with a fascinating history and beautiful architecture. You can have a great panoramic view of the city and the surrounding mountains by taking a cable car to Mount Tampa.

Brasov at night in Romania in winter
Brasov at night

6. Local cuisine

Romania has a rich culinary heritage, with robust and savory dishes ideal for chilly winter days. Guests can warm themselves with a cup of mulled wine and delectable pastries like cozonac (sweet bread with nuts and raisins) and papanaşi (traditional Romanian fried doughnuts.

I would also recommend to try sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls) or taste traditional soups like ciorba (vegetable and meat soup). These are great winter dishes.

Papanasi in Romania in winter
Papanasi

7. Traditional Christmas market

You can visit a typical Christmas market in places like Sibiu, Bucharest, Brasov or Cluj-Napoca. Several Romanian cities hold lively Christmas markets in the winter that offer regional foods and drinks, handicrafts, and entertainment.

The Christmas market in Sibiu is set against the backdrop of the ancient city center, whereas the market in Bucharest is one of the biggest in all of Europe.

Brasov decorated for Christmas market Romania in winter
Brasov decorated for Christmas market

8. Take a dip in the thermal baths of Baile Felix or Sovata

There are numerous thermal spas and baths in Romania where you can unwind and take use of the warm waters even on chilly winter days.

The natural hot springs and cutting-edge spa facilities at Baile Felix and Sovata make them two popular holiday spots!

Baile Felix Romania in winter
Baile Felix

9. Visit the Bears Sanctuary in Zarnesti

You can see brown bears in their natural habitat by going to the Bears Sanctuary in Zarnesti. This is a wildlife sanctuary. Most of these bears have a sad story but have been rescued to have a better life at the sanctuary.

Also, the sanctuary encourages conservation and environmental education.

Bear Sanctuary in Romania in winter
Bear Sanctuary in the Winter

How cold is Romania in winter?

Temperatures during the winter can vary from -2 to 5 degrees in southern Romanian parts like Bucharest and the Wallachian plain. Transylvania is among the core regions where temperatures can fall to as low as -5 to -10 degrees. So, you can expect snow and ice.

In northern regions like Maramures and Bucovina, temperatures can drop as low as -15 degrees, resulting in considerable snowfall. However, keep in mind, these are only average ranges. Actual temperatures may vary from one year to the next.

Always check the weather before leaving so that you can pack adequately. To keep warm throughout your trip, make sure to pack warm clothing and accessories like hats, gloves, and scarves.

Is Bucharest worth visiting in winter?

Yes! Especially in the winter, Bucharest is famous for its joyous holiday celebrations. The Bucharest Christmas Market, which takes place in the city’s heart and offers food, drink, and regional crafts, is one of the most popular events.

There are also ice skating rinks, Christmas carol performances, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. A great way to experience the local culture and get into the holiday spirit is to attend winter festivals and activities.

Parliament Building during New Years Eve Romania in winter
Parliament Building during New Years Eve

Summertime in Bucharest can be fairly touristy, while wintertime tends to see less visitors. In other words, there won’t be as many people and lineups to see the city’s attractions, such the National Museum of Art of Romania or the Palace of the Parliament. Therefore, sightseeing could be more fun and laid back!

Although Bucharest doesn’t have any ski resorts, the city is quite close to a number of ski resorts. Only a few hours away and offering skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities is Poiana Brasov, one of the most popular ski resorts. A fun and busy winter holiday is just around the corner for you.

In Bucharest, the winter is regarded as the off-season for tourism, therefore rates for lodging and travel may be less expensive than during the busy summer months.

For tourists on a tight budget visiting Romania in winter, this might be a fantastic way to see the city without going over their trip budget. Also, lower pricing may provide you more freedom to sample regional food and take part in winter sports without concern for the expense.

How safe is Romania in winter to travel?

I would say it’s generally safe. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Pickpocketing and theft can be a concern in crowded places and on public transit in Bucharest. Be sure to secure your belongings and pay attention to your surroundings.

If you plan to drive in Romania, be aware that the roads may not be in the best condition and that local driving habits may be different than what you’re used to. The roads can also be slippery and snowy during winter. Driving at night can be tricky as well, so think about using a GPS to find your way.

When you’re using ATMs or exchanging money, be on the lookout for fraud and scams. To avoid being taken advantage of, only use reputed banks or exchange offices, and monitor your transaction carefully.

Be cautious when wandering around and keep your distance from any stray dogs you encounter in some parts of Romania.

Even while there aren’t many violent crimes, there have been incidents of theft and muggings in various places, especially near railway stations and other transit hubs.

Do they speak English in Romania?

From elementary school through university, English is a required subject in Romanian schools and universities. Many young Romanians speak English well or with fluency. Because of this, younger generations are more likely than older ones to speak English.

You can expect to find more English speaking people in major cities like Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca, and Bucharest.

The level of English could be lower in more rural or distant regions, though. People may not speak English at all or only do so at a minimal level in some places, particularly in villages or small towns. Older generations who might not have had the chance to study English at school might struggle with the language.

What does Romania do for Christmas?

Romanians celebrate Christmas as an important holiday with a handful of rituals and traditions. Christmas Eve, or Ajunul Crăciunului, is the focal point of the festivities. To start Christmas Day, families come together to attend a special midnight Mass.

On Christmas Day, families exchange gifts and share a large feast, often including traditional Romanian delicacies like sarmale and cozonac. On Christmas Day, a lot of people attend a different church service to commemorate the birth of Jesus.

Cozonac in Romania in Winter
Cozonac

Caroling has a significant role in Romanian Christmas celebrations. The traditional Christmas carols are sung as groups of carolers visit each home, wishing the residents a Merry Christmas. In some places, carolers wear traditional clothing and hold a cardboard and tinsel star.

Christmas decorations are a significant component of the celebrations, and many people use traditional objects like painted eggs, star-shaped lanterns, and miniature Christmas trees to decorate their homes.

Last but not least, Romanians love to celebrate Christmas markets, especially in bigger towns like Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca. The markets are a wonderful way to experience the local culture and get into the festive spirit. They are stocked with traditional crafts, food, and drink. What more to wish for?

Why is Romania so special?

In my opinion, Romania is exceptional in many ways.

The Danube Delta and the Carpathian Mountains are just two examples of Romania’s stunning natural landscape. On the Black Sea coast, there are some lovely beaches you can discover, and there are many charming towns and villages in the surrounding area. Even in wintertime!

You’ll find a lot of old monuments and buildings like fortified churches and medieval castles, as well as habits and rituals that are still practiced today. A few examples of Romanian cultural legacy are the vibrantly painted monasteries of Bucovina, traditional folk music, dances, and clothing.

As described earlier, Romania is well known for its wonderful food, which includes dishes like sarmale, mici, and papanasi.

Is there even more? Yes! Romania produces excellent wines and is home to numerous elite wineries. Romania is also a fantastic destination for outdoor activities including biking, skiing, and trekking in addition to being widely recognized for its world-class thermal spas and wellness centers.

What is the most beautiful part of Romania?

This is of course very arbitrary! I know. However, if you’re a nature lover like me, I would say that the Transfaragan mountain range is a pretty impressive sight.

The Transfagarasan Highway runs across Romania’s tallest mountain range, the Fagaras Mountains, and is a beautiful mountain road. The road connects Transylvania and Wallachia and is around 90 kilometers long.

Transfagarasan Mountain Range in Romania in Winter
Transfagarasan Mountain Range

It looks pretty dramatic, right? Just keep in mind that the road is only open from July 1st till Nov 1st (!) because of snow. However, you can make use of the cable car to get to the top and enjoy the snowy landscape!

Can I use euros in Romania?

Although being a part of the EU, Romania’s official currency is the Romanian leu (RON), not the Euro.

Nonetheless, it is always smart to find out in advance whether a particular establishment will accept Euros, such as hotels and restaurants in tourist areas.

It’s important to keep in mind that even though certain places may accept Euros, the exchange rate may not be to your advantage. It’s more preferable to exchange your Euros for Lei in a bank or exchange office because you will receive a higher rate there.

Despite the fact that credit cards are widely accepted in larger cities and tourist hotspots, it’s still a good idea to have some cash on hand for smaller transactions and for locations that might not accept cards.

Should I leave a tip in Romania?

Although it’s not as widespread or as generous as in some other countries, tipping is commonly expected in certain circumstances in Romania. To give you an idea, it is customary to tip 10% of the whole cost at restaurants.

It’s always smart to double-check before leaving a larger tip because some restaurants might include a service charge in the total. Tipping is not customary in cafes and bars, but rounding the total to the nearest whole number is welcomed.

What about tipping in taxis? Well, it’s typical to round the fare up to the next whole number. It’s customary in hotels to give housekeeping workers a daily tip of 5 – 10 Lei (between 1 and 2 Euro). Tipping doormen and other employees is not required, but it is graciously accepted.

So, even though it is not required in Romania, tipping is appreciated for good service. If you’re not sure whether or how much to tip, it’s usually a good idea to ask a local for guidance.

The Wrap-Up: Romania in Winter: is it really worth visiting? 

It is definitely worth it to visit Romania in winter!

The variety of winter sports, authentic Christmas celebrations, and less crowded sites in Romania make it worthwhile to travel there in the winter.

Wintertime in Romania is very charming because of the stunning scenery and snow-covered landscapes. You can always warm yourself with the great local dishes and drinks.

If you’re going to Bucharest and fall in love with the city, check out my post about the cost of living in Bucharest!

And if you want to know more and you’re looking for some great symbols of Romania, check out my post about the national flower in Romania.

And if you’re wondering about the safety in Romania, check out my post about how safe Romania is!

Your restless voyager,

Dustin

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