Weekend ideas from Bucharest
Long time no blogging! Weekend is here! So what better idea for a few days off after a long week at the office than a quick getaway somewhere not that far from. If you live in Bucharest, I have some great tips for you, so keep on reading and maybe after your morning coffee you’ll find yourself packing a small bag and escape the fuss of this big city.
- Brasov – Wake up to a backdrop of the Postavaru mountains, go for breakfast in the city center, wonder the lovely and colorful streets of this medieval city and discover chic places, go visit the White Tower and admire the gorgeous view and don’t forget to enjoy the fresh air in the picturesque Poiana Brasov. I highly recommend here Luther Brasserie, Hirscher House and Prato restaurant.
- Rasnov – home to a freshly restored Saxon fortress from the 14th century, and also to many old Saxon houses. Those who rush through Brasov county, stop by to see the fortress, but many people take the time to stay here for a few days and enjoy its blend of nature and fun. Others choose it as a great and quiet base to explore the surrounding area with its numerous attractions. I highly recommend Hotel Radsor. Also, if you have time, take a stroll in the woods and reach the Fortress Valley Cave, the Bran Castle (Dracula mansion) and maybe the Moeciu area.
- Prejmer – just 15 km away from Brasov lays a charming realm, famous worldwide for its fortified church (included in the UNESCO heritage). If you adore a magical medieval vibe, this is the place to be in any season. This construction was started by the teutonic knights back in the year 1218 and then it was fortified in the XV century during the Turkish invasion. This stunning work of architecture and art wad never conquered by the Otomans. The church is famous for being the most imposing fortified church in the south east of Europe, owning 3 Michelin stars (the greatest distinction for a building in Romania). A picture speaks for a thousand words, so I will just leave you to the pics we took this winter…Is this winter wonderland or what?
- Harman – another gorgeous fortress near Brasov. This stunning building hosts a medieval church as well, a chapel and in the walls, the keepers settled down a few traditional museums: an old chamber from the region, a school classroom, farming equipment used throughout the history in Romania, pretty views over the village and of the interior garden. The keepers are the nicest people we have ever met and it was a real pleasure to spend a few hours with them and listen to their stories. If you are in the area, you must pay a visit there and I guarantee that you will be impressed.
- Sinaia – definitely my favorite weekend getaway! This mountain resort in Prahova county is a wonderful and chic place to go for a romantic trip. Among the tourist landmarks, the most important are Peleș Castle, Pelișor Castle, Sinaia Monastery, Sinaia Casino and the Franz Joseph and Saint Anne Cliffs. Sinaia was also the summer residence of the Romanian composer George Enescu, who stayed at the Luminiș villa. Sinaia is also perfect for a chill walk along its pretty streets, relaxing at one of lovely cafes or taking pictures with the red telephone cabins (a bit of London vibes never hurt nobody). I strongly recommend Hotel International Sinaia (a bit pricey, but really gorgeous) and its main restaurant – Restaurant Tirol (the duck with mashed potatoes and horseradish is simply delicious).
- Busteni – especially the Cantacuzino Castle. This great architectonic, historic and artistic masterpiece was built and inaugurated in 1911 at the wish of Prince Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino. The castle,built in neoromanian style,is surrounded by a park who’s alleys take you to the grotto,cascades and fountains. The castle gives the most majestic perspective over Bucegi Mountains so you have to plan having a coffee and a sweet treat on the terrace. If you are a nature lover, then you should also hike up to the waterfalls and to the Caraiman Monastery.
- Sibiu – Sibiu is one of the most important cultural centres of Romania and was designated the European Capital of Culture for the year 2007, along with the city of Luxembourg. Formerly the centre of the Transylvanian Saxons, the old city of Sibiu was ranked as “Europe’s 8th-most idyllic place to live” by Forbes in 2008. If you spend a few days in this bohemian city, you shouldn’t miss the following: the “ASTRA” Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization – which contains houses and workshops of the traditional Romanian folk culture from the pre-industrial era. Over 300 houses and other buildings are situated in the forest around two artificial lakes with over 10 km of walkways between them. Saint Mary Evangelical Church – a beautiful work of art and a great place to enjoy the view over this medieval town. Walk ALL the stairs and reach the top of the tower for a rewarding landscape. Bridge of Lies – just in the city center, a hip place for photos. The city walls -Thirty-nine towers, each protected by different guilds, watched over medieval Sibiu. See the remaining handful by walking north up Cetăţii street past the Potters’ Tower and then Carpenters’ Tower, to the Natural History Museum. The Council Tower – connecting the two main squares in Sibiu. The entrance is in the Small Square and it’s another interesting place where you can climb up to the top to witness a pretty view with the mountains as a background. Besides its grand architecture, Sibiu has a good dose of bohemian flair: houses with distinctive eyelid-shaped windows watch a cast of artists and buskers bustling below them, cafes and bars inhabit brick-walled cellars and luminously decorated attics. While on a trip there, you should also enjoy a food tour. Our favorite restaurants in Sibiu are: Pardon Cafe and Restaurant, Kulinarium, Benjamin’s Steakhouse and Hermania. Acommodation: Maison Elysee or Hilton Sibiu – amazing!
- Porumbacu de Sus – this village hides a lovely fairytale treasure: a castle made out of natural materials. The Clay Castle (Fairy Valley – Castelul de lut, Valea Zanelor) is very pretty and although for now there are not many activities available, if you are in the area, you should take a break and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in the garden, watching the fairy castle or the small river.
- Cârţa – where you must see the Cârţa Monastery, a former Cistercian monastery in the Țara Făgărașului region, currently a Lutheran Evangelical church belonging to the local Saxon community. One of the oldest and most beautiful Gothic monuments from Romania, the Cistercian Abbey of Carta represents the peak of this medieval religious order European expansion. Its construction had from the beginning a major impact on the architecture of the region, the Cistercians being, in fact, the promoters of the Gothic style in Transylvania. We were the only visitors and it felt very good…the place definitely has some kind of spiritual vibes. You just have to listen to that silence and admire the ruins.
- Sambata de Sus – Surrounded by the highest peaks in Romania, the village has a beautiful jewel, the Brancoveanu Monastery. This blessed place must have been touched by God himself, because of its unique beauty. The natural surroundings and the spiritual tradition of Sâmbăta de Sus work together to create one of the most special places you will ever encounter. It is so close to the busy towns of Transylvania and yet so deep in another world, which makes you feel lucky for discovering it. The name of the monastery comes from a Romanian prince, Constantin Brâncoveanu, who was turned into a martyr by the Turks for not abdicating his faith. He has an important role in the development of an artistic style during his reign, equivalent to a Romanian Renaissance. The architectural style of Brâncoveanu blends together folkloric motifs and Romantic elements, with rounded arches and braided columns. The style has become the norm for churches in the south of the country and is also employed by major palaces. Under the vaults of the cells there is a bust and a symbolic tomb of Constantin Brâncoveanu and actual tombs of other personalities.
Although, my pictures were taken this winter and we were lucky enough to have a spectacular weather with magical snowfall and white natural decorations, all the places I told you about are beautiful in every season. Plan a summer escape in nature, admire the most colorful landscape in autumn, make you own winter wonderland just like we did or even better, have a fresh start this spring and watch everything come to life once again in a pretty place you’ve never been before.
Travelling abroad is my favorite thing to do! Discovering traditions, people, art and food! Enjoying a colorful street style or getting lost in nature! But once in a while, I just love being surprised by my country. Romania has so many wonderful buildings, scenery and towns. Although not that well known as its fellow regions in Europe (Tuscany, Provence, Bavaria), Transylvania is a unique location, so worth your while to decide sometimes to visit it and give it time. Be humble enough to choose Romania over other European countries. Be curious enough to get out of the main road and search for something else. Be enthusiastic enough to find out how many interesting places hide so close to your hometown. In the end, you will feel proud.
Pack your bags!
Wishing you all an unforgettable weekend!