Winter is almost here. Some of you probably already made plans for your holidays, some others maybe not yet. If Rovaniemi or Austria seem too obvious destinations for your winter journey, you could always consider Romania.
With a very diverse natural landscape, cosmopolitan cities and bucolic villages, Romania stands for one of the best travel destinations for winter holidays in Europe, offering a wide range of experiences to all its visitors. If you are a winter sports fan or you are looking for a cultural city for a peaceful stay, Romania can be a surprise. The winter holidays always have a special charm here thanks to the numerous traditions that are very beautifully respected and kept throughout the years, thanks to the many opportunities to practice winter sports or to visit one of a kind tourist objectives set in a fairy tale landscape, to enjoy the typical food and drinks and to explore the so popular Romanian Christmas Markets.
So, let’s discuss about 5 reasons why you should visit Romania this winter:
1. Visit Romania Christmas Markets
Organizing Christmas Markets in Romania is quite a new tradition that we moreover imported from Western European countries. The most popular Christmas Markets are in Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, Brasov, Cluj Napoca or Suceava. By far, the most appreciated one is Sibiu Christmas Market organized for the first time in our country in 2007 and 5 years later, in 2012, included in top “15 Of the Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe”. What can you find here? The Christmas Markets are held in the main squares of the cities and boast a large number of stalls and a big stage where Christmas carols concerts are taking place. People can buy here from traditional objects made of painted ceramics, carved wood, icons and embroidery to different costumes and masks, wooden toys, musical instruments and hand-painted decorations. Probably the most “delicious” gifts will be the traditional food, part of it being cooked and served at the spot (traditional warm Romanian food, sponge cake, mulled wine, gingerbread, hot cakes, fruit jam, honey, syrup, roasted chestnuts, etc.). The Christmas Markets are usually organized from late November to early January. Read here all you need to know about the Christmas Markets in Romania.
2. Winter sports in Romania
Romania boasts one of the most beautiful mountain chains from Europe, the Carpathian Mountains. During winter time, the mountain resorts become the most popular destinations among the winter sports fan and many others, as well. What is interesting about Romania is the fact that you can very easily combine the winter adventure with visiting stunning castles or medieval fortresses given their idyllic set. Most of the mountain resorts are positioned along Prahova Valley: Sinaia, Busteni, Azuga, Predeal which are very close to Bucharest, but there are also other good ones like: Paltinis near Sibiu, Gura Humorului near Suceava, Stana de Vale, Arieseni and Padis near Cluj Napoca. There are modern sky slopes, as in the past years there were many public and private investments in the areas. Due to the natural conditions, the sky slopes are not very long compared with those from Austria or France but they are accessible for many tourists not only for ski, but for snowboarding, as well.
3. Traditional winter holidays in Romanian villages
This is probably the place where all the Christmas magic happens. In Romania, the winter traditions are very faithfully kept and each year offer a unique spectacle. There are so many and divers customs in each region of Romania but most of the tourists are heading to Maramures and Bucovina historical regions. In the villages from these regions the Christmas holidays are simply special thanks to the hospitality of the locals, the typical guesthouses, the winter cultural performances, the traditional costumes, the horse driven sleigh rides and most of all, the typical food. Where can you go? Well, you can always consider in Maramures: Sighetu Marmatiei, Botiza, Barsana, Vadu Izei, Poienile Izei or in Bucovina: Gura Humorului, Voronet, Sucevita, Moldovita, Campulung Moldovenesc.
4. Romania cultural sights
No matter the reason why you are coming to spend your winter holidays in Romania, do not forget to explore the cultural sights. There are very diverse and special. Starting from stunning castles to medieval fortresses, from typical Orthodox churches to fortified churches, each place surprises through their story and architecture. Do not miss a visit to two of the most beautiful castles of Romania: Peles royal castle and Bran, Dracula’s castle, the Transylvanian citadels: Sighisoara, Rupea and Rasnov and fortified churches from Viscri, Prejmer or Biertan, the painted monasteries of Bucovina: Voronet, Sucevita, Moldovita or the wooden convents from Maramures: Dragomiresti, Barsana and the medieval cities: Brasov, Sibiu, Cluj Napoca, Targu Mures.
5. Traditional food & drinks typical for winter holidays in Romania
Well, when it comes to food & drinks, no matter the season, the Romanians are getting very serious. It is a very important aspect of the winter holidays as the whole family reunites at the table on Christmas Day. This is the heyday of all the grannies who are preparing traditional dishes that require a certain experience and dedication. The most common dishes are: the famous “sarmale” served with polenta and cream, pork sausages, boeuf salads, sponge cake, cheese doughnuts and many other delicious dishes. In terms of drinks, you should definitely try the delicious mulled wine or even the warm plum brandy. Tourists can taste all these at the guesthouses where they are accommodated but in the traditional restaurants, as well.
And the 6th reason, as we can’t stop at the 5th one, should be Balea Ice Hotel (read here everything you need to know about Balea Ice Hotel) from the Fagaras Mountains, unique in Romania, each year having a different architecture and a totally new concept.
So, you have all the reasons to spend your winter holidays in Romania. But, we have to warn you. Our country might cause addiction for its visitors.