Country profile

Romania: about the country

Romania is the biggest country in South East Europe, about the size of the United Kingdom, or the state of Oregon in the United States. It’s very name shows its turbulent history, translating as ‘citizen of the Roman Empire’, and the countryside is littered with magnificent medieval castles from conflicts of the past. These include the struggles against the Turks, led by Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Draculea, who was supposedly the inspiration behind Romania’s most famous fictional resident, Count Dracula.

Today, Transylvania, or ‘the land beyond the forest’ is just another part of the stunning landscape that makes up this vast and unspoiled country. Around half of Romania is still covered by natural forests and open countryside, with the magnificent Carpathian Mountains home to over 400 unique species and more than 60% of Europe’s brown bears. The Carpathians are also home to some excellent, and low cost, ski resorts, which allow you to enjoy the slopes for a fraction of the cost of the Swiss or Austrian equivalents.

Romania has four distinct seasons, with mild springs, hot summers where the temperature in the Southern lowlands often tops 100o, spectacular autumns, and cold winters with regular snowfall, especially in the mountains. The most popular times to visit are spring and summer, although the ski season is long, lasting from early December, right through to the middle of April on a good year.

The capital, Bucharest has all the attractions you would expect from a major European city, including galleries, theatres, fine restaurants and nightlife. However, if you take the time to explore further, beyond the city, you will be well rewarded. Romania boasts some architectural gems, from the ancient statue of the last Dacian king, carved 135ft high into a rock face, to the modern engineering wonder of the 61 mile Danube-Black Sea Canal, the third longest in the world after Suez and Panama.

You’ll also find some quirky sights that show that Romania doesn’t take itself too seriously. These include the world’s tallest wooden church, the world’s second largest outdoor museum, as well as the Merry Cemetery, where over 800 colourful and cheeky gravestones celebrate the life of the deceased. And while it may not have quite the reputation of France or California, Romania is also the ninth largest wine producer in the world, with no less than eleven unique grape varieties, so make sure you schedule a vineyard tour as part of your schedule.

Add in over 70 natural spas and over a third of Europe’s thermal and mineral springs and it’s easy to see why Romania is becoming a more popular destination for visitors, sightseers and medical tourists every year.

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Quick facts

Population: 20.1 Million
Currency: Romanian leu
Capital: Bucharest
Languages: Romanian
Religions: Romanian Orthodox 86%