Public Transit Trip
It was a surprise to find out how far the Romanian train systems stretched. It turns out it has the 23rd largest railway system in the world while it is only 81st in geographical size. That being said, it is almost a perfect example of size does not mean everything! While the train can get you there, it doesn’t get very many points for comfort or speed. But hey they run on time and can be bought online so it could always be worse! To supplement the few spots without rail, there is a large fleet of private bus lines to help. There are so many different routes that you can take, but this is the one that we recommend as it hits many of the top places to see in the country. Every city on the list can be extended by at least 1 or 2 days if you have the time.
There are 3 main train types and pricing and times will change dramatically based on which train you take.
The RE trains are regional and are the local's transportation so expect a lot of stops, mediocre comfort and often no air-conditioning.
The IC trains are meant for intercity travel so are faster and more comfortable but come with a price tag to match.
The last option is ICN trains which are intercity trains with overnight accommodations. These are designed for transport to the neighbouring countries but can also be used for late-night trains between major cities.
A great tip to know when planning your trip is booking online at least 24 hours prior to your train can give you a discount as does booking in groups of 3 or more.
Locations to visit
Travel Day 1
We recommend starting in Bucharest. It is pretty much a guarantee that you will end up in Bucharest if you want to fully explore Romania. As it is the capital city, it is a great place to start your journey. Your first travel day will be getting into the city by either by plane or train from neighbouring countries such as Bulgaria. While the city is nice, it lacks true attractions so leaving yourself just 2 days should be fine. The Palace of Parliament is insane but we found the old city to be quite touristy. Read our full review of Bucharest here.
Travel Day 2
Once you are ready to leave we suggest that you travel east to Constanța if you are there during the summer. If you are there during the winter or do not have much time to explore the country, skip forward to Travel Day 3. Constanța, the furthest east you can go on the train, has been a major port along the Black Sea for 2,000 years and has yielded some amazing archeological finds. It also has one of the most fantastic abandoned buildings you may find. There are numerous fast IC trains heading east every day costing roughly 60 Lei and taking about 2 hours. Once you get to Constanța you can either stay in the city or take one of the numerous public buses to the beach resorts nearby. You can do this detour at the end of your trip if you want to end your trip on the beach!
Travel Day 3
Once you have had some time off, jump back onto the train and head northwest to Brasov. While there is a direct train, it departs at 5 AM so it isn't ideal for most travellers. As an alternative, you can change in Bucharest for better departure times though they take an extra hour or so and cost a bit more. Either way, the journey should cost between 80-100 Lei which is not bad for the 6+ hour journey. The trains are not very luxurious but run on time and are often more convenient than buses.
Brasov is in the heart of some of the most gorgeous areas in Eastern Europe. Fairy tale towns surrounded by massive walls all at the base of snow-capped mountains. To add to it all, the constant threat of vampires hangs in the air! Give yourself a minimum of 3 full days in Brasov as at least one day will be spent heading out to Bran Castle by bus, while another may be spent a bit south at the stunning Peles Castle by train. Both of these day trips are covered on our Brasov page.
Travel Day 4
From Brasov, jump back onto the train for the 3-hour journey to Sighisoara- the birthplace of the real-life Dracula, Vlad Tepes. We strongly suggest sticking to the RE vs the IC train as the cost difference is massive compared to the time difference. Adding an extra 30 minutes to the journey reduces the price from 40 Lei to just 19!
Sighisoara has one of the finest examples of a Saxon fortified citadel in Transylvania. Once protected by an impenetrable wall and dozens of towers, 9 of these towers remain today. You should aim to spend at least 1 entire day here. Do yourself a favour and explore some of the cutest cobblestone streets lined with colorful houses that you will ever find. If you add another day, you may want to check out some of the fortified churches in the area such as Biertan. To get there, you can take a bus or train to Medias then another bus to Biertan, join a tour, or hire a private car for the day. To read more about Sighisoara, click here.
Recommended Pages to Visit:
Travel Day 5
Hop onto the train again for the few hour journey to Campia Turzii and then hop onto the bus to the town of Turda. Turda is home to the world-famous underground amusement park, Salina Turda, and the lesser-known Turda Gorge. Both are absolutely fantastic and are a must-do for any tour through Romania. While the price tag for Salina Turda is comparatively high, it is well worth descending hundreds of feet into a salt mine. If that is not enough for you, the air is apparently good for those with respiratory issues! There is even a health facility deep in the salt mine! Make sure to save some time to descend even further to the underground lake and rent a rowboat! You probably only need 1 day to see both the Gorge and the mine if you start the day early in the morning.
Travel Day 6
Recommended Pages to Visit:
Just 30 minutes by bus, is Cluj-Napoca- Romania's second-largest city home to a large airport with lots of low-cost carriers, a major train station, and one of the largest universities. The city is home to much of Romania's nightlife and is full of bars, cafes, and restaurants but we found it lacked things to see or do. Click here to read more about Cluj-Napoca.
The most popular attraction is Hoia Baciu Forest, a haunted forest full of bent trees, frequent reports of UFOs, and a circular clearing where nothing grows! You can get to the forest by bus, but be prepared to walk a distance to the entrance, or take an Uber for a more convenient alternative. We recommend spending only a day or two then jump back on the train south to Sibiu.
Travel Day 7
There are several trains to Sibiu per day, but most of them require a lengthy stopover. Usually, there is one evening train that is direct and takes roughly 4 hours though it is more expensive (40 Lei) than most of the others. This is our favourite city on this itinerary as Sibiu is the city that is always watching you. Many of the buildings in Sibiu have unique circular windows set into their roofs to provide ventilation for drying goods. These windows look like eyes that will follow you around during your time in the city. Wander around and find your favourite pair. The city also has several fantastic churches including Holy Trinity Cathedral one of the most colourful ones we have ever seen! Spend 2 days in the city to cover the majority of the walking streets in the historic district. To read more about Sibiu click here.