Romania’s so much more than Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. If you’re wondering what Romania is known for, you’ve landed on the right page.
Romania’s famous for its castles, monasteries, salt mines, and beautiful towns like Brasov and Sibiu. Its also known for its beautiful landscapes from the Carpathian Mountains to the Black Sea.
This is just scratching the surface of this beautiful and unique country. Come and find out more about 20 things that Romania is famous for!
Think of what Romania is famous for, and I guarantee that the first things that came to mind were heavy Transylvanian accents, Dracula, and spooky castles.
Bram Stoker’s famous character came to life in the late 1800s and details the vampire’s history and his lust for young, beautiful women.
For anyone who doesn’t know the full story, Dracula lives in Bran Castle, near Brasov, and is the mortal enemy of Jonathon Harker and his wife Mina. Bran Castle is one of the most recognizable structures in Transylvania. It’s visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Get your hands on an original copy of Dracula from one of the libraries located in Brasov and sink your teeth into this (fictional!) history of Transylvania.
2. Vlad the Impaler
Dracula might be the most famous Romanian personality in literature. But did you know that he was based on a real person? Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler, was a Prince of Wallachia who lived in Brasov in the 15th century.
Vlad III was famous for his blood-thirsty way of disposing of his enemies, which earned him his famous nickname. The title for Vlad III was ‘Prince of Dracul’, or in old Romanian, ‘Draculea’ – hence, Dracula!
While Bran Castle is known as the home of Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian prince never lived there. He was born in Sighisoara in 1431 and had residences all through Wallachia (today known as Transylvania).
Today you can visit the famous Romanian monument of this national hero in Teres.
3. Pork-based meals
Romania is famous for its meat-heavy comfort food. Pork is the most common ingredient in traditional dishes. As the old Romanian saying goes, “Pork is the best vegetable.”
For some traditional cuisine, the national dish of Romania is sarmale, or cabbage leaves stuffed with spiced pork mince.
Try mititei, a skinless pork mince sausage and one of Romania’s most well-known street foods. The more adventurous eaters can indulge in Tochitură, a Romanian stew made with pork, kidney, and liver.
If you’re a vegetarian like me, don’t despair! Mamarglia (polenta), pickles, and fried cheeses are popular street foods served year-round by street vendors. They are warming, hearty, and delicious.
4. Nadia Comaneci
Nadia Comaneci is not only one of the most famous Romanian athletes, but also the world’s most famous gymnast. She is the first gymnast to ever be awarded a perfect score of 10 – a feat she achieved at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976.
The five-time Olympic Gold medalist has inspired many young Romanian boys and girls to take up gymnastics, and Romania continues to perform well on the international stage.
5. The world’s longest love poem
Written by Mihai Eminescu in 1845, ‘Evening Star’ is the world’s longest love poem.
In 98 stanzas, this romantic Romanian epic describes the love between the Evening Star (Luceafarul) and a young girl who prays to him every night. He eventually falls in love with her, and is willing to give up his immortality, but realizes that his love can’t survive in the human world.
Copies of the poem are available in the original script in the Bucharest Great Library for viewing; make an appointment to visit and see this important piece of history!
6. The Parliament Palace
The Palace of the Parliament, in downtown Bucharest, is the world’s largest administrative building.
This famous construction was left behind by the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu and is a seriously popular tourist attraction all year round.
Take a guided tour of the magnificent marble halls and learn more about the history behind the building and the Communist era of Romania.
7. Most expensive newspaper in the world
Romania is famous for holding many world records – some of them quite unexpected! The most expensive newspaper in the world was the ‘Auroch and the Eagle’.
It was first printed in Iași in the 18th century, and the last issue went to print in 1858. Copies today are so rare, that the last issue sold for over 830,000 Euros in Bucharest in 2006.
The issue was temporarily returned to Romania in 2008 as part of the World Philatelic Exhibition in Romexpo Bucharest. It now resides in Israel.
8. Some of the world’s greatest inventions
This might seem hard to believe, but it’s true – Romania is responsible for some of the world’s biggest inventions!
If you’ve ever used a fountain pen, needed insulin, or driven a modern car, you have Romanian inventors to thank!
Names like Ana Aslan, Aurel Persu and Henri Coanda are some of the greatest scientific minds to have come from the region, and the world still uses many of their discoveries to this day.
9. The closest language to Latin
Even though Latin is a dead language, if you want to hear something similar, just listen to Romanians speak!
The Romance language is considered to be the closest living language to Latin. It’s elegant and poetic in its rhythm.
The Bucharest Museum has an amazing seasonal exhibit that shows off old Romanian scripts and parchments that will excite the history buff in you!
10. The Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountain ranges are the second-largest in Europe, and are a haven for wolves, brown bears and silver foxes. Home to some of the last virgin forests on the continent, the Carpathian mountains are the wildest places in Romania, and an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
Romania is famous for its incredible hiking and skiing with the backdrop of these magnificent ranges. Climb or drive up the mountainside for jaw-dropping views over the Romanian landscape.
11. The Black Sea
For a well-known Romanian adventure, a trip to the Black Sea is a must-do.
Visit Plaja Vudu for a unique Romanian Black Sea experience. The beach is one of the last pristine beaches in Romania, as everything else has been developed.
Surrounded by beautiful poppy fields, the golden sands of Plaja Vudu stretch for miles. Make sure that you’re packed properly for your trip, as there are no towns within 30 miles for replenishing your snacks.
If you want something more touristy, try Plaja Corbu. This well-known beach is located near the tourist resorts of Mamaia and Navodari. It has the most perfect water for snorkeling and swimming in Romania.
12. Turda Salt Mines
Turda Salt Mines are one of the oldest salt mines in the world, and one of the things that Romania is most well-known for. Use of the mines traces back over 2000 years, with shafts dug up to 70 feet below the surface for extraction.
Located near Cluj, in Transylvania, the mine fell into disuse in 1932, and was used as an aircraft shelter during World War II.
This magnificent cavern couldn’t be ignored for too long and has since been converted into a giant amusement park 60ft below the surface. The mines feature a Museum of Contemporary Art, a Ferris Wheel, and even a spa if you feel in need of rejuvenation.
13. Painted Monasteries of Bukovina
Nestled in the corner of Bukovina, the painted monasteries are one of the things Romania is most famous for. These vibrant monasteries were built from 1487 to 1585 by Moldovian princes like Stefan cel Mare to give gratitude for victories in battle.
Like many structures of the times, these monasteries and their accompanying churches were painted to teach the Bible to the largely illiterate populations.
The unique structures are only found in this small corner of the world and tell a vivid tale of a fleeting period of Romanian history. Surrounded by thick beech forest and wild mountains, the Painted Monasteries of Bukovina are a classic symbol of Romania and its heritage.
UNESCO finally recognized the monasteries as having value beyond measure, and inscribed several to the World Heritage List in 1993.
14. Sighișoara Citadel
If you visit Romania, a visit to this famous Romanian castle should be top of your list.
Located in the medieval town of Sighișoara, this UNESCO-listed heritage site overlooks the Danube and has some incredible history. The entire interior is covered in historical artifacts.
Stand on the parapets of the citadel and watch as the world passes you by (and don’t forget to take some photos).
After you’ve visited the citadel, take your time and wander through the fabulously colored streets on cobblestones that have been there since the 13th century.
For an extra special experience, visit during winter for spectacular views as Sighisoara turns into a gingerbread town dusted with snow.
Transylvania is easily Romania’s most famous region because of its association with Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. However, the region is also home to spectacular rugged landscapes, beautiful castles, and cities steeped in history.
The most well-known Transylvanian cities are Sibiu, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca and Alba Iulia, and many tourists will venture to medieval towns like Sighisoara and Sebes to step back in time.
Venture into one of these cities and you’ll immediately notice the authenticity. Ancient buildings stand next to new structures, and history has been so well preserved because of Romania’s Heritage Preservation Act.
Choose to stay in a hostel located in an old citadel, or visit an ancient castle just outside of city limits.
Located right in the center of the country, Brasov is possibly Romania’s best-known city after Bucharest. Brasov’s charm and history make it a must-visit for anyone traveling around Romania.
Known for its medieval city walls, the unmistakable Black Church and vibrant nightlife, Brasov is beautiful in any season.
Make a visit to the Piaţa Sfatului (Council Square) and take in the colorful buildings surrounding the ancient cobblestones. You can also indulge your curiosity and visit the Casa Sfatului – the old town hall, now a famous local history museum.
17. Danube Delta
The Danube Delta is one of the most famous things Romania is known for. The largest of Europe’s River deltas, the Danube Delta is known worldwide for its beauty and biodiversity.
This UNESCO-protected site is home to over 320 species of riverbirds, 40 species of freshwater fish, and many varieties of unique plants found nowhere else in the world.
Relax by the banks of the Danube Delta and soak in the natural scenery with a good book – maybe even Dracula!
Like many Eastern European countries, Romania is well-known for its communist past.
The Socialist Republic of Romania existed between 1947 and 1989, coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the last Communist leader – Nicolae Ceausescu.
The Romanian Revolution was a period of violent unrest in December 1989, sparking a chain of events that led to the execution of Ceausescu and his wife on Christmas Day. Early protests were sparked by the attempted eviction of prominent religious figure László Tőkés, and created vehement objections that toppled the regime.
If you visit Timisoara, make sure to check out the Romanian Museum of the Communist Consumer. This unique museum displays goods from the ‘golden age’ that were available for purchase and showcases how Romanians lived under Communism. You can also see the famous Romanian monument depicting naked political prisoners in the prison yard of Sighetu Prison in Sighetu Marmației.
19. Gheorghe Hagi
When you think of well-known Romanian athletes, the name ‘Gheorghe Hagi’ definitely comes to mind! Hagi was one of the most famous attacking midfielders in the Euroleague during the 80s and 90s. He’s still a cult figure in Romania today.
Visit the Steaua fan store to see the bronze statue of Hagi and learn more about the football legend who is still called ‘The King’ by soccer fans today.
20. National parks
One thing Romania is famous for is its wild natural beauty! A huge part of the country is covered in untouched wilderness, and Romania has 14 national parks designed to preserve that pristine environment.
From the Danube Delta in the east to the Bigar Waterfall in the west, Romania’s national parks all have natural and man-made attractions perfect for any explorer.
If you want an all-in-one national park experience, you should visit Buila-Vanturarita. The smallest of Romania’s national parks, this glorious reserve is a picturesque cluster of mountains, rivers, caves, and waterfalls. Visit during the springtime for a vibrant haven of rare wildflowers like the Martagon Lily and Viola Alpine.
So that’s 20 things that Romania is known and famous for! Did we miss anything? Do you have another favorite that should have made the list? Share it in the comment box below!