Visiting a foreign country is always fun during summer. You get to see the hottest spots, the day is pretty long and you can pack light. Winter, oh well…Winter is a different story altogether. In Romania, however, there’s plenty to do in both seasons. And, if you’re planning to visit Romania, my home country, take this rookie guide with you and tick all my favorite spots!
A fairy tale castle on Fairy Valley
Only a couple of years have passed since this clay castle emerged in the hearth of Fagaras Mountains, but tourists flock to the area to see it from outside. And, no wonder, the astonishing views you can snap from here will send your Instagram followers into overdrive. The owners, a couple from Bucharest, wanted to build something using only organic materials. They hired an architect and so the story begins. The construction will be, at a certain point, a hotel. For now only the exterior and some small rooms can be visited, but since the place is close enough to the bigger and more history-filled Sibiu, it’s well worth a visit.
A hotel completely carved from Ice
Sweden has one, Quebec has one, Norway and Finland have plenty. But if you happen to visit Romania, Balea Lac Ice Hotel, with it’s temperatures below 0 degrees, will almost certainly be the coolest place you’ll ever stay. It has a restaurant, a bar and…hey, it even has it’s own ice church. Every year artists renew the double rooms of the hotel and the igloos around it. And, not very far away, the Voineasa Ski Resort offers great conditions for winter sports also. Can’t get bored.
A place where you can ski, paraglide or pilot an airplane
But if you are looking for the perfect skiing winter park, then Poiana Brasov must be that place. And not only as an exquisite ski resort, but also for the adrenaline rush you can get here. Paragliding tandems are easy to get here and so are trips with small airplanes. The entire region is filled with pilots and prices are extremely affordable. Not to mention that old Transylvanian villages surround the area and can be spotted from the air.
An aristocrat and opulent summer residence, who can’t get enough of winter
If you are on your way to the King’s retreat in Sinaia, there is no way you won’t stumble upon the picture-perfect summer residence of the Cantacuzino family, who just received a makeover. The castle, built back in 1911, suffered a great deal of damage during the Communist period, but now functions as a full time art gallery as well as a chic restaurant. You can take a tour and then spoil yourself with a delicious coffee on the terrace. Even if it’s a little bit cold during winter days, the landscape makes it worthwhile.
The tallest cross in the world placed on a mountain peak
High, on the Caraiman Peak, there is a monument you can see from dozens of kilometers away. 36 meters tall and easy accessible if you love to hike, the Heroes’ Cross was built between 1926 and 1928 to commemorate the railway employees who fought in WWI. The monument, made of metal parts, has an embroidered pattern and a breathtaking view over the entire Prahova Valley. When the snow is not so high and the weather is not foggy a funicular runs all the way to Bucegi Plateau. From here you can walk your way to this Guinness Book summit cross. The hike gets a bit difficult when a lot of snow has fallen and the narrow path can be closed.
So, since there is no better use for money than traveling, give this small country a chance to make another fan. We have winter, and it is here to stay for a while 🙂