Romania : the beautiful, the cheap and the bumpy (the story)
January 1, 1970
This is the story of my two-week road trip in Romania. Most of the time we spend in the Transylvanian region, but we also visited the Black Sea. We’ve seen many beautiful places, and now it’s time to share 😉
Sovata is a little mountain village in Transylvania, famous for it lakes, mainly Lacul Ursu. The village has beautiful traditional looking houses as well as a hotel Danubius, part of the prestigious Danubius hotels franchise. Parking is possible in paid parking lots (or the side of the road, but you’ll have to pay there too).
There are a number of lakes in this little mountain village, but most famous of them (and the one I recommend visiting) is Lacul Ursu wich is supposed to look like a bear from above.
The heliothermic lake is recommended for its healing properties (women’s infertility, rheumatism or inflammation). Its water is warm and salty. To keep it in a good condition bathing is limited to only 6 hours daily, separated in two sessions: 10-13h and 15-18h. Between 13-15h there is a mandatory break which means that the visitors can stay in the beach but are not allowed to bathe. The lake is in visiting condition when the weather is nice enough, usually during july and august, maybe the beginning of september. The tickets are a bit pricey, we payed 20 lei for the student ones and 25 for the adults (per person). Even if you think that its too much for a maximum of 6 hour bathe, I still say: Visit it at least once in your lifetime. Might not be action packed but definitely a unique experience to float on the surface of this natural wonder. More information about the lake and the area here: lacul-ursu.ro (it’s in romanian as unfortunately most people in Romania don’t like to speak other languages).
After finished bathing it is recommended (by me) to have a nice walk around the other lakes too.
On the way home buy the best kürtős kalács (often translated as “chimney cake”). It is a sweet dough spiraled on a wooden cylindrical form, baked with a sugar coat over fire. My absolute favorite kind is the cinnamon one, after baking it gets a cinnamon sugar scattering after baking (these coatings are thin, so do not worry, your pastry probably won’t be too sweet). We had ours at this place (even the pillars look like kürtős kalács!)
There is a really popular salt mine near Turda (especially since they recently closed down the one in Praid due to safety reasons). So we made a little field trip there one day. Be prepared if you wanna go there, it is freaking cold! About 10-15 degrees Celsius (even during summer time), so bring some pretty warm clothing with you. Oh, and also salty raindrops are all over the place, so I recommend
not putting on your favorite pants and do not wash your hair just before this trip, like I did. A hood or a hat might come handy if you did. Wash your hair I mean, in contrast with what I just said.
Going to the salt mines are not just an interesting program, but a healthy one too (unless you catch a cold, haha). The word is, that the clean, salty air cleans out the lungs and helps with breathing problems, like asthma. There are a number of opportunities in the mine to yourself occupied. For example there are ping pong tables, mini-golf courts and a lake where you can rent a rowboat. Theres even a ferris-wheel inside!
If you’re not into these kinds of activities the mines also have a bathing option for the summertime, but I chose the mines, so I don’t really know what its like. I only know, that the water is supposed to be inside the old pits.
More info about the beach (and other options nearby) on this official website:
Cluj is a nice old city. It has a really historical feel to it as one walks downtown on the cobbled streets. In the centre are fine restaurants with pleasant outside terraces. The city has heaps of students because of the universities in Cluj, and this also means a better night life than a regular city would have. Than again I should know all about the night life, not because i studied there, but because our favorite festival takes place in this city. This was the second time for Untold festival and we liked it so much in 2015 that we we bought our tickets and hotel room as soon as it was possible (mid-october, beginning of november).
Untold Festival (Cluj Napoca)
The festival is kind of an electric music festival that usually last 4 days at the beginning of August. I believe that this is one of the most popular festivals in Romania, if not the most popular. This year it was from 4th till the 7th of august (which means that the party lasted until the small hours of the 8th). The event takes place in the center of Cluj in the freakishly adorable park. The park has a lake and a number of buildings for example a big sport stadium that is the main stage during the event.
The area is packed with the best street food trucks, there was a Salad Box, The donuterie (it is absolutely a must try!) and of course the bars (thankfully not last wasn’t up to the random entrepreneurs the bars were pretty much standard functioned by the organizers.) The prices were kind of similar to Budapest, maybe cheaper. Example prices: A big box of delicious salad did cost us 24 lei, 5 dl of beer was 8 or 9 lei (I am not sure of this one, but either way, its good for a festival), a shot was 12 lei and the long drinks were 16 lei.
The festival is really magical, I cannot make justice with words! It is clean, beautiful environment, bigass performers like Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Dimitri Vegas, Scooter, Tujamo, Martin Garrix and a lot of other talented musicians. Be prepared to have the time of your life if you visit the festival next year (I cannot wait to buy our tickets).
Mamaia is a unique 8 km long strip of land between the Black Sea and a big, green lake (Siuthgiol). This resort is the most popular in Romania and I see why. The sandy beaches, the comfortable sunbeds, the short distances and the mouth watering food options make this place into the perfect spot to relax. During daytime if one wants more than just rest on a sunbed and bathe in the sea there are other possibilities like renting a jet-ski, going on boat trips, visiting the amusement park or the Aqua Magic park. Not too far by car is located a small Zoo with a delfinarium inside for the unthinkable bad weather days.
In the evenings we usually took a walk on the long walkway. Actually half of this walkway can be done by gondola (chair-lift) which is about 3 km long and both the sea and the lake is visible from the air (at least at daytime it is).
On the way home we chose to go through the Fagaras Mountains on the famous Transfagarasan route. I must admit, the most breathtaking pictures were taken here (like the one that is the header of this blog). Given the extra time we got by sleeping in an Inn near the Transfagarasan we took a little longer route (which I only recommend in dry weather using a badass cross-country (we had a Dacia Duster and an excellent driver). The longer route ment that we went around the lake on dirt road which cost us an extra 2 hours. In exchange we got beautiful pictures 😉
I would have not minded those 2 hours, but by the time we got close to the top of the mountain a traffic jam has formed, that was a few kilometer long and cost us an extra 3 hour waiting. So at the end instead of the planned 8 hour road trip to Budapest we were traveling for 13 hours straight. So my advice would be: Do not cross the Fagaras during the weekend but if you do, do it early in the morning.
More photos and videos posted about this trip in my blog: anditravels.com.