5 Charms of a Winter Holiday in Romania


Winter is coming…but unlike the story from Game of Thrones, it brings holidays instead of monsters from the north. A winter holiday in Romania can have many faces. Which one will you choose for your journey? The powerful Queen or the medieval Enchantress? The protective Mother of Traditions, the fierce Mountain Goddess or the seductive Ice Princess? Pick your favorite for a trip where past and present dance together…


1. White cloaked fairytale castles lit up for the upcoming balls

There are 3 epic winter castles and 1 powerful Queen to rule them all…
In the distance, Bran Castle punctures the sky with its towers – a frozen giant starring at you from atop a rocky cliff. You see an old inn nearby, so you step inside for a mulled wine. Shortly, you hear a faded scream. Oh, it’s just the House of Horrors, located upstairs. After all, this is the “land of Dracula”. Later on, as you leave Hollywood fictions behind and head towards the castle, the eerie surroundings slowly take over you…


Winter in Romania Peles CastleOnly 170 miles away, Corvin Castle is preparing for the winter ball. Resembling Hogwarts, the massive structure is one of the greatest castles in Europe. Dazzled by the stunning architecture, you cross the drawbridge and head for the main hall. Dozens of candles, arched columns, people dressed up in medieval outfits, local cuisine and a band playing traditional music. Time to grab your costume – the feast is about to start!

Peles Castle is different. You’re on a carriage tour of the royal grounds when, suddenly, the majestic Palace reveals itself. Built as the private retreat for the royal family of Romania, it’s the first European castle entirely lit by electrical current. Once inside, you clearly see that everything spells luxury: golden chandeliers, walnut tree carvings, marble fountains, Venetian mirrors, secret chambers, the royal armory and many more.


2. Transylvania and its enchanted medieval cities during the winter holidays

During winter, Transylvania’s under the spell of a medieval Enchantress. You have the Romanians – crazy for traditions & festivals. You have 3 months of snow. Can you handle it? Winter is coming…


It’s 4 PM and it’s snowing. You’re standing atop the White Tower, admiring the entire citadel of Brasov – a medieval jewel at the feet of Mount Tampa: 4 gatehouses, 8 fortified bastions, cobblestoned narrow streets, craft guilds, charming street lamps or gothic churches. The cold air stirs the appetite so you head for a tavern.

Winter in Romania - Brasov


Night falls just as you finish eating. Outside, you walk into a different world where blazing lights enchant everything, including the Black Church. A large Christmas tree shines in the middle of the Council Square and a huge web of lights rests above the Christmas Market. Children in colorful costumes walk the streets singing local carols and merchants with medieval outfits offer hot Kurtos cakes, inviting you to boheme cafes…


That was just a bit of Brasov… Each medieval city has its own winter decorations, based on their unique flavor: majestic Alba Iulia and its star shaped citadel, Sibiu with its glorious architecture, Cluj-Napoca and its passion for arts or Sighisoara – the best preserved fortress of its kind in Europe. Visiting the Transylvanian cities during winter is like stepping back to medieval times of fairytales, legends and knighthood.


3. Living traditions frozen in time – winter in unique UNESCO villages

In the snowy highlands, The Mother of Traditions protects the ancient legacy of the Dacians, bringing to life customs and celebrations that look as if they were locked in time.


The cities may have their glamorous winter festivals but Romania’s real treasure lies with its traditions, surviving in the Carpathians for millennia. This isn’t about reenactments or fancy parades. It’s about eerie places where incredibly hospitable people actually live & thrive off the land. Places where celebrations & costumes are passed down from father to son. Places where past and present dance together…


Admiring the Maramures countryside from the comfort of your balcony, you notice a young boy on a black horse, galloping over the thin layer of snow. With that in mind, you head downstairs for lunch. The manor has the comfort and appliances of modern day, but all the decorations are handcrafted. A girl, dressed up in the local folk costume, brings the traditional “sarmale” and other goods on handmade ceramic plates.

Winter in Romania - Traditional dance


After a good meal, you hop in a horse drawn sleigh and the host takes you to Sapanta, the tallest wooden church in the world, or to the closest of its 8 UNESCO sisters. Traditions? You’ll encounter many. There’s a regional carol contest in mid-January, each village being represented by a group of young men carrying a distinctive flag. Until then, each band will be busy rehearsing, caroling unmarried girls from house to house or organizing “Hore” – village round dances where you can easily jump in!


Maramures isn’t the only place where “Romania never dies”. The Stone Land of Apuseni Mountains or the regions of Bucovina and Fagaras are just as beautiful and have their own stories. Traditions include “Plugusorul”, Masked Dances of the Bear, Stag & Goat or “The Dragobete” – local version of Valentine’s Day.


4. Balea – one of a kind alpine experience

The seductive Ice Princess walks on the rooftops of Fagaras, covering the alpine crests in shining diamonds. Her beauty is reflected over the glacier lake of Balea, enthralling the Ice Hotel’s tourists.


Winter in Romania - Balea Ice HotelYou just woke up and everything’s frozen: the table, the chairs and even the bed beneath you. Despite this, you feel warm & fuzzy. You head outside and the view leaves you breathless. You’re standing on an icy plateau, surrounded by steep mountains. Close by, there’s an ice church, ice restaurant & bar and several igloos.


That’s right – you’re at the one of a kind Balea Ice Hotel, one of the largest in Eastern Europe. The hotel is being rebuilt each year based on a different theme. Aside from its magnificent locations and excellent facilities, the hotel has its own winter park: snowmobiles, tubing, ski, snow zorbing, ice sculpting or skating over Balea Lake.


5. Mountain duality – adrenaline vs relaxation

The fierce Mountain Goddess is a tough breed, offering lots of adrenaline & excitement. Regardless, she has her ways of rewarding those with an active spirit, comforting them with her thermal waters.


Adrenaline. You need it. Medieval cities or ancient traditions may have their charm, but the wild Carpathians can also offer unforgettable thrills: heli ski, paragliding, ice climbing, hang gliding or bungee jumping.

Winter in Romania - Transalpina ski resort


Not everybody likes the extremes, but we all love having fun at the winter parks. For ski & snowboard, your best bets are Poiana Brasov (most complex ski resort in Romania), Transalpina Ski Resort (stunning views over Vidra Lake) or the Maramures resorts of Calnic, Borsa or Mogosa.


If you had enough snow for the day there’s another way to warm up, aside from mulled wine. At Baile Herculane, you’ll find outdoor baths with hot waters. Don’t worry about snowing – the steam will chase off the snowflakes. Sources of thermal waters & spa can also be found in resorts like Baile Tusnad, Felix or Sovata.


Which faces of the winter you’d like to see during your holiday in Romania?

If you’re reading this, then you’ve surely considered planning a trip to Romania. Still, which places would you choose? Can you have a bit of all? A tailor-made itinerary could be the best choice, so, hurry up and design your own holiday in Romania!


Request form - Unveil RomaniaDo you need help in organizing a customized, self-driven trip to Romania or would you rather rely on the assistance of a local guide to lead you?

Let us know of your travel plans by filling in our Request Form and one of our travel consultants will help you make the best decision!



Visit Transylvania – Lonely Planet’s top region for 2016


Lonely Planet announced their “Best in travel 2016” and the award for world’s No. 1 region to see went to Transylvania, Romania: fairy tale castles, enchanting medieval cities, natural wonders & forgotten traditions. Visit Transylvania today and live the legends of yesterday. Embark on a journey to a land where time stands still…



Vlad the Impaler - Visit TransylvaniaOften, Transylvania is associated with the name of Dracula – Bram Stoker’s fictional character who overshadows the existing jewels of this land. Therefore, “put the crucifix away and discard that bulb of garlic – you won’t be needing them in today’s Transylvania, which blows away stereotypes faster than the flapping wings of a bat out of hell” (Lonely Planet).


The man behind Dracula is Vlad Dracul the 3rd – Romanian prince of Wallachia. The name Dracul (Draco) comes from his father, a man invited in the Order of the Dragon by the Holy-Roman emperor to protect Christianity against the Ottomans. Vlad Dracul, known as “Son of Dragon” to his friends and “The Impaler” to his enemies, won several brilliant victories against the Ottoman Empire through grisly tactics. Today, you can visit his strategic Poenari Citadel, the famous Bran Castle or the house where he was born, located in the well preserved medieval town of Sighisoara.


When past & present dance together, time stands still

When was the last time you saw a real blacksmith, a woman weaving, wild horses or wood crafting? No, don’t speak of reenactments. Transylvania is an ancient land and, by leaving aside the modern thrills or medieval marvels, you’ll reach flourishing villages high in the mountains where people actually live & thrive off the land.


It all started in ancient times, with the Dacians & Romans…

Sarmisegetuza Visit TransylvaniaThe Dacians, the ancestors of Romanians, ruled over a vast kingdom and established their capital at Sarmizegetusa, in Transylvania. Build over 2000 years ago and currently UNESCO site, the citadel’s ruins can still be admired today. Dacia fought Rome for almost 2 centuries, winning several key battles and even forcing the Romans into paying tribute. After 2 major campaigns, Rome finally seized Sarmizegetusa and partially conquered today’s Transylvania. Although Roman reign was brief, it left behind cities that stand proud up to this very day, with Alba Iulia or Cluj Napoca being the most important.


Today, certain traditions, costume decorations and celebrations still resemble those of the Dacians, while mouthwatering dishes can be cooked only with what the land has to offer. Even though horses and carts still rumble through the wooded countryside, they are currently sharing the roads with Uber cabs ferrying visitors to chic Airbnb lodgings.


 The Cities – modern meets medieval

Alba Iulia – capital of Roman Dacia and seat of the XIII Gemina Legion. Capital of medieval Transylvania. The place where the modern state of Romania was born. Today, the city’s reconditioned Vauban Citadel hosts international festivals and reenactments of legendary battles.

Sibiu Romania Visit Transylvania

Cluj Napoca
– a city founded by Romans and currently considered an “art city of the future” (Phaidon). It’s also the youth capital of Romania, hosting major universities along with innovative pubs & clubs.


Brasov: founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211 on top of a Dacian site, it was later on settled by Saxons. Laying at the feet of Mount Tampa, its medieval core is very well preserved and comprises bastions, fortifications, a myriad of cobbled streets and the famous Gothic Black Church. The numerous restaurants, bohemian cafes or clubs attract nightlife lovers rather than vampire hunters.


Sighisoara – UNESCO protected Saxon citadel and the best preserved of its kind in Europe. The moment you step in, it burns into your memory and makes you wonder whether it’s all just a dream: narrow streets, colorful 16th century houses, craft guilds, the Clock Tower and many more. The city hosts the International Sighisoara Medieval Festival – a display of battle reenactments, craftsmanship or concerts. Two words: time travel.


♦ Villages – tales from the past

Biertan Visit Transylvania

In Transylvania there are 150 fortified Saxon churches & villages, usually around 800 years old.  Currently, 7 villages are listed as UNESCO sites. By visiting them, you’ll feel like a kid entering a fairy-tale land. A few good hints: Biertan, Saschiz, Prejmer, Valea Viilor or Viscri. The latter is famous for being promoted by Prince Charles of Wales, who even bought a traditional house in this timeless place.


♦ Castles – gatekeepers of Transylvania

The Carpathian Mountains have blessed Transylvania by surrounding it with their might and acting as natural protectors. Regardless, the passageways represent the only weak spots and those are the places for some of the greatest castles you’ve seen: Bran Castle (Dracula), Corvin (Huniade), Bethlen-Haller, Fagaras or Rasnov.


♦ Wildlife –the last corner of Europe where you find complete resilience” (Prince Charles)

Outside towns & villages, all eyes are on Transylvania’s endless meadows, forests and fang-toothed predators: wolves, lynx and brown bears. There are more brown bears in the Carpathians than in the whole Europe altogether. Several projects are underway, doing their best to protect them. With the recent reintroduction of bison in the land, opportunities for wildlife watching are sure to become even richer.


Plan a trip to Transylvania!


Tailor made itineraries to RomaniaPrepare for a journey back in time to discover both the hidden gems and the most popular attractions, all in a tailor-made holiday to Transylvania! Whether you prefer a self-driven trip or a guided tour, plan your trip with us and explore wonderful Romania.

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Bucharest day trip - Transylvania CastlesYou can also book a predefined day-trip from Bucharest and explore a king’s palace (Peles), a vampire’s castle (Bran) and a Teutonic city (Brasov). Make the most out of your day and pick a quick getaway!

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Visit Transylvania today and live the legends of yesterday!