Archives 2016

Five winter hiking trails in Bucegi mountains

Skiing is very much talked about among winter sports enthusiasts in Romania, but there are many other ways to enjoy breathtaking mountain views and working out outdoor. Hiking during wintertime is a great alternative for those who don’t know how to ski or prefer discovering places, a slower pace and a bigger freedom to move.

Here are 4 wintertime trails in Bucegi, the most popular mountain area in Romania. The Bucegi mountains have the densest network of marked hiking routes: 39 approved trails, most of them accessible during the cold season.

1. Trail: Sinaia (900 m) – Poiana Stanei (1270 m) – Sinaia
Marking: blue stripe
The trail length is about 2 – 2 ½ hours.

2. Trail: Gura Diham (987 m) – Poiana Izvoarelor (1455 m) (red stripe)
Poiana Izvoarelor – Diham tourist cottage (1320 m ) (blue cross & red dot)
Diham tourist cottage – Saua Baiului (1363 m ) – Gura Diham (blue triangle)
Marking: red stripe, blue cross, red dot, blue triangle
The trail length is about 4 – 5 hours.

3. Trail: Sinaia, Cota 2000 – Piatra Arsă tourist cottage (1950 m) (yellow stripe)
Piatra Arsa tourist cottage – Pestera Hotel (1610 m) (blue stripe)
Pestera Hotel – Padina tourist cottage (1509 m) (red stripe)
Marking: yellow stripe, blue stripe, red stripe
The trail length is about 4 – 4 ½ hours.

4. Trail: Padina tourist cottage (1509 m) – Saua Laptici (1830 m) – Valea Dorului tourist cottage (1820 m) – Mioriţa (1987 m) – Cota 1400 (red stripe)
The trail length is about 4 – 4 ½ hours.
Marking: red stripe

5. Trail: Cota 2000 – Babele
Marking : yellow stripe
The trail starts in Sinaia, Cota 2000 and ends in Babele (from where you can take the gondola for Busteni). The trail length is about 2 – 2 ½ hours.

When hiking during wintertime, make sure you have complete equipment including a map, adequate winter boots & waterproof clothes, a back pack, a headlamp, a first aid kit, a thermos bottle, food and sweets. Before heading out to the mountains, you may also want to pack trekking sticks, snowshoes and sun glasses.

Păltiniș, the oldest ski resort in Romania

The ski season is opening in Romania and winter sports fans are starting to plan their weekends away on mountain resorts in the Carpathians. If you are one of them, make sure you visit the oldest ski resort in Romania, located 32 km away from Sibiu, in Cindrel mountains. Since 1894, thanks to altitude of 1442 m, Păltiniș is the highest ski resort where tourists can enjoy the longest winter sports period.

Păltiniș is known to have ski slopes of medium and light difficulty, artificial snow and even a snow fun park. Enthusiasts will find here the newest slope complex in Romania, Arena Platoș, and several ski slopes with various degrees of difficulty: Oncești 1, Oncești 2, Păltiniș Dealul Poplăcii, Păltiniș Santa, Păltiniș Dăneasa, Oncești Păltiniș and DăujoaraPăltiniș. Located on Poiana Poplăcii plateau, 1 km away from Păltiniș at an altitude of 1400 m in Cindrel mountains, the Arena Platoș complex has five slopes for winter sports, equipped with four cable transport installations, snow cannons, nocturnal area, rentals center, ski and snowboard school and an Austrian après ski bar. For more details on the slopes and the rest of the facilities in Arena Platoș, visit their well organized website (English version available).

What makes Păltiniș a must-visit mountain resort is also the weather phenomenon common here, the temperature inversion. In days when it takes place, one can see a truly charming vue: beyond the sea of clouds down in the depression, appear the peaks of Făgăraș mountains to the east, Rodnei mountains to the north-east and Apuseni mountains to the north-west. At sunset, the Vălare area offers a wonderful scenery as well, over Sibiu and Făgăraș mountains.

A tourist attraction worth visiting is Schitul (hermitage), a wooden church built in the 1920s where the famous Romanian philospher Constantin Noica was buried. Noica’s memorial house is located in Păltiniș and can also be visited.


How to get there

By car: From Sibiu, take the county road DJ 106 A (32 km)

By train: you can get only to Sibiu, as Păltiniș has no train station




Address: 1 Strada Pricipala (Main Street), Păltiniș, Sibiu county

Phone:+40 269 215 000




Address: DJ106A, Sibiu county

Phone: +40374 905 090



Bujorul de munte Guesthouse

Address: Poiana Poplăcii – Platoş area, DJ 106 A FN, Poplaca village, Sibiu county

Phone: +40722-193055


Divan Group opens new Greek restaurant in Bucharest

Divan Group, the owner Bucharest restaurants Divan, Divan Express and Meze Taverna, opened the Greek restaurant Kuzina.

The new venue is meant to serve the offices in the Barbu Vacarescu area of the capital and comes with its own store retailing Greek specialties, and a wine cellar. The restaurant, which can seat 95 people, was designed by architect Cristian Corvin, who also worked on the other venues of the group.

The menu of the place includes the beef meat dish Gyro Kavurma. A range of Greek and Mediterranean products can be purchased at the store of the restaurant, including orange comfiture, olive oil, Greek cheeses and balsamic vinegar with a special flavor, kept in a barrel made of chestnut tree wood.

Divan Group is run by businessman Andrei Iușut, and operates on the Bucharest market. The group has two fast-food restaurants under the Divan Express brand, the Turkish restaurant Divan, the Greek restaurant Meze Taverna and the tourism agency AA Travel.

Photo: Corvin Cristian

Rimetea: the village where the sun rises twice

It is considered to be the most beautiful village in Transylvania and there is a legend saying that here, in Rimetea, the sun rises twice.

Half of the little over 300 houses have been restored, thanks to a funding program that helped turning it from an ancient mining village to a charming and successful agro-touristic region. Over 75% of the tourists coming here are foreigners and their number keeps growing from one year to another, attracted by the beauty of the wild landscape, traditional architecture and the locals’ hospitality.

Due to conservation efforts, Rimetea was awarded the European Commission’s Europa Nostra Award for the conservation of the material cultural heritage and, earlier, the village was designated a protected architectural and urban area. The oldest heritage sites are the two fortifications, one from the Latène age and the other from the medieval age, prior to the Mongol invasion. Most of heritage buildings date from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

What to see in Rimetea

Anyone can enjoy a stroll to discover the architectural beauty of traditional secular buildings (houses, stables, workshops etc.) spread from the center of the village to the outskirts. The oldest house in the village is the home of a miner, built in 1668 and renovated after 2004.

Rimetea also has the oldest working water mill in the region (over two centuries old). A small blacksmith’s workshop still stands next to the mill structure.

Tourists can also visit the Unitarian Church in the center of the historic town and the main square. Built on the site of a medieval church between 1780 and 1804, its oldest part is the tower enlarged in 1670.

The ethnographic museum in Rimetea has an impressive collection of over 11.000 objects exhibited in only 5 rooms, reflecting what used to be the main occupations of the inhabitants of the area: mining, metallurgy and woodworking.

Visitors shouldn’t leave out the village’s cemetery established at the beginning of the eighteenth century, a record of the development of folk art in the village and a unique place in Romania, as some tombs are carved into the rock.

What to do in Rimetea and nearby

Throughout the year, tourists come to admire local architecture, enjoy the taste of traditional cuisine and the locals’ hospitality.

Around the end of February, on the Saturday before the start of the Easter Fast or the Great Fast, villagers celebrate Shrove Tuesday (“lăsatul secului de carne” in Romanian) through a ”fărșang” (“farsang” in Hungarian) – a carnival whose main event is a ritual procession, a burlesque of the burial of winter, symbolizing the chase off of evil spirits. The fărșang is specific to Catholic and Protestant communities in Transylvania and is the equivalent of carnival in Catholic and Protestant countries.

During the warm season, Rimetea is a great destination for hiking, climbing and air sports, especially paragliding. Other sites nearby worth visiting are the Colţeşti Fortress (or Trascăului Fortress) built in 1296 in the neighbouring village Colţeşti, Piatra Secuiului – a limestone massif divided into two parts by a ravine which makes the sun, from May to September, to actually rise twice for people living in the north of Rimetea, Cheile Vălișoarei – the gateway to Trascăului depression and home to 27 caves (the longest is 134 m) – and the famous Salina Turda salt mine, nominated in 2014 by Business Insider as the most beautiful underground place in the world (read more about Salina Turda here).

How to get there

Rimetea is located in Alba County on DJ107M county road.

Getting there by car:
– from Cluj (less than one hour drive): take the E60 road from Cluj to Turda, follow DN1/E81 to DN75 in Mihai Viteazu, take the DN75 exit from DN1/E81 and follow DN75 and DJ107M to Rimetea,
– from Sibiu (about 1h 40 minutes): take the A1 road to Aiud and then continue on DJ107M to Rimetea,
– from Bucharest (about 5 ½ hours): take the E81 road from Bucharest to Sibiu and follow the route Sibiu – Rimetea above.

New ice skating rink opens in Bucharest

The first privately-owned ice skating rink opened in Bucharest this week. The rink, which was developed by the Ion Tiriac Foundation, is located on the Drumul Garii Odai St., in Otopeni.

The rink, called Telekom Arena, was built to international Olympic and International Hockey Federation standards .

The new rink has a total surface of 4,863 sqm, can seat 500 people and has 70 parking spaces, according to The rink cost EUR 3.6 million to build. It is meant to be the first arena in a larger sports complex that the former tennis player Ion Tiriac plans to build on a 20 hectares site in Otopeni. It is the first ice skating rink built in the Bucharest – Ilfov area in the past 64 years and the only one open after the Mihai Flamaropol one closed down in 2013.


Bucharest, a sparkling European city to see this Christmas

Bucharest’s University Square has been likened to a winter wonderland at Christmas time by the portal in a list of “14 sparkling European cities you have to see at Christmas time.”

Romania’s capital has made the list alongside Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Madrid or Rome.

The Christmas lights in the city were turned on by Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea on December 1st, the country’s National Day. The Bucharest Christmas Market opened the same day in Constitutiei Square.

Read more about the list of sparkling European cities at

Cismigiu: the city’s oldest public garden

The oldest public garden in the capital, the Cismigiu Park is one of the city’s most accessible and popular sites. Listed as one of the city’s historical monuments, it is landscaped similar to English parks, with a varied vegetation and colorful flower beds.

The history of the park begins in 1779 when local ruler Alexandru Ipsilanti ordered the construction of two fountains in the city. (In Romanian a cismea is a type of fountain and a possible start for the formation of the name of the park.) The first one was built on the side of the park which today faces the Stirbei Voda Street, and nearby the Dura the Merchant’s lake could be found. It is the lake that later took on the Cismigiu name. The lake used to flood the city frequently and in 1830 the general Pavel Kiseleff ordered the pond to be drained and turn the land into a public garden. The works take place only in 1847 when landscaper Wilhelm Mayer, the former director of the Vienna Imperial Gardens is called to work on the project with the help of gardener Franz Harer. In 1852 the garden received its first surrounding fence and various other improvements and it was officially inaugurated in 1854.

The winter of 1883 saw the lake freeze and the first ice-skating contests organized here. The same year the park was further enlarged and the statues of Romanian writers were placed here as well as the other monuments or statues, among which the marble one remembering the French soldiers who fought in the World War I. Another distinctive place inside the gardens are the ruins of a monastery built by boyar Vacarescu in 1756, another reminder of the age of the place and its endurance through the years.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Romanian wall-carpet craftsmanship included on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The wall-carpet craftsmanship in Romania and the Republic of Moldova has been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Romanian Culture Ministry announced. With the inclusion, the universal value of traditional wall-carpet weaving techniques is recognized, as well as their role in enriching cultural diversity and human creativity.

According to the craft’s presentation on the UNESCO’s website, wall carpets made by weavers in Romania and the Republic of Moldova have served various functions: decorative ones, an insulation one, and they were also part of a bride’s dowry. Based on the motifs woven, they could also indicate where the weaver was from. At funerals they symbolized a passage for the soul to the hereafter.

The craft was passed in villages from grandmothers or mothers to the girls, while in cities it could be learned in craft centers, associations, colleges or museums.

Five other Romanian traditions are currently on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Căluş ritual, the traditional song Doina, the craftsmanship of Horezu ceramics, the Christmas-time ritual of men’s group Colindat (caroling), and the lad’s dances.

Photo: Ministry of Culture of Romania/

Bucharest wellness and spa complex opens new area for families

Therme Bucharest, the biggest wellness and spa complex in Romania, is expanding its Galaxy area with a new 4,000-sqm space dedicated to families, regardless of their children’s age.

The new area has a salt library, a playground with 14 Playstation consoles, three thematic wet saunas, and 20 infrared beds. It will include the largest Himalaya salt construction in Europe, with 40 tons of salt having gone into its construction. The library will have around 150 books and ebooks.

The complex currently has three areas, namely Galaxy, The Palm, and Elysium, which can host about 4,000 people simultaneously.

Read more about the expansion at

Alba Iulia, history at the heart of Romania

Alba Iulia is a tourist destination many may have never heard much of, but this up and coming tourist spot will definitely see increasing interest in the future. It’s time to plan a trip there before it gets too crowded. Most travelers go there with low expectations, but end up in awe and decide to revisit.

What the majority know about Alba Iulia relates to its rich history – this is the place where the great 1918 Union took place, which makes the city commonly referred to as the other capital city. But only a few people know about the Alba Carolina citadel, which now, after the restoration with EU and private money, looks stunning. The citadel and the relaxed feel of the city will definitely turn Alba Iulia into a tourist magnet.

It’s the heritage that makes this city a must-include-in-my-holiday destination, but it’s not only that. The main attraction is the Vauban fortress called Alba Carolina, and a trip around the citadel – which should be guided, otherwise you’ll miss a lot of stuff – is a trip through Romania’s history, back to the Dacian and Roman settlements, to the Habsburg citadel in the star-shaped configuration designed by the French engineer Marshal Vauban. Should you need a guided tour, the place to ask for one is the Museum of History (where the Union Hall is also located), where they can organize tailored tours, depending on how much time you have. They’re talented story tellers too – the museum director Gabriel Rustoiu is one of them.

The Vauban fortress was built between 1715-1738 after the Habsburg conquest of Transylvania, and it looks great restored. The seven gates of the star–shaped fortress are a tour in themselves, and what sets them apart from other Vauban–type fortresses are the decorations that are still present on the majority of them.

But the history of the place goes further back in time: this was the place where King Michael the Brave unified the three Romanian provinces for the first time (and for a short time) in 1600. Later on, in the 20th century, this was the reason the city was chosen for the Great Union of 1918. To this end, the Union Hall within the Union Museum is a must see. Later on in 1922, King Ferdinand and Queen Maria were crowned in Alba Iulia, at the Orthodox Cathedral, which was built for this occasion. A rarity to see an Orthodox Cathedral so close to a Catholic one, which had been on the site since the year 1000 – and yet they ‘live’ together in the Alba Iulia fortress.

There are several palaces that need to be visited – so book at least a day for your tour of the fortress. You will be impressed by the attention to detail and by the local authorities’ understanding of the need for entertainment. If you visited other citadels in Romania and found it a bit boring, it might not be the case here. From the guards dressed in historic costumes who perform a change of guard ritual every day and fire the cannons on Saturdays at noon, to the photo magnet statues located here and there in the fortress, everything creates a positive experience.

The fortress is a lively place, especially if you happen to visit while they organize one of their frequent cultural events. But even apart from that, a lot people from down the city spend time there, a lot of them biking and mixing with tourists. The change of the guard is also very popular among tourists and locals alike, and so is the new Roman guard the Museum of History has put together – people dressed in Roman army costumes, performing their ritual during the evening.

The city itself is very quiet and perfect for de-stressing, as it is not on the main transport route, like the nearby Sebeș is, so chances are high you will enjoy a stress–free weekend. There’s plenty accommodation available – check below for our recommendations.

While in Alba Iulia, there are several other destinations apart from the citadel. One is the Râmetului Gorge, which was an adventure in itself and a must try for those who like adrenaline and a bit of climbing – it’s good for beginners as well.

Once the highway being built to reach Sebeș is finished, it will be even easier to get to Alba Iulia from Bucharest, but even so, on the Bucharest – Pitești – Râmnicu Vâlcea and then the Olt Valley route, it takes about five hours to travel the 350 kilometers before reaching Alba Iulia. The road there is good, although in some areas only just acceptable, but scenery on the Olt Valley is so beautiful that you’ll ignore some bumps in the road. If you have time, stop at the Cozia monastery in Căciulata, just at the entry to the Olt Valley.

On your way back to Bucharest you can take a slightly longer route via the Jiului Valley and make a stop at the famous Sarmizegetusa Regia Dacian site in Hunedoara county. Then head back to Hunedoara and Petroșani to enter the beautiful Jiului Valley. In 2013, the road was closed for repairs three days a week, on Tuesday, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, so better check before planning the route.

By Corina Chirileasa

A trip to Little Vienna

For a weekend or more, Timișoara is a city worth discovering for its diversity, history and lively arts and culture life. This is the city where the Romanian revolution of 1989 started and the one that holds the title of European Capital of Culture in 2021. And the one often called “Little Vienna,” for its heritage of Secessionist architecture.

The city standing on the northern bank of the Bega River is the third largest in western Romania and its presence is first recorded in 1212. The city was built on the site of ancient Roman fortress Castrum Regium Themes and its first fortress was Castrum de Tymes, built by the Hungarian Crown. In time, the city welcomed the most diverse cultural influences: Turkish, Austrian, German and Serbian.

A tour of Timișoara can start in Piața Libertății (The Freedom Square), which hosts the Viennese Baroque sculpture Mary-Nepomuk. The monument was transported from Vienna, by water, in 1756. It was started by Rapahel Donner and finished by Wasserburger and Blimm. Also in Piața Libertății stands the Timişoara Garrison Command and the Military Casino, a late Baroque building with rococo influences. The Old City Hall is another landmark building in this area. Its eclectic look comes from the various refurbishments it underwent in time. It was built as the “German community city hall” in 1731 but its façade was rebuilt several times.

bega_canal_0innercloisterPiața Unirii (The Union Square) hosts the Romano-Catholic and Serbian Orthodox Cathedrals, which face each other. The Roman-Catholic Cathedral, known as The Dome, was completed in 1774. It is representative of the Austrian Baroque, with the towers similar to those of the Holy Trinity Church in Salzburg. The Baroque Palace hosts the Banat Art Museum since 1984. Built in the Austrian Baroque style with some Rococo details, it has a large hall that hosted festivities occasioned by the visit of emperors and important cultural personalities, such as the musicians Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Pablo Sarasate or George Enescu.

Piața Victoriei (Victory Square) has as its main attraction point the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. Able to host about 5,000 people, it has 11 towers, the highest of which reaches 83 meters. It was built between 1936 and 1946, and its green and red roof tiles are arranged in a mosaic design. The Memorial of the 1989 Revolution stands in front of the cathedral, while the Memorial Museum offers further insight into the events that took place in the city. The Piarist Complex, including a monastery church and a school, both created by architect Szekely (together with A. Baumgarten), in the Secession style, can be found north-west of the cathedral.

For day visits from Timișoara you can try a trip to the Recas Vineyards, to Arad or to Hunedoara. If you’re in the city for longer, the city is home to an opera house and to the Banat Philharmonic, and hosts theater venues such as the German State Theatre or the Hungarian State Theatre. Timișoara regularly hosts its own Jazz Festival, a Literature Festival, and a Tango Festival, among others.

More about what to do in the city here.

Photos: Wikipedia/ Gratziela Ciortuz

Bucharest Astronomic Observatory reopens after restoration works

The Bucharest Astronomic Observatory Admiral Vasile Urseanu is reopening this weekend, on November 26th, after undergoing restoration and consolidation works that started in 2014, reports Astronomy presentations and workshops had been previously held at the Sutu Palace.

The revamped building will be inaugurated with the exhibition titled “Signs and Symbols. Apophenic Visions in the Fractal Domain.” The exhibition can be visited until May 28th 2017 and opens on November 26th, starting 13:00.

The history of the observatory, the only one open to the public in the capital, begins in 1908 when local astronomer and scientist Victor Anestin started working with Admiral Vasile Urseanu to establish the premises of the institution.

The admiral would become the president of the Romanian Astronomy Society Camille Flammarion and would build the yacht-shaped house with an observation dome. Of the house, which he built through his own financial means, he used to say: “I built my house in shape of a yacht, with an observatory dome so I can look through a telescope and at the same time have the feeling that I’m floating at sea.”

Photo: Mircea Răduțiu,


Fresh travel guide – City Compass Romania: Bucharest & Beyond, 2017

City Compass Romania: Bucharest & Beyond, 2017, the feel-at-home guide to Romania, in English, enjoyed by expats, tourists and even Romanians, is now out in print & digital editions.

Everything you need to feel at home in Romania! Practical info, tips & tricks, real stories from 17 contributors and curated recommendations in an easy to follow format + bonus special chapter on technology.

Now available in hardcopy, soft cover, fully color, glossy, 168 pages, as well as in digital formats – full color PDF, ePub & .mobi versions for iBooks and Kindle reader.

This book will help readers discover the real Romania. It covers the main regions and cities of the country, with insights from 17 contributors, locals and expats, and recommendations of places to see and things to do.

Highlights of this edition:

  • NEW Letters from expats
  • UPDATED Travel destinations from all over Romania, including main cities, mountain resorts, seaside & Danube Delta
  • NEW Spa & destination hotels in Romania
  • UPDATED Bucharest neighborhoods, including Pipera –the expat area & Old Town
  • NEW Special dossier: Technology,  Tech trends, Romanian discoveries,  IT hubs,  Start-ups
  • UPDATED & CURATED Bucharest business directory, in easy to browse format:  Restaurants, Hotels, Shopping,  Education, Transport, Home & more

Get a free book extract by signing up here, and order your copy now – in print with international delivery, or digital, with instant download! 

New theater venue opens in Bucharest

Apollo111 is a new theater venue in Bucharest, set to open starting November 25th. The theater is open in the B section of the Universul Palace in the capital.

The theater, which will have a new artistic director each season, will stage productions for both grownups and children. “We want to be an alternative to state-financed theaters and cultural institutions and we are looking for an organic growth. We create art by running this project on the basis of a business model based on our own financing,” theater representatives say.

The founders of Apolo111 are actor Bogdan Dumitrache; Cătălin Rusu, CEO of Rusu+Borțun; director Călin-Peter Netzer; and film producer Dragoș Vîlcu.

For the first year the artistic director of Apollo111 will be one of its founders, actor Bogdan Dumitrache. He will be followed the second year by director Radu Afrim and the third year by a playwright. During its first running year it will show five productions, each of them staged for only six weeks. If one production is sold-out, it will be rescheduled after several months for another two or, at most, four weeks.

Children aged 4 to 7 will also find a repertoire for them, with productions highlighting the magic of stories and novel visual concepts.

The theme of the first season at the theater is an interdisciplinary one, combining film and theater. The first performance is directed by Radu Jude, based on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s text Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. The second script to be staged at Apollo11 is Sieranevada by Cristi Puiu.

Apollo111 is located in the Universul Palace, in a space offering an 850 sqm surface for performances, a theater and cinema hall with 140 seats, a hall for concerts and special events, three rehearsal halls, two casting halls and a bar.

The program and the tickets can be found here.

Photo: Apollo111 Facebook Page, the launch event.

The Dacian fortress at Ardeu

On the route linking Rosia Montana to Sarmisegetuza, an ancient Dacian fortress stands proof of a prosperous community that lived in the area 2000 years ago. Built by the same model as other fortress in the Orastie Mountains, the site is lesser known and not included in the tourist circuit, even though it is more accessible. After climbing a steep hill and around 250 steps, the visitor reaches the fortress surrounded by stone walls, built to control the access to the old gold mines on the Aries Valley.

Archeological digging revealed traces that confirm human living in the area since the 1st century BC. The oldest traces belong to the Cotofeni culture. Later, in the Bronze Age and during the first period of the Iron Age new communities settled here. Archeologists say that 2000 years ago the Ardeu fortress had defense walls, a tower that served as a residence, a smith shop and many housing spaces. During the second Dacian-Roman war, a fire engulfed the fortress and the building’s south side fell down, covering most of the interior yard. During the Middle Ages the fortress started being inhabited again and a new fortress emerged, on a smaller surface, protected by walls made out of mortar.

The Ardeu Fortress and the gold mines in the vicinity are often linked to a legends saying that a treasure was hidden in one of the caves in the area. The treasure was guarded by giants who bricked up the cave so nobody would know where it is hidden, hence the interest in exploring the area.

The fortress still accommodates an archeological site and open-doors days are organized here by the Dacian Civilization Museum in Deva, making for a good opportunity to visit the place in case you don’t decide for a self-planned trip.

How to get there:

The fortress is located in the Ardeu village, Balsa commune in Hunedoara county. It is 44 kilometers away from Deva, and can be reached by car by following the county roads DJ107A and DJ705.

The Romanian Eternal Flames, a wonder of the nature in Buzau

There are many things I like about Romania, but the one I like the most is that it has so many tourist attractions that are not yet known. Today I am going to tell you more about one of such places mainly known by locals and some mountaineers as it’s off the beaten track: The Living Fires of Buzau.

”A landscape that could only be dreamed up by the Brothers Grimm.” That’s how a British journalist with The Guardian described the Buzau region after a week bicycle touring through the Buzau Mountains.

Many already know about the Muddy Volcanoes, which are also a wonder of the nature, but few know that the area where the two attractions are located will soon become a Geopark, joining the network of 48 already present in Europe.

The Living Fires of Lopatari are some of the most mysterious, and unusual phenomena you will find in nature, on a hiking path, within your reach. The important thing is to know where to look. In the village called Terca you will find this phenomenon, which is unique in Europe, but not in Romania.

Two similar sites can be found in the Andreiasu and Reghiu communes in the Vrancea County. Although the Fires in Andreiasu are considered to be more spectacular, as they also cover a larger area, the ones in Lopatari are more popular among tourists due to the other attractions in the area: the Muddy Volcanoes, the Dealu Mare wine-growing district, the Salt Mountains near Manzalesti, the oil springs at Pacuri, or the amber mines at Colti, Romania’s only amber extraction site.

Wondering how this works? The natural emanations of gas are lit at the surface, under the rays of the sun. The fires burn at night as well, when the scenery is at its most spectacular display. At times you can see a flame rising up to 1 m above the ground.

For travelers, the fires are a natural curiosity. For the locals however, they are a source of legends, mystical beliefs, and superstition. Many local traditions have been inspired by these “eternal flames,” some no longer practiced, others still leaving their mark on local pottery or costumes.

So are you ready for a hike in the beautiful area of Buzau? To reach the place, take DN2/E85 to Buzau, drive through the city and then take DJ203K to DC159 in Lunci and then continue for another 7 km until you reach Terca. Keep in mind that the car cannot take you to the Fires. The road takes you on uneven terrain up the hill, on a twenty minutes hike. Make sure you follow the signs and you will get to see this wonder of nature in no time.

By Oana Pascu


The Underwater Church

Close to Cluj, in the village of Belis, the traveler can encounter an unusual kind of church: an underwater one. The Urmanczy church can be seen especially during extremely dry summers as it emerges out of Belis-Fantanele lake, which flooded it in 1972-1973.

The church was built in 1913 by count Ioan Urmanczy and is one of the few remains of the Belis village in its original site. In between 1972 and 1973 the course of the river Somesul Cald was diverged to create the Fantanele dam as part of the works to build the Somes hydro-power plant. The new course of the river ran through an 8,475 meters long underground gallery, powering the plant. In order for the project to take shape, the villages of Belis and Giucuta de Jos, both sitting at the time on the bank of the river Somer, were moved or they would have ended up being flooded by the waters of the accumulation lake.

By 1974 new houses were constructed at a new location but the church remained at its old site. What was taken from it with the move was the rooftop and the steeple. Today, the foundation of the church sits 30 meters deep underwater. Despite its water location, the paintings on the church’s walls, representing angels and biblical scenes, are still visible.

How to get there:

The E60 on the Oradea-Cluj-Brasov route leads to the site. Once at Huedin, you can take the DJ101 to Belis village.

Several other tourist sites can be found in the area: the fortified church in Valeni, the Radesei fortifications, the Scarisoara glacier or the Ursilor cave.

Photo source:

Open-air ice-skating ring inaugurated in Bucharest’s newest mall

Veranda Mall, the newest one to open in the capital, inaugurated its ice-skating ring. With a 650 sqm surface, it is the first open-air one in the Obor area of the capital.

The ring is open daily, between 10:00 and 22:00. Access costs RON 15 Monday to Thursday and RON 20 Friday to Sunday. Passes options are available, as are discounts for larger groups. Renting a pair of skates costs RON 15 for the entire day. Those who cannot yet skate can find instructors on the premises.

AFI Palace Cotroceni also has an indoor ice skating rink, and Promenada Mall will most likely open a rink on its roof terrace, as it did in previous years.

Read more about the new opening at

Sibiu, European Region of Gastronomy in 2019

The central Romania city of Sibiu is known, among others, for having held the title of European Capital of Culture in 2007, for the international theater and jazz festivals taking place there each year, and as the city whose former mayor became Romania’s first president of an ethnic community background.

Its tourist profile has only increased in recent years, and now the food culture of the region is taking center stage as it has been selected to be the European Region of Gastronomy in 2019, alongside the South Aegean region in Greece.

sibiu-turismSibiu placed its bid under the title Sibiu, richness and legendary tastes, highlighting the diverse gastronomy and traditions of the region. Products from the area include the Mărginimea Sibiului cheese; cold meat dishes such as “pomana porcului” (pig’s give-away), sausages, wursts, jelly, pork rinds, meat in lard jars or salt greaves and the Sibiu slami; sweet potato bread, flax seed bread, pumpkin seed bread and sunflower seed bread; Tãlmaciu plum brandy (ţuica) or Sadu brandy (rachiu); and ecologic honey.

In preparation for the title, programs highlighting local products will be developed and restaurants in the area encouraged to use it. The food culture festivals taking place in the county of Sibiu will be further developed.

But there is no need to wait until 2019 to visit the region. The city of Sibiu makes for a good destination all year round and the Christmas Market there is one of the most attractive in the country. The city’s old town, its cultural life and its many pubs and cafes make for a good destination, either for one weekend or longer, but also for a good base to explore the entire region. The Sibiu county hosts many medieval Saxon fortified churches and villages and the medieval town of Medias.

The Sibiu Region, as it applied for the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2019, is made up of the city of Sibiu, the city of Mediaș, Mărginimea Sibiului, Țara Oltului, Valea Târnavelor, Valea Hârtibaciului and Țara Secașelor. It encompasses over 460,000 inhabitants and over 300,000 hectares of agricultural land.

Read more about the bid of the Sibiu region here.

More about the city of Sibiu here.

Photo: SibiuTurism Facebook Page

Bucharest subway operator adds more trains during rush hours

Bucharest subway operator Metrorex decided to increase the number of trains during rush hours (7:00 to 9:00 and 17:00 to 19:00), after several incidents caused chaos in the underground over the past two weeks.

A total of 22 trains will run on the M2 line, which connects the Pipera office district in Northern Bucharest to the Berceni residential area in the South, at every three minutes. Metrorex has added one more train on this line, which is the busiest one during rush hours.

Over 600,000 people use the subway in Bucharest every day. During rush hours when commuters have to wait one or two trains to pass before they can finally get on a train. This happens most often at the Victoriei and Unirii subway stations, where many commuters also change trains.

Read more about these changes at


Veranda Mall opens in Obor area of Bucharest

A new mall is opening in the capital this week, the second such opening this year in Bucharest after ParkLake Plaza opened in Titan neighborhood this September.

Veranda Mall, which required an investment of EUR 60 million, is anchored by a Carrefour store. The shopping center counts among its tenants brands such as H&M, CCC, Deichman, Pepco, Yves Rocher, DM or Pimkie. It has over 100 stores, a restaurant area, a parking lot with 1,200 places and a vast green area of over 15,000 sqm.

No malls are located in the Bucur Obor area in the second district of Bucharest, only the Obor commercial center.

Photo: Veranda Mall Facebook Page

The medieval Rupea fortress

The medieval Rupea fortress has turned into a local tourism success story after the rehabilitation it underwent between 2010 and 2013. Also known by the name of the Cohlamului fortress, from the Cohlam hill it stands upon, the fortress sees thousands of tourists yearly, coming here to visit one of oldest archeological sites on Romanian territory.

First documented in 1324, when the Saxon population living in the area rose against King Carol Robert of Hungary and took refuge in its premises, the fortress served throughout the 15th century as an important commercial and manufacturing center.

Rupea Fortress2The site is made up of three types of fortifications. The high fortress is the oldest construction, erected on the ruins of what is believed to be the ruins of the Dacian fortress Ramidava. The middle fortress was built in the 15th century and expanded in the 17th century to add the chapel and a surveillance tower. The lower fortress was built in the 18th century. It served as a place of refuge against the 1716 plague epidemic. In 1790 the spiral-shaped construction was damaged and later abandoned. During communist times, its demolition was planned in order to allow for the exploitation of the basalt from which the hill its stands upon is formed.

You can find the site 50 kilometers away from Brasov, on the Mures-Sighisoara-Brasov tourist route. Close to Rupea is the Fisher (or Schweischer/ Sövénység ) village, home to one of the several fortified churches in Transylvania.

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IKEA to open barbecue food-truck next to its Bucharest store

Swedish retailer IKEA is set to open a barbecue food-truck next to its store in Baneasa area in northern Bucharest, the only one so far in Romania. A new Bucharest store is planned to open by the end of 2018.

The new food truck is set to open in November this year.

The trailer will be located on the right side of the IKEA store, and will offer takeout only services, as there will be no tables arranged near the food-truck. It will stay open daily between 12:00 and 20:00.

IKEA is already operating a restaurant and a hot dog stand inside its store in Baneasa. The restaurant has grown to be one of the biggest in Romania in terms of sales.

Read more about the planned opening at

The street food trend has caught on locally, with many stand-alone food trucks and vans opening lately. Several large restaurants in Bucharest also added street-food units to their existing venues, and events dedicated to the the trend multiplied. More street-food units in Bucharest here.

Ikea recently announced plans to expand to new cities in the country in the following years.

New Stradale restaurant opens in Bucharest’s Oregon Park

A new Stradale restaurant is opening in Bucharest’s office complex Oregon Park at the beginning of November. The restaurant has a 500 sqm surface and works under the “street food” concept, created by Chef Foa (pictured) for the event catering company Flavours.

This will be the fifth Stradale restaurant to open in Bucharest. Clients can see here “live cooking shows” and chefs working to prepare various types of grill or freshly baked bread.

The décor of the restaurant mixes natural wood with metallic elements and is meant to remind clients of the relaxed atmosphere of street festivals.

oregon-parkFlavours was established in 2002, with a team led by Chef Foa, one of the best-known chefs in the country. Stradale will open in building A of Oregon Park, which was delivered this September. The building has a total surface of 21,000 sqm and has US company Oracle as its main tenant. Oregon Park is located at Pipera Road, in northern Bucharest. The complex is set to include three office buildings with a total surface of 72,000 sqm. The B building is set to be delivered in October, with a surface of 24,000 sqm, of which 5,000 are already leased.

Photo: PR

McDonald’s plans to expand food delivery service in Bucharest

Fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s Romania is looking to expand its delivery service McDelivery in Bucharest, according to local daily Ziarul Financiar. The service is currently available in office buildings in the Barbu Vacarescu, Pipera, and Promenada mall area in Bucharest.

The company started delivering food in the Piata Victoriei area three years ago. It was the first McDelivery project in the capital.

McDonald’s network had sales of EUR 115 million in Romania in 2015.

Read more on the planned expansion at

Standing the test of time: the Targoviste court

A visit here equates to a lesson in Romanian history, architecture and customs. Located in Targoviste, about one-and-a-half hour’s drive away from Bucharest, the princely court is an ensemble of medieval buildings and fortifications has served as residence for the princes of the Tara Romaneasca province.

Probably its most easily recognizable symbol is the Chindia Tower. It was built during the second half of the 15th century, during the rule of Vlad Tepes. Its construction began on the site of a chapel dating back to the time of Mircea cel Batran.  The tower was built as a defense and served, at the same time, for observation and for guarding the yard and its surroundings. During the 16th and the 17th centuries the tower was also the prison for the princely court. Twenty-seven meters tall, it has a pyramid-shaped basis out of which is cylindrical construction develops. Its external diameter is of 9 meters. The construction has three levels, the last two being marked on the outside by four openings and two balconies. Visitors reaching the site can enjoy a panoramic view of the city once they climb its 122 steps.

Although the Chindia Tower is the easiest part of the ensemble to identify, there are plenty of other places to visit while on site. Take the three churches, one of them dating back to around 1415, and another built by Prince Petru Cercel. The princely homes in the complex can also be visited as are the royal bath, built during the times of Matei Basarab. This rectangular construction houses three rooms and its floors are made of Albesti stone.

Part of the ensemble is also a defense moat, an impressive military construction which prevented the exit and entrance from and to the court and put the enemy in an unfavorable position during battle situations.

How to get there:

Take the DN7 and DN71 as shown.

Photo source: Cristian Chirita/ Wikipedia

The Botanical Garden in Bucharest

Among Bucharest parks, the Botanical Garden holds a special place for not only being home to more than 10,000 species of plants but also for being one of the quietest spots of the capital.

The Cotroceni site is not the capital’s first Botanical garden. The first such venue was established by Romanian physician Carol Davila in 1860 near the Medical School. Its first two directors were botanists Ulrich Hoffmann and Dimitrie Grecescu.  Its third director, Dimitrie Branza, whose name the garden carries, moved it to where it can be found today, spreading on 17.5 hectares, including 4,000 sqm of greenhouses. Belgian landscape architect Louis Fuchs also worked on the project and in 1891 the garden was inaugurated.

In time, the site suffered various damages, most notably at the 1892 flooding and during the First and Second World Wars when it was occupied by the German troops and damaged by the UK-US forces bombings in 1944, respectively. The garden’s Old Greenhouse was built between 1889 and 1891 after the model of the Liege Greenhouses in Belgium. In 2011 the construction was rehabilitated as a tropical rainforest corner and now accommodates several examples of exotic plants. The Botanical Museum, to be found also inside the garden, near the entrance gates, is home to more than 5,000 plant species, including 1,000 exotic plants.

Botanical Garden Bucharest Old Green HouseThe garden is divided into several areas dedicated to ornamental plants, rare plants from the Balkans and the Mediterranean, the Dobrogea flora, an Italian garden, a cascade, a space for mountain plants, a roses garden, and the exotic plants part. Among the must-see plants here are four ginko-biloba trees and the tulip tree.

The Botanical garden is open for visits between 8.00 and 20.00. The greenhouses can be visited between 9.00 and 13.00 on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The Botanical Museum is open from 10.00 to 15.00 from Monday to Thursday and from 9.00 to 13.00 on Saturday and Sunday. Group tours are available, upon request.


The Red Ravine

Rapa Rosie, roughly translated in English as the Red Ravine, is often considered the local version of the Grand Canyon. In the western county of Alba, at 3 kilometers away from Sebes, the traveler can find the site on the road linking this town to the Daia Romana village.

With the status of a geological reservation, Rapa Rosie stands on 10 hectares. Its walls are 80 to 100 meters tall and the varied landscape, shaped like red-looking of columns, towers, pyramids, was formed through water erosion. Deep valleys open left and right and rain water is leaving think creeks behind.  The highest peak in Rapa Rosie has more than 500 meters, offering spectacular views of the area. Dinosaur fossils have been discovered in 2009 in this 60 million years old site, and several rare plant species can also be found here. One of the largest caves in the country is located here, of which locals say it used to serve as a hiding place for outlaws through time.

How to get there:

The site has become more accessible for visits since the Orastie – Sibiu highway opened. The highway runs approximately 2 kilometers away from the canyon. You can take the DN 1-7 (E81) to Sebes from where the communal road leads to Daia Romana. After crossing the Vintu de Jos – Sibiu railroad the country road leads on the left side to the reservation.

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Bucharest gets first automated bike rental service

The capital’s first automated bike rental service, I’Velo Urban, opened this week and is available 24/7.

The paid service is available in six locations in some of the city’s busiest central areas: Universitatii Square, Romana Square, Revolutiei Square, Victoriei Square, Charles de Gaulle Square, and Kaufland Barbu Vacarescu hypermarket.

At first, 210 bikes will be available for rent in these locations. Users can take a bike from one station and leave it at another station.

The service can be used only based on a card and a subscription. A one-day subscription costs RON 10 (EUR 2.25), a one-month subscription RON 35 (EUR 7.86), and a one-year subscription RON 100 (EUR 22.5). Discounts are available for teenagers and youth aged between 16 and 25.

Read more about the service at

Ancient Cioclovina

Home to an ancient Dacian defense wall and a lime cave, Cioclovina is found in the Hunedoara country, in western Romania. Part of the Gradistea Muncelului – Cioclovina national park, it is by many accounts part of a world that is filled with history and traditions.

Sitting close to the Dacian fortresses in the Orastie mountains, the village of Ciclovina hosts one of the most impressive Dacian defense walls. The main wall is made up of wood and unchiseled stones and is 2.5 kilometers long. It includes bastions with diameters of 40 to 80 meters. To this main wall, whose construction technique is known as murus dacicus, 33 perpendicular and slanting walls were added with the purpose of weakening the attack of potential enemies. Each of the additional walls is 50 to 100 meters long and 8 to 14 meters wide.

Also in the area is the Cioclovina cave, formed in the North-West part of the Sebes mountains by the waters of the Ponorici river. The cave has two sections: the dry Cioclovina, which sits above the Water Ciclovina. The dry part of the cave is accessible for exploration to the regular tourist although no special arrangements have been made to it but the Water Cioclovina is only accessible to speleology specialists because of its intricacy and difficult routes. This bottom section of the cave hosts the largest mono-crystal formation in the country. A skull capsule, displaying features attributed to Homo sapiens sapiens, and dating back to the Upper Paleolithic was also discovered here, as indicated by three flint objects peculiar to the Aurignacian culture discovered next to it.

Besides the spectacular view of the surrounding mountains, the area is often used for canoeing and climbing trips so if you find your way there these are some activities you can try.

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