Under the sun: the beaches, the parties and the unspoiled Black Sea

The Romanian seaside at the Black Sea seems to have something for every taste. It’s got posh resorts, places for family fun, resorts for folk lovers and for nudists, lively resorts for the youth and even a few untouched beaches away from the noise.

Despite complaints from tourist associations that tourism in Romania is underdeveloped, the Romanian seaside is fully booked every summer. Almost everywhere you go, expect it to be crowded from June to the end of August. Some resorts are more popular than others and some have gained an almost overnight popularity. The official seaside season starts on May 1, when many Romanians go to the seaside for the first time that year. September is sometimes a good month to go to the Romanian seaside, depending on the weather, while August is probably among the busiest.

When most Romanians speak about going to the seaside they have one destination in mind: the famous resort Mamaia. It is the posh choice for spending time on the Romanian seaside and, as a result, it is overcrowded every summer. The name of the resort – which translates as Grandma – has nothing to do with the people who go there, who are usually the country’s rich, expats and young people who want to be trendy. It is an expensive resort with plenty of luxury accommodation options, which boasts a lively nightlife. Many choose Mamaia not so much for its beach – which is almost entirely privately managed – as for its parties. Most of the hotels and discos in Mamaia are close to the beach or within a reasonable walking distance, so whatever the choice, you will always be close to the sea, even if you can’t hear it over the music.

When it comes to parties, Vama Veche is a second option for people looking to spend their summer nights dancing near the beach and is definitely a cheaper option than Mamaia. Vama Veche – which is in fact a village – used to be a folk-only resort, home to a flower power and free spirited generation (think Woodstock forever), but it has become increasingly popular in recent years and now hosts a mixed crowd: those who come to regain their free spirit and listen to music while camping on the beach and those who are there because it is trendy. Either way, with its newly discovered diversity, Vama Veche has become the second favorite seaside destination in Romania for many.

While Mamaia is easy to reach – just take the highway from Bucharest and Mamaia will be found next to Constanța, to reach Vama Veche a slightly longer route is required. Vama Veche is close to the border with Bulgaria, to the south of Constanța. By car, you have to pass by Mangalia and head more to the south, while public transport will get you by train or bus to Mangalia train station and then by bus to Vama Veche, and to its sister resort 2 Mai – which is yet another option for those free spirited people who want to enjoy a less commercial holiday. Another option for those searching for a peaceful holiday is Gura Portiței, a seaside resort which lives in two worlds: the Black Sea, and the Danube Delta. To get there, you have to take the boat from Jurilocva, which is in the northern part of the seaside, and cross the Golovița lake. Public transport to the resort is slow so if you’re in a hurry and want to reach Gura Portiței fast hire a private speed boat. However if you are taking the one and a half hour boat trip, which costs RON 30 per person per trip, go early in the morning, as the last boat returning to Jurilovca is at 20:00 and you will want at least a full day of enjoying the wilderness. Remember, private, faster boats are also available and for larger groups the pricing per person is better.

It feels like the end of the world, as it is one of the few remaining almost unspoiled seaside spots in Romania, but you’ll not be alone there. There is accomodation available as well as enough room for camping.

If being cut off from the world is your cup of tea, then head to either Corbu or Vadu beaches, which are in the northern part of the seaside. These are two virgin beaches where, although you will not be completely alone (others have discovered them too), it will be much quieter than in the rest of the seaside. Access is not easy but they are not far from the seaside city of Constanța – just keep north and drive past Mamaia and Năvodari, on the same route which takes you to the Danube Delta. Just bear in mind that these two beaches are indeed virgin meaning there’s no accommodation available, no amenities just a place to camp, the sand and the sea.

For a more conventional holiday, there are several seaside resorts combining the two extremes we’ve just covered. While Năvodari is known as the place where generations of school children went on their summer holidays, it’s becoming more and more the new choice for seaside lovers, with several resorts known either for their family entertainment or for being youth hotspots.

Costinești falls in the latter category. If you want to meet the country’s students, or high-schoolers, then Costinesti is the place to check out. The place somehow always manages to stay young and loud.

A bit north from Costinești are two resorts, Eforie Nord and Eforie Sud, which are perceived more as places for spa or for boat afficionados who will surely enjoy the nice marina: Ana Yacht Club. Eforie Nord is also known as a good place for families with kids for its beach. Both resorts, because of their closeness to Techirghiol lake, are top targets for those searching for relaxing spa treatments.

Going further south, there’s Neptun resort, the place where the Romanian president and many state officials like to spend their summer holidays. The star resort back in the communist period, Neptun now hosts a mix of tourists, who find accommodation in a variety of hotels. As with elsewhere on the Romanian seaside, it is advisable to either ask friends to recommend accommodation or be very thorough in your search, as we have heard many cases of hotels which looked OK-ish on the outside, but whose rooms had not been renovated since the communist period.

Olimp, Venus and Saturn and three smaller resorts further south, which are usually preferred by average income earners in Romania, including families with kids and pensioners, however life on their beaches will always be a mix of different kinds of tourists.

We listed here several highlights in terms of accommodation, restaurants and fun places in these resorts.

By Corina Chirileasa