It’s now been eight uninterrupted weeks of school, and we are all ready for a break. But with Covid-19 numbers rising yet again, exploring highly touristic areas is ill-advised. So what places can you visit in the following week?

We are here to provide you with a few options of local alternatives to explore our own beautiful country of Romania this October.

1: Maramureș

An aerial view of Inău village in Maramureș. Photo taken by Mihai Lucîț, distributed under a CC0-BY-2.0 license.

Maramureș is a beautiful county in northwestern Romania, known for its traditional villages and wooden churches. AISB’s Secondary School Executive Administrative Assistant Florentina Frunza says it’s one of her favorite places to visit to see how things used to be.

“I love to see the people—children, teenagers, adults and old people—putting on their traditional clothes and going to church on Sunday,” says Frunza.

The area is quite large, so you’ll need a car to properly explore. Popular villages to use as your home base include Breb, Budesti, Glod, Botiza Viseu de Sus. Remember that these are small towns, often with one local restaurant. Plan to pack food and entertainment and prepare for a relaxing time taking in the nature, mountain views, and slow pace of life. 

Where to stay: We recommend The Village Hotel in Breb for an authentic yet comfortable experience.

Drive time from Bucharest: Approximately 9.5-10 hours.

2: Sinaia

Sinaia’s famous Peleș Castle. Image source: Pixabay.

Only 120km away from Bucharest is a charming town named after its 17th century monastery, built for the royal family. Sinaia is a popular skiing destination, but is great any time of year.

The town offers wonderful hiking trails, in good condition with marked signs in the Bucegi mountains, where you can explore the beauty of its nature. Whether you want to hike or take the gondola to the 2000m mountain is up to you. Another must-do during your visit is to see the iconic Peleș Castle. Commissioned by King Carol I in the 19th century, it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful and well-made monuments in Europe. To visit, you could book a Peleș castle ‘Skip The Line’ guided tour.

Where to stay: We love Happy Squirrel Loft Airbnb. But if that’s not available, any apartment near the city center will do.

Drive time from Bucharest: Approximately 1hr 45min.

3: Brașov

A view of Brașov’s town center, from the top of Mount Tampa. Image source: Pixabay.

Brașov is located in the Transylvania region of Romania, and is one of the country’s most famous travel destinations. Here, you can find fascinating churches, high altitude trails, and beautiful mountain top views.

Within Brașov county there’s a range of mountains called Bucegi, which should definitely be high on your list of places to go. As Romanian Friend describes, “The Bucegi Natural Park is one of the most impressive natural resorts in Romania.” AISB Design Teacher George Iordachescu suggests hiking most of the day and spending the night in some of the cabana (cottages) on the top of the mountains.

Where to stay: If you’re traveling with a large family or a big group of friends, Splendor in the Forest is a great option (with a great view!).

Drive time from Bucharest: Approximately 3 hours.

4: Sighișoara

Sighișoara’s charming cobblestone lanes make for great photo ops. Image source: Pixabay.

Sighișoara is located in Mures County in north Romania and is most known for being the birthplace of Vlad III, better known as Dracula. In this town, you will find that the buildings are very vibrant and full of life. There is also a beautiful clock tower that you can climb and is a must when visiting Sighișoara. 

The magical buildings aren’t all Sighișoara has to offer; there are many historical churches like the Church on the Hill that you can walk up to via a very pretty covered staircase that leads up to the old gothic-style church. Another church to visit is the Church of the Dominican Monastery, where you can find the large collection of oriental carpets along with the occasional classical music concert.

Where to stay: Savri House is a well-positioned 16th-century villa with 4-star amenities.

Drive time from Bucharest: Approximately 5 hours.

5: Salina Turda 

A look at the massive salt mines near Cluj. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Where better to cleanse yourself of negative energy than in an underground salt mine with healing properties? Located in the Durgău-Valea Sărată area of Turda, the Turda Salt Mine (Salina Turda) is the perfect place to get away from people and take a minute to breathe. Equipped with its own amusement park, boat rides, and several different mines you can explore safely, there are plenty of activities for several hours of adventures.

Make sure not to miss the Theresa mine, standing at a whopping 90 meters. It’s the oldest mineshaft, as it was excavated between 1690 and 1880. Additionally, consider hiring a boat to explore the famous underground lake, which takes up 80% the floor surface of the mine. And if you get hungry, Potaissa Restaurant is actually inside the mine.

Where to stay: The Salin Vineyards is less than 1km away from the salt mine and has beautiful outdoor areas, including a pool.

Drive time from Bucharest: Approximately 6.5 hours.

If you do decide to travel, make sure to take precautions, as Covid numbers are really high throughout the country. Wear a mask, social distance, and have fun!

Please leave a comment below if you decide to travel to any of these beautiful cities of Romania during the break. (Or if you have other recommendations for traveling within the country.)