10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Transylvania

This is a guest post by Mira Balan from Călătorii la Singular

Transylvania
Transylvania

It’s wonderful and challenging to talk about the place you first knew in this world and the one that’s closest to your heart. And, above all, to stay objective, too. But, when it comes to Transylvania a dose of subjectivity is recommended to everyone.

I cannot remember exactly the moment I realized what an awesome place I was born in.

But I know that it took me a long enough time to become aware of how beautiful Transylvania is and of how many incredible experiences it can give a traveller.

As usually happens: you want to go farther and farther, as far as possible from the places you think you know too well. But, there comes a day when you arrive home and discover the many beauties that have waited patiently to be explored.

This is what has happened between me and Transylvania.

I had long been convinced that Translyvania could no longer show me anything to excite my appetite for wandering about it again. I felt I had lived all its possible adventures.

I was wrong. So wrong.

It’s only now that I understand that I’ll never be able to fully know Transylvania, to see every piece of it, to find all its mysteries.

For every traveller prepared to venture here, this land in Central Romania has something magical, spectacular, and original.

Here are 10 reasons that inspire me to wander over Transylvania more and more.

Are you ready?

1. Beautiful Nature

Apuseni Transylvania
Apuseni

If nature and hiking are part of your life, come to Apuseni. These mountains are located in the western part of Transylvania and belong to the Carpathians. A large area is included in Apuseni Natural Park.

I walked dozens of superb trails through this natural park. I crossed forests, villages, picturesque hamlets, and everywhere I met caves, karst plateaus, spectacular gorges, waterfalls and lakes.

In Apuseni, too, there is the region also known as Ţara de Piatră or Ţara Moţilor.

It is one of the most charming areas, with houses scattered along valleys and ridges, with idyllic landscapes and villages barely touched by modernity.

Plan to stay at least one week to enjoy the nature.

2. Villages with Fortified Churches

Biertan Transylvania
Fortified Church Biertan

In Transylvania, there are over 150 (once 300) fortified churches. These picturesque Saxon villages can be viewed via different tours and will amaze you with their architecture and beauty.

Many of these simple fortresses around the churches, founded by Transylvanian Saxons for defense, could never be conquered by their attackers.

But they conquer me every time with their charm.

The Saxons (saşi), a German-speaking population, arrived in southeastern Transylvania between the 12th and 13th centuries, invited by the kings of Hungary and they built numerous villages.

Some of the most beautiful fortified churches are those of Biertan, Prejmer, Viscri, Câlnic, Dârjiu, Saschiz, Valea Viilor, included on the World Heritage List.

3. Lovely Cities

Sibiu Transylvania
Sibiu

Every city in Transylvania, large or small, has its charm and sprinkle of poetry.

Sibiu, the only city in Romania which has so far held the title of European Capital of Culture, will win you over with its old romantic places, and with the multitude of performances taking place each season.

Târgu Mures is worth visiting for its elegant palaces (the Palace of Culture is beautiful on the outside and full of splendor inside) and cultural diversity.

With one of the few medieval cities in the world that is inhabited today, Sighisoara has to be put on the must see list  More than once have I forgotten about myself wandering through the paved streets.

Sighisoara Town Transylvania
Sighisoara Town

Sighisoara Transylvania

Brasov is the city where I like passing time in the secluded streets of the Old Town, or sitting at one of the dozens of terraces.

In Alba Iulia you have the opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful citadels in Transylvania. Every day, the change of the Citadel Guard takes place, and that’s a show that you shouldn’t miss.

4. Kind People

Transylvania
Transylvania people

Transylvanian people are said to be faini (meaning good and nice), serious and reliable. I absolutely agree!

With them, I’ve always felt good, because they are open, they find time to sit and talk, to laugh and joke.

They like to show their kindness and be welcoming. You can find yourself invited in their house and sitting down at their table, before being able to tell them your name and where you come from.

5. Crafts

Crafts Beautiful handmade gifts
Beautiful handmade gifts

In Transylvania, you can find dozens of small workshops where craftsmen work various objects by hand: of wood, painted furniture, glass icons, ceramic pots.

If you go in winter through villages, you are likely to attend a şezătoare (meaning a social evening). In the long winter evenings, women gather in a house (this gathering is called şezătoare), some sit at the loom, others spin wool and while weaving colorful rugs, they talk and sing.

A magical atmosphere!

6. Traditions

Nun working the loom Transylvania
Nun working the loom

This is where I rejoice every time I see how beautifully celebrations and old traditions are kept.

Young and old, everyone loves to celebrate such moments.

If you get to the villages, for Christmas or for the New Year, you will see groups of young people, often dressed in traditional costumes, wassailing from house to house and wishing people a good new year.

It should be easy for you to fit in a holiday celebration no matter what time of the year you travel to Transylvania.

Our celebrations are another reason why Transylvania seems full of life and authenticity.

7. Fabulous Landscapes

Transylvania

Perhaps I am most attracted to this land by the fabulous landscapes it was blessed with. Large valleys, impressive mountains, wild gorges will arise before you. It’s enough to leave cities behind for a little while.

The houses surrounded by forests and scattered over the hills form a charming rustic picture.

8. Picturesque Villages and countryside life

Rimetea Village Transylvania
Rimetea Village

In many small settlements in Transylvania, time seems to be different from the time we townspeople are accustomed with.

In villages you can enjoy quietness, as people languidly care for animals, household, family.

If you’re an avid photographer, you won’t be able to let your camera down. Every window, every tree, every moment is there to be snapped for memories.

I cannot stay away too long from the places where almost everything has remained exactly as it was in my childhood. And I find that extraordinary.

Transylvania

I can see men mowing and women gathering hay. Animals returning from pasture slowly, in the evening, in the ringing of bells hung around their neck; this is a day by day picture. I like to give up the car and occasionally take the means of transport as old as mankind, a cart full of newly mown hay and pulled by a horse.

All these simple bucolic scenes, of an unparalleled charm, will delight.

9. Tastes

walnut-pound-cakes
walnut-pound-cakes

I should say that I love Transylvanian cuisine. And so it is, just with a small personal note: being especially based on meat, not all dishes are to my liking.

Although, before giving up meat, it occupied a place of honor in my menu!

Whether you like to eat meat or not, Transylvanian cuisine is so varied that you will undoubtedly find your favorite dish. But do not expect exquisite specialties. It is not at all a sophisticated cuisine; it is a blend of Romanian, Hungarian, Transylvanian Saxonic flavors, but with a special, delicious taste.

Sour soups (recommendation: taste bean sour soup with smoked ham), stuffed cabbage, walnut pound cakes just taken out of the oven, are easily entered the list of culinary preferences of travelers.

10. Atmosphere

Rasnov Citadel Transylvania
Rasnov Citadel

Everything that makes me come back again and again to Transylvania points to the atmosphere: traditional, simple, profoundly spiritual.

In the long summer days, I am overjoyed with those leisure moments when dusk slowly descends over the village. Under the myriad of stars and among the songs of crickets, long stories go off, between friends.

Winter holidays are lived by faith and loaded with magic and wonder. It is an essential experience to celebrate with the locals. To get to know their superstitions, which are not limited at all, their beliefs, and their dreams.

This superb atmosphere gives life to Transylvania. And I madly love this patriarchal, original, mysterious land.

BIO: Mira Balan is a travel writer and photographer and owner of Călătorii la Singular travel blog. She loves to travel through her own country, Romania, but has the same joy in exploring new places and cultures around the world. She likes slow travel, enjoys simple things that make life wonderful and is delighted in giving people ideas and inspirations to travel and live the life they dream of. You can find Mira on Călătorii la Singular or Facebook.

Have you been to Transylvania before? Can you share why you love it?

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31 Comments on “10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Transylvania”

  1. I am lucky to LIVE in Transylvania :) I’ve seen most of the cities highlighted in the article (been through Tg Mures but didn’t stay).

    Reply
    • That’s for sure, Cristina, you are lucky to live there! Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
      • I am pretty much hooked on Sighisoara since 2000 when I visited the place for the first time. I live in Arad, closer to the Hungarian border, though.
        and ps: yes, tuica (plump brandy) is one of the things you’d be hit wt in the face LOL and the famous kurtos which originates in Transylvania – but when it used to be in Austro-Hungary.

        Reply
  2. [...] Articolul a fost publicat astăzi pe y Travel Blog şi sper să-ţi facă plăcere să-l citeşti. [...]

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  3. I’ll give you reason number 12: tuica (palinca).
    If you go to Romania you will surely drink some.

    Reply
  4. Transylvania is wonderful! I love the people, the citadels, the beautiful landscapes. Everything about it has a special charm. It’s a place full of culture and history and nobody should miss it while in Romania.

    Reply
  5. You are so right, it is such a great experience. I am sure, it would be a lovely surprise for many!

    Reply
  6. I’m sold!

    Reply
    • It’s wonderful to hear that, Andi! I know you’ll have an amazing time in Transylvania, if you come and explore the land.

      Reply
  7. I am a Romanian and I am really proud of this article, Mira!

    Reply
  8. Luís Grigolon

    Nice view, there’s more to see from Romania than people think. Have you tried Deva, Sibiu, Cluj and Petrosani (near the Retezat Mountains). Are such nice places with beautiful landscapes if you are impressive with that.

    When I went to Romania I was impressed with the singular culture they have.

    For who didn’t visit this country yet, a good tip is to use bus and minivans to cross the country.

    Again nice photos posted, gratz to show your experiences.

    Luís

    Reply
    • Absolutely, Luis, there are many other places to explore in Romania. Retezat is amazing, you’re right! Thanks for your tips and your comment!

      Reply
    • Very nice there,love that part of the country.Also Huniade castle and many other great places.
      Greetings!

      Reply
    • Just a question?
      What do you mean with this: “with the singular culture they have.”??
      Who have this culture??
      Because the Romanians don’t have to much Culture here in Transylvania, because Transylvania is part of romania just from 1920 June 4!
      In Transylvania Saxons, Seclers and Hungarians have culture, history and tradition!

      Reply
      • From 1918, 1 December (politically), nationally they (WE) are Romanians from the beginning of the millenium :) (this is not a minority opinion, I don’t think you can find even one Transylvanian that will think about himself otherwise than Romanian from the end of the Roman colonisation – except for those who are not i.e. hungarians, germans, etc.)

        Reply
  9. Great Article Mira :)

    And there is so much more! Caves like Pestera Ursilor and Pestera Scarisoara! The Salt Mine from Turda! The Monasterys from Moldova (just take a look on google at Manastirea Barsana or Manastirea Voronet) The train called Mocanita! The most scenic way in Romania called Transfagarasan! You will be impressed with Romania!

    Reply
  10. Well done Mira, you captured the spirit and beauty of the places. The Transfagarasan road can be mentioned as well, indeed, my Dutch boyfriend loved it and all the nature as well.
    Miki recently posted..Olanda, tara ambuteiajelor
    Miki recently posted..Olanda, tara ambuteiajelor

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  11. Absolutely cannot wait to visit this Beautiful country , we are booked to fly to Targu mures in may and look forward to it very much as do my children, everyone i have spoke too have said i will be inspired |

    Reply
  12. My longtime girlfriend and partner, Mihaela is from Romania. My first visit to Romania began in Arad, Timisoara, then the village of Birchis. From there we visited numerous cities and villages throughout Transylvania: Brasov, Poiana Brasov, Bran, Rasnov, Moiecu, Sibiu. . . We rented a car and drove up through the Carpathians to northern Romania to visit the painted monasteries and back down through Sighisoara. The country and culture is beautiful. Of course, I have the perfect travel guide, and after multiple visits Romania still remains top on my list of favorite places to explore. I look forward to each trip (making sure to lose a little weight before hand, allowing room to overindulge on cozonac, galuste cu prune, langos, and everything else!)

    Reply
  13. […] Outside of Brasov, for example, in the wider area of Transylvania, there are numerous little hotspots that offer a variety of sights and attractions. Just take a look at this post by yTravel blog that lists 10 reasons to fall in love with Transylvania. […]

    Reply
  14. So, for you if someone mention Cluj, it’s a tip. Right.

    Reply
  15. How can one speak of Transylvania and not mention Cluj-Napoca?

    Reply
  16. I was looking up Transylvania because my great grandfather was Transylvanian. I got to thinking about it because of Halloween, and realized that I had never bothered to learn anything about my heritage. I really enjoyed this page because I can see so many of the traits of the people in my own family- warm & open, friendly, long evenings together, doing crafts and art of various kinds, etc. To really top it all off, the country and the cities are spectacularly beautiful. This is now my top travel destination if I ever make it to Europe.

    Reply
  17. Beny Preputzash

    Transylvania is magic, Transylvania is pure…..!
    It s one of that places where you want to be.
    I traveled there for five times, and next summer I planing to go back again.
    MAGIC!!!!

    Reply
  18. For seven years we’ve been travelling in Romania, from North to South, from East to West. How many times we have crossed the Mountains we’ve forgotten!
    Romania is beatifull, smiling and friendly and….we are going Again this year!

    Reply
  19. […] 10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Transylvania […]

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  20. Romania and specially Transylvania has concurred my heart since 25 years. I stay often there and was there more than 75 times!

    Reply
  21. Transylvania is such a magical place! These little cities look so charming. There is also şezătoare in my home country (Bulgaria). :)
    Milena Yordanova recently posted..Eiffel Tower: The most emblematic icon of Paris
    Milena Yordanova recently posted..Eiffel Tower: The most emblematic icon of Paris

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