For many tourists around the world, Romania is a hidden gem as a country and some consider it “Europe’s best-kept secret”. Those who come here usually visit the famous landmarks of Romania (Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu, Bran castle and Viscri church), attractions that all the popular blogs and travel websites mention.
However, the country is full of surprises and having varied landforms, you can find here different natural attractions. Its tumultuous history left as legacy human-made attractions that are less known.
If you want to enjoy a holiday filled with off the beaten path sights and to discover Romania’s hidden gems, here is a list of secret places to visit in Romania:
Prejmer fortified church
Near Brasov, a large fortified church was built in the small town of Prejmer.
The construction of the church was started in 1218 by the Order of the Teutonic Knights (they built also other fortified churches in Transylvania).
The church passed under the patronage of the Cistercian abbey in Carta (a village near Sibiu).
The Saxon peasants and craftsmen took part in the construction and only in 1421 did the consolidation of the fortress fortifications begin.
Since 1999, the Prejmer fortress has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Inside you can visit the church and climb the walls of the fortress, right on the top floor.
To the right of the church, on the first floor of the defensive wall, is the old school. The cells here were small and had a single window facing inwards.
Prejmer fortified church can be visited as a day trip from Brasov, mixed with other attractions in the area.
Seven ladders canyon
One of the most beautiful sights to visit in Brasov County is the 7 stairs canyon.
The canyon is located in Timisul de jos, near Dambu Morii. You can leave park your car in the parking lot and then start the walk in the forest.
From here begins the 7 Stairs Canyon hike, marked with a yellow stripe on a white background.
The round trip takes about 3 hours. In the first part, you go through the forest quite easily, after which the climb begins, also through the forest, not very difficult, but only suitable for boots.
Once you arrive at the canyon entrance, you must pay for the access and after another 5 minutes of climbing through the forest, you will see the beginning of the canyon.
Its name is given by the 7 stairs that make the passage through it accessible. The longest of them is the third ladder that can cause problems for those who have altitude sickness.
But the landscape is wonderful and it is worth overcoming your fear to be able to walk among waterfalls and rocky walls.
Some families come with children, equipped with harnesses and helmets, but it is quite dangerous for them.
The 7 ladders route was rebuilt in the spring of 2015, so it is solid and safe. On the way back, you go down through the forest, either on foot or on zip lines hanging in the trees.
The seven ladders canyon is a perfect place to spend a quiet but active day.
Constanta is another hidden gem in Romania. Located on the shore of the Black Sea, Constanta, the oldest city in Romania is also the largest port in Romania.
For tourists coming here is an interesting place due to its mix of cultures and religions.
While visiting the old town of Constanta you will see Roman ruins, mosques and old buildings. Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Muslims and Romanians lived here and shaped the face of the city.
If you want to visit the old town and the main attractions in Constanta on your own, you can try our treasure hunt in Constanta, a self-guided tour by phone.
Another option to get to Constanta is a day trip from Bucharest. This way, you can also enjoy a few hours at the beach in the most popular seaside resort in Romania: Mamaia.
The highest road in Romania, the “king’s road” as it was called in the past, Transalpina starts in Novaci, Gorj and ends in Sebes, Alba (if you want to go all the way) or in Jina, Sibiu (if you turn to Sibiu). The amazing part of it, the portion that goes on the ridge, is actually between Ranca and Obarsia Lotrului.
Transfagarasan is the famous road of Romania because it was voted “the most beautiful road in the world” by Top Gear. However Transalpina goes higher in the mountains, so after you experience both of them it will be difficult to choose your favourite.
On Transalpina, the landscapes encountered along the way are breathtaking, and for those who prefer mountain roads, it always enters the top 3 roads in Romania.
Rachitele waterfall in Romania
One of the most spectacular waterfalls in Romania, Valul Miresei waterfall (The bride’s veil) is in Rachitele, near Cluj Napoca. You can go by car there and walk 5-10 minutes to get to the waterfall after you park the car. The bride’s wave is a 50 meter-high waterfall, in two steps, with a strong and deafening flow.
Legend has it that a bride fell from the rocks on her wedding day and her veil remained hanging. The groom and the wedding guests came here to mourn her and their tears formed the waterfall. Although deep hidden in the forest and not close to any main road, the waterfall can be visited as a day trip from Cluj Napoca.
Rimetea village – a hidden gem in Romania
One of the most beautiful villages in Romania is Rimetea, a white village in Alba county. If you stop here and take a walk you will see the watermill, the white church in the centre, the spring where people bring their animals for drinking and the beautiful houses with carnations at their windows.
The village of Rimetea as a whole is worth visiting, especially during autumn. It has a special charm in autumn with a colourful mountain in the background. Read here about other places to visit in Romania in autumn.
The white of the houses, the green of the gardens and the grey of the mountain, the peace and calm of the people, will make you feel the real Transylvania, a secret to many tourists.
The area where the village is located is full of beautiful places, so you can even choose it as a base for a quiet holiday. Nearby you can visit interesting gorges, an old fortress and go on hiking.
Sinca Veche monastery
A magical place in Romania is the Sinca veche monastery. Carved in stone, with a tunnel in the ceiling to let the light in, Sinca veche is a monastery like no other! It is also known as the Temple of the Chosen ones and people come here to pray because it is said that their wishes come true here.
On Sundays, it is very crowded, but it can be easily visited on the other days. You can read here more about this monastery and what makes it special.
Racos volcano in Romania
On the right side of the road that goes from Brasov to Sighisoara, about 10 kilometres from it, is another hidden treasure of Romania: Racos.
A long time ago there were active volcanoes in Romania, located near the centre of the country. There are different pieces of evidence to prove this volcanic activity – plants, special soil and a volcanic lake. The newest volcano in Romania, inactive today is in Racos. The Racos volcano is extinguished and transformed into a slag quarry.
Next to it, you can also visit the Emerald Lake, so named because of its green colour. And a few meters away you will find the basalt columns in Racos, another proof of past volcanic activity. Here you can read more about the many and special tourist attractions in Racos.
If you are searching for off beaten path attractions in Romania you can stop in Apuseni mountains to visit Scarisoara cave. This cave houses the largest underground glacier in Romania and it can be visited all year long. During summer there is a big temperature difference between what is outside and what you find inside and during winter it is hard to get inside because of the snow and ice, so the experiences are very different.
To visit Scarisoara cave, park the car next to the information point, take a 10-minute walk through the forest and buy your entrance ticket.
The stairs leading down to the glacier are made of iron. The support bar is loose and sticky during winter, so you need gloves. Once you get down inside the cave you can enter the largest chamber called the “Cathedral”. Here you will find an underground ice world.
Scarisoare cave is not the only place to visit in Apuseni mountains. Beautiful trails, mysterious caves and other attractions are waiting to be discovered.
Comana monastery and Neajlov delta
Just outside Bucharest, perfect for a half-day trip, 2 other places deserve a visit: Comana monastery and Neajlov delta. Comana monastery was built as a fortress next to Neajlov river. Neajlov delta is a natural park where you can admire the rich fauna, take boat trips and walks in the forest. More about these places you can read here.
These are only some of the hidden gems of Romania. Since it is not such a popular destination, it has many attractions still undiscovered and known only by locals. It is easy to visit the country and it is easier to miss some special places that you didn’t know about. If you don’t want that to happen, we can help you plan your holiday here.