Romania in winter is truly a magical place.
Explore the fascinating city of Bucharest, hike around magical mountains, ski down some of Eastern Europe’s best slopes and learn about Romania’s charming culture.
Whether you’re a skiier, city slicker, foodie or nature lover, Romania has it all; and many of its tourist spots are great to visit in summer and winter alike.
So, if you’re in the process of planning your winter holiday or are looking for some new ideas for visiting Romania in winter, here’s a full list!
What is the weather like in Romania in winter?
Contrary to popular belief, Romania is not a freezing country in winter.
It used to be, boasting sub-zero winter temperatures. But climate change has now given it mild weather, almost resembling Southern Europe’s.
The cold season runs from the end of October until early March, but it’s still not that cold.
For the best part of winter, the average temperature throughout the country ranges from 5-10°C or 41 – 50 °F. The coldest months are January and February.
Things to do in Romania in winter
From the Black Sea to the Carpathian Mountains, Romania in winter offers a wealth of activities just waiting to be discovered.
Skiing in one of Romania’s mountain ranges is one of the best things to do in the country in the winter.
The most popular ski resort in Romania is Poiana Brasov, a stunning landscape of snow.
Sinaia is another popular option.
Romania’s ski resorts can provide you with exceptional skiing at much lower prices than elsewhere in Europe.
Hiking through the Carpathian Mountains in winter is an incredible experience.
And there’s no better place to do it than in the Fagaras Mountain Area, Black Summit.
The hike lasts for 5-6 hours, and many have said that the crests of the mountains in this area look eerily similar to the Alps.
All that hiking takes effort, so why not relax a little at a spa?
It is located in a town called Herculane Baths, in Caras County.
The spa takes advantage of the area’s natural thermal waters and delivers exceptional treatments that will benefit your health and beauty.
There are also a few other spa towns dotted all around the country.
You’ll find Christmas markets in many of Romania’s beautiful cities.
Craovia is generally the most Christmassy city in Romania, but you’ll find markets and a festive atmosphere in other major cities across the country, with tonnes in the capital, Bucharest.
Buy some unique Christmas presents or grab a hot chocolate and take a wintery walk here!
Visiting beautiful castles
Romania has countless Medieval castles to visit in the winter, including Corvin Castle and Bran Castle, Dracula’s home!
These castles are quieter throughout the winter period than in the summer, and you might also be lucky enough to enjoy them with a blanket of snow.
Places to visit in Romania in winter
Hit the slopes at Poiana Brasov
No doubt, the most popular and sought-after skiing spot in Romania is Poiana Brasov.
It has over 100 years of history and delivers some of the best conditions.
There are 12 slopes with different difficulty degrees and 25km of ski-able terrain.
You can take lessons if you are a beginner, and they offer special lessons and a snow park for children.
However, you should also know that, as Romania’s most famous ski resort, Poiana Brasov charges the highest prices in the country.
In addition, most hotels in the area qualify as luxurious so you might have difficulty finding a cheaper option, especially if you’re on a budget.
Insider’s tip: Romanian news always reports the traffic in and out of Poiana Brasov at its peak season.
And, most of the time, the roads get blocked by the thousands of cars trying to make their way in and out of the ski resort.
Make sure you plan your trip very well!
Learn about Dracula at Bran Castle, Brasov
Bran Castle is, most likely, Romania’s number one attraction.
Although known and referred to worldwide as a castle, Bran Castle is in fact a Medieval fortress.
It was built in the 1300s as a fortress, thanks to its unique and strategic place between two historical regions that were ruled by different kings and noblemen.
The castle’s high location provides stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and the forests that populate them in winter.
This is one of the reasons why you should visit this incredible stone stronghold; the unique experience of seeing a castle that is almost 650 years old and retains most of its original structures and rooms.
But there is another reason for your visit.
Bran Castle, which lies only 25km away from Brasov city, plays host to the legend of Dracula.
That’s right! Most people identify it as the bloody count’s lair, where he indulged in nefarious and unspeakable acts.
In reality, this doesn’t have that much truth to it.
Bram Stoker, Dracula’s author, never even visited Romania – but the character was somewhat modelled after Vlad the Impaler, a 15th century ruler of this part of Romania, who was incredibly bloodthirsty.
Vlad the Impaler never lived in Bran Castle (although some historians say that he was prisoner there for a short time).
Instead, he lived in Poenari Castle. But while you can visit this castle, it’s nowhere near as well-preserved as Bran.
So, the tourist board used Bran Castle to represent Medieval Romania and where Dracula could have lived if he was real!
In the winter months, Bran Castle is especially gothic, with misty, cold weather and much fewer tourists. As you walk around, you could imagine the ghost of Dracula lurking at the next corner…
If you’re staying in Bucharest and want to do an easy day trip to Bran Castle, check out this tour on Get Your Guide.
Craiova Christmas Markets
Now for something a bit jollier – Christmas markets!
There’s a bit of competition here as cities try to outdo each other each year, but locals generally agree that the town of Craiova takes the cake when it comes to Christmas markets.
It has been officially ranked number six in all of Europe, ahead of cities such as Prague or Brussels!
So you cannot miss it if you’re in the area!
Not only that, but you’ll be happy to know that this Christmas market is free and open all day long.
But make sure you book a room at a hotel early! According to town officials, the Christmas market has tripled the number of tourists visiting the little town of Craiova.
While you’re there, you can also check out Craiova’s old city centre.
It was completely rehabilitated in 2015, so now it offers the unique chance of stepping into the atmosphere of the early 1900s with its superb Belle Epoque architecture and grand buildings.
Pass by Craiova’s Art Museum housed in a splendid palace with Venetian mirrors, gilded candelabras, and French silk tapestries.
Or, if it’s a crisp, sunny day, take a walk-through Craiova’s English Park, built by architect Constantin Iotzu in the early 20th century, and enjoy a slice of Old England in this little Romanian town.
Walk around Bucharest, Romania’s Capital City
When travelling to Romania, you may choose to fly into any of its largest cities, depending on your destination.
However, the best way to plan your holiday is to land in Bucharest, spend a few days in this grand city, and then make your way through the provinces.
Bucharest is a unique city. It offers a dynamic blend of communist vistas next to breathtaking 1800s architecture.
You can do walking tours around the city that’ll give you an idea of its unique history.
While here, you can check out the Palace of Parliament, the looming structure built in a Stalinist architectural style.
Constructed by communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in the 1980s just to show off his wealth, it’s the heaviest building in the world.
In fact, it’s so enormous that it sinks a few inches every year just because of its weight.
Not only that, but over 70% of it is currently not in use simply because it would cost too much to light and warm the rooms.
Fun fact – in 2009, the hosts of the famous show Top Gear raced their cars through the basements of the Palace of the Parliament, that’s how big it is!
It’s also got a thriving food scene, with options to try traditional Romanian food and more contemporary cuisine.
Explore Constanta out of tourist season
If you’re in the mood for an adventure in the winter months, why not head to the Black Sea?
While there, you can check out the frozen beaches and frothy sea in solitude, as the place is entirely devoid of tourists this time of year.
While you’re there, make sure that you wake up early and watch the sunrise.
Since the Black Sea is located toward the east, it will look like the sun is emerging from the water itself, setting it on fire! Then, enjoy a moment of peace and silence all for yourself.
While there, make sure to check out the casino in the city of Constanta.
The old, art deco historical landmark is exquisite and has been featured in many movies and commercials.
Admire Balea Lake and the Balea Ice Hotel
Of all the places to visit in Romania, this one is not for the faint of heart!
Balea Lake, located in the Fagaras Mountains at over 2,000m altitude, is a beautiful glacier lake.
The area in itself offers a multitude of attractions that will enrich your holiday. While here, you can visit Goat Lake, the Balea Waterfall and the Balea River.
It often freezes over in winter, giving quite a spectacle.
Tourists are welcome to stay at Balea Lake Mountain Chalet, a cosy nook in the mountains.
But, the most adventurous point of attraction is the Balea Ice Hotel.
Built entirely out of ice and snow, the hotel sees 8,000 guests every season. A double room costs €100 per night while an igloo all to yourself is €130.
Learn about the Romanian royal family at Peles Castle
Built at the end of the 1800s by King Charles 1st of Romania, Peles Castle is an architectural gem of a superb Neo-Renaissance style that simply cannot be missed during your trip through Romania.
Make sure to visit the Royal Library, where you can see rare books bound in leather with authentic gold engravings on them.
The Moorish Room has a dazzling marble fountain, while the living room’s ceiling opens to allow the royal family of 100 years ago to enjoy the night sky right from their sofa.
If you’re staying in Budapest, you can visit Peles Castle on a day trip from the city. Here’s a great day trip that encompasses Peles Castle, Bran Castle and Rasnov.
Visit Vatra Dornei
The small city of Vatra Dornei is located in Suceava County, in the far north of Romania. It’s the perfect winter destination.
So what’s so special about this town?
Situated at almost 1000m altitude and between two historical rivers of the region, Vatra Dornei has a vast amount of wonderful holiday spots concentrated in one tiny area.
While there, visit Ciocanesti, a tiny village that was awarded the 6th most colourful tourist destination by Lonely Planet.
It features six hundred houses, all adorned from top to bottom with traditional Romanian flowers and eye-dazzling geometrical patterns.
Gaze at the mountains in Calimani National Park
Calimani National Park lies 25km away from Vatra Dornei and hosts a range of volcanic mountains.
The Twelve Apostles Reservation is a two-hour hiking path that leads you to a series of very mysterious rock formations.
They are shaped like human faces but are entirely natural. No one knows how they were formed!
Traverse Tihuta Pass and Dracula’s Castle
Let’s stay in the area a little longer. Because only half an hour away from Vatra Dornei lies Tihuta Pass.
Even though many people visit Bran Castle as Dracula’s lair, this is, in fact, the place mentioned in Bram Stoker’s novel.
As the story goes, Jonathan Harker journeys through Borgo Pass to get to Count Dracula’s castle.
Borgo Pass or in Romanian, Pasul Bargaului, is, in reality, Tihuta Pass. And, just like Jonathan Harker, you can go through it too.
There’s another Dracula’s castle here as well!
Nowadays, it’s not so much a castle but a modern hotel bearing the name Dracula’s castle.
But you can book a room and walk in the actual footsteps of these legendary characters.
Admire the stunning Rasnov Fortress
The little town of Rasnov might be easy to overlook, having no more than 16,000 inhabitants.
But the real attraction here is the Rasnov Fortress.
Built more than 700 years ago, the fortress allowed the town’s population to take refuge between its walls whenever there was an enemy attack.
One of the most unique traits of Rasnov Fortress is that it does not have any recognizable architectural style.
The reason is that it was built by peasants who simply needed a safe place.
That’s why it looks more like a house than, for example, the much more imposing Bran Castle.
If you want to visit Rasnov, Bran Castle and Peles Castle, check out the below tour!
Admire the beautiful Transylvanian town of Sibiu
If you’re looking for places to visit in Romania in winter, the city of Sibiu has to be on your list.
This medieval town was elected as a European capital of culture in 2007.
Dating back to the 12th century, you will find that it looks much more like a German town than a Romanian one.
That’s because it has Germanic architecture and a Saxon legacy dating back 800 years.
While in Sibiu, make sure to visit the Brukenthal Museum, the oldest museum in the country, boasting a rich collection of art.
You can also take your chance on the Bridge of Lies, a gorgeous, romantic construction perfect for selfies.
Legend says that the bridge will collapse if you tell a lie. So, beware!
Another favourite is the downtown part of Sibiu.
This is the area where you can find the oldest houses and streets, dating back 800 years. The stone houses with low roofs are spectacular!
Go Skiing in Sinia
A second option when it comes to ski resorts is Sinaia. Located at a whopping 2013m, this is the ski resort at the highest altitude in the country.
The good news is that here, you will find accommodation prices at every level plus a whole range of things to do when you get tired of skiing.
You can visit Peles Castle, Sinaia Casino, Sinaia Monastery, or the Bucegi Mountains National Reservation from Sinia.
Insider’s tip: Almost all of the slopes at this ski resort are not recommended for beginners because they are very steep!
In the northeast of the country lies the breathtaking Bicaz Gorge.
Part of the Bicaz-Hasmas National Park, this natural attraction spreads for 8km from the Red Lake – which should also be one for your list!
The legend of the Red Lake speaks of a girl named Estera who died waiting for her soul mate to return.
The stones of the mountains crashed over her and washed her into the waters of the lake, turning it red.
The lake’s waters are, indeed red, which is a fantastic thing to see.
However, in reality, this is primarily due to a natural chemical reaction of the water.
But the legend is so much more interesting!
Going to a spa is a favourite winter activity.
So, how about going to an ancient roman spa?
Geaoagiu Baths is the name of a small spa town situated in Hunedoara County.
This has been the location of a thermal spa for more than 2,000 years.
It was historically called ‘Thermae Germisara’ in antiquity, which was literally translated to the thermal spa at Germisara.
Archaeological digs have found statues dedicated to Egeea and Aesculap and a temple dedicated to the Nymphs, coins, and altars.
You should visit because the thermal spa is still running today and has been kept in the exact same shape.
This means that you can experience a true spa day exactly the way the Romans did!
The Carpathian Mountains – Romania’s Sphinx
The gigantic chain of the Carpathian Mountains covers more than 30% of Romania’s entire territory.
If you are passionate about seeing the mountains during winter, there are plenty of places to visit in Romania that offer at least a glimpse of those sumptuous peaks covered in snow.
But one spot in particular holds a special place in everyone’s heart – the Sphynx.
Located inside a natural park in the Bucegi Mountains, the Sphynx is a natural rock formation that resembles a human head.
That is, of course, the official statement.
However, many theories exist saying that the Sphynx is, in fact, an ancient carving that has survived from a pre-existing civilization. Or, it’s a statue depicting an ancient god.
Whatever it may be, put on your hiking boots and climb to the top to stare into the eyes of the Sphynx. It will be worth it!
The bison reservation at Neagra
Only a few kilometres away from Targoviste city lies the Neagra reservation.
Here you can see rare wild bison in their natural habitat.
The easiest way to get there is by car; the reservation is located 75km away from Bucharest.
The last 300 metres will have you walking through an enchanting forest where you might spot wild boars and deer.
Insider’s tip: visit the reservation early in the morning, when it’s feeding time for the bison. In this way, you will have a great chance at seeing them!
The reservation is not crowded at all because tourists don’t know about it.
So, you will be able to enjoy these elusive wild animals to your heart’s content!
God’s Bridge and the Devil’s Lake
This is one of the most impressive landscapes in the country.
In fact, it’s two attractions rolled into one, with magnificent scenery.
It’s perfect for the tourist who is hungry not just for adventure but for a bit of the supernatural as well. After all, this is Romania!
God’s Bridge is located in Mehedinti County and is a natural, gigantic arcade made entirely out of stone that crosses over a road.
Two karstic lakes – one on each side – border the natural bridge, the largest of which is bottomless and almost impossible to measure.
God’s Bridge has an aura of legend around it. Many people who have been involved in accidents on the bridge itself made a miraculous escape. Unfortunately, not the same can be said about one of the lakes near it.
The Devil’s Lake sits just a few feet away and opposite God’s Bridge. There are no fish or wildlife growing in the lake, and legend has it that every person who has dared to swim in it perished.
If you wish to visit the two natural wonders, you can book a room at one of the many hotels in the city and try to solve the mystery for yourself!
Guided tour of Romania
If you want to explore Romania’s winter highlights effortlessly, consider doing a guided tour!
This nine-day tour visits the country’s incredible highlights, including Poenari Castle, Bran Castle, Sighisoara Old Town and the Turda Salt Mine. It’s a private tour, so you’ll explore the fascinating country in glorious privacy!
How to get around Romania in winter
Once you’re in this beautiful country, getting around is pretty straightforward.
I recommend always taking an Uber, never a taxi off the side of the road. The app is safe, cheap, and easy to use.
If you’re looking for something even cheaper and perhaps faster, public transportation will do the trick. A basic bus and metro card guarantees two journeys, and it costs a little over €1.
Bucharest is the only city in Romania with a subway network. If you’re visiting any other cities you will have to rely on buses.
At the same time, smaller towns don’t have buses at all and you will have to walk.
Unfortunately, trains don’t have an excellent reputation in Romania. In fact, they are often the target of pop culture jokes, skits, and memes.
The railway network is very old, outdated, never on time and quite expensive for its poor conditions. As a result, Romanians usually take a plane or a bus between cities.
What to pack for Romania in winter
Consider your packing list carefully before heading to Romania, as there are a few things that you should include!
Check the weather forecast before your trip to Romania, as it can vary throughout the season.
You should pack sweaters, light jackets, gloves and walking shoes if you’re planning on skiing, hiking, or trekking through the Carpathian Mountains.
It all depends on the places to visit in Romania you have chosen for your winter holidays!
Make sure to download a weather app to keep on top of the rain! You will also make good use of your Uber app and, of course, a currency app.
Romania’s national currency is the ‘leu’ (which translates to lion). However, most of the country also use euros as a preferred currency.
A lot of Airbnb owners might ask you to pay in euros. So, make sure you have both currencies on you!
What to eat and drink in Romania in winter
Romanian cuisine is, without a doubt, legendary.
An enticing mix of Turkish, Balkan, oriental, and Russian dishes, all washed down with aromatic wines, delicious liqueurs, and spirits so intense they will have you breathing fire like a dragon!
While holidaying, no matter which places to visit in Romania you choose, make sure to eat sarmale.
The traditional dish of stuffed cabbage comes in both vegan and non-vegan options. And they are as delicious as can be!
Insider’s tip: add a good dollop of sour cream on top and eat sarmale with hot, buttery polenta!
Other traditional food that the locals adore in winter includes:
- polenta with wild mushrooms and plenty of sauce
- tripe soup, a Turkish recipe heavy with garlic and more cream
- zacusa – the sweet and savoury eggplant and bell pepper spread that goes incredibly well on warm bread from the oven
- a hearty bean soup served directly in a large bread roll that has been hollowed out.
Do you have a sweet tooth? There’s traditional sweet food too: you have to try cozonac.
The traditional Christmas brioche bread is filled with a chocolate and walnut spread.
Don’t forget about papanasi, always a tourist favourite.
The deep-fried doughnuts are made of a special dough that has been enriched with cheese. They are topped with sour cream and strawberry jam for a unique tasting experience.
What about having a drink? Well, you cannot miss a Romanian special – afinata. It comes from the Romanian word for blueberries, which is ‘afine.’
The drink almost tastes like blueberry jam with an insane amount of alcohol. Be careful though! It’s delicious but will get you drunk in no time at all!
Complete your dining experience by trying Romania’s famous wines, made in the region of Moldova (which borders the country of Moldova, but is part of Romania!).
Mentioned in the country’s literature, they even appear in novels written in the 1800s.
Have a fabulous time in Romania in winter!
As you can see, the winter season is a wonderful time to be in Romania!
Whether you’re frequenting the ski resorts, walking around Romanian cities or visiting famous castles, there’s so much to do here in the cold months.
Romania is a magical destination in winter – so book your transport and head over!