We’re excited to introduce a new family-friendly destination to Ciao Bambino: Romania! This rugged, mountainous country on the Black Sea remains untouched by the tourist hordes that have crept into some of its Eastern European neighbors. From intricate castles and thick-walled churches to pristine forests and meadows flecked with wildflowers, it will capture kids’ fantasies in its own unique way.
As with so many unspoiled places, the time to go is now — Romania won’t stay off the radar forever. Want a taste of what makes it so special? Read our Q&A with our vetted travel partner in the region, then contact us to plan a trip tailored just for your family.
Romania is the last truly wild destination in Europe. Because it had its borders closed during communism (roughly 45 years), the country was untouched by the modernization happening elsewhere in Europe; the forests stayed forests and were not transformed into parks or groomed to look a certain way. The villages stayed with a local life that’s very much connected to nature and the seasons; the people have been respecting the traditions, religion often playing a big part in this.
Now imagine that once the borders were open, everyone wanted to have everything they did not have for 45 years. The country you visit today has some state-of-the-art locations in Bucharest, more large and expensive cars than expected, the third-fastest Internet in the world and pristine nature, villages where people use traditional ways of working the land, and a culture very much focused on family (it’s still more common to cook than to go out to eat). It’s very contrasting in a way.
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It’s safe and it’s very child-friendly. The activities are very much in nature, authentic, hands-on, sensory. The people guests meet are real characters, often with life stories that you could write a book about. Romania has the largest area covered by virgin forests; wildlife is abundant and because there was no human intervention, the meadows have more species of plants than anywhere else in Europe. Prince Charles comes every year in June to stay for a few days in his private residence in Eastern Transylvania specifically to see the wildflowers blossom.
Not last, the food is tasty, cooked with healthy ingredients.
It depends on the parents. I have a toddler and she loves coming everywhere with me. She cannot hike in the mountains, but she is keen to visit local people, she is fond of animals and generally enjoys playing outside.
For more organized activities, it helps if the children are older, but I think the free space for roaming safely in nature makes it a great place for families with babies. The fresh air and lack of any kind of pollution plus the organic food make it altogether a healthy kind of destination, which often parents want.
I would say a minimum of seven days, ideally 10 to 14. For Transylvania only, one needs around five to seven days; to see more regions, one needs more time.
Everyone knows and wants to see Transylvania, the land of the Saxon villages and their fortified churches. Then they often add Maramures, with its wooden churches, and Bucovina, known for the painted monasteries. The Danube Delta is the other attraction, especially for nature lovers. In all of these regions, one gets exposed to amazing nature, local experiences and a consistent dose of UNESCO heritage, culture and history. We often recommend not overdoing it because seeing too many churches can be painful, especially for kids. Same for museums.
Depending on the region they go to, most people combine staying in small towns with staying in villages. For example, in Transylvania people often go to Brasov, Sibiu and Sighisoara but also to Viscri, Copsa Mare and Cincsor. The choice is often limited by the location of decent guesthouses and activities that can be done in the area.
I would say yes. In some parts it’s not always well marked, so sometimes you need a great map or GPS to reach a certain location. These days with Waze it should be fairly easy for everyone. Traffic might be a bit shocking for some, as there are few highways and on the national roads people often speed or overcome other cars.
Anytime from April to the end of October. April and October are shoulder months, so weatherwise they can be a bit unpredictable; however, they are less busy. The best months would be June and September. July and August can often be very hot and August is madly busy because that’s when a lot of Romanians living abroad come back for their holidays and everything is blocked … [I would] encourage people to book in April, May, October.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.