From well-known winter resorts to quieter sites, cities or villages, we have put together below a list of suggestions for winter breaks for this holiday season.
Located in a more remote part of Moeciu, this is a place to take in the simple, traditional, rural life. It is also the place to go to avoid noisy tourist crowds and go about exploring the beautiful nature sites in the area. You can walk from Magura to Pestera village and get a sense of what countryside life on top of the mountain means. Alternatively, there are hiking routes that take visitors to Cabana Curmatura, La Table, or Prapastiile Zarnestiului. Some of the villages nearby that are also worth a visit include Pestera, Sirnea, Dambovicioara, and Fundata. More about Măgura here.
This is an oldie but goldie winter destination and for good reason. The site of the Peleș Castle wrapped up in a snow blanket is always spectacular, and the city’s beautiful architecture and central park make up the perfect setting for a nice stroll. When done with visiting or revisiting the castle, the house of George Enescu or the Sinaia Monastery, you can stop in one of the cozy cafes nearby the park and take in more of the views.
A well-preserved Old Town, interesting museums and a Christmas Market that has inspired many similar initiatives across the country are part of the offering of Sibiu, the central Romania city that has been part this year of the European Region of Gastronomy. If you have exhausted the urban offer of exhibition, markets, and sightseeing, you can also head to nearby Păltiniș, a beautiful mountain resort some 30 km away from the city.
The city at the foothills of the Tâmpa Mountain is as attractive in winter as it is summer. Exploring its old fortifications, many museums or climbing up to see the city from above from the Tâmpa promenade will ensure an entertaining experience, while the active types can head to Poiana Brașov, a well-known winter sports resort. While in town, do not miss the activities in Sfatului Square, either the Christmas Market, a concert at the Black Church or other events nearby. More suggestions on how to see Brașov from above here.
Putna - Pojorâta
In northeastern Romania’s Suceava county, the commune of Putna is known for the beautiful monastery it hosts, one of the most important cultural and religious centers of medieval Moldavia. To spend more time in the area and explore the impressive landscapes and local traditions of Bucovina, visitors can try a stay at Biovale Putna, in Pojorâta, also in Suceava county. The area of Pojorâta hosts many nature reserves and spectacular gorges of the Rarău Mountain. It is also home to secular forests, such as Giumalău, which hosts spruce trees that are over 100 years old, or Slătioara.
Also in the area, some 36 km south of Pojorâta is Vatra Dornei, also a beautiful ski resort. The city is surrounded by forests and there are also mineral water springs nearby, which helped turn the site into a spa town towards the end of the 19th century. The resort has three slopes, the longest one of 3,200 meters. Visitors can also try a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow-covered landscapes. Those who spend the winter holidays here can also experience some of the local traditions, from food to festivities.
Some 80 km away from Vatra Dornei is Bistrița, the northernmost Saxon town in the country. Here, visitors can see local landmarks such as the Sugălete ensemble of buildings from the 15th to the 16th centuries, the traces of the Bistrița Fortress, the old city gates or the Bistrița County Museum. Housed in a former garrison, it has archaeology, ethnography, and fine arts sections, all guarding a wealth of info about the region. The Evangelical Church is another landmark of the city, representative for the transition from the Gothic style to that of the Renaissance in Transylvania. More on what to see in Bistrita here.
On the shore of Paltinu Lake, Atra Doftana is unexpectedly quiet, a place to disconnect from daily chores and relax, and an alternative to other, busier winter sites. It is also a good place to spend a weekend to discover the area of the Doftana Valley, the nearby forests, old sheepfolds and villages. The Atra restaurant on site offers a fine dining experience, while museum buffs can take a trip to Câmpina to visit the Iulia Hașdeu Castle, built by historian and politician Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu to honor the memory of his daughter, Iulia, who died at the age of 19.
One of the better-known Saxon villages in Transylvania, Biertan has a special appeal at winter time. Nestled in between the valleys and hills of the Târnavelor Plateau, it seems to be a fairy-tale land when winter takes over its landscape. The fortified church there, listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is always a site to see, in this village that seems to transport visitors to another, quieter time.
(Opening photo: Biertan by Ramona Simu/ Dreamstime)