The holiday season in Romania is focused mainly on two aspects, observing local traditions that are still kept alive mostly in the Romanian villages and participating at several events that are organized throughout the month of December in the largest Romanian cities.
Given that for tourists the most attractive travel destinations during the winter season are the Christmas Markets, it’s probably useful to know what else you can do during the holiday season if you want to spend the holidays in Romania.
Christmas in Sibiu
The Christmas Market in Sibiu is the main attraction, especially since there are many fun activities for children that will help them spread some holiday cheer and play the role of Santa’s helpers. Special workshops teach children how to bake cookies, make candles or tree ornaments, but they will also have the opportunity to watch children’s theatre plays and Christmas movies.
Professional athletes or simply winter sports enthusiasts in search of adrenaline may choose the Balea area for skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiles and even an ice rink set up on the Balea glacier lake. If the area is too difficult for you, you can always try the ski slopes in Cindrel, Paltinis or Gura Raului, near the city.
The historical center is composed mainly of buildings built by German settlers in the Middle Ages, buildings that still preserve to this day the same charm that they had when they were first built, due to large rehabilitation and maintenance projects. Sibiu’s city center is a destination that is on the list of most foreign tourists who visit Romania and Transylvania for the first time.
At noon, the center is the perfect place for a stroll and lunch in one of the many restaurants that preserve in the interior the atmosphere from outside, serving traditional cuisines of the 3 main ethnic groups that give the charm of the city.
From Piata Mare, your first stop could be the Brukenthal Musem, for those who love architecture and are passionate about art. The museum is open during the winter season from Wednesdays to Sundays.
The city’s fortress was one of the most heavily fortified citadels of its kind in the whole of Europe during the Middle Ages, so it was kept in excellent condition over time. Its towers and bastions can still be visited. The Stairs Passage that connects parts of the fortress is one of the most interesting items on the list of tourist attractions in Sibiu and at the end of the stairs you’ll reach the Golden Keg restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Romania.
Christmas in Brasov
The city of Brasov is another popular destination for the holiday season. It’s proximity to the mountains make it the perfect place to start an active holiday, especially if you enjoy relaxing trekking tours. Brasov also has a beautiful Christmas Market, with all kinds of surprises, especially for families with children. The Brasov Christmas Market usually has a new theme each year. For example, during the 2016 season, the theme is “The Nutcracker”, one of the most popular German Christmas stories, and a famous opera.
Two soldiers built after characters from the famous opera will help Santa, and when he’s not in the Square, they will flank the “chair” which will be made here, for tourists who want to take a unique, photo or a selfie in Santa’s chair. Two other soldiers from “The Nutcracker” will replace the angels flanking one of the square’s entrances, throughout the holiday season. Red, gold and silver are the main colors used for the holiday lights throughout the city.
If you have time to plan a trip in locations near Brasov, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Rasnov Fortress, to have a wonderful view of the city or Bran Castle.
Christmas in Cluj – Napoca
Another popular destination in the Transylvania region is Cluj – Napoca. Asides form the Christmas Market in Cluj – Napoca, perfect to taste some local treats and to find beautiful handcrafted Christmas decorations.
School groups and ensembles, 40 bands and music artists maintain the festive atmosphere in a magical festive decor. Local artists, choirs and folk performances will introduce everyone present at the Christmas Market into the holiday spirit, ranging from Christmas carols and traditional folk music to rock, pop and even opera.
If it’s your first time visiting Cluj – Napoca, it’s best to start with the central square, the zero point of the municipality. Here is where you can best feel the medieval atmosphere of the city, common to most points of interest on the map of a tour in Transylvania. The exceptional atmosphere and open space is perfect for walking, but it stands out primarily by size, being the largest medieval square across Central and South Eastern Europe.
Not far from the City Hall, is a location that well worth a visit, the Simion Barnutiu Central Park, the main green space in the city. Almost 200 years old, the park is a real oasis in the middle of the modern city, perfect for some relaxation. In the park, you can also visit the Central Casino in Cluj, a beautiful building that can be admired including by those who don’t have a passion for gambling.
Located on Szappany street, Weavers Tower, also known as the Firemen Tower, was built in 1547 and today houses a restaurant with glass roof and the Firemen’s Museum.
A unique destination in the city is the Pharmacy Museum, celebrating the many generations of pharmacists who have left their mark on the city. Built in the fifteenth century, the museum today houses an exhibition of more than 3,000 exhibits including recipes, seals, presses, scales, containers and tools with a medieval pharmaceutical laboratory located in the basement.
As you can see, there are plenty of fun activities and events for you to enjoy, should you decide to spend the holidays in Romania with friends or family. If you still haven’t decided how you would like to spend your Christmas in Romania, you can book one of our Romania Tours.