Located in Eastern Europe, Romania shares borders with five countries: Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova. It also enjoys a 275km-long stretch of Black Sea coastline – perfect for a well-earned weekend getaway from the library or lab!
Romania is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Europe, encompassing the snow-capped Carpathian Mountains, the Danube Delta and Transylvania’s dense forests.
Culture and tourism
The capital of Bucharest is home to a diverse range of architecture, from towering Communist-era apartment blocks to elegant mansions dating back to the 19th century. Perhaps the most famous building in Bucharest is the Palace of Parliament, begun in the 1980s on the orders of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. One of the largest buildings in the world, the parliament is an imposing monument to authoritarianism.
Happily, modern-day Romania is a dynamic young democracy with a growing tourism sector. Outside of Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca is a vibrant university town with a stunning Gothic church and bohemian atmosphere.
A visit to Romania wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Bran Castle, hidden deep in the Transylvanian foothills. Embedded in popular culture as the apparent source of the legend of Count Dracula, Bran Castle’s spooky spires are creepily atmospheric.
Sport and leisure
Romania is blessed with a varied selection of landscapes, from snowy mountaintops in Transylvania and Moldavia to the Danube Delta, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. As such, the country is a popular destination for adventurous hikers looking to experience some of Europe’s greatest wildernesses.
In terms of sports, football is the most popular sport in Romania, which has produced many great players over the years (Gheorghe Hagi, Adrian Mutu and Gabriel Tamaș, to name a few).
Handball is another popular sport, with the Romanian national team winning the world cup on a joint-record four occasions.
Food and drink
Romanian cuisine is typically hearty and fresh, with influences from bordering countries and traditions. One of the most common Romanian staples is mămăligă, a cornmeal-based dish akin to polenta. Sarmale, meanwhile, are stuffed vine or cabbage leaves that can be found on kitchen tables across the country.
Bucharest street food encompasses delicacies such as shoarma wraps, gogoși doughnuts and covrigi pretzels.