When we decided to visit Romania in October a few years ago, it was honestly simply because this Eastern European country is not currently included in the Schengen agreement. If visiting Europe as a United States citizen, you are allowed to stay in the Schengen area (most of Europe) for up to 90 days over a 180-day period without a Visa.
We were close to our limit but didn’t want to leave, so Romania seemed like the perfect option! However, it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with this beautiful, rugged country. Romania is probably stunning and wonderful to visit any time of year, but we think late September and October is the best time to go due to the great weather and fewer crowds.
Romania is probably known best for the story of Dracula living in a castle in its Transylvania region. However, this country has a very rich history reaching into the Middle Ages and beyond, as well as stunning landscapes including both mountains and coastline.
The medieval architecture of the well-preserved towns and castles is amazing to see in person and feels much more authentic than in other parts of Europe where buildings are more polished. If you speak to older locals, they will tell you about growing up with communist rule (from the end of WW2 to 1989) as well as the government corruption that plagued them after.
Romania is a fascinating and beautiful country that we hope everyone has a chance to spend some time getting to know! We especially recommend it outside of the busy peak season. Visiting in the fall is so lovely!
Why Visit Romania in October
1. Fewer Crowds
Romania isn’t as tourist-heavy as many other countries in Europe. However, it is gaining popularity so summers are the high season and can still be very busy. Since this is an amazing place to road trip and explore old cities, having less traffic and crowds makes it so much nicer!
Not having to fight your way through at popular attractions, like the famous Bran Castle, makes for a much better visit to Romania! In general, we always suggest avoiding peak season when possible.
2. Great Weather
The weather was also perfect when we visited Romania in October. It can be hot in the summer (with the hottest month being July in the high 80s), but weather forecasts for the end of September and the month of October have temperatures averaging mid-to-high 70s (25C). Plus, rainfall is low this time of year!
We had warm sunny days, with very few rainy days, and cooler weather at night. If going up into the mountains, it can get a little chilly but it is absolutely lovely and perfect for hiking. The forests will also start to change colors in autumn, making a beautiful backdrop for your explorations.
As winter nears, it will get colder and even snow, so that’s why planning a trip to Romania in October seems to be the best month to go! (For example: January is the coldest month in Bucharest and the average temperature can be below freezing.) Plus, the hours of sunshine will be less in winter.
3. Lots of Savings
Romania is already a wonderful option for budget-conscious travelers. Hotels and meals are vastly less expensive than anywhere else we traveled in Europe. However, visiting in or around October gives you the bonus savings of visiting in shoulder season when many other travelers are back home. Flights and transport will be cheaper, and hotels will have even better rates than usual!
4. Romania in October Festivals & Fun
If you are visiting Romania due to a fascination with Count Dracula, good news – October is the perfect time to visit Transylvania! This area has shows and parties around Halloween focused on the vampire theme.
Autumn is also harvest season, so you can enjoy more fresh produce at the markets as well as cultural events, like music and theatre festivals. The Revino Gourmet Show is presented in Bucharest at the end of October and includes a great assortment of fine cheeses, meats, and wine.
Top Places to Visit in Romania
These Romanian destinations are some of our favorites as well as the most popular sites listed by other visitors. We spent about nine days touring mostly the Transylvania region and still have so much to see.
If you love castles, Romania is worth a long visit. There are so many beautiful castles in this country, including many with famous history. Just note that they usually have an admission price that can feel a little expensive when so many meals and other attractions are much less!
- Bran Castle near Brasov: The most famous of all the castles in Romania due to being known as Count Dracula’s home. It is also in a very scenic area with green hills rolling beyond it.
- Peles Castle in the Carpathian Mountains: A stunning example of German neo-Renaissance style, many say Peles is one of the most beautiful castles in Europe.
- Corvin Castle in Hunedoara: A Gothic-style castle with a fairy tale look and an association to the Dracula myth.
- Fagaras Citadel in Southeast Transylvania: Started in the 1300s, this fortress was used to defend this area from the Tatars and Ottomans.
- Sturdza Castle in Miclauseni: This beautiful and romantic castle also has a lake and park nearby.
- Poenari Citadel near Fagaras Mountains-: Home to the infamous Vlad the Impaler, Poenari sits on a cliff edge and takes a 1480-step climb to reach!
- Cantacuzino Castle in Busteni: If you liked the Wednesday series on Netflix, you’ll want to stop here since it was used as the exterior of the school!
- Rasnov Citadel: A medieval fortress above the town of the same name offering scenic views from the top.
- Rupea Fortress: Atop a hill in a small town, this fortress is a great place to stop on a road trip around Transylvania and is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Romania.
Must-Visit Cities & Villages in Romania
Wandering along the Cobblestone Streets of the many beautiful and historic Romanian cities and small village areas is well worth your time. There are so many lovely places, but here are a few you really won’t want to miss:
- Brasov: There is so much to do in and around this beautiful city, it should definitely be on your priority list. The medieval architecture paired with happy Romanian people and beautiful lush hills surrounding Brasov made for a great experience.
- For a great view of the city, go up the cable car on Tampa Mountain to the Brasov sign!
- Sighisoara: Our favorite stunning medieval city! Walking around Sighisoara feels like a step back in time with so much iconic medieval architecture. It is actually one of seven fortified citadels built in the 12th century by the Transylvania Saxons. It’s also where the infamous Vlad the Impaler was said to have been born.
- Bucharest: The country’s capital is a bustling city with an old town to explore and the National Museum of Romanian History – a great place to learn about the country you are visiting!
- Sibiu: Known for its multiple art museums, parks, theatres, and churches, it is no wonder Sibiu was named Europe’s Capital of Culture in previous years. It is also just a lovely place for a stroll!
- Cluj-Napoca: As the winner of the European Youth Capital award in previous years, Cluj is a stand-out city compared to the more old-timey feel elsewhere in Romania. This city is hip and has some awesome foodie finds as well as unique bars. It’s a very fun place!
- Viscri Village: This authentic Saxon village in Transylvania offers traditional dishes (we had an AMAZING multi-course meal here) and a visit to the Viscri Fortified Church, which is part of a UNESCO Heritage Site that includes the oldest fortified churches of Transylvania.
Bonus: If headed to Northeast Romania, the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina are unique monasteries that were painted with colorful frescoes in the 15th and 16th centuries and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mountainous Areas & Natural Wonders
Our favorite part of our trip to Romania was driving up into the mountains. If you are a nature lover, make sure to get out into the mountains and forests. Just beware: they do have wolves and bears!
- Transylvanian Alps (Southern Carpathian Mountains): The best way to see this area without extensive hiking is taking a road trip over the iconic winding Transfagarasan Highway. We drove the most beautiful roads along the way, stayed at a small hotel at the top then made our way back down. It was amazing! (Read more about our Romania road trip here).
- The Liberty Bear Sanctuary in Zarnesti: This home to rescued bears – many saved from a circus or tiny cages – allows you to visit these beautiful creatures in a safe way for you all.
- Sphinx & Babele Rock Formations in the Bucegi Mountains: These unique rocks created by erosion are a short walk from each other after going up a cable car from Busteni (or by car or walking).
- Danube Delta: This network of waterways located in Tulcea County originated in the Black Sea and is home to a large number of plants, birds, and other wildlife. It is a lovely place to catch a sunset!
- Drive the Transalpina: Going from Novaci to Sebes, the Transalpina is a curvy and scenic road that offers one of the highest drives in the country. Urdele Pass is the highest point.
- SalinaTurda: If you love unique experiences in nature, this quirky attraction is a must! They turned an unused salt into an amusement park! (Learn more.)
- Red Ravine near Sebes: This gorgeous geological reserve is located in the southwest of the Secaselor Plateau and is known for its sharp, steep walls and red appearance.
- Coastal Explorations: The Black Sea Coast is a go-to for many visitors to Romania. Although it is more of a summer trip, if visiting the coast of Romania in October, sea temperatures are around 60-70F but that may be a little too chilly to swim for some!
- Visit Constanta for the old town, sandy beaches, museums, and the famous Constanta Casino known for its beautiful art nouveau architecture.
Places to Stay in Romania
We loved the variety of places we stayed in Romania – from a small hotel with a slight vampire theme to larger hotels in cities and quaint B&B accomodations.
Here are some great Romania accomodation options to check out:
- In Turda, we stayed at Hunter Prince Castle & Dracula Hotel because we just couldn’t resist the theme!
- In Brasov, we stayed at the Victoria Boulevard Hotel with a great breakfast included. (See more options in Brasov.)
- In Sibiu, Villa Bohemia was a lovely place to stay within walking distance to town and the staff was very nice.
- In Sighisoara, the classy and conveniently located Hotel Central Park was a nice find.
Ready to visit Romania? Read more of our travel tips here!