London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Romania is still little known, especially for a close European destination; authentic in so many parts and great value for money. Here are our suggestions for a road trip Romania with kids or without, based on our extensive knowledge of the country and heritage, 20 years since we left have gone in a blink but much is close to our hearts! A 10 days Romania itinerary to make the most of Bucharest and Brasov and around – a collection of cultural gems, gastro delights and fun places.
Bucharest is a good starting point given how well connected is the airport and how poor the road infrastructure remains in the country. From London there’s a number of flights, European connections and timetables: BA and Tarom (Romanian airline) from Heathrow as well as few low costs: RyanAir, Blue Air (Romanian low cost) and Wizz Air (Hungarian low cost) from Luton and Stanstead. Bucharest in a nutshell: urban delights from gastronomy and vibrant nightlife, eclectic mix of architecture – beautiful houses French style that managed to survive the communism fury and dictatorship madness; orthodox churches, communist ugly blocks of flats for brutalism aficionados; the second largest building in the World after the Pentagon with the kitschiest mix of marble, grandeur and terrible history; old cobbled streets that used to be commercial centre and now host a myriad of cafes, pubs and restaurants; next door to old graceful buildings (like CEC / Romanian National Savings Bank).
2/3 days in Bucharest are a good introduction in any season, with late spring or early September best if one wants to avoid 30 and even 35 degrees in July and August. The perfect pied a terre in Bucharest is Athenee Palace Hilton, we wrote about in here.
Bucharest culinary scene is delightful and diverse. After a stroll on the cobbled streets of the Old City, head to Aria TNB just above Bucharest National Theatre – fantastic views from a very high 3rd floor and aperols, salmon tartars, foie gras and many other fine dishes. Kids were delighted to be taken along and play on its generous 1200sqm terrace !
For sushi addicts (like us!) head to Embassy Lahovari – a generous terrace and a fantastic young chef in the heart of Bucharest, a traditional Romanian mansion with playful tweaks, mouth watering and affordable cuisine satisfying the most demanding kids and adults.
Over the years Caru cu Bere remained an institution, with typical Romanian dishes in an atmospheric building with high ceilings, dark wooden stairs and stained glass. For more contemporary vibes and Romanian white wines by the Atheneum head to Caju (Joseph Hadad’s restaurant): dishes tuna tartar, octopus, calamari and few kids around even late and no one batting a lid. Or in Floreasca try Pot Stories: in here the calamari sing in crispy rhymes, the eggplant salad has a plot twist, the guacamole are opinonated, one yells OPA and sails to the Mediteranean with the mezzes, the salmon says a love haiku whilst the beignets go into dialectical debates. Sophisticated, fun and delicious!
A second day in Bucharest I’d recommend spending at National Village Museum – to soak in Romanian regional village culture, from houses to clothes and habits. Next door there’s Herastrau and Kiseleff: great parks for kids to run off some steam or simply relax in the greenery by the lake with a frappe (Romanian ice coffee with ice-cream and cream that I can not recommend enough).
A trip to Antipa (National History Museum) takes between 30 min to an hour and is educational; just go prepared with modest expectations for London based kids who regularly go to NHM of Kensington. On the other side of Herastrau, lunch at Il Calcio or Biutiful by the Lake; first with a play area, second next to the lake, playful and contemporary.
If you are in desperate need like us to relax and take a break from urban pace, Pescariu swimming pool is a great place – lunch by sunchairs and kids splashing just in front of you are a magic combo. It is rather expensive for Romania, on the other hand this keeps the crowds away at least during the week and makes it properly zen. Therme are another alternative but a bit further. Our dedicated Bucharest article with kids in the summer in here.
Rent a car for the next 7 days of your road trip Romania and take the trip to Sinaia and/or Busteni to discover Peles Castle and Castelul Cantacuzinilor and enjoy the Romanian Carpati.
Aldovia isn’t real, but fear not the castle in A Christmas Prince is, so there’s still a chance at royal romance, right at Peles Castle. The Netflix viral hit of 2017 (and its sibbling Royal Baby movie) may be cheesy, but the movies does a good job in depicting the charm of Peles and winter lanscapes in Sinaia. And how funny it was, we even attended some of the filmings on one of our trips!
The infrastracture is rather poor, so do expect an average of 3 hours for 100km. Ioana hotel in Sinaia is a good base for the night, we dedicated an article earlier this year. We also discovered one week ago Castelul Cantacuzinilor for a delightful afternoon and dinner – amazing sunset over majestic Bucegi and the Heroes’ Cross.
Brasov is the next place on road trip Romania, we’d recommend 2 full days to enjoy it properly. Our dedicated article in here – for a 2 days trip I’d pick the City centre paired with Parc Aventura for one day and the other Poiana Brasov, a mountain trek and/ or horse riding.
If you get tired of packing and unpacking like me, you could chose Brasov as a base for the next 4 days and opt for daytrips. Dinoparc and Rasnov fortress will keep both kids and parents happy for the day!
Summer 2017& 2018 discoveries and delights have been Yaz (wakeboarding, SUP and kayaking) and Fish 4 Life 7/8 minutes further drive – both Harman based (20min drive from Brasov city centre) and delightful. Fish for life has next door a working farm – geese and ducks that our boys loved chasing; traction horses and a funny donkey, pigs, goats, sheep and chickens. Next door there are 2 trampolines and swings, a pond/ little lake and even boat – our kids have been so mesmerized and unwilling to leave even after 5 hours. The food is great – best tarama salad; trout baked in maize and fish soup – our never stay still 16 months old spent 30 minutes at the table eating solidly!
If you’re after more cultural gems, head to Zabola Estate: a gorgeous piece of royal Transylvania: our friends raved about its wine, ghosts and bears; we loved its authenticity, Sunday long lunch and stroll around its frozen lake.
For the last day and returning to Otopeni, one could opt for the road via Bran – Dracula castle – its stories are fascinating but the immediate surroundings a bit on the touristy side.
For lunch better off head to Fundata and after; landscapes are just amazing, with mountains both side with great Romanian cuisine . My personal favorite spot it’s been few years is Garden Resort; we also been recommended Cetatea Carului next door.
Romanian Carpati and their crisp air, the hay stacks and mountain flowers, the hills and the friendly people, the gorgeous heavy dishes will charm and delight; off the beaten track, still unspoilt and stunning – little known gems. For more suggestions on Brasov, check our dedicated article Top things to do in Brasov with kids .
Should you find an extra day in your Romania itinerary 10 days, our 2018 discovery has been Vinalia Conacul Ceptura, a mansion beautifully restored with love and care in the picturesque Romanian wine regions, where one could spend the night in one of the best Romanian wineries. We raved about extensively in here – it’s also conveniently just an hour drive from Otopeni and worlds apart Bucharest fast paced life.
Travelling to Romania during the pandemic (February 2021 & August 2021). Being fully vaccinated and travelling from UK to Romania was easy, just a couple of extra forms and tests. For coming back to London we booked our private tests 3 days ahead of our travels and thereafter booked for London Day 2 private tests. The travelling guidance has been fluid though, always best to check the latest UK Foreign travel advice.
For a longer stay in Transylvania head here; from Bucharest to Transylvania and vinyard treats at Ceptura head here; and for Romania ski holidays and 7 reasons to go for it in here .
Such a lovely place with so much to do. what a great guide to Romania.
Thank you, nothing like a word of praise from a fellow blogger! Have a lovely Sunday!
Oh my this is such an extensive guide. We went to Romania years ago pre kids and loved it there, everything was ridiculously cheap and we were advised in advance to tip in American 1 dollar notes! This was all pre the Euro and your post brings back how beautiful the country was and clearly still is. I think I like the off the beaten track places best and if we get to return I’ll certainly be looking back on this post.
Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids
Pleasure Fiona! Great to hear you liked it pre kids, it changed quite a bit in the last 10 years in terms of new great restaurants and hotels, sadly the roads are not keeping up with the private sector. But the Romanian countryside remains wonderful and unspoilt! Just let me know if you are planning to go back and will suggest some further ideas.
What an interesting place to visit. I would love to go here one day and I think it looks amazing. I would love to visit the museum, I like museums, especially historical ones!
This looks amazing! Romania is actually on my list of countries to visit. Want to go to Count Dracula’s castle! Yes, I know, how very “touristy” of me. My daughter has recently caught on with my fascination with the count, so hopefully, we’ll manage a visit soon 🙂 #countrykids
Thank you and haha Dean, let me re-phrase that : Count Dracula history and tales are fascinating, the castle is a must see if you get to Brasov but the immediate surroundings are a bit touristy these days, hence me recommending lunch a bit further 😉 Glad my childhood region and history caught your and your daughter imagination! And do email me if you get to go and need more input. Have a lovely Sunday!
Thanks Angela for stopping by! Have a lovely Sunday!
Castelul Bran looks stunning, I love to explore historic buildings
Thanks Cara, it is a place which enchanted and fired so many people imagination!
What an excellent guide to this fascinating country. I have been to Romania twice, but never with the kids. On both occasions we were shown around by some local friends and we had some unforgettable experiences. This is a country which is developing quickly, but your post shows that Romania still has some way to go to catch up with Western Europe, and THAT is precisely why it is so charming and interesting. Enjoyed this – thanks! #ThePlacesWeWillGoLinky
So glad to hear you enjoyed it! Local friends are best in places like Romania, hoping you’ll go back with the kids one day so they get to know those beautiful lands. Danube Delta is another little known Romanian gem and Unesco heritage – you guys would really enjoyed canoeing and the canals. I am giving our boys another year or so 😉 Thanks for stopping by!
Oh, we went to the Danube Delta on both occasions. Absolutely fascinating place – I would love to go back, and the kids would be enthralled by the labyrinth of watery passages and, of course, the pelicans! Happy memories! 😉
SO many amazing things to do! I would love to visit! That zip wiring looks awesome! Thanks for linking up to #ThePlacesWeWillGoLinky xx
Thanks Sonia, lots of zip wires many levels of difficulty! Parc Aventura is the largest outdoors park from Easter Europe, very cool and popular. Pleasure linking in and thanks for stopping by! X
I love how the architecture changes the further east you go. We haven’t thought of visiting Romania, but it does look stunning so may have to rethink!
Hi Emma, indeed the Romanian architecture changes depending on the area, National Village Museum is one great place in Bucharest to observe the specifics. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you get to visit soon!
Lovely photos. I visited Romania about 10 years ago. It’s amazing how different it is from Western Europe and yet so close. I’d love to go again! #theplaceswewillgo
Good to hear Annabel, it changed quite a bit in the last 10 years! Hope you get to go again soon as I am sure you will find new amazing places to explore! Shout if you need any tips and if I can help!
Romania is somewhere I’d really love to explore – I keep reading more and more about it, especially on a couple of travel blogs lately, and it’s amazing to think there somewhere in Europe that’s relatively close but still seems off the beaten track. There’s an amazing driving road that tempts my husband (and I would want to join the hordes following the Dracula route) but this is such a great guide with more ideas to tart me off. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
Great to hear Cathy, it must be Transfagarasan that captured your husband imagination – also on our list with the kids next couple of summers. And rest assured no hordes per se for Dracula route, just avoid the weekend as roads are poor and tiny and those quaint villages can’t cope that well. Do shout if you pencil in a trip to Romania and I can help – been abroad for the last 17 years but afterall it is my country of origin and I am very fond, still in touch with many friends and very happy to put it on authentic travelling plans!
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Lovely to read this! We are going to Romania at the end of this month for 1 week with our 2 year old girl. We fly into Timisoara, our little one is hoping for snow! Any recommendations for where to take her for snowy activities? Maybe tubing or sledging? We will hire a car so happy to drive, but not too far as she’s not the best at sitting for long in the car! Xxx
Hey Sophie, great to hear! My friends who know well the area recommend Semenic/ Valiug for sledging. She also says the most beautiful winter lanscapes in the area are Sibiu Mountains and Apuseni next to Sebes but that would be 3/4 hours of driving. Enjoy and keep us posted! xo
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