In the past years, Danube river cruises have become popular among travelers interested in visiting Central and Eastern Europe. The river crosses 10 countries and 4 capital cities, having its springs in the Black Forest Mountains in Germany. After 2860 km (the second largest river in Europe, after the Volga) Danube river forms Danube Delta, a unique and diverse ecosystem at the Black Sea.
There are many places to explore along the Danube river, and Romania, with its capital city, Bucharest, is one of them.
So, check out why to choose Bucharest as one of your Danube River Cruise stops.
1. Bucharest, Romania’s capital city
In Romania, the Danube river crosses the Carpathian Mountains forming an impressive gorge, then enters the plain region until reaching its Delta and eventually the Black Sea.
Some of the Danube River cruises are starting or ending in Romania, at Giurgiu (Romania) or Ruse (Bulgaria), around 1h and a half drive from Bucharest.
Formerly known as “Paris of the East,” Bucharest is the largest city of Romania and the country’s capital.
The settlement of Bucharest was first mentioned in 1459, and, ever since, the town went through a series of continuous changes, representing the central scene of Romania’s political, artistic, university, financial and cultural life.
Bucharest is the place where the East meets the West. Located at the crossroads between two important cultures, the Orient and the Occident, Bucharest is considered the city of contrasts. It reunites cultural influences from the former Ottoman Empire with French elegant architecture, rich and delicious food, an unmistakable Latin spirit of the people, and a deeply rooted Orthodox faith.
Reasons to visit Bucharest:
- Cheap flights to and from Bucharest
- Good value for money for food, accommodation, and transportation
- Variety of cultural events
- Many interesting museums
- Spas and large parks
- Outdoor activities in Bucharest’s surroundings
- Friendly and hospitable people
- Visit the world’s second-largest building in the world, the Palace of the Parliament.
2. Day-tours from Bucharest
Thanks to its location, in Southern Romania, Bucharest is a perfect base from where you can explore more of our country. Either on your own or joining a small group, there are many places you can visit during a day tour from Bucharest:
- Peles castle, the former summer royal residence of the Romanian Royal family (considered one of the most beautiful castles in Europe)
- Bran castle became so famous thanks to the legend of Count Dracula
- Brasov medieval city, founded by the German colonists in the 13th century
- Prejmer and Harman fortified churches (UNESCO Monuments)
- Cantacuzino Palace
- Poienari Fortress, the real fortress that belonged to Vlad the Impaler, also known and Dracula
- Mogosoaia Palace with its beautiful gardens
- Snagov Monastery is located on a small island surrounded by Snagov Lake. It is supposed that Vlad the Impaler is buried here.
- Curtea de Arges Monastery, an architectural masterpiece and burial place of the Romanian Royal family
- Constanta harbor and the Black Seaside
- Danube Delta – you could visit Danube Delta in one day, but it will be a very long one. It is preferable to spend at least 2 days so that you can enjoy as much as possible the boat ride along the river’s canals and admire the numerous birds that are to be found here. (UNESCO Heritage).
- Hike the Carpathian Mountains: Bucegi National Park, Piatra Craiului and Ciucas Mountains
More about which are the best day-tours from Bucharest you will find in this article.
3. Explore Romania
If you wish to get a real glimpse of Romania, you need some time to explore its historical regions:
- Transylvania is probably the most famous region of Romania. It is located in the central part of the country, bordered by the Carpathian Mountains chain. In Transylvania, one must definitely visit its beautiful medieval cities like Sibiu (former European Capital of Culture in 2007), Brasov, Sighisoara (UNESCO Heritage), Cluj Napoca or Alba Iulia; the bucolic countryside with the remote Saxon villages and their fortified churches (Viscri, Saschiz, Biertan, Crit, Messendorf, etc.) and the beautiful forests, still home to a large population of wild animals. Of course, let’s not forget about the underground wonders you can find in this region, places like Turda Salt Mine. Check out here which are the Best landmarks if you visit for the first time Transylvania.
- Maramures is a mountain region located in Northern Romania. It is also known as the “Land of Wood” and famous for the tall wooden churches, the warm and hard-working people, the large wooden gates, the delicious food, and the strong plum brandy, “palinca.” In Maramures, you can travel through scattered villages and admire the rural and wooden architectural style. Even though the old houses are slowly replaced by large ones made of concrete and with no personality, there are still villages where you can get to see the traditional ones. There are approximately 100 wooden churches, out of which 8 are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage. Also, in Maramures, you can visit the only Merry Cemetery in the world and get to travel by ”Mocanita,” an old steam train that goes on a narrow gauge.
- Bucovina is also a region from Northern Romania. It is known as the Land of the Beech Trees, so you can already imagine how beautiful this area is during autumn. There are 2 main reasons you should pay a visit to Bucovina: the tradition of painting eggs for Easter and the unique painted convents. The Painted eggs are the typical image of Easter in Romania. The tradition dates back centuries, and even now, it is so well preserved most of all in Bucovina. There are museums with workshops where you can admire the painted eggs and discover how they are made. The painted convents are by far the places you need to visit when in Romania. They are 500-600 years old, and their original frescoes survived despite the weather and wars. Today, they are 8 painted convents included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and among them, the most impressive ones are Voronet, Sucevita, Moldovita, and Humor. You read more about the history of the Bucovina region on our travel blog.
- Moldova is a region in the Eastern part of Romania famous for the wines and numerous churches. According to late statistics, it is here where you can find the largest number of Orthodox Churches in the country. The main attraction is the city of Iasi, the former capital city of Moldova during medieval times.
- Wallachia is located in Southern Romania. Bordered by the Carpathian Mountains in North and the Danube River in South, this region includes beautiful castles, picturesque wine areas, the capital city Bucharest, Orthodox Monasteries, and pottery workshops.
- Dobrogea and the Black Sea Coast. Unfortunately, there are not too many tourists that are traveling to Dobrogea and the Black Sea Coast. Geologically speaking, the region of Dobrogea (South-Eastern Romania) is the oldest land in the country. Here, the landscape changes. It is so diverse with dramatic hills where windmills are scattered, Ancient ruins of citadel founded by Greek colonists, small villages and cities with 13 different ethnic groups, seaside resorts, caves, Constanta harbor, and of course, the wild Danube Delta.
- Also, the West of Romania is beautiful with the cities of Timisoara (Future European Capital of Culture in 2021), Arad, and Oradea.
Either you are about to start your Danube River cruise from Romania or end it in Romania. It is really worth spending some time here. You can do it on your own or by taking a private or small group tour.
Here are some ideas: