Wallachia, Romania


My favorite places/things to do in Romania's Wallachia region (Tara Romaneasca or Muntenia): the scenic drives of Transfagarasan and Transalpina (don't go during winter time), the Endless Column sculpture of Constantin Brancusi in Targu Jiu and driving along the Danube River from Drobeta-Turnu Severin to Moldova Noua (while doing the latter, also visit the Iron Gates Hydroelectric Power Station, one of the largest in Europe, and check out the tallest rock sculpture in Europe). Spending a night at Balea Lake, on the Transfagarasan route, is just magical.

The Mud Volcanoes near Berca are pretty cool, while the Peles Castle in Sinaia is spectacular and absolutely worth visiting. The Bucegi area offers cool hiking routes and the Caraiman Cross, the talles summit cross in the world at 2,291m. One of the most scenic (but easy) hikes in Wallachia is the route between Cabana Ciucas and Ciucas Peak.

Nera Gorges National Park is stunning with picture-perfect waterfalls, lakes and cool forest hiking routes. At Baile Olanesti, near the Water Lily Lake, you can see cool little fireflies in the month of July (I went on 11 July and 14 July; it helps to be there at dawn, around 9:00-9:30 PM).

In the city of Targoviste you can visit the execution site of Ceausescu, Romania's former Communist dictator, and his wife (located at a former military base where you can also visit the site of Ceausescu's trial and his prison cell). Details here.

There are many nice sights in the capital city of Bucharest. The first place to go is the lively Old City with its pubs and restaurants; other notable sights include Herastrau Park, Revolution Square, the Triumphal Arch and the Romanian Athenaeum.

The most notorious sight in Bucharest is probably the Communist-style Palace of Parliament (coloquially known as the People's House), the world's most expensive and second largest administrative building (after the US Pentagon); also, slighlty larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza by volume. This Communist-era oddity can be toured - details here.

Another fascinating Communist point of interest that can be visited is the former residence of dictator Ceausescu and his wife, the Spring Palace. With 80 rooms, the opulent palace includes a spa, underground bunker, in-door greenhouse, swimming pool, a population of peacocks (descending from the orginal ones received by Ceausescu as a gift from Japan), cinema room, tanning and hairstyling rooms, numerous gifts received from world leaders and more. Don't miss it. Details here (be sure to get the private tour).

At the run down Military Museum you can see the Soyuz capsule used for reentry by Romania's only cosmonaut, Dumitru Prunariu (who participated in a Russian mission), which is pretty cool. Finally, in Bucharest don't miss the fabulous Tiriac Collection, a fabulous classic car collection of former tennis player Ion Tiriac.

Additional info:
- entry on Wikipedia
- profile on Wikivoyage

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