When you’re thinking of which destinations to visit in Europe in your motorhome or campervan, Romania may not be one of the first countries you think of going to.
From the friendly locals, to the beautiful mountain ranges to the spectacular castles and rich history, Romania has so much to offer and we think it’s a real underrated country in Europe.
We spent 3 weeks living van life Romania, and we had no idea what to expect before we visited, but we were so amazed and surprised by this country, that we wanted to share our experience with you, so that you may consider your own van life Romania adventure!
Van Life Romania quick facts
Duration – 3 Weeks
Currency – Romanian Leu
Language – Romanian but everybody that we spoke to also speaks English
Schengen Zone – Romania is not in the Schengen zone so for people from the UK, it does not count towards your 90 day allowance in the EU
Fuel / LPG Cost – Roughly £1.40 a litre
Toll Roads – You need to buy a vignette to travel on toll roads and motorways in Romania. You can buy the vignette online for the time period that you will be in Romania here – Vignette, Bridge Toll and RCA online | Roviniete.ro
Water / Electricity / Emptying – There are some points on Park4Night for filling up with water but we didn’t come across any service points for emptying grey/black waste, we only managed to do this when we stayed at campsites.
Laundry – Available at campsites and laundrettes.
Supermarkets – The main supermarket chains in Romania are: Kaufland, Carrefour, Lidl, Metro, Auchan, Mega Image, Selgros, Rewe, Profi and Cora Hypermarche.
Van Life Romania Destinations
The Merry Cemetery
The Merry Cemetery in Romania is a unique and colourful cemetery located in the town of Săpânța. What sets it apart from other cemeteries is its vividly painted wooden crosses, each one displaying a humorous and often irreverent epitaph that depicts the life of the deceased.
The tradition began in the early 20th century with local artist Stan Ioan Pătraș, who started carving and painting the crosses. Today, the cemetery is a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world.
For van lifers exploring Romania, a visit to the Merry Cemetery offers a fascinating glimpse into the country’s unique cultural traditions and a chance to pay respects to the departed in a light hearted and memorable way.
The Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains are a stunning natural wonder that spans through Romania and several other Eastern European countries.
In Romania, the Carpathians offer some of the most breath-taking scenery and opportunities for outdoor adventure. With several national parks and nature reserves, you can explore the mountains at your own pace and take in the pristine forests, alpine meadows, and crystal-clear rivers.
The Carpathians are also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including brown bears, wolves, lynx, and various bird species. Hiking, rock climbing, and skiing are popular activities, and the mountain villages offer a unique glimpse into traditional Romanian culture.
A road trip through the Carpathians is a must for any van lifer looking to experience Romania’s natural beauty and rich history.
Sighisoara is a picturesque and charming medieval town located in the heart of Romania. Known as the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the town is steeped in history and boasts a beautifully preserved Old Town that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The town is surrounded by a 12th-century fortified wall, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The colourful houses and cobblestone streets of the Old Town are a delight to explore on foot, and there are numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars where visitors can enjoy traditional Romanian cuisine and drinks.
Sighisoara is also home to a number of museums and art galleries, showcasing the town’s rich cultural heritage. For van lifers, Sighisoara is a must-visit destination in Romania, offering a unique glimpse into the country’s past and a chance to soak up its vibrant present.
Salina Turda Salt Mine
Have you ever been to a theme park underground? Well Romania is home to the world’s only underground theme park in a salt mine!
Salina Turda Salt Mine is a fascinating and unique destination for any van life enthusiast visiting Romania. Located in the city of Turda, this salt mine has been transformed into a tourist attraction with stunning underground lakes, salt sculptures, and even an amusement park.
The mine dates back to the 17th century and was used for salt extraction until 1932, when it was converted into a storage facility for cheese and later a bomb shelter during World War II.
Today, you can explore the mine’s tunnels and caverns, marvel at the impressive underground lake, and even play mini-golf or ride a Ferris wheel. The mine also features a museum that provides insight into the history and geology of the area.
Salina Turda Salt Mine is a unique and unforgettable experience that combines history, nature, and fun, and is a must-visit destination for any van lifer travelling through Romania. We found this to be one of our favourite things that we did in our time in Romania.
If you’d like to know more about Salina Turda, you can find out everything you need to know in our blog post here – Salina Turda Salt Mine – The World’s Only Underground Theme Park
Turda Gorge is a spectacular natural wonder located in the Apuseni Mountains of Romania. The gorge, which is carved by the Turda River, stretches for over three kilometres and features towering limestone cliffs, underground caves, and lush forests.
You can hike along the marked trails that wind through the gorge, stopping to take in the stunning views and explore the many caves and rock formations. There is also a cable car that takes visitors up to the top of the gorge, offering a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape.
At the base of the gorge, there is a picnic area and a small lake where you can relax and enjoy a swim. For van lifers, the Turda Gorge is a must-visit destination in Romania, offering an unforgettable natural experience and a chance to connect with the country’s stunning wilderness.
Brasov is a charming and historic city located in the heart of Romania, nestled in the Carpathian Mountains.
The city boasts a beautifully preserved Old Town, which is home to a number of medieval buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and bustling town squares. You can explore the city’s many churches, museums, and art galleries, or take a stroll through the city’s many parks and green spaces.
One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the Gothic-style Black Church, which dates back to the 14th century. For outdoor enthusiasts, the nearby mountains offer a wealth of opportunities for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. There are also numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars in the city where visitors can sample traditional Romanian cuisine and drinks.
For van lifers, Brasov is a must-visit destination in Romania, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty and we really enjoyed exploring this pretty town.
Bran Castle is a stunning historic landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions located near Brasov in the heart of Romania. The castle, which dates back to the 14th century, is famously associated with the legend of Dracula, and is often referred to as Dracula’s Castle.
The castle is situated on a hilltop and offers breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore the castle’s many rooms, which are decorated with antique furniture and medieval artifacts.
The castle is also home to a museum, which features exhibits on the history of the castle and the region.
We visited Bran Castle on the day of Halloween which felt like a real bucket list thing to tick off for us! We paid for a guided tour and we were the only ones on the tour so we managed to learn so much from our guide which was great.
For van lifers, a visit to Bran Castle is a must, offering a fascinating glimpse into Romania’s rich history and a chance to explore one of the most iconic landmarks in the country. Whether you’re a fan of the Dracula legend or simply interested in medieval history, Bran Castle is a destination not to be missed.
Sibiu is a picturesque city located in the heart of Transylvania, Romania, and is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the country in a van.
With its beautifully preserved medieval old town, charming cobblestone streets, and colourful buildings, Sibiu offers a unique glimpse into Romania’s history and culture.
You can explore the city on foot or by bike, taking in sights such as the iconic Brukenthal Palace, the impressive Council Tower, and the historic Lutheran Cathedral.
When we visited Sibiu it was around Christmas time, and they had Christmas markets on in the main square which was so nice, the city had such a festive feel.
Sibiu is also surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including the Făgăraș Mountains and the Transfăgărășan Highway, making it an ideal base for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and camping. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a charming place to park your van and soak up the local culture, Sibiu is a must-visit destination in Romania.
Corvin’s Castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle, is a magnificent Gothic castle located in the historic town of Hunedoara, Romania, and is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the country in a van.
This impressive fortress dates back to the 15th century and is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. We highly recommend visiting the castle to marvel at its grand architecture, impressive towers, and fascinating history.
The castle is home to a number of interesting features, including the Knight’s Hall, the Torture Chamber, and the impressive Renaissance-style chapel. You can also enjoy stunning views of the surrounding town and countryside from the castle’s towers.
Corvin’s Castle is a true gem of Romania and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, and stunning natural scenery.
Moldoveanu Peak is the highest peak in Romania, standing at an impressive 2,544 meters above sea level, and is a must-visit destination for any van life enthusiast exploring the country’s natural wonders.
Located in the Făgăraș Mountains of the Southern Carpathians, Moldoveanu Peak offers breath-taking views of the surrounding valleys and peaks, making it a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers.
Van lifers can park their vehicle at the base of the mountain and embark on a challenging but rewarding hike to the summit. The trail takes hikers through stunning alpine landscapes, dense forests, and rocky terrain, offering a unique glimpse into Romania’s natural beauty.
At the summit, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including the nearby Negoiu Peak and the stunning Balea Lake. Moldoveanu Peak is an unforgettable destination for anyone seeking adventure, natural beauty, and a sense of accomplishment.
Retezat National Park
Retezat National Park is a stunning natural wonder located in the Retezat Mountains of Romania, and is a must-visit destination for any van life enthusiast exploring the country’s wild side.
The park covers over 38,000 hectares of pristine wilderness, including high peaks, deep valleys, crystal-clear lakes, and diverse wildlife. You can park your van in one of the park’s designated car parks and explore the park’s many hiking trails, taking in sights such as the beautiful Zanoaga Lake, the impressive Bucura Peak, and the stunning alpine landscapes that make this park so special.
Retezat National Park is also home to a number of endemic plant and animal species, making it a unique and important ecological site. Visitors can camp in designated areas, swim in the park’s many lakes, and even spot rare wildlife such as bears, wolves, and lynx.
Retezat National Park is a true gem of Romania and a must-visit destination for anyone seeking natural beauty, adventure, and a sense of wonder.
The Transfagarasan Highway is a spectacular mountain road that winds its way through the Fagaras Mountains in Romania, and is a must-visit destination for any van life enthusiast exploring the country’s natural wonders.
The highway is famous for its hairpin turns, steep climbs, and stunning alpine landscapes, including breath-taking views of the nearby Balea Lake and has appeared in many TV shows and films as one of the most impressive roads in Europe.
Van lifers can embark on a thrilling journey up the mountain, with plenty of places to stop to take in sights such as the iconic Vidraru Dam, the impressive Balea Waterfall, and the picturesque Balea Lake, which freezes over in the winter, creating a truly magical sight.
The Transfagarasan Highway is also home to a number of hiking trails, offering a unique opportunity to explore the surrounding mountains and forests. With its stunning natural beauty and unique engineering feats, the Transfagarasan Highway is a true gem of Romania and a must-visit destination for anyone seeking adventure, natural beauty, and a sense of awe.
Seven Ladders Canyon
Seven Ladders Canyon, also known as Canionul Sapte Scari, is a stunning natural wonder located in the Piatra Mare Mountains of Romania, and is a must-visit destination for any van life enthusiast exploring the country’s natural beauty.
The canyon features a series of seven cascading waterfalls, connected by narrow metal ladders and steep trails, making it a unique and exciting destination for hikers and nature lovers.
You can park your van in the designated car park and embark on a thrilling hike through the canyon, taking in sights such as the stunning waterfalls, the narrow gorges, and the dense forests that line the trails. The canyon is also home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including rare birds, butterflies, and wildflowers, making it a unique ecological site.
Seven Ladders Canyon is closed at the end of Autumn and through Winter, and reopens in the Spring.
Seven Ladders Canyon is an unforgettable destination for anyone seeking adventure, natural beauty, and a sense of wonder, and is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits.
Zarnesti is a charming town located in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, and is a must-visit destination for any van life enthusiast exploring the country’s natural and cultural heritage.
The town is surrounded by stunning mountain landscapes, including the nearby Piatra Craiului National Park, which offers a range of hiking trails and outdoor activities. The town has many attractions to explore, including the 14th-century Zarnesti Citadel, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
The town is also home to a number of charming cafes, restaurants, and shops, where you can sample local cuisine and buy traditional crafts and souvenirs. Zarnesti is an ideal base for exploring the many natural and cultural attractions in the surrounding area, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking adventure, culture, and natural beauty in Romania.
The Bucegi Mountains are a stunning mountain range located in central Romania, and are a must-visit destination for any van life enthusiast exploring the country’s natural wonders.
The mountains are famous for their rugged peaks, deep gorges, and diverse wildlife, including rare species such as the Carpathian chamois and the European brown bear. There are a range of outdoor activities to take on in the area, including hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife watching.
The mountains are also home to a number of attractions, such as the Sphinx and Babele rock formations, which are said to have mystical properties and attract visitors from around the world.
The Bucegi Mountains offer a unique and unforgettable natural experience, with stunning alpine landscapes, rare wildlife, and a rich cultural heritage that make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking adventure, natural beauty, and a sense of wonder.
If there’s one thing that Romania does better than many other countries in Europe, it’s castles.
Peles Castle is a magnificent 19th-century palace located in the town of Sinaia, Romania, and is a must-visit destination for any van life enthusiast exploring the country’s cultural heritage.
The castle was built in the late 1800s by King Carol I of Romania, and features a stunning array of architectural styles, including neo-Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque elements. A tour of the castle is a must-do activity in Romania, taking in its many ornate rooms, lavish furnishings, and stunning artworks.
The castle also boasts a beautifully manicured garden, with a range of exotic plants and trees, as well as a charming café and gift shop. Peles Castle is a testament to Romania’s rich cultural heritage, and offers a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone interested in history, architecture, and the arts.
Bucharest is the vibrant and bustling capital city of Romania, and is a must-visit destination for any van life enthusiast exploring the country. The city is a unique blend of old-world charm and modern cosmopolitan energy, with stunning architectural landmarks, lively nightlife, and a rich cultural heritage.
The city has so many amazing attractions to offer, such as the grandiose Palace of the Parliament, the charming Old Town, and the beautiful Cismigiu Gardens.
The city is also home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, with a range of museums, galleries, and theatres showcasing Romania’s rich artistic heritage.
The food scene in Bucharest is also not to be missed, with a wide range of restaurants and cafes offering traditional Romanian dishes as well as international cuisine. Bucharest is a unique and unforgettable destination for anyone seeking history, culture, nightlife, and a taste of modern Romania.
You’ll find that city life in Romania is world’s apart from the life in the country and the mountains.
Volunteering at a dog shelter – Miercurea Ciuc
Romania has one of the largest stray dog populations across Europe, and prior to Romania, we hadn’t really experienced any countries with stray dogs during our van life travels across Europe.
We knew that we would see some stray dogs whilst we were there, we just didn’t actually realise how many. It surprised and saddened us.
Something we knew that we wanted to do even before visiting Romania was to spend some time volunteering at a dog shelter. We are both big dog lovers, and we really wanted to experience this and help in any way that we could.
However because the stray dog problem is so large in Romania, there are so many different shelters that we just didn’t know which one to go to or how to go about it.
Luckily for us, whilst we were parked at a fabulous campsite in the middle of the mountains, we met a friend from Germany who was actually already volunteering at a dog shelter only an hour away. It was as if our paths crossed just at the right time!
We found out all about the dog shelter from her and she told us we were welcome to stop by and visit, so a few days later this is what we did. We went to the Pro Animalia Dog Shelter in Miercurea Ciuc.
We ended up staying at the shelter and helping out for a week and we just had such an amazing time, it was one of the real highlights of our van life adventures across Europe. We met so many beautiful dogs, we wanted to keep them all!
We helped to interact with the litters of abandoned puppies to help them get used to interacting with people, ready for when they would be adopted. We also helped them record a YouTube video tour of the shelter for their YouTube channel.
We also set up a Just Giving page to try and raise some money for the shelter, as we enjoyed our time so much there and we could see what amazing hard work they were doing, and we wanted to help in any way that we could.
If you love dogs and are looking to experience something like this, we really recommend looking into doing this whilst you’re in Romania. It’s such a rewarding and unforgettable experience.
If you’d like to see more of our time at the dog shelter, you can watch our YouTube video below.
Van Life Romania hints and tips
Firstly, it is important to research and plan your route in advance. Romania has a good network of roads, but some areas may be more difficult to access by van than others. It is also important to keep in mind that some roads, particularly in the mountainous areas, may be narrow and winding, so it is important to take extra care when driving.
One of the great things about van life in Romania is the many beautiful and affordable camping sites available throughout the country. These range from simple parking spots to more developed sites with electricity and water hook-ups. Wild camping is also widely accepted in Romania, so you can also take advantage of wild camping opportunities in the countryside, providing you respect the environment and local regulations.
When visiting Romania, it is also important to be aware of the local customs and culture. Romania has a rich cultural heritage, with a unique mix of influences from the Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Western Europe. You can experience this culture in the many traditional villages, festivals, and markets throughout the country.
For those seeking outdoor adventure, Romania offers a range of activities, including hiking, cycling, and skiing. The Carpathian Mountains offer some of the most stunning landscapes in Europe, with peaks such as Moldoveanu and Bucegi providing some of the best hiking opportunities. The Danube Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is also a must-visit destination for any nature lover, with a range of rare flora and fauna, as well as boat tours to explore the delta’s many channels and lagoons.
When it comes to food, Romania has a rich and varied culinary tradition, with influences from neighbouring countries such as Hungary and Turkey. Sample traditional dishes such as sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls) and mici (grilled minced meat rolls), as well as delicious desserts such as papanasi (sweet cheese dumplings). It is also worth checking out the local markets, where you can buy fresh produce, cheeses, and meats to cook in your van.
In conclusion, van life in Romania is a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone seeking adventure, natural beauty, and cultural heritage. With stunning landscapes, charming towns and cities, and a rich cultural tradition, Romania has something to offer for every van lifer. By researching and planning your route and respecting local customs and culture, you can have an amazing and memorable van life experience in Romania.
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You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!
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