With its mix of cultural attractions, spellbinding scenery and affordable adventures, Romania is enchanting Brits in increasing numbers, says Karl Cushing.
From stalking vampires though spooky Transylvanian castles in their finest Halloween Dracula garb to snapping marauding brown bears from rural hides and hiking through sleepy villages where time appears to have stopped sometime around the Middle Ages, Brits are increasingly falling for Romania.
On the ground it offers staggeringly good value, buoyed by a surfeit of low-cost flights from the likes of WizzAir and Ryanair. Romanian carrier Blue Air flies from Birmingham, Liverpool and Luton as well as Glasgow and Dublin, servicing destinations such as Cluj Napoca and Iasi alongside capital Bucharest. Easterly Constanta, meanwhile, with its airport and cruise port, offers a gateway to Black Sea resorts such as Mamaia.
For Clare Stockman, product manager for Europe at Explore, Romania fuses broad appeal with a beguiling blend of old and new. “From ancient history to communist excess, rolling mountains to vast wetlands and fairytale castles to painted monasteries, the possibilities are endless,” she says.
Andrea Godfrey, Regent Holidays brand manager, is seeing increased demand for tailor-made trips and self-drives as more clients look to explore the countryside.
“Unique accommodation is where Romania really stands out,” explains Godfrey, whose top picks include Daniel Castle – “the last word in luxury” – and rustic Zalanpatak.
Romania bookings are up 73% year-on-year at KE Adventure Travel, where marketing manager Tavienne Kelly puts some of the appeal down to the country’s pristine nature and timeless countryside where “you need to pinch yourself to believe you’re still in the 20th century”.
“With the mystery of Count Dracula, Romanian folklore, palaces, castles and mythical legends, you feel like you’re part of a living fairy tale with spectacular scenery,” Kelly adds. “If you want to experience fascinating culture, breathtaking scenery, medieval towns and traditional cuisine unchanged for centuries, Romania has it all.”