The 1st of December, the National Day of Romania, is almost here again. For us, Romanians, this also means that we have some days off. The ones that have a passion for travel have most probably found a way to have a prolonged weekend, as the 30th of November is also a free day. By taking off the 2nd of December, a lot of us will have a 5 days holiday. But what to do with it? Many will answer: travel, go somewhere.
The first choice will be to look for a plane ticket. But, oh, they are so expensive at this time of the year. Even if you look for them with months in advance, they will still cost you more than 150 euro for any European destination. So you start thinking about other options that do not include planes, maybe in Romania. Here are 5 cities appropriate for a small holiday at this time of the year.
5 cities in Romania to visit on the 1st of December
Sibiu will always be my favorite city in Romania, especially at this time of the year, when the most beautiful Christmas market in Romania is here. It was opened on the 18th of November with a great show. There will also be some festivities occasioned by the National Day, but even without them, there are plenty of things to do and see in this city (the Zoo, the Astra Village Museum, the squares, the tower, the churches, the passages, the Street of the Citadelle) and the nearby villages (Sibiel, Cristian). Also, you will be able to sample the best traditional food at the market.
The citadelle was restored in the last five years. It is one of the citadelles which restoration I do like. It keeps the glamour of medieval ruins, but it has been converted in a modern way. There is a bike path, a pond, a medieval path, a stable and each day at noon, you can attend the change of the guards. Taking into consideration that the modern city is located near the site of the important Dacian political, economic and social center of Apulon, it isn’t difficult to go back in time here for a few hours.
You can also visit the Union Hall, the Museum and the city center. Alba-Iulia is the place where at the end of the World War I, on the 1st of December 1918, the union of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania was proclaimed. So, there is no better place to celebrate it and the festivities should be great.
Iași is a symbol in Romanian history. It was called by Marco Bandini a new Rome, due to it being built on seven hills. It has been the capital of Moldavia for three hundred years between 1564 and 1859, the capital of the United Principalities from 1859 to 1862 and the capital of unoccupied Romania between 1916 and 1918. That’s why in Iași you will find many historical and art treasures. Iași is home to the oldest Romanian university and one of the most educational centers of the country.
The social and cultural life revolves around the oldest National Theater in Romania, the Moldova State Philharmonic, the Opera House, the Athenaeum, the oldest and largest Botanical Garden in Romania, the Copou Park, the oldest Central University Library in Romania, the high quality cultural centers and festivals, an array of museums, memorial houses, religious and historical monuments. In Iași you will also have the opportunity to attend the national Day festivities.
Brașov is one of the best known town in Romania among foreigners due to its means of transport and proximity to other tourist destinations. It is the birthplace of the national anthem and another city of great historical importance. The saint patron of the town is Virgin Mary. If you want to see snow at the beginning of December, here you will have more chances. Poiana Brașov, the most popular ski resort in Romania, is only 12 km away from the city. Here you can visit the Black Church, that acquired the name after being blackened by smoke in the 1689 great fire, the citadel, the mayor’s former office building, the first Romanian school, the narrowest street in Romania, the Rope Street and many other places. Nearby you can also go to Bran Castle and Rașnos, the only still inhabited medieval citadelle in Europe.
Our crowded, dirty capital, that so many people try to avoid. But wait, on this occasion you will have the opportunity to be the only person on many streets. With the exception of the place where the festivities take place, there will be almost nobody on the streets. You will have the city center only for you to explore, as most of the people will be on the Prahova valley, “the boulevard of Bucharest”.
What can you do here? It is said that the Triumphal Arch will be fully restored by the 1st of December, after about three years. The festivities should take place there. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone, see the Arch in its full glory and also the festivities. On the 1st of December, in the evening, the Christmas lights will also be turned on. A beautiful moment. Even if Bucharest does not have the most beautiful Christmas market, it does have a lot of beautiful lights on all the major streets.
The 1st of December will be a full day, but what about the other four? How can you spend them? There are a lot of places you can go to: museums, cafes, parks, squares, the Parliament House, the Lipscani Street, the Athenaeum, the National Theater, the Opera, the Bishopric and many more. After all, this is the capital of the country, it has a long history and a great cultural importance.
What did we choose?
On the 1st of December we will see the festivities in Iași and visit the city, as I haven’t seen it in the last ten years and afterwards we will go somewhere else, a little bit of tracing my roots across the border.
If you are fine with not leaving the country on this mini holiday, these are for sure some pretty attractive cities to visit. For transportation you can choose between car and train, which will not cost you a small fortune and you will came back home more relaxed and with some nice memories. If you are keen on leaving the country, but don’t wish to spend a lot of money on plane tickets, stay on for our next post. For foreigners, these is for sure a good moment to visit Romania and learn a bit from its history.