If you ever decide to visit Romania, chances are you’re going to land to Bucharest, as this is where most flights arrive. While the city is cool, with a vibrant nightlife and with enough places to relax, have a drink or enjoy a delicious meal, some travelers will want more of it. An adventurous spirit will want to see the surroundings. When it comes to one-day trips, Bucharest isn’t as fortunate as other European capital cities. Nonetheless, there are a few things you can do and see around Bucharest, and come back the same day.
Valea Prahovei (Prahova Valley) is perhaps the most common destination, as it boasts the terrifying Castle of Count Dracula in Bran and the Peles Castle in Sinaia. The landscape is magnificent, but getting there isn’t always that easy. During holidays, the road from Bucharest to Brasov gets awfully busy. The 60 km of highway weren’t built with the users in mind, so there’s no wonder most drivers prefer the national road, DN1. Anyway, let’s see where you can go for one day, without having to take the route to Valea Prahovei.
Meet Buzau, a Romanian County Famous for Tuica and Pretzels
Wake up in the morning and take the way to Buzau. Within about two hours and a half, you should reach the Mud Volcanoes, a natural reserve where you can gaze at the huge cracks in the dried mud and at the bubbles created by gases getting out from the ground. I’ve already written about the Mud Volcanoes at Berca, so click here if you want to find out what you can see and how you can get there from Bucharest. Once you’ve had enough of the bubbly mud, get back to the main road, and follow its course up for about 100 km, to Vama Buzaului. On your way, take a break at Siriu Dam (Barajul Siriu), as it offers an excellent opportunity for taking photos of the lake and of the mountains surrounding it. If you want to spend a few days here, to enjoy the local food and the famous “tzuica,” (a strong alcoholic drink made from plums or other fruits), you can book a boarding house accommodation for a few nights.
Mountain lakes have something special. The combination of water and trees is magic, the air is fresh, and silence rules. You can spend hours staring at the landscapes or taking photos of grass leaves, bees and flowers. You can imagine you’re waiting for the Loch Ness monster to show.
The landscape surrounding the reserve is a true oasis of silence, peace and wellbeing. It makes you forget all the crazy mundane things, the worries, the incertitude, the future and the past. It has the power to bring you in the “now,” allowing your mind to stop running. There are people who pay a lot of money to various gurus to reach this state of mind. You can experience it at the price of a one-day trip from Bucharest.
At about three km up the main road to Brasov, you can see Cascadele Urlatoarele (The Hurling Waterfalls). Although they isn’t as spectacular as to be worth a dedicated tour, these waterfalls are interesting, because you can actually walk on them. The water falls down along a terraced rocks which has a mild incline. As the rock isn’t slippery, you can safely walk on it.
Here you may find some people enjoying a barbecue and a cold drink. During our trip, we found a cool DIY watermill. The “inventor” was watching over it. As soon as one of the blades got damaged by the water stream, the guy took the mill out of the water and fixed it. You can see it working in this video:
If waterfalls are your thing, you may want to hike a little in the forest before getting to the Siriu Dam, to see the Pruncea waterfall (also known as Casoca). This is an easy hike of about 30 minutes, an enjoyable walk through the woods, during which you may even find some berries along the path. Since these places aren’t visited by too many tourists, you may want to use your GPS to find them.
The road back to Bucharest goes through Brasov, and then Prahova Valley. If you don’t like traffic jams (who does?), you may want to avoid Sundays, when the DN1 road to Bucharest is awfully busy. Saturdays should be fine, through.
Have you visited Bucharest yet? When you do, drop me a line, as I might be able to help you with more tips and ideas for one-day trips from Bucharest (some of them to Bulgaria, so that you can cross another country off your bucket list).