romania sights and destinations for day trips in transylvania attractions sibiu
Our walk takes us to selected places of interest in the Sibiu county and Transylvania, with sights, tips for trips and a pinch of history from the Carpathian arch.
things to see in transylvania points of interest and special places at the Carpathian foothills.
Looking for a cozy starting point
for your day trips through Transylvania?
Welcome to our vacation homes
in the shepherd's village of Vale near Sibiu
directly at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains.
transylvania landmarks romania attractions and activities in sibiu
The Marginimea represents one of the richest Romanian area in traditions, even though foreign visitors are often unaware of its attractions. It is situated at the foot of the Cindrel Mountains, south-west of Sibiu, and the remains of a Dacian fortress bear witness to a turbulent history. The Dacians inhabited Transylvania long before the invasion of Roman legions in the second century, and they are said to be associated with the Celts. Read below more on that topic.
A trip can take you on a mountain slope for some glimpses of the vastness of the valley, or to the jumping fish in the mountain lake of Gura Raului. You can visit the old town of Sibiu, a Saxon fortified church, or take a walk to the Transalpina, the highest route across the Carpathian Mountains. You have a wide range of sights in sibiu and transylvania, here are some selected destinations.
The small town of Saliste perceives itself as the center of the Marginime. From here, a gravel road leads through the continent’s oldest beech forest up to the high plateau of Crint. Even before you leave the forest, the first of a good 60 wooden sculptures, often several meters in height, appear between the trees. Later they stand scattered among the mountain pastures of Poiana Soarelui (Sunny Glade). These sculptures are an unexpected sight and the artistic result of a year-long session of carvers and sculptors from all parts of the country that took place in the 60s.
The view of the Transylvanian plain is unique here. In good weather you can see all the way to Sibiu, and the mountain range of the Muntii Fagaras behind it.
The mountain village of Sibiel offers another ascent into the Cindrel mountain range. Walking alongside a wild stream, you arrive at a secluded monastery in the middle of the forest and if you head further uphill into the mountain meadows you'll meet an occasional shepherd. Sibiel is the home of the largest iconic museum in Romania with reverse glass painting.
Connoisseurs are attracted to the mountain lake at Gura Raului. It is fed by several rivers and streams, along which you can walk up into the mountains. The reservoir lies in a depression surrounded by forest. The water is clear and in the evening, you can light a fire and watch the fish jump for mosquitoes. The serenity of this place can’t be captured in a single image, but anyone visiting this place won’t easily forget it.
If you are aiming really high, you can choose between two trafficable north-south passes over the Carpathians:
– winding past steep rocks and a waterfall dozens of meters high. On the top of the pass, Balea Lake awaits you with a hostel and the house of ice.
– is at max 2.145m the highest trafficable route across the Carpathians. It starts in the Marginime. Constructed by the Romans in their campaign against the Dacians, it was rebuilt during World War II, then forgotten, and today winds through one of the few untouched mountain regions in Europe.
Via both routes you arrive in the southern part of the country, Walachia, a climate zone influenced by the Mediterranean.
You can find your way back between the two passes following the Olt valley, which is the only north-south route through the Carpathians sheltering ancient monasteries and some steep cliffs. Anyone not stopping here must be in a real hurry.
If you’ve seen enough mountains and steep slopes, turn to the valley. Historically, Transylvania was colonized by German-Flemish serfs from the Archbishopry of Cologne in the 12th century. Called the Transylvanian Saxons, they founded their own state in the Carpathian Arch and were the first professing Lutherans in Europe. Thus, Germans are often regarded as the civilizing founders of today's Transylvania, and until nowadays many locals speak or understand German.
One of their earliest market towns, today the European Capital of Culture, Sibiu has succeeded to these days in maintaining some of its medieval feel. The old town, including fortified towers and city walls, has been extensively restored, and often enough the bygone centuries are still visible. In this environment, vault bars, hard rock cafes and other places of savoir vivre have developed. During the summer the city embraces its visitors and regularly organizes events from cabaret and theater to open-air concerts, to local crafts guilds’ exhibitions on the central Great Ring.
Find here our picture gallery sibiu.
Situated on the outskirts of the city in the natural reservation of Dumbrava Sibiului forest, the ASTRA National Museum Complex deserves one or two glances. Here, centuries-old log cabins, water mills, sawmills, and shops of blacksmiths and other craftspeople from all parts of the country were rebuilt in their original styles.
From here it is only a stone’s throw to the fortress of Cisnadioara, one of the oldest Protestant churches in Transylvania from the 13th century. It stands on a circular mountain cone, towering over the village that until the fall of Ceausescu was inhabited by Transylvanian Saxons. On request, you will be given a guided tour in English.
After walking around for a bit, you might feel your legs. In the saline and medicinal baths of Ocna Sibiului, you can soothe your aching bones, read a newspaper while lying in the salt water, or treat yourself to a professional massage or mud treatment in the adjoining spa. This place has been known as a spa for rheumatic diseases ever since the 16th century.
On your way back you will pass Cristian, called the village of storks. Here you will encounter another fortified Saxon church. It gives an impression of how centuries ago, people were barricading against Huns, Tatars, Turks, and Kurlazic franctireurs.
Transylvania is the land of fortified churches, monasteries, castles and caves - of extravagancies and legendary places. Only few of them are widely known, such as the Dracula Castle in Bran, the Sphinx Megalith in the Bucegi Mountains or the Dacian capital of Sarmizegetusa. But they can be found everywhere: sometimes as a quiet gem on the edge of the road, then as a monumental fortress on a safe rock, but also as a hand-adorned token of love to craftsmanship in a monastery in the forest.
You can find hundreds of pictures in our photo galleries.
The Muntii Apuseni region is a sparsely populated area. Along with the eastern Carpathian belt its mountains envelope the Transylvanian plateau. In this wild and in parts, hardly accessible region, the elders still share stories about the Dacians and their last king, Decebal, who managed to unify the quarrelling tribes and defeat the Roman legions. Germanic tribes also participated in these wars fighting in the 1st century.
In the end, they were defeated, and the remaining proud Dacians gathered in the West Carpathians, where they continued fighting a guerrilla war at first, but after all they ended up hiding.
Their gold, ore and salt mines were taken over by Romans, and a good 330 tons of gold from the new Carpathian province of Dacia played a decisive role in averting the financial crisis which the Roman Empire was facing at the time.
According to historians, the Romanian people originated during this period, that is, from the Dakoromans. Even today, pilgrims keep going to the Dacian cults of which only the ruins have been left.
Today, the Western Carpathians are known for their unique landscape and their countless caves and abandoned rock galleries. In these depths, extending hundreds of meters into the rock at times, skeletons of dinosaurs and other primates have been found. If you make an early start, you can take a trip from the Marginimea Sibiului to discover this exciting area in one day trip.
Wherever your feet will take you in Transylvania,
you will experience something exciting,
including the unexpected ...