I'm making my way through the cheaper countries of Europe right now, finding good values all over compared to their neighbors to the west. Next stop, Romania.
I spent most of my time in Transylvania, which I'll discuss without mentioning any mythical creatures of the night. This is the area where most travelers gravitate to if they've got some time, which they rightfully should. It's a gorgeous area with well-preserved buildings from the medieval times through Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and more, with a strong Saxon/German influence.
The photo at the very top and the one to the right are from where I arrived on an overnight train headed east: Sighisoara. How can you even say that name without smiling? Yeah, it's a tourist trap town, but a deserving one. Plus once half the tour buses pull out at the end of the day, it's a lovely place to hang out and absorb the feeling of living in history.
It costs about $3 to tour the citadel, a couple dollars more for a taxi to the center from the train station, and there are hostels with beds for $10-$12. There's also a campground outside of town with lots of facilities.
The next shot is from Sibiu, which is not as photogenic or hilly, but feels more like a real city than an open-air museum. There's a long pedestrian-only street filled with bars, shops, and restaurants and it's a lively scene at night. This was a European Capital of Culture a few years back. You can sit down and get a 500-mililiter (16 fl. oz.) beer for a dollar and you can get 3 covrigi(local Pretzels) for another dollar, so what's not to like?
It's not all about the buildings though. With high mountains in many directions, the scenery alone is often worth stopping for. This is the view from a monastery I visited. If you've gotta be a monk, seeing this every day would make it a bit easier. (You can spend the night there for about $16 double.)
I always ask myself when traveling to different places, could I live here? I didn't really feel a yes anywhere in Romania until I got to Brasov.
It's near multiple ski slopes, it's an easy train ride to the capital, and has another one of those long pedestrian streets full of fun places to eat and drink. And it's got mountains right next to it. That's a pic from a nice spring day above.
More later on prices, a real article later in Perceptive Travel, but for now some images to ponder from Romania. As with Slovakia, this is definitely a destination worth visiting, budget reasons or not.
But if you are on a budget, this place is a great value.