I wrote a bucket list for your amazing holiday in Transylvania. By trying these experiences I am sure you will get a taste of the Transylvanian culture.
1. Eat kürtőskalács and stuffed cabbage
Kürtőskalács ( chimney cake) is a Hungarian – Sekler traditional spit cake and you can find along the streets freshly made. The really traditional is covered with sugar, but you can buy some with nuts, coconut or cinnamon. Another delicious local food is the stuffed cabbage made with pork and cabbage. The cabbage rolls are filled with pork meat, rice and boiled long hours. A very delicious traditional meal in Transylvania.
2. Drink pálinka with locals
Pálinka is the traditional drink in Transylvania. The most well known in Harghita region from where I am from is the plum pálinka (szilvapálinka). With more than 50 degrees it is very strong. Locals drink a glass of pálinka before breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some people like it before each meal 🙂 An interesting fact that many families are making their own homemade pálinka. Do not miss it, but be careful 4-5 shots might be too much!
3. Watch a folk dance performance
Folk dance is still a tradition in Transylvania and in generally in Romania. There are different folk festivals organized through the year. Besides the festivals, the cities have local folk dance groups who are organizing different events. Ask locals about the folk traditions and they will proudly tell stories about it. Check here for a video: Hargita National Sekler Folk Ensemble
4. Watch brown bears
We have a saying that “the bear is not a game” and this is so truth. The number of brown bears in Transylvania is the highest in Europe. Just in Harghita county (the area is around 6600km2 ) there are more than 1000 bears. So if you are planning a hiking trip or staying in the forest in a tent that is not a good idea. A better option to rent a weekend house. But you can watch bears with organized tours.
5. Drink natural mineral waters
Transylvania is a real gold mine of natural and healing mineral water springs. You can find along your way constantly flowing water fountains. In Hargita and Covasna county are the most water springs with different compositions. Some are good for healing different diseases. Local people travel also 40-50 km to fill bottles with this fresh water and bring home. Aren`t they lucky to have free mineral water? I will write a more detailed blog post about this topic later on.
6. Enjoy a day in a thermal spa
If you would like to have a relaxing day try a spa. In the recent years, many spa places are renovated with very good conditions and services. Relax in one of the Spas after a hiking day. Besides the Baths for relaxing there are many medical Spas.The medical Spas are good for curing many medical disorders and illnesses including rheumatism, endocrine, kidney, liver, respiratory, heart, stomach, nervous diseases as well as nutrition – metabolism -gynecological- disorders.
7. Drive or cycle through the Transfogarasan Road
You will get a unique experience by cycling or driving through the most spectacular roads in Europe. The road is just open only summertime from June to October. Watch this great video and get a feeling of Transfogarasan.
8. Hike a mountain higher than 1500m
In the Carpathian Mountains, you will have the chance to hike higher peaks than 1500m. The highest mountain in Romania is Moldoveanu Peak 2544m in the Southern Carpathians, Fogaras Mountains. I have never been there yet, but it is on my list.
9. Try an adventure park
Adventure parks are great fun for adults and kids too. In every park are different levels from beginner to very advanced so you can choose. In Transylvania, you can find many adventure parks to have fun and enjoy your active holiday. I wanted to try once but it was after the rain and it was too wet.
10. Live with locals in a Transylvanian village
One of the best ways to know a culture is living at a certain place for a period. Staying in a Transylvanian village you can breathe the air, live the life and eat the same food as locals. A good way to do that is volunteering. If you can spend a few weeks there you could teach English for example for kids or help the community with different work. A good way to find a place is to contact a local school, the local councils or find a regional volunteering organization.
Got a taste of Transylvania? I hope you will put on your bucket list and will visit this wonderful region in Europe.
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