Romania Sustainable Travel Guide
Romania is steeped in mystery. From the churches, monasteries, and tales of Dracula lurking about in dark castles in Transylvania, there’s a lot of unknown to this surprisingly large European country (9th largest in the EU with a landmass of 238,000 sq km). Even its forests, commonly shrouded in fog and mist contain their own mysteries. But it could be precisely because of these mysteries that Romania is becoming an ever more popular spot for adventurers.
Since 2007, Romania’s tourism has increased by a steady 7% annually. In 2013, they welcomed 8 million international visitors. Much of the attraction to Romania is in fact due to those aforementioned castles and churches, many of which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the famed Bran Castle, home of Vlad the Impaler (or Dracula) himself. Built from the 13th and 18th centuries and influenced by ancient Saxon people, these structures have lasted the test of time and offer travellers a real sense of what it was like to live in these medieval times. The dark history and culture is truly intriguing and to learn about it is like experiencing a live piece of folklore.
More than 25% of Romania’s landmass is covered in forests. These forests are home to wildlife such as deer, foxes, wolves, wild boars, bear and lynx. Many tourists come to these forests in the hopes of catching a glimpse of these beautiful animals. However, increased tourism to these virgin forests have meant increased human disturbance, both directly with the animals as well as their habitat. These threats as well as others have prompted the WWF to highlight the need to protect 250,000 hectares of Romania’s virgin forests in a bid to save the thousands of native species of flora and fauna found here. In the Carpathian Mountains for example, forests are being threatened with pressure from the logging industry due to increased demand for timber.
Like many other countries in the EU, Romania has attracted a few foreign-owned, multinational hotel chains. However, because the tourism in Romania is still growing, it’s relatively easy to find small, boutique hotels instead, many of which are situated in the countryside close to forests and mountains. And should you decide to trek through the woods and into the mountains, it’s important to respect both the wildlife and their habitat to minimize your impact on these mysterious landscapes. In national parks, please be sure to check for signs explaining park rules to ensure you are respecting the area and its inhabitants. You wouldn’t want to attract a bad curse or a visit from a supernatural being, would you?