The Romanian counties that welcomed most foreign tourists and their attractions

One million foreign tourists checked into hotels in Romania in the first half of this year, up 8.5% compared to the similar period of 2016, according to data from the National Statistics Institute (INS), compiled by Ziarul  Financiar.

Brasov, Timis, Cluj and Sibiu are among the Romanian counties that welcomed most foreign tourists in their hotels, namely a total of 207,000, up 23% compared to the first six months of 2016. The highest increases were registered in the Hunedoara and Tulcea counties, which welcomed 4,000 and 8,000 foreign tourists in the first six months of this year, up over 40% y-o-y.

Overall, the capital Bucharest remains the Romanian city with the most developed tourist infrastructure. It has an accommodation capacity of 11,000 hotel rooms, half of which are four-star ones. The capital also accommodates the highest number of five-star hotels: 11 such ones can be found in Bucharest, totaling 1,930 rooms and 3,800 beds. A total of 527,000 foreign tourists stayed in Bucharest hotels between January and June of this year, up 4.5% on the similar period of 2016, according to Ziarul Financiar data.

Beyond the numbers, the counties that emerged at the top of tourists’ preferences are ones that are home to plenty of historic and cultural sites, and entertainment options.

The county of Brasov hosts several mountain resorts, including Poiana Brasov and Predeal, two popular ski resorts. The city of Brasov attracts many tourists to its medieval center, where the Black Church (Biserica Neagra), one of largest Gothic constructions in Eastern Europe, was the most visited Saxon church in Romania in 2016. The more adventurous can try the Seven Ladders Canyon.

The Bran castle is another top tourist site in Brasov county. The construction, also known as Dracula’s Castle, is often ranked among the most beautiful castles in Romania. It attracts many tourists each year, as does the nearby Rasnov Citadel.

The Timiș county hosts over 30 castles and mansions, several of which could be included in the future in a dedicated Road of the Mansions. It has as county capital the city of Timisoara, a 2021 European Capital of Culture. The city of Timisoara hosts many events, like the yearly jazz festival, and a communist consumer museum, among other cultural venues.

The number of tourists visiting Cluj increased in recent years as the county started holding two of the largest music festivals in the country, Untold and Electric Castle, popular with both locals and foreigners. Outside of the city of Cluj-Napoca, one of the rapidly developing Romanian cities, tourists can visit the Tuda Salt Mine, or part of the Apuseni Nature Park, with beautiful caves, such as Scarisoara.

The county of Sibiu stands out with its Saxon heritage and hosts many of the fortified churches that made it on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage site. Among them, the one in Biertan and its marital prison, has recently been the subject of this BBC story. Prince Charles is known to visit the area, as it has a property here, in the village of Mălâncrav, in addition to ones in Viscri (Brasov county), Valea Zălanului (Covasna) and Breb (Maramures). The city of Sibiu was a European Capital of Culture in 2007, and hosts every year the high-profile Sibiu International Theater Festival, while the area is getting ready for the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2019.

In its turn, Hunedoara county hosts a wealth of historical sites, from the Dacian fortress of Sarmisegetuza to the Corvinilor Castle, used as set for various international productions, or the Deva Fortress. It is in Hunedoara county where tourists can find the Retezat Nature Park, one of the most beautiful in the country.

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