Most people have heard about Transylvania: according to Bram Stoker, that’s where vampires come from. However, based on my experience, some people don’t associate Transylvania with Romania and even if they do, the knowledge that they have about the area is very limited. Hunedoara is not only a part of the well-kept secrets of Transylvania but also the core of a wonderfully unexplored area. The small town emerged during the communist times around a steelworks factory - Combinatul Siderurgic Hunedoara. It still has a very industrial vibe to it, even though the factory is slowly dying with every year that passes. What’s so great about this area? Here, we bring you the top 10 things to do in and around Hunedoara.
1. The Corvinilor Castle
Situated close to the old city center of Hunedoara, the Corvinilor Castle represents the landmark of the town. If you’re lucky, you might even get a medieval music show or an opera concert. The contrast between this beautiful, medieval and historic landmark and the dying industrial part of the town gives the area character.
Address: 1-3 Castelului Str., Hunedoara, Romania
Price: between 5 and 8 USD
Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Mondays from noon to 5pm. Closed on public holidays.
Duration: around one or two hours required.
Access: By car until the parking area. 20 minutes walking from the city center.
Website: Corvinilor Castle
2. Hășdat village
Hășdat village is about 5 km (3 miles) away from Hunedoara, on the way to Călan or Hațeg. It’s a curiosity for foreigners because of the design of the houses that are totally different than anything else you’ll see around Hunedoara. The village is inhabited mostly by Roma ethnics, therefore the design of the houses are in accordance to their traditions: huge houses with a lot of ornamentation. You can drive by when heading out of the town and stop to take a picture of one of the very fancy looking houses.
Address:Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania
3. Ghelari village
About 15 km (9 miles) away from Hunedoara, the church in Ghelari is one of the places where religious people like spending their Sunday morning. Ghelari is a small village with breath-taking landscapes. The village church is special due to the paintings inside and the wonderful choir singing there most Sundays. In case you want to experience the Orthodox church service, you should get there on Sunday, between 9am and noon.
Address:Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania
This is the place to be in summer. Only 15 km (9.3 miles) away from Hunedoara, it’s a great spot for swimming, just hanging out, enjoying a picnic or camping. You can also stop for a meal at Motel Cinciș or even stay overnight - this motel has one of the best views over the lake.
Address: On the shore of Cinciș Lake (see map)
Price: from 40 USD for a double room
Access: Drive towards Cincis Lake. After the winding uphill road, you will have to turn right. There is a sign pointing you in the right direction.
5. Retezat mountains
The Retezat mountains are perfect for people who enjoy real hiking (no cable car options available). After having hiked for a few good hours, you will definitely have gained the right to enjoy the unexpectedly beautiful views. There are two main access points: Cabana Cârnic (Cârnic Hut) and Gura Apelor Dam. There are trails available for both experienced and inexperienced hikers. However, it is highly recommended to wear proper hiking boots on all trails. Some of the most popular trails include Bucura Lake, Peleaga peak, Păpușa peak, Retezat peak and Galeșu Lake. Cabana Pietrele (Pietrele Hut) offers affordable accommodation in either dormitories or private rooms. They also provide food and a campsite is also available. Cabana Gențiana (Gențiana Hut) offers accommodation in big dormitories, but there is no food available and no campsite. Another option is camping on the shore of Bucura Lake. Since Pietrele Hut is the only place offering food, make sure to pack enough. Plan at least three days on the mountain to be able to enjoy the great views, the fresh air and the wonderful trails.
Retezat National Park
Website:Retezat National Park
6. Prislop monastery
Placed in a remote area, Prislop monastery is the perfect place to get some piece of mind, meditate, listen to the sounds of the forest and learn a little about the dominant religion in Romania (Eastern Orthodox). The monastery is small and cozy but the surroundings are very vast, offering many good walking opportunities. It’s located about 16 km (10 miles) away from Hunedoara and it’s easily accessible by road. From Hunedoara, drive through Silvașul de Jos and Silvașul de Sus village, then follow the “Mănăstirea Prislop” sign towards the monastery.
Address: Silvașu de Sus, DJ687K, 337118, Romania
7. The fortress in Deva
Deva is the capital of Hunedoara county. The fortress is close to the old city center, on top of a hill. You can get there either by hiking up (about 30 minutes) or by taking a cable car that resembles an elevator. Either way, once you get to the top, you’ll get a great view of the town and you’ll learn more about Romanian history.
Address: Strada Cetății, Deva 337450, Romania
Opening hours: 8:15am - 8pm
8. Sarmisegetusa Regia fortress
This goes back to the Roman Empire, even before 100 AD. Sarmisegetuza Regia was the capital of Dacia, what is now known as Romania, Moldova and a small part of Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia and Bulgaria. Dacia was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 AD. It is a great archaeological site, full of history. It’s about 30 km (18.6 miles) away from Hunedoara, in Grădiștea de Munte village.
Address: Grădiștea de Munte, Hunedoara County, Romania
9. Geoagiu Băi
Thermal water, swimming pools, green rolling hills, green grass for having a picnic, ice-cream - what else could one want from a sunny summer day? Around 30 km (18.6 miles) away from Hunedoara, with Geoagiu Băi, it’s not only the destination that counts but the journey. Driving, you will pass a few small villages that will give you a better understanding about village life in Romania. Once you’re done with swimming, you can visit the Roman thermal bath.
10. Straja Ski Resort
Straja is the best place for winter, in Romania. Easily accessible by car or by cable car from the lower road close to Lupeni town, it has affordable prices for ski rentals, accommodation, food. There are ski slopes for both beginners and advanced skiers. Even if there’s no snow, you can hike on the nice hills and check out the colorful selection of guest houses, scattered around in quite a chaotic manner.
Straja Ski Resort
More Information: Travel Guide Romania
Hunedoara is waiting for your visit
History, village life, hiking opportunities, medieval castles, fortresses, adventures and wonderful landscapes - you can find it all around this small and intriguing town in Romania, called Hunedoara. And since it’s not one of the most popular tourist destinations, you’ll feel like a local and you’ll be treated like a special guest everywhere you go. And if all these wonderful places are not enough to convince you to visit Hunedoara, let me share with you one last thing: rumor has it that Dracula was incarcerated in Corvinilor Castle for a few years - there are not many historical facts to sustain this rumor, but you never know!
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