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Yes, it may be famous for its sinister Dracula legends, but a gap year in Romania has a lot more to offer than vampire hunting. A fiercely traditional, yet calm way of life prevails in Romania; you may even feel like you’ve gone back in time. Centuries old architecture and a diverse and beautiful landscape entwine to make Romania one of the most impressive and as yet relatively undiscovered countries in Europe. From mountains, to river basins, to beaches and wetlands, Romania’s landscape is as stunning as it is surprising.
Bucharest is a capital city much like any other in Europe, and the Palace of Parliament, though unfinished, is the second largest building in the world and worth a visit. But Romania’s real cultural gems are largely to be found elsewhere: Sibiu is home to old-fashioned cobbled streets and more museums than you can shake a stick at, including Traditional Folk Civilisation, Pharmaceutical, History, Natural History and World Ethnology. Elsewhere, the Bucovina Monasteries are more than popular with tourists for their intricate frescoes, both interior and exterior.
Maramureș is the most traditional region in Romania, where you can see incredible gothic wooden Churches. And often taken to be Dracula’s castle, no gap year in Romania would be complete without a visit to the 60 metre tall Bran Castle. Trekking in the Carpathian mountains is a popular pursuit, just be sure not to get mauled by a wild bear! And the Danube Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage site, popular with nature tourists for its array of wildlife, wetlands, forests, rocky steppe, and eventual emptying into the Black Sea.
Working in Romania
It might not be an obvious gap year choice, but due to Romania’s expanding employment market and EU membership, it could be an ideal place to work during your gap year. English, French and German speakers are particularly sought after at the moment, as well as those with IT skills. It might not be so easy to find more casual employment, but with the fastest internet speed in Europe you could get a digital nomad job and base yourself in Romania. It’s also worth thinking about volunteering with children during your gap year in Romania.
After a gap year in Romania your location pretty far east in Europe leaves you poised with several options: head further north and east to Moldova, Ukraine, and eventually, Russia; turn back west and take in Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic, or head south to Bulgaria, Macedonia and then Greece and Turkey! Or you can of course fly out to anywhere, as Romania is well connected with budget European airlines though you’ll probably need to change if you’re going further afield.