Romania

Romania :: Books

Travel Guides

Short descriptions of Romania appear in three of Lonely Planet's regional guides listed in the Overview section: Europe on a Shoestring, Southeastern Europe, and Eastern Europe.

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Lonely Planet Romania and Bulgaria  (6th edition published April 2013)

Lonely Planet used to publish a guide to Romania alone but now it is combined with Bulgaria, which seems odd for a country as large as Romania.

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The Rough Guide to Romania  (6th edition published June 2011) - Norm Longley, Tim Burford

Having used both the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet on different trips to Romania, I have a slight preference for the Rough Guide due to its greater detail and background reading.

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Transylvania: A Land Beyond Fiction and Myth  (1st translated edition published May 2007 - Zoltan Farkas, Judit Sos)

If your trip to Romania will focus on Transylvania you may be interested in this guidebook. It's a translation of a Hungarian guide, and as you would expect it has particularly good coverage of Hungarian-speaking areas. As well as the historical core of Transylvania, the Maramureş, Crişana and Banat regions are also covered.

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Transylvania - The Bradt Guide  (2nd edition published November 2012 - Lucy Mallows)

Another guide concentrating on Transylvania - unlike the previous book this one does not cover Maramureş/Crişana/Banat.

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Cicerone Guide to the Mountains of Romania  (published April 2005) - James Roberts

If you are planning a few one-day hikes during a trip to Romania, the information in The Rough Guide or Lonely Planet is probably sufficient, especially if you buy maps locally. If hiking is one of the main objectives of your trip, the Cicerone guide may be useful.

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Bucharest In Your Pocket

Bucharest isn't the easiest city to get to know - give yourself a head start by downloading In Your Pocket's regularly updated guide to the Romanian capital, and add their guide to Braşov while you're at it.

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Background Reading

Transylvania and Beyond - Dervla Murphy

Throughout the first half of 1990 there was an extraordinary intensity about Romania, then a country in what can only be described as psychic turmoil. Outsiders were at once affected by this and, after a time, felt mangled by it.

The author travelled through Romania just after the end of the anti-Ceauşescu revolution, at a time when many Romanians were starting to doubt whether there had really been a revolution at all. Because it deals with a very specific moment in Romania's history, Transylvania and Beyond shouldn't be read as a guide to Romania today. Even so, in my own travels there I often recognised a turn of phrase or a tone of voice from Murphy's descriptions. See also Through the Embers of Chaos, a more recent work by the same author.

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Romania, Borderland of Europe - Lucian Boia

According to the multitude of divergent interpretations, the Romanians were either formed over all of the territory constituting modern Romania, or only in part of this territory, or over a territory considerably larger than today's Romania, or completely outside the country's present borders!

A prominent Romanian historian attempts to answer the question: 'What is Romania?', resulting in a highly readable, fair-minded and gently humorous survey of the country's history and culture. Boia is refreshingly unafraid to acknowledge that we simply don't know the answers to some disputed historical questions. Every country should have a book like this.

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Between the Woods and the Water - Patrick Leigh Fermor

The industrial revolution had left these regions untouched and the rhythm of life had remained many decades behind the pace of the West - a hundred years, perhaps, when stays in the country were as long and leisurely as they are in English and Russian novels of the time; and, in this lost province [Transylvania], where the hospitable Hungarians felt cut off from life, visitors from the west were greeted with embraces.

The author walked from London to Constantinople in the 1930s; this book describes the Hungarian and Romanian parts of his journey. It seems to have been an almost impossibly idyllic experience, alternating between shepherd's huts and the mansions of Magyar aristocrats, reading voraciously in the libraries of the latter and flirting with charming (and married) women. At times it can seem just a little bit too perfect, but is saved by the author's enthusiastic discovery of the complex history of the places he travels through.

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Stealing from a Deep Place: Travels in South-Eastern Europe - Brian Hall

I rounded a curve between ash trees. Guard towers, fences, and the steel curls of barbed wire slid into view - the fortified border of Romania. Between two Warsaw Pact allies, the line looked more secure, more xenophobic, than the border between Hungary and Austria. A soldier holding a submachine gun watched my approach from the edge of the trees.

The author travelled by bicycle through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in 1982, when there were few hints that the Communist system would ever change. Entering Romania despite the dire warnings of his Hungarian acquaintances, he movingly describes a country where even educated people had little knowledge of the outside world.

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Dracula is Dead: how Romanians survived Communism, ended it, and emerged since 1989 as the New Italy - Sheilah Kast and Jim Rosapepe

A look at 21st century Romania by a former U.S. ambassador to the country and his wife, a journalist.

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