Make no mistake, Romania is full of history and culture…enough to keep you busy for weeks! Its small villages, painted monasteries, and legendary castles will fascinate everyone. But did you know that Romania also has beautiful beaches and renowned resorts? And fabulous festivals?
Constanta and Mamai are two destinations on the Black Sea coast where Romanians head between June and September to soak up 10-12 hours of daily sunshine. Enjoy the beach during the day and the parties at night. Some of the country’s most popular festivals happen here, too. Come join the fun!
Constanta: Music, Museums, and More!
Constanta is Romania’s largest seaport and third largest city. The city was originally called Tomis by the Greeks who founded it in the 6th century BC. Legend says that Jason and the Argonauts paid a visit there after capturing the Golden Fleece. When the Romans conquered Tomis in 71 BC, it was renamed Constantiana, after the Roman Emperor’s sister. Later, when the Turks took over, the name was shortened to Constanta.
Constanta was a thriving city until the 15th century, then began a slow decline. King Carol I decided to restore the port in the 19th century. Hotels and mansions were built, and its former reputation as a seaside spa and resort destination was re-established.
Today, there are many reasons to spend a few days in Constanta:
Neversea Music Festival is an annual 4-day and 4-night extravaganza, held each in early July at Neversea Beach. Attend a 3 a.m. performance on one of the many stages or watch the sunrise as one of your favorite groups welcomes a new day!
For over 100 years, Constanta has held Navy Day, usually on August 15. Over 10,000 Romanians gather to watch the parade and fireworks, as well as celebrate those who had dedicated their lives to the sea. Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics also honor Saint Mary on this day, since August 15 is the Assumption of Mary.
Open-air restaurants serve some of the best cuisine in the area. Cafes often convert to bars in the evening. Cabarets and nightclubs, including the famous Phoenix Club—Constanta’s main live-music venue–provide entertainment after dark.
Before moving on to Mamaia, consider taking in some of Constanta’s worthwhile attractions:
Ovid Square (Piata Ovidu) is the best place to start your exploration. In the city center, most of the important museums are here. In the middle of the square, on a tall column, a statue of Ovid stands as a reminder that the Roman poet was banished to Tomis in 8 AD by Emperor Augustus. No one knows why, and Ovid died 17 years later, unhappy to be away from Rome.
National History & Archeology Museum (Muzeul de Istorie Nationala si Arheologie) is in the former City Hall, on the south side of Ovid Square. The museum displays some of Romania’s best archeological finds. Excavations of Greek and Roman ruins began in the 1960s, revealing streets, houses, and an early Christian church. Behind the museum, you can see 4th century Roman mosaics from the forum built in Tomis. There are also Roman tombs and headstones with surprising epitaphs that have been translated into English.
Romanian Navy Museum (Muzeul Marinei Romane) offers a walk through 2,000 years of Black Sea naval history. Starting with the Greeks and Romans, the museum has detailed models of vessels through the ages, along with instruments, maps, and maritime devices. Check out the dugout canoe made from a single tree trunk. The outdoor exhibition area has actual anchors, propellers, and a great view of the harbor.
Folk Art Museum (Muzeul de Arta Populara) has over 16,000 artifacts, including folk costumes, jewelry, tools, and household objects from around Romania. There are home interiors from traditional cottages, showing how peasants lived.
Peter & Paul Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Sf. Apostol Petru si Pavel) was built in Greco-Roman style in 1883, after Romania was freed from Ottoman rule. It was severely damaged during World War II and restored in 1951, including beautiful frescoes painted with Byzantine techniques.
Great Mahmudiye Mosque (Moscheea Mare Mahmoud II) was a gift to the Muslims of Romania by King Carol I in 1910. It’s a replica of the beautiful mosque in Konya, Turkey, and is Romania’s largest mosque. Climb the 140 stairs of the 164-foot (50m) minaret tower for a stunning view of the harbor and downtown.
Every visitor should stroll the city’s seaside promenade, featuring the Constanta Casino (Cazino). King Carol I commissioned the fancy Art Nouveau structure to honor his wife, Queen Elisabeth. The magnificent building has been empty since the end of Communist era, but it’s easy to imagine it as the “Monte Carlo” that royalty loved to visit.
The Aquarium (Acvariul) is a great way to learn about aquatic life in the Black Sea, Danube Delta and regional lakes. The aquarium has one of the world’s largest collections of sturgeon species.
For the best beaches and resorts, Romanians head to Mamaia, a narrow strip of sand that extends north from Constanta. It becomes the most popular—and populated—summer vacation spot each year. Only 5 miles (8km) long and 330 yards (300m) wide, Mamaia is nonstop liveliness, from early June through mid-September.
Visitors purchase all-inclusive tour packages from hotels and settle in for a fun vacation. Sunbathing and swimming are the most common activities. Black Sea is warm, without tides or currents, so everyone can enjoy the water. Watersports of every type are available, from easy snorkeling to challenging windsurfing. No matter what you do, you’ll enjoy the beach. The sand is white and soft; find a spot, rent a chair, and relax…
At the evenings, Mamaia transforms into a giant nightclub. In fact, it’s one of the most vibrant scenes in Europe! Dance clubs line the resort, and DJs play music on the beaches all night long. Impromptu parties happen. This energy is what makes Mamaia so seductive in the summer. Come join the fun!
What else is there to do at Mamaia? Plenty!
Aqua Magic is a fantastic water park, located at the south end of Mamaia, close to Constanta. With slides, chutes, pools, and lazy-rivers, it’s a perfect family attraction.
The Telegondola, a sky tram, whisks riders 1.5 miles (2km) from Aqua Magic to the Casino, at a height of 164 feet (50m). Get a bird’s-eye view of the resort!
Shop at the boutiques or souvenir stands along the resort. Stop for a meal or a snack and enjoy the sunshine.
Rent a bike or pedal cart, or play tennis at one of the clubs on Mamaia. Whatever your interest, there is a place to find it.
Every year, the Sunwaves Festival brings five days of music to the resort. Six stages allow top performances to draw crowds. The festival alternates between May and August.
Ready to vacation like a Romanian? We hope so! Visit Romania offers a day trip from Bucharest to the Black Sea coast for you and your group. If you decide that you’d like to stay longer, we will gladly arrange the perfect holiday. We’ll also help find the best activities for everyone. Contact us today to get started!