I knew about Bucovina that it’s one of the most picturesque regions in Romania, but the last time I visited was two decades ago, on a class trip. My memories faded with the passing of the years, but I surely remember that I liked it a lot even then.
This time I visited only a piece of Bucovina, during a press trip, under the slogan Explore the Smiling City. That piece is Gura Humorului, a chic and modern city surrounded by hills with pastures and forests, crossed by the rivers Humor and Moldova. A city where traditions and nature meet under the same sky.
There are a lot of tourist attractions in Gura Humorului, but Voronet Monastery, a UNESCO monument, is the city’s symbol. The electrifying blue that has endured and still endures for centuries has crossed the country’s borders and brought it worldwide recognition. I set out to tell you about it and many other places to visit in Bucovina and implicitly in Gura Humoroului in this article.
Currently, Gura Humorului is not just a city in southern Bukovina, but a tourist resort, among the most beautiful in our country, but not as visited as it should be, given how much it has to offer in terms of activities and beautiful places to explore.
So, I left Bucharest early in the morning, with a group of people, on board the bus provided by the Tarsin company. A few hours later, I was entering the town between the hills, on a hot June day, with freshly green forest and storks already returned to their nests.
Best Western Gura Humorului – Where to stay in Bucovina
Before moving on to the main topic of this article, I present to you the hotel that hosted me for three nights. Best Western Bucovina is part of a famous hotel chain and is a 4-star hotel located right in the city center, at km 0, in Republic Square, across the street from Central Park.
The rooms are decorated with wooden furniture in warm colors, have TV and comfortable beds, minibar, refrigerator, and modern bathrooms, but incredibly dreamy views. It was beautiful to admire the whole city and the surrounding hills from the balcony while I enjoyed my coffee at dawn.
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The hotel has two places where you can enjoy selected dishes, either in the same building, at the Casa cu Pridvor Restaurant, or at the Hanul in Arinis Park, where you will have an authentic experience with food prepared in a cauldron and barbecue.
There are 220 accommodation places, from twin rooms to VIP apartments. I consider it the ideal accommodation for a holiday in Bucovina, especially if you want to enjoy the city’s panorama and have quick access to shops and tourist attractions in Gura Humorului.
Things to do in Gura Humorului
Bucovina means tradition, and tradition also translates into local crafts. I’m glad there are still many occupations, from carving in wood or stone, pottery and decorating eggs, to paintings or making masks. What could be better than watching local artisans demonstrate their talent? To try all these activities yourself!
If you visit Bucovina, you must participate in such a workshop in which to encode an egg as you wish, with the model you choose. A lovely lady showed us the technique and how much work she has to put in for a single egg. Yours will not come out so beautiful at first, but you will learn to appreciate the work of these wonderful people at its actual value.
Bucovina delicacies – Where and what to eat in Bucovina
The local gastronomy is, without a doubt, a good enough reason to come to Bucovina. Here you will find recipes with ingredients you would not have thought could work so well together, such as sour cream with strawberries and polenta. This is a combination as strange as it is delicious. You must try!
Being on a press trip organized with a lot of dedication by the most passionate and professional people in the area, I had the opportunity to test Bucovina goodies in several places. They all prepared lunches and dinners with delicious dishes, so it would be impossible for me to make a top. Therefore, I will mention them all.
Casa Humor, one of the most beautiful guesthouses in Bucovina, has prepared a welcome dinner. The dinner consisted of a buffet with mushroom stew, cheese, papanasi (Romanian desert), cake with caramelized sugar, and many other goodies that I photographed before tasting. I have to admit, sweets are my weakness, and the homemade cake with caramelized sugar cream was a delight!
The next dinner was organized by the Voronet Blue Pension, located just 15 minutes walk from the Voronet Monastery, in an enchanting setting, with the forest next to it. We had a party with live music and traditional food, in an equally traditional house, over 120 years old.
It was an evening spent in authentic Bucovina style. This is where I discovered and tested for the first time the combination mentioned above: strawberries with sour cream and polenta. Rainbow on the roof of your mouth!
Last night I had dinner at the hotel where I was staying, Best Western Bucovina. It was a kind of reinterpreted traditional dinner, where the Bucovina bulz didn’t look like a bulz, but it was good to lick your fingers and nothing else.
We also had turkey with mushrooms, dumplings, and salad, but my favorite was the baked cake with cheese cream and dill. The dishes were accompanied by delicious wine and a recital by the band Dor de Bucovina.
Adrenaline in Arinis Park
Arinis Amusement Park offers a lot of possibilities for relaxation, fun, and activities of all kinds; indeed one of the most beautiful places to visit in Bucovina. It’s only a 20-minute walk from Best Western Bucovina and covers an area of 32 hectares.
I spent a day here, but you will need at least two days to cover all the activities. From the Olympic-sized indoor pool, cart rides, kayaking, and archery, to climbing, skateboard rink, illuminated courts for tennis, football, and other sports, paintball, and hopping from 12 m, Arinis Park has everything for everyone.
Among the most sought-after activities for the little ones are the trails in Aventura Park. There are eight routes of different intensities, and each of them will test your climbing skills. The best part is that you don’t need great fitness to go through them.
I must admit that my favorite activity was kayaking on the lake where the dancing fountain is located. It was the first time I rode the kayak alone, and I can’t wait to try again!
Hiking in nature
As I praise it from the beginning of the article, Gura Humorului is a city surrounded by fabulous landscapes, with dense forests, vast meadows, and a hilltop that offers enchanting panoramas.
It would be a shame to get here and not go through at least one of the tourist routes in Gura Humorului. Whether you choose to walk, bike or ATV, or Buggy to the top of Toaca peak, nature will pleasantly surprise you every time.
With the chairlift at the Soimul observation tower
On the map of tourist attractions in Gura Humorului is also the Soimul Observation Tower. Recently inaugurated, the 28-meter-high tower offers a complete view of the city of Gura Humorului. However, from here, you can also see the neighboring town of Frasin, and the ridges of the surrounding mountains, Rarau, Ceahlau, and Calimani.
You can reach the tower by walking on the mountain route or by chairlift. In the tower, there are four observation rifles. The image they offer is so clear that you can see people walking the city’s streets. In winter, the chairlift is also used to easily access the Soimul ski slope.
Price: 20 lei/adult round trip; 15 lei/children age 4-14
Visit the Monasteries
The monasteries of Moldova should be at the top of your bucket list regarding places to visit in Bucovina. This time we saw only the Voronet Monastery. Our host was Mother Abbess Gabriela Platon, who told us with love and joy about all that this religious place means, about the mysterious blue of Voronet, explained the meaning of the paintings from the outside of the monastery, and at the end, she offered us an icon to always remember this experience.
Voronet was founded by Stephen the Great in 1488. They say that the Monastery’s construction took 3 months and 3 weeks. Here are some other curiosities about Voronet Monastery:
- It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993
- The tomb of Daniil Sihastrul is inside the Monastery
- The “Voronet blue” pigment was prepared from lapis lazuli semiprecious stone
- The paintings on the outside of the Monastery also include the 12 zodiac signs
- It is also called the Eastern Sistine Chapel
Other monasteries close to Gura Humorului:
The dancing fountain in the Artesian Fountain Park
On the occasion of this press trip, I even witnessed the inauguration of the newest attraction in Gura Humorului: the Dancing Fountain.
The show was beautiful, especially since it was accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of the Botosani Philharmonic recital and ended with an impressive fireworks display that I have not seen so far elsewhere. The attention to detail pleasantly surprised me!
The fountain has jets with colored lights up to 35 meters high and choreography on songs. Nearby is the Dwarf Park (Parcul Piticilor), where you will find several hobbit houses with all kinds of specific decorations inside.
Zipline over the river Moldova
Do you want to have more adrenaline on holiday in Bucovina? Well, then you must not miss the zip line. It’s 150 meters long and is located in the same Arinis amusement park, crossing the Moldova River. Basically, a round trip route is a little over 300 meters because one of its ends involves a bit of climbing.
The zipline in Gura Humorului is called La Kiroliana and is an enjoyable activity for young people, parents, or children. Seat belts will very well support you, so you have no reason to fear.
Price: 35 lei/ person round trip
Fun in Vente Club
The trip to Bucovina lands ended with an evening of fun in the Vente Club, the newest location for themed events, concerts, and shows. I like that it is vast and modern and I am convinced that there will be a lot of parties here, and the locals, as well as the tourists who arrive in the area, will thoroughly enjoy them.
A few things to know before visiting Gura Humorului:
- You can get around Gura Humorului attractions using the newly opened electric buses.
- Several accommodations look sensational. My recommendations are: Best Western Bucovina, Voronet Blue Pension, La Conac in Bucovina and Casa Humor. All are taken into consideration when looking for accommodation in Gura Humorului
- You need at least four days in Gura Humorului to enjoy everything this resort offers.
- You can reach Gura Humorului either by personal car or by train. The road takes about 6-7 hours from Bucharest, regardless of the chosen option.
- Prepare to give up the diet for a few days; the food here is too delicious to stay away from
- Other places to visit in Gura Humorului: Bucovina Museum of Popular Customs, Arbore Monastery, Mocanita Hutulca