Romania has a lot to offer for every season. During the hot summer season the seaside and the beach call, and for many Romanians and foreign travellers this means the Black Sea, Constanta and Mamaia: 250 km of unspoiled beaches, warm sea water for swimmers, delicious food, fine sands….and many clubs for those who love to party all night long.
By Diana Slav
And it’s not surprising the seaside is assaulted by tourists:
- the beaches are sandy
- almost all of the beaches are public so you can lay your towell almost anywhere. You may be charged for a beach chair and umbrella but you’ll rarely have to pay 15-20 lei for the city beaches and 25-70 for Mamaia beaches (depending on the beach you choose, and also if it is week day or week-end day).
- From May all the way through to September the water is a comfortable temperature.
- The Romanian coast of the Black Sea is less salty as a result of the mighty Danube meaning goggles are less necessary.
The most famous Romanian city on the Black Sea is Constanta and its neighbouring summer resort Mamaia.
Arriving in Constanta by train, you will find the hop on-hop off buses directly in front of the station. These are not actually hop on-hop off as the ticket can be used only once. The tickets can be purchased directly from the driver (1.5 lei). There is no map, guide or audio book but if you know where you’re headed (the name of the hotel or the area) the driver will let you know when to alight. These buses run from from 09.00 until 21.00 departing every half hour.
Tip: train station taxis will attempt to extract a little extra, sometimes not so little, beware. Look on the doors for the regular tariff to be in green colour (2,60 lei) and insist on the meter. Some taxis display the tariffs in red colour, avoid at all costs.
Recomendation for safe taxis: city-taxi – http://citytaxi.ro/ . You can order by phone or online and they offer very good quality – both drivers and cars.
Since I love the old town so much, my recommendation would be to stay in one of the old hotels that have been restored to their original grandeur.
Boutique hotel Belle Epoque (Tomis blvd. 16) is right in the centre of the old town. It has only seven rooms with each one decorated to a different theme. This property was built in 1882 by a rich Greek businessman.
Cherica hotel (Stefan cel Mare str. 4) is another place that’s been restored to it’s former glory. In 1896 it was a boutique hotel and so it is again. It was the property of one of the royal Romanian families, so, staying there, you will undoubtedly feel a little regal yourself.
Carol hotel (Mihail Kogalniceanu 15) was built in 1913 the property of a very famous lawyer.
All three of these hotels are open year round.
Mamaia has plenty to offer. It’s located about 10 km from the train station, starting at the end of the city and stretches in a thin 6km isthmus strip bordered to the west by Lake Siutghiol and to the east by the sea.
For the best panoramic view in Mamaia check out the Sky View Bar at the Hotel Parc.
Tip: Mamaia is a summer resort filled with clubs, bars, restaurants and hotels. The summer season starts offically on May 1st but the most crowded (and expensive) period is through July and August. My recommendation for you would be to consider taking your holiday here in June or early September.
At the start of the Mamaia strip there is an amusement park from where the promenade begins. This is a really crowded area, watch your pockets. Centrally there are lots of restaurants many with terrases. Most have menus in English and English speaking staff. Clubs in this area include Bellagio, Crema, Crazy and Cafe del Mar.
Night time activities are mostly focused towards the end of Mamaia where it merges into Navodari city. During day time this is also the area for water sports as it enjoys really good winds. This is where all the best clubs and parties are happening in places like Loft, Fratelli and Ego.
Old Town of Constanta
This part of Constanta is touristy year round. Constanta has much to offer history buffs with a naval museum, a contemporary art museum, folk /popular art museum, a history and archaoelogy museum and a roman mosaic museum.
The best panoramic view from the old town is from the Carl Mosque (1913) with its 140 spiral stairs to the minaret. – 5 lei entrance fee.
Close to Mamaia there is the Center of Natural Science which offers daily dolphin shows. Kids love this place with its pelicans and many other bird species in their natural habitat. The planetarium is also interesting.
We have history galore in Constanta stretching all the way back to the Greek Empire and right through the Roman empire, there is British heritage, Greek, Armenian and many other influences.
You can see still the walls of the Fortress of Tomis (formal name from the Greek Empire) from the 4th century a.d.
The old town is on a small peninsula, just over a kilometre long, and it has a total of eight places of worship for different religions and communities. Seven are still functioning and have been for the last 150 years.
You can also onjoy a nice walk on the promenade admiring the Black Sea and the famed Old Casino (1911). After the promenade there is another small marina with several restaurants facing the sea and there are also small boats waiting to be rented.
- fly over the black sea with Regional Air Services – http://www.regional-air.ro/application/EN
- one day trips ( my reccomendation: there is a facebook page called Day trips – https://www.facebook.com/daytripsconstanta/ ): Danube Delta, Romanian or Greek traditional night
- on your own, by car or private tours: Histria fortess – the oldest fortress from the Greek Empire; Enisala – the only medieval fortress
- wine tastings: Crama Histria, Crama Rasova, Crama Gabai, Crama Clos de Colombes, Crama Domeniul Vladoi. We have a really special area here, famous for good terroir and ceritfied area for great wines, with a total of 19 boutique winerys.
Where to eat
In Mamaia things change rapidly, not only from year to year but season to season so best to check tripadvisor.
In the old town things are more organized and places are open all year long so i can recommend some of my favorites:
Irish pub restaurant – international menu, great breakfast, great selection of wines
London pub – international menu, great breakfast
Cucina Italiana – great italian pasta, including freshly made
Toscana restaurant, another great italian restaurant
Papa Ricardo burgers, ribs (ask for the combi menu), mussels (in shell or stew – great receipes)
Taras Gastro Pub is another good place for burgers as is Burgeria Tomis 107
La Ana si Ion restaurant – this is Romanian food with a local twist, they also have a great mussel recipe and if you are here on Sunday there is a special fish soup
Nikos Greek Taverna – there are several in town and also in Mamaia
Pizzico – international menu, great selection of wines
Casa Hrisicos (historical monument – 1911) – steak house, international menu
Craft beer: Ordinul Berarilor
Best coffee in town: Arrabica the coffee shop. Ask for Marghiloman coffee and go watch the show of how it’s made. Trust me on this one 🙂
For one of the best views and also one of the best interiors try the Queen Elisabeth restaurant which faces the casino and the promenade.
In the marina area, I would recommend La Mal, Reyna, Bacaro, Manarola, Compass and Aqua by the Sea.
If you want to learn about the history of this city and the area, i will gladly take you on a tour and show all of our hidden gems (https://www.facebook.com/ConstantaWalkingTour/).