The capital holds the nickname Little Paris thanks to its wide, tree-lined streets and imposing architecture. However, the Communist era has left its mark in many areas, especially the central district, much of which was razed and rebuilt by former dictator Ceaucescu. The city is an interesting mix of French-style Belle Epoque buildings, traditional Romanian architecture, Communist-era Neo-classicism and faceless Soviet-style blocks. However, new residential and commercial developments are bringing a touch of more contemporary steel-and-glass construction.
Far from being the super-cheap destination it once was, prices in the city are now on a par with other areas of Europe. Having said that, Bucharest still remains one of the cheapest capital cities in which to invest. Middle and upper-end buyers are now beginnign to reject older-style blocks in favour of new, well-designed, contemporary apartments with modern, quality fittings, parking and leisure facilities. Either central or easily accessible suburbs are favoured by owners working in the city.
Northern Bucharest is heavily sought after and may be too saturated with development for some investors. As a result, land is scarce and expensive and so are properties. Those looking for cheaper property may want to investigate South Bucharest and the Olt Valley, which, while close to Bucharest, is underdeveloped and under publicised but has stunning countryside landscapes, attractive spa towns and lower prices. The suburbs and outskirts of Bucharest also have the potential for substantial longer-term returns as the city expands and properties in these areas become more integrated.
Known as Little Venice, this is one of Romania's richest cities situated on the western border with Serbia and surrounded by the lovely countryside of the Banat region with its lakes, mountains and forests. The city has attracted a lot of commercial investment with several large companies including Procter & Gamble and Nestlé. The property sector here is thriving with many residents opting for new villas in the suburbs and surrounding countryside rather than apartments.
This modern city is a designated free trade zone (with only five percent taxation) and as a result is pulling in lots of industry and businesses. Situated on the Bucharest-Budapest route it is well placed for trade links.
This central region is forever associated with the myth of Count Dracula and pulls in substantial tourism as a result. It is also a rural paradise of forests, fairytale castles and the Carpathian Mountains. Cities worth considering for investment include Cluj-Napoca in the north-west, a populous and thriving hub for many corporations and with good transport connections including an airport and new motorway connections with Bucharest and the Black Sea. Architecturally very attractive and in one of the country's most beautiful regions this area also has a large student population making it a good buy-to-let option.
Situated in the centre of southern Transylvania, Brasov is another busy town offering beautiful architecture, good commercial links and a large university. It is a popular tourist destination during the winter season because of all the winter sports and activities it has to offer. Brasov is also the largest of resorts in the mountain area. Property here consists of new apartments in the slightly sprawling industrialised areas and contemporary and older-style family homes.
A beautiful and historic town, surveys have showed that Sibiu and its surrounding areas are the most visited in Romania. The city has several museums that exhibit a mass of historic artefacts and there are also several historic buildings to be seen. Substantial investment has gone into infrastructure and commercial investment.
Poiana Brasov, Predeal and Sinaia
These are Romania's main ski resorts and also offer investment and second home opportunities. Poiana Brasov in particular has developed well and attracts large numbers of skiers each winter. The beautiful Alpine countryside is now home to clusters of luxury hotels, private chalets and apartment developments. Not only do Romania's mountain resorts have some of the best skiing in Europe, they offer the potential for good rental during the summer too. With attractions such as hiking, cycling and horse riding, unlike the coast, there is the potential for year-round rental.
Black Sea coast
The country's seaside resorts are not as well known or developed as those of neighbouring Bulgaria and the short summer rental season of only four months each year has curtailed investment. Nevertheless, the towns of Constanta, Costinesti and Mamaia are busy with eastern European tourists all summer.