Craiova

Craiova in Romania exceeded our expectations. We went there mainly for the famous Craiova Christmas market but found that the city has a lot more to offer.

As the sixth-largest city in the country, Craiova offers a diverse range of activities and attractions that cater to both locals and curious travellers. If you are looking for Christmas markets in Romania, then Craiova should be very high on your list as Craiova is known for having one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

We spent two days in Craiova and would recommend it for a weekend break. Find out more about our experience and top recommendations below.

Overview

Craiova, the capital of Dolj County, is situated in the southwestern part of Romania. The city seamlessly blends historical charm with modern allure.

The city is a dynamic hub of art, history, and tradition. Its strategic location on the Jiu River has contributed to its historical significance, making it a melting pot of influences from various civilisations.

The Craiova weather, as in the rest of Romania, sees a temperate-continental climate, with distinct seasons throughout the year. Summers are warm and inviting, ideal for outdoor exploration, while winters bring a picturesque snow-covered landscape.

You can plan a visit based on your preferred weather conditions, but we believe the best time to visit Craiova is during winter, so you can enjoy the beautiful Christmas market and decorations.

The currency in Romania is the Romanian Leu (RON). We found that credit cards are widely accepted across the city but it’s always practical to have some cash on hand for smaller transactions.

Travel To and Around Craiova

Traveling to Craiova can be done by various means, including air, train, bus, or car.

Craiova International Airport (CRA) serves as the main airport for the city. If you are looking for suitable flight options, make sure to check out this article with top tips on how to find cheap flights.

We flew to Bucharest and then travelled from Bucharest to Craiova by train. The city’s train station, Craiova Railway Station, is centrally located, making it convenient for travellers to reach by rail.

Depending on where you are travelling from, a coach could also be an option. If you prefer driving, you can reach Craiova by car. Craiova is accessible via major highways.

Once you arrive in Craiova, getting around the city is relatively easy. Public transportation, including buses and trams, can take you to various parts of the city.

Taxis in Craiova are affordable and this is what we used during our stay. Walking is also a viable option, especially in the central areas where many attractions are located.

Where to Stay in Craiova

We would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. Use the widget below to find the best accommodation in Craiova for your specific dates.

As we travelled by train, being close to the train station was important for us, so we chose a hotel in Craiova that was central but also close to the train station. We stood at Hotel Meliss but wouldn’t really visit again as it didn’t meet our expectations and certainly wasn’t a 4* hotel.

Things to Do in Craiova

There are plenty of things to do in Craiova (more than we initially thought) and you can easily fill your day and even a weekend. Here are our top recommendations for what to do and see in Craiova.

1. Visit the Craiova Christmas Market

If you plan to visit Craiova in the winter, definitely plan to visit the famous Craiova Christmas Market, which is ranked among the Best Christmas Markets in Europe. We have been to a number of Christmas markets in Romania and the one in Craiova is certainly a highlight!

Across Craiova’s Old Town, you can find various Christmas events, markets, ice rink, Ferris wheel and fun rides, food stands and more. The market is spread across four different places in the city – Mihai Viteazul Square, Old Centre (Frații Buzești Square), William Shakespeare Square and Doljana Fountain area. 

We covered the Christmas market a few times during the day and in the evening. Whilst during the day there aren’t as many people and almost no queues at the food stalls, the magic is in the evening with all the Christmas lights and their beauty.

You can see the magical illuminations across the city, no wonder the two million light bulbs are making Craiova not only one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe but also the best Christmas Lights Destination in Romania.

2. Enjoy a Relaxing Day in Nicolae Romanescu Park

This beautiful park is perfect for walking, jogging, or simply unwinding. Depending on the Craiova weather, you can even rent a bike and discover all parts of the park.

Named after the former mayor of Craiova, Nicolae Romanescu Park covers a vast area and is situated on the banks of the Jiu River. The park features a picturesque artificial lake, which adds to the park’s charm.

Within the park, there is a zoo known as Zoo Craiova. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, making it a family-friendly attraction. It’s a great place for children and animal enthusiasts.

It is free to visit the park and the zoo and it is pleasant to explore the park even on a cold winter day.

3. Admire the Beauty of the Craiova Art Museum

Explore the rich cultural heritage of the region by visiting the art museum, which houses a collection of Romanian and European art. What is even more impressive and a real piece of art, is the building itself.

The museum is housed in the Constantin Mihail Palace. The palace once belonged to Michael Constantine, a member of one of the richest families in Romania and is known as Jean Mihail Palace.

The palace is decorated with beautiful marble stairs, silk walls, Murano glass chandeliers, some painted ceilings and Venetian mirrors. I personally enjoyed the building and the beautiful interior more than the art exhibitions.

A major attraction of the museum is the gallery dedicated to Constantin Brâncuși. Unfortunately during our visit the exhibition was temporarily moved to Timisoara but we did see the famous works a few years ago in the Museum of Art in Philadelphia.

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4. Learn about History at the Oltenia’s Museum of History and Archaeology

Learn about the history and culture of the Oltenia region through the exhibits and artefacts at this museum. It covers regional and general Romanian history from antiquity to modern days.

It is easy to navigate the museum. The exhibitions are nicely presented and take you on a journey through times.

There is a lot of information about the exhibition and the artefacts but all of it is in Romanian. You can either get an audio guide or use Google Lens to translate the information in your language. Allow at least 45 minutes for a visit.

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5. Pay a visit to the Madona Dudu Church

After the museum, you can visit this historic church, known for its unique architecture and cultural significance. It’s one of the oldest churches in Craiova, dating back to the 16th century.

Like many Orthodox churches, Madona Dudu Church is adorned with frescoes and religious artwork. The interior is decorated with paintings that depict religious scenes and figures.

6. Check Out the Oltenia Museum of Ethnography

This museum showcases the ethnographic material found in the communes of this county. You can see objects such as old Olten rugs and artistically crafted peasant costumes and national wear.

There is also a good collection of ceramic dishes, painted eggs, tools and carved wooden household objects. The museum is not big but gives an idea of how people in the region used to live and the arts and crafts typical for the region.

It is easy to navigate the museum and should be able to see everything in 30-45 minutes.

7. Visit the St. Demetrius Metropolitan Cathedral

Admire the architecture and religious significance of this cathedral, an important Orthodox church in Craiova. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Demetrius (Sfântul Dumitru), an important saint in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

Like many Orthodox churches, the interior of St. Demetrius Metropolitan Cathedral is likely adorned with religious icons, frescoes, and other decorative elements. These elements often depict scenes from the Bible and saints.

Top Restaurants in Craiova

As in most places in Romania, you can find traditional dishes such as polenta, tripe soup, papanasi and more. We were surprised that there weren’t many well-rated traditional restaurants but plenty of Italian restaurants and pizza places.

Big Ben

A restaurant in Craiova that we will recommend with two hands is Big Ben Craiova. The service and the food were excellent! Paul had the mutton and I had pork ribs and we totally enjoyed every single bite of our meal.

The lemonade is also very nice. The atmosphere was nice and relaxed.

Downtown – Contemporary Bar & Food

Downtown – Contemporary Bar & Food is another place to add to your list with a few cautions. It is central and conveniently located in the Old Town, the atmosphere is nice but the service was on the slow side.

Paul was really happy with the Milanese schnitzel (better than the one he had in Milan). I ordered the duck and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed – it was bland, tasteless and the fat wasn’t well rendered.

3. Sample Food from the Christmas Market

If you are visiting the Christmas Market, make sure to sample some traditional food from one of the stalls. We had a mix of Romanian mici (little sausages with no casings), sausages, pickles, home-made bread and fries.

The food was delicious and was prepared on the barbecue in front of us. Having said that, there were a lot of people and it took us a long time to place our order and actually get the food.

Make sure to buy a chimney cake (Kürtőskalács) which is a Hungarian spit cake and popular at every single Christmas market in Romania.

Cofetaria Minerva

If you want a nice place for coffee and desserts, make your way to Cofetaria Minerva in the Old Town in Craiova. The place is beautifully decorated and you can admire the amazing interior.

The cakes are delicious, however we found the service to be slow and the ordering process is rather inefficient.

Final Thoughts

Our visit to Craiova surpassed our expectations. While initially drawn by the renowned Craiova Christmas market, we discovered that the city offers a multifaceted experience for both locals and inquisitive travellers.

With its diverse range of activities and attractions, including one of the finest Christmas markets in Europe, Craiova proved to be an ideal destination for a weekend break. The city is great for families, couples or solo traveller and offers something for everyone.

Our two days in the city revealed a rich cultural tapestry and a warm hospitality that makes Craiova a hidden gem worth exploring.

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:


  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider Rentalcars.com for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

As an Amazon Associate and member of various other affiliate programmes, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address below. You’ll be the first to hear about new destinations and articles we publish!

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. Read our full Privacy Policy.

Are you interested in travelling? Check out our Facebook page and other social media for regular tips and recommendations on how to travel and where to go!

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:


  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider Rentalcars.com for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

As an Amazon Associate and member of various other affiliate programmes, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address below. You’ll be the first to hear about new destinations and articles we publish!

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. Read our full Privacy Policy.

Are you interested in travelling? Check out our Facebook page and other social media for regular tips and recommendations on how to travel and where to go!

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