Here we are, arriving in Eastern Romania for an incursion into another medieval-old city. This time, we are on the grounds of Moldavia, a historical region, in Eastern Romania. Iași (Iassy), our destination, used to be the crossroads market town for ancient trade routes that passed through coming from the Habsburg Empire, the Kingdom of Poland, the Tsardom of Russia, and even Constantinople (now Istanbul).
Yet, you might want to find out what to do in a place that also bears the mark of communist industrialization and the economic development in the aftermath. That is why we chose to present you with the best places to stay and dine in Iași if it’s your first visit. Below you will find a selection of the best things to do in Iași on-season and off-season. On top of that, Iași is where you can start an unforgettable trip to the painted monasteries of Bucovina. So, why not stop over?
Fun Things to Do in Iași
The city of Iași has a strong community of young, kind and passionate inhabitants. Together managed to turn their city into a creative center. To start with the month of May, the Magic of Balloons is a hot-air balloon festival and a unique event in Romania. It has taken place in mid-May each year starting with 2016 in the plain fields of Războieni, about 50km away from Iași. Then, there is Hangariada, a three-day long aviation spectacle, happening the following weekend in May.
You thought Iași people don’t do music festivals? Never mind that thought! We already mentioned the Afterhills festival here. It truly creates an international vibe around the city of Iași. However, another music and crafts festival, Rocanotherworld, brings together Romanian musicians and bands on two separate venues in the city. One of them is the Copou hill ski slope and the other is the open-air art gallery Genesis, in a former industrial area. All the revenue generated by the festival is donated to an independent theater this year. Mark mid-June weekends in your calendar for a trip to Iași during this festival. June is the month of the year when Street Delivery, a nation-wide street festival, happens in Iași. Families and travelers are welcome to enjoy the city without cars, think about urban design and creative ways to inhabit a city.
Missed out on all the May and June events in Iași? There is no other more fun place for families or team building than Hamak Adventure Park and it’s opened all summer. Just at the entrance in Bârnova forest, south of Iași, this camping site is all you need to escape the bustling city for an active holiday.
Where to Eat in Iași
Ok, now you landed in Iași, picked up your rented car from the airport or just took the bus transfer to the city? You met your host and just checked in your room thinking what’s next? Well, you probably are hungry and wonder where to eat in Iași, the Romanian seven hills city.
Just to cross it off the list first, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes on this restaurant’s menu. Cuib, nest in English, as it is called, is more than a place to eat healthy food. It is a community-driven initiative to support eco-friendly local businesses. Indeed, it has the hippest terrace in town. Another in the loop spot with music and poetry events is the Acaju bar. With two charming gardens opened for the summer, Cuib and Acaju are the places to be in Iași.
Literature buffs can enjoy themselves with a visit to the Museum of Romanian Literature hosted in the Pogor House (poet, publicist, and mayor of Iași Vasile Pogor’s memorial house). The amazing next door restaurant is going to please your senses with Moldavian borsht and Transylvanian goulash. It is a true summer oasis in the middle of the city. For a simple cosmopolitan alternative, this bistro is what you need when in Iași for work or a short visit and an American pancake. At the moment, they are changing the location of this vibrant, colorful gem. However, you can check for updates here, when you’re in town.
Where to Stay in Iași
When traveling with your family to Romania, a hotel might not be an ideally suited place to stay at. Instead, as the trend has been growing for years, Airbnb accommodation can be a better option for traveling families as services differ. Plus, Romanian Airbnb hosts have great recommendations for hidden gems in the city.
We took a peek at their offerings and gathered a few suitable ones for a much needed short list. For traveling families, our best pick is Anca’s environmentally-friendly apartment, that has two free bikes to ride. A beautiful warm home in the central neighborhood is Eugenia’s. Her place was rated excellent for families with babies and toddlers. Then, fit for three guests on a short city break or a long-term stay, is this apartment, located in a quiet area of Iași. Last but not least, this central studio near the University of Iași is perfect for visiting students and business trips. The advantage is you can visit the close by “Bojdeuca lui Ion Creangă,” the memorial house of a famous children’s book writer. Also, you can dine in one of the mouth-watering restaurants in the area.
How to Get to Iași
Before choosing a place to sleep over, one must travel to Iași. As the second most populated city after Bucharest, Iași has its own airport. We are sure you can find cheap flights to Iași from Vienna, London, Paris, Rome, and most European cities. So, you can land here without a Bucharest detour, although there are lots of things to do there too. As for car rentals, you probably will need one if you take short trips to the beautiful surroundings of Iași. The Bârnova forest is one of them. Luckily, there is a car rental service that caters to long-term visitors. You can access if you decide to live and work in the charming Iași city.