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Constanta - Romania's City by the Sea

Along the Black Sea coast in neighbouring Romania lies the city of Constanta. Sharing the same coastline as Bulgaria means that Constanta also shares many of the fine weather conditions as coastal cities such as Varna, which is only 122.5 km from this charming and historic city.

In fact, Romania shares many similar qualities with Bulgaria; both are now fully-fledged EU members and consequently these countries are now finding a new influx of tourists eager to see something different.

Just because there are some similarities, don't let this prevent you from taking a trip over the border. Constanta is one of Romania's largest cities and is held in high regard for its cultural and economic contribution to the country as a whole. This large coastal city is awash with an eclectic mix of impressive buildings, culture and fascinating mythical stories.

Getting there

Since Bulgaria and Romania are now EU members, there are no problems getting over the border. A minibus runs between Varna and Constanta on a daily basis and takes about three hours and a new ferry service now links the two ports. For those who choose train travel, it is important be aware that the rail system is undergoing a process of modernisation which will affect some train times until its proposed completion in 2010. If you find you arrive at the station, it is worth walking past the many private taxis and aim for a licensed yellow cab. These yellow taxis will ensure that your journey into the city centre does not cost you an over inflated tourist price.

Your first port of call

Many travellers will be surprised to know that Constanta is the fourth largest seaport in the world. This area is also famed for its grand casino, on Blvd. Carpati, which is a monument to the Art Nouveau style and combines breathtaking architecture with stunning sea views. It has entertained a wealth of important visitors including Russian royalty; today the pedestrian area around the casino is a popular destination for couples and families and this area really comes to life after sundown. Whether or not you're a betting person, a visit to this area is certainly worth the gamble!

It is the port that contributes to Romania's and more importantly, Constanta's rich historical heritage. It was believed that Jason landed here with the Argonauts after having found the mythical Golden Fleece. As an important port, Constanta's reputation as a stop off for travellers and merchants has given the city centuries of architectural gems. These are at their most evident in the centre of the old city.

Beach life

Combining city tourism with some sun and sea has never been easier. The geographical location of Constanta allows for a large beach right in the middle of the city. The beach known as Modern is a family friendly place situated near the marina. Part of its family appeal is the very shallow water, which allow bathers to walk for as long as 30 meters in knee deep water.

Like many other Black Sea regions, there are plenty of resorts close to the city centre, which can offer visitors the chance to blend a city break with a more traditional beach holiday. Just 6 km north of the city lies the popular Mamaia resort. It boasts long sandy, rock-free beaches and a wealth of hotels, nightclubs bars and even a water park all of which are at their busiest during the summer season. The resort still makes for a practical destination off-season when the area is quieter. When the crowds have gone, this resort and the surrounding areas can be fully appreciated by taking some of the many walking routes or hiring an ATV to go off the beaten track.

Back in the city

There are many museums to give you a sense of Constanta's history, which spans over 2,500 years. Some of the earliest civilisations have left their mark upon the city and the Roman mosaics are well worth seeing. Over 9,150 square feet of surviving mosaics can be found at Piata Ovidiu next to the National History and Archeology Museum. This area was the city's commercial centre until the seventh century and some of the mosaic work dates back to the fourth century AD. The mosaics are only available for viewing from Tuesday to Sunday 10am - 6pm.