Suceava city itself isn’t exactly a thrill-a-minute. There’s a lot of unsightly concrete holding the place together. Yet the city has its charms, including an excellent ethnographic museum housed in a 18th century guesthouse and a huge citadel.
It’s also the perfect base of operations for the painted monasteries of Southern Bucovina. Moreover, the city has the best tourism infrastructure of anywhere in Romania, outside of Transylvania. For those who’ve been exploring the outer rim of Romania and dealing with its miserable hoteliers and dearth of customer service skills, the mere act of interacting with Suceava’s divine collection of hotel clerks and tourism agents that don’t inspire a temper tantrum is novelty enough to spend a few days here. Infoturism (Tel. + 40 (0) 230 551 241; address Str Stefan cel Mare 23), inside the Museum of Natural Sciences, is the official tourism office of Suceava county. The folks at West Travel (Tel. + 40 (0) 728 438 439; address Str Stefan cel Mare 54) are very efficient and professional, offering tours, car rental, accommodation assistance and plane tickets.
Suceava was the capital of Moldavia from 1388 to 1565, a thriving commercial centre on the Lviv-Istanbul trading route. By the time Stefan cel Mare finally checked out in 1504, he’d erected much of the approximately 40 churches that survive today. The area fell into decline after the Turks bulldozed through in 1675 and was again shunned during Ceausescu’s reign when the area was blanketed by toxic air from the pulp and paper factory, causing a variety of respiratory and nervous disorders known as “Suceava Syndrome”. The factory has since been closed and the massive Iulius Mall now stands in its place.
Suceava Days in late-June, yet another religious-holiday-turned-street-party, is arguably the high point of the social calendar, featuring biblical amounts of beer, street food and music.