Much of Constanta, Romania’s largest port and third-largest city, is adorned with the familiar wide, blaring boulevards and piles of uninspired concrete. However, if your beach fix doesn’t require immediate pacification, there’s a fair amount of wandering and sites to peruse in the Old Town before you jump on the first bus to a seaside resorts.
Emperor Constantine first fortified and developed the city, later naming the city after his sister, no doubt pissing off his poor mother to no end. A few Roman relics remain, some of which have been relegated to “Archaeological Park” and a few other free, cast-off locales as there apparently wasn’t enough room in the wonderful History and Archaeological Museum between the bones of a 2nd-century woman, the mammoth tusks, the 2nd-century Roman statues (discovered under the old train station in 1962) and a collection of 4th century Roman coins – not to mention the centerpiece; a 2nd-century serpent Glykon, carved from a single block of marble.
After Constanta was taken by Romania in 1877, a railway line was soon built from Bucharest and by the early 1900s it was a fashionable seaside resort frequented by European royalty.
Constanta has a few beaches, but aside from the private beaches of a few hotels, they tend to be more polluted than those in the resorts to the south. Away from the beach, Constanta itself offers a bit of everything: a picturesque Old Town, archaeological treasures and a peaceful Mediterranean air, including dilapidated back alleys (which can be a little spooky at night). With its potential for carefree wandering and its few excellent museums, Constanta can be satisfactorily covered in less than a day, meaning a day-trip from Mamaia or one of the northerly resorts is perfectly reasonable.