Transylvania, which includes central Romania, is famous for its Transylvanian 'vampires', with Dracula being its most well-known one. You might be surprised to learn, however, that this beautiful part of the world has more to offer than just a dark past with centuries-old architecture and history. Of course, if you visit here, you will find 'Dracula's Castle' and the history that goes along with it. But just be aware that there are also many other towering castle complexes and things to see and do in this region. So, whether you like city tours on foot, castle hops, or feel like a quick trek to the beautiful mountains, Transylvania is a wonderland that has lots to offer.
Make your first day one for the books with a hike up to the top of the breathtaking Piatra Craiului National Park. Then, kick off your city tour with a stop at the famed castles, such as Bran Castle (aka Dracula's Castle, but keep in mind that there is no Dracula or vampires here) and Peles Castle. Romania is also peppered with citadels and fortresses all around as they come from a long history of military strife. Also, don't forget to visit the Cetatea Râșnov, a fortress built to protect citizens from invasion.
You can also get lost in the magical city of Brasov, so make sure to dedicate a day to just exploring this part of Transylvania. After a Brasov city tour, those on the hunt for a ski adventure can head to Poiana Brașov, which is one of the best ski resorts in the country. Then, cool down at the Fortified Church in Prejmer afterwards.
Another must-visit destination is the town of Sighișoara, a postcard-come-to-life place where one can just wander around and admire the picturesque surroundings without getting bored. Guests can also climb up the Historic Center for a good view of the town. While here, do not forget to try the local cuisine at the Georgius Krauss Guest House. After Sighișoara, visit the town of Sibiu for its ASTRA National Museum Complex and the Bridge of Lies.
Finally, do not miss the big city of Cluj-Napoca, where one can experience authentic Eastern European cuisine, people watch and enjoy the city architecture, such as the National Theater, without wandering too far.
Kick off the first day of your tour with an unusual (yet special) trip to the Piatra Craiului National Park where you can hike up a trail leading to limestone ridges and a breathtaking view of the country. This is a great starter for an even grander set of destinations that includes Romanian castles, salt mines and cities to tour in the coming days.
Newcomers to Transylvania often look for “Dracula's Castle”, so head to the Bran Castle first to find out what inspired the setting for this story. Another must-visit castle is the Peles Castle, which is known for its German Neo-Renaissance style. Complete your medieval tour with the Cetatea Râșnov that is am an impressive symbol of Transylvania's old strength and power. All of the places mentioned above have their own spot in Romanian history and are prime spots for tourists looking for a cultural trip full of rich history.
The Piatra Craiului National Park has the country's longest limestone ridges. At the top of this park is also a great panoramic view of the countryside. Hikes can take up to 3 hours and hikers with various levels of fitness can take on various areas to climb. Be sure to check the weather before heading here to make sure you will enjoy the trip.
The Bran Castle sits beautifully atop a hill in Transylvania. It is also one of the region’s most visited sites due to being known as Dracula’s Castle. Bran Castle was once owned by Prince Mircea the Old, who was the grandfather of Prince Vlad the Impaler. Vlad gained a reputation of being a ruthless prince who liked skewering his enemies and displaying their impaled bodies to the public, which inspired Bram Stoker’s novel of Dracula. The Bran Castle boasts more than 600 years of history, but its grandeur is credited to the care of Queen Maria who transformed the castle into the landmark it is today. Do not miss this great castle on your Romanian holiday.
Next, visit the Cetatea Rasnov Fortress. This is a great reminder of Transylvania’s military prowess and high-quality architecture. Inside, you can get a good view of the structures of Rasnov villages. When exploring this fortress, don’t miss the Mythical Well which is believed to be the hiding place of a treasure. Legend has it that this well was dug by Turkish prisoners during a siege and is where they put Quran verses on the walls. The Cetatea Rasnov Citadel also has a museum where visitors can learn more about the local history and way of life if interested.
For an excellent example of Neo-Renaissance taste, head over to the Peles Castle. It sits at the Carpathian Mountains, right on the medieval path that connects Transylvania and Wallachia. This beautiful castle has a royal touch and was once the home of the Royal Family of Romania. This grand piece of land in the town of Sinaia is surrounded by trees and mountains, which adds a beautiful backdrop to the fairy-tale-like castle.
Include the city of Brasov in your Transylvania itinerary for a glimpse of its old-world Saxon walls and Gothic-style structures. Nature and wildlife are abundant here, as expected from a city cradled in the Carpathian Mountains. Enjoy a nice stroll around town or chill in a nearby restaurant to watch the crowd go by or admire the beautiful local architecture.
For those up for more of an adventure, Poiana Brașov offers one of the greatest skiing experiences in the country (that is if you’re here in the wintertime). Not up for skiing? The resort has facilities for skating, too. You can also check out the Christmas markets in the city if you're here for the holidays.
During the summer, visitors can hike or bike here. After having fun at Poiana Brasov, continue your tour of the city by heading to the Fortified Church in Prejmer. Castles and citadels are not the only structures made with Transylvanian craftsmanship, as can be seen in this Lutheran church.
A visit to Brasov is like walking into a medieval story book setting. Here, you can marvel at the Saxon and Gothic-inspired architecture and city planning. Further inside the city is the Council Square (Piata Sfatului), which is at the center of Instagram-worthy baroque buildings.
On your walking tour, you can also find the Casa Sfatului - a building which used to be the city hall, but is now a small museum. Lining the streets of Brasov are restaurants and food stalls where you can try local favorites, such as sarmale (minced meet wrapped in cabbage) or polenta with cheese!
Add more height to your trip with a visit to the best ski resort in Romania. Visit Poiana Brașov for its 7-slope offering, ice-skating rinks, a sports complex and more!
During the summer, it also offers biking. hiking and horseback riding activities. Snow cover is expected from mid-November to March. Book a trip here to get a taste of Romanian adventure and hospitality.
Before leaving Brasov, be sure to pay a quick visit to its Fortified Church. The Church has a tower that visitors can climb (at their own risk) for the thrill of it to see what the city looks like from above. It is believed that this church was created as early as 1200, but luckily has survived until today. Visit for another taste of medieval charm.
Another beautiful town that looks like it jumped straight out of a postcard is Sighisoara. This small town is a great backdrop for your picture-perfect holiday snapshots. When in this town, revel in its medieval charm and homely atmosphere by either doing your own walking tour or aimlessly wandering around. Do also include the Sighisoara Historic Center on your to-visit list, and why not also check out the clock tower while you are there?
The town proper is lined with excellent grubs, so be sure to have your meals at places that serve great local food. For example, you can try out Casa Georgius Krauss, which is an amazing restaurant located in a hotel in Sighisoara.
A day dedicated to Sighisoara is enough to make one appreciate this highly photogenic, charming and medieval town. While here, you can walk on cobblestone streets, eat amazing food or simply admire the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Find a covered wooden stairway that leads to a hilltop for a great view of Sighisoara.
One can reach Sighisoara’s Historic Center by a quick climb. This UNESCO World Heritage Site contains an 800-year old Saxon town that has had most of its architecture and medieval beauty well preserved. Strike a pose by the clock tower, or simply stroll endlessly along its age-old streets. Like any other tourist town, it is tastefully lined with cafes, restaurants and shops for those on the hunt for souvenirs and takeaways.
Casa Georgius Krauss is primarily a quaint hotel that sits atop an old property. Each room in this hotel merges the old with the new as rooms are decorated with 17th-century art and flat-screen TVs. Tourists who visit this place should not pass up on the hotel’s restaurant as they can get a taste of slow-cooked food, such as beef filet, muttons and other great local food made to order.
Make your next day count with a trip to Sibiu City. Now, It is known that the best way to have an authentic encounter with any town is by exploring it on foot. Luckily for you, you will have no problem exploring Sibiu by foot as the landmarks are close to each other, such as the Council Tower and the Brukenthal National Museum.
After exploring and visiting many castles, citadels and mountain tops, complete your Transylvania tour with a visit to the ASTRA National Museum Complex. It is home to other museums dedicated to ethnography and civilization. Afterwards, check out the infamous Bridge of Lies to find out how it earned itself such a peculiar name!
Day Four is dedicated to Sibiu. This Transylvanian city is home to many Germanic (Saxon) structures that still stand strong until this day. Walk its medieval paths and head over to Sibiu’s nearby attractions, such as the Council Tower or the Brukenthal National Museum, to continue your adventure.
For your major museum stop, head to the ASTRA National Museum Complex where you can visit four different museums - The Traditional Folk Civilization Museum, The Universal Ethnography Museum, The Transylvanian Civilization Museum and The Saxon Ethnography Museum.
If you visit during the summer, the museum complex organizes dance workshops, musical presentations and other events, so do keep an eye out for these if you visit here. It also has shops and restaurants by the creek for when you wish to take a break in between each museum run.
I'm not gonna lie, this Bridge got me all curious. Legend has it that this Bridge of Lies is where cadets of old taken ladies made empty promises. Another myth is that when a liar crosses this bridge, whirring noises can be heard as if the structure is ready to collapse on them. Find out if there is any truth to this by crossing the Bridge of Lies yourself!
On the final day of your tour, visit one of Transylvania's must-visit salt mines, the Salina Turda, where the underground lake and interesting structures are open for visitors to see.
Then, be sure to visit Transylvania’s unofficial capital, Cluj-Napoca. It has a vibrant night life and has the highest population of students in the region. Same like the other towns and cities you would have visited by now, Cluj-Napoca is highly walkable, and anyone who wishes to make the most out of their visit here should explore each road with wide-eyed wonder.
Finally, make sure to not miss the beautiful Central Square that has a church a and statue of a King. To cap off your tour, relax and catch a play at the Lucian Blaga National Theatre.
A short distance away from Cluj-Napoca is the world's largest salt mine. It is known as the Salina Turda Sand it is located in the Durgău-Valea Sărată area of Turda. It was opened to tourists in 1992 and is probably one of the most interesting sites to see in Transylvania. It has an underground lake, four mines and many big structures in the shape of large disks.
Cluj-Napoca Proper is Transylvania’s unofficial capital. The largest population of students live here, so you can count on the newer and more modern elements of the city being well integrated into the old-world setting. Plus, the nightlife here is vibrant too!
This city is also known as Cluj and is best explored in a food walking tour that includes stops at various restaurants. Don't forget to also take snaps at Cluj-Napoca city proper and visit St Michael's Church, the Matthias Corvinus Statue, the Banffy Palace and other landmarks that are quite close by to one another. Finally, enjoy the local chimney cakes, potato goulash, cabbage a la Cluj and more sarmale before you take off!
After exploring the city, cap off the night with a play or show at the Cluj-Napoca National Theatre. The Romanian Opera also takes place in the same building, so for visitors who wish to switch up their evenings, this national theatre is for you. There is also no bar here, so make sure you have eaten and drank enough to last you throughout the performance.
This article was first published on Jul 17, 2019 14:24 UTC.
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