It was evening by the time I pulled into Brașov and I breathed a sigh of relief. I had just come from the busy city of Bucharest and was ready for something smaller, more intimate, and preferably complete with colorful buildings. I breathed a sigh of relief because Brașov, as it turns out, was exactly what I was hoping it would be when I set out to visit Romania.
The city is enveloped in the Carpathian Mountains. Cobblestone streets led the way to colored buildings. The skyline was dotted with burnt orange rooftops. At every corner, cafés are lining the sidewalks full of locals and tourists alike indulging in tasty cuisine and sipping on cocktails. Big old churches and clocks are seen high above the storefronts and houses that people call home. I knew immediately that Brașov was special, that it was sure to be one of my favorite stops in Romania. Traveling through Romania wouldn’t have been nearly as great if I had not set aside time to visit Brasov.
Important history and information if you plan to visit Brasov
Brașov is located in the Transylvania region of Romania. Legend has it that Transylvania is the birthplace of Dracula. However, the real story revolves around a man named Vlad Tepeș (aka Vlad the Impaler) who ruled the Wallachia region from 1456-1462. Throughout history, Vlad has always been perceived as a bloodthirsty ruler all due to political reasons; which is how Romania came to be known as the land of Dracula. Legend has it that to murder people, Vlad would impale them (stick a pole through the body) to cause death.
If you visit Brasov you’ll come to find out that the town has a fascinating history; after all, the town has been inhabited since 100 BC. At one point in history, the Hungarians (who invited the Saxons to secure the border) took over Brașov. Although Romanians were a majority of the population, they managed to kick them out of the city center and made them live on the outskirts. The Romanians were given no rights or voting powers due to their religious beliefs. To this day the gate still stands, Catherine’s Gate, where Romanians were required to enter and leave the city from.
How to get to Brașov + Getting around
The closest airport to Brasov is located in Sibiu, two hours west of the city; with the second closest airport being Bucharest. From either Sibiu or Bucharest, you can take the train in, rent a car, or take a bus. If you’re planning more Romania travel adventures aside from Brasov, I would highly recommend renting a car. You can pick up a rental car at each airport. Keep in mind if you’re coming from the USA or Canada you’ll need an international driver’s license. For every other country, look ahead of time whether or not you need one too.
If you’d rather take a bus or a train to Brasov check BusRadar for times and pricing.
Where to stay in Brasov
There are many options when it comes to staying in Brașov – from cheap to expensive. With Romania being quite affordable you tend to get a lot of bang for your buck. Although Romania is part of the EU, it still uses its local currency the RON/lei.
I checked into the charming yet creepy, Drachenhaus Hotel. In the heart of the old town, Drachenhaus was the ideal location when welcoming me to Transylvania. It’s one of the oldest buildings in town – nearly 200 years; but comes with all of the amenities of a new hotel. Complete with a breakfast buffet expect to receive WiFi, good customer service, and toiletries; with a no-frills room. If the Drachenhaus Hotel doesn’t seem to suit you try your luck at booking.com to compare hotels and rates.
Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Another option is to choose an Airbnb. Airbnb is quite common all around Romania including in Brașov. I’d recommend staying as close to the old town as you can get. If you’re new to Airbnb make sure to use my referral code for a $55 credit.
Day 1 – Exploring the main Brasov attractions
I always begin my new day in a new city with a free walking tour. If you make it in time, opt for the tour with Walkabout Free Walking Tour; they do a good job of getting you out of the old town to explore beyond the walls. Expect to learn a lot of history as you move your way through the streets and roads of the city. However, if a walking tour isn’t for you, Brașov is a completely walkable and easy town to navigate on your own.
Also, make it a point to visit the Brasov tourist attractions. Spend time in the main square – Piața Sfatului – where you’ll come across bars, restaurants, bookstores, and souvenir stores galore! From the main square tiny twisting streets snake their way through the city. You could spend hours walking from street to street taking in all that Brașov offers. While you’re sightseeing, make sure to hit the Black Church – black because it caught fire. Strada Sforii Street – the narrowest street in Eastern Europe and what once was an access street for firefighters. Today, however, the street acts as a street art gallery! And make sure to walk through Catherine’s Gate on your way to St. Nicholas Church – a Romanian Orthodox church established in 1292. If it’s nice out you might opt to take the Tampa Cable Car up to the “Brasov” sign to get a birds-eye view of the town.
For dinner head to Sub Tâmpa for Romanian cuisine overlooking the town. With both indoor and outdoor seating, this is a popular restaurant amongst locals so making a reservation ahead of time may be worth it. If you want to try Romanian wine, head to Le Sommelier.
Day 2 – Searching for Dracula in Transylvania; Visiting Bran Castle, Râșnov Fortress, Peles Castle
Peleș Castle complex
One of the coolest things about Romania is all of the castles, fortresses, and fortified churches found throughout the country. And there is no shortage of these places in Transylvania. All historic and unique in their way with tales of Dracula circulating them. To begin your hunt of vampires, head to Sinai to visit the Peleș Castle complex. Built from 1873-1914 Peleș was one of the most important European cultural centers. It was built for King Carol I and Queen Elisabeth, acting as their summer residence. Since 2007 it is owned by the Romanian Royal House and is rented out as a public museum.
The complex opens at 0915 (closes at 1700) and is closed on both Monday and Tuesday. It’s a little bit over an hour’s drive south to reach Sinaia. If you’re driving there is parking available down the hill from the complex for 20 Lei. Entrance to the complex is free, however, if you want to enter the castle it cost 30 Lei. If you want to take pictures inside the castle you have to buy a separate ticket. While you’re visiting Peleș it’s also worth the visit to Pelișor, which is located up the hill from Peleș.
If you don’t have a car you can take either a bus or train to Sinaia taking 1.5-2 hours. You can find tickets on Rome2rio. Both the bus and train don’t take you directly to the castle. You will have about a 20+ minute walk uphill to reach the complex.
From Sinaia, Bran Castle is located an hour northwest from Peleș. If you’re not driving yourself and you end up taking a train or a bus you will have to go back to Brașov only to go down south to Bran. This will take nearly three hours.
Bran Castle is known as “Dracula’s Castle” and is open seven days/week 0900-1600 and at 1200-1600 on Mondays. If you’re driving to Bran parking is limited but cheap. It costs a mere four Lei/hr to park near the castle entrance. To enter the castle grounds you do NOT need a ticket. There will be a line queuing for tickets so if you don’t intend to enter the castle you can skip this line altogether and just walk along the grounds where there are shops, restaurants, and coffee stands. However, if you do want to enter the castle you’ll buy tickets outside the gates before trekking up the steep hill that the castle sits on. It costs 40 Lei to enter the castle.
Râșnov is located 30-minutes northeast from Bran. You can drive (there’s a big, free parking space available), or take a bus from Bran. Râșnov is a fortress built between 1211-1225 to keep the small villages of Transylvania protected from unwanted visitors. Once you walk up the hill to the fortress there will be an area to purchase tickets to enter. Râșnov is open seven days/week from 0900-1900.
From Râșnov you can get back to Brașov within 30-minutes by car, train, or bus. (All bus/train routes can be found on Rome2rio, which was mentioned above).
I believe that Brasov is a town that should be on everyone’s radar. If you visit Brasov you can learn history while walking through the town, getting a feel for the city. You can taste traditional Romanian food and drink traditional Romanian drinks while not breaking the bank. Visit Brasov to get a truly authentic feel of what Romania is all about. And visit Brasov to get a taste of what Transylvania is all about.
If you’re looking to spend more time in Romania, make sure to check out these posts…
Do you want a more visual look at the town of Brașov? Check out my Instagram story/highlight reel for more options on things to see and do!