Are you looking for an unusual destination for the next long weekend?
If you can’t decide between a city tour or a trip in nature and you are a secret lover of gothic books, Transylvania may fit with your needs.
Transylvania is famous for its mysterious castles, bloodthirsty vampires and howling wolves. Although, it’s best known as the land of the legendary Dracula, this central Romanian region is much more special. Surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains,”the land beyond the forest” (Transylvania in latin), offers a magic forest, still to be explored.
Information you need before taking off for Transilvania
Romania is a member of the European Union, so you just need an ID.
The currency is the “lei”. One lei is equal to about 4 euros, so life is pretty cheap there.
The main cities of the region are Sighisoara, Brasov, Bran and Sibiu.
My advice is to chose Bucharest Otopeni airport, then rent a car and get an accommodation in one of the main cities. The public transportation is not very efficient, so it is recommended to opt for a rental car.
The best solution is to find a house in Brasov or in some village nearby because it’s a good base to visit the region. If you find an Airbnb, surely you’ll find a lot of gothic places to stay, if you are brave enough!
The typical cuisine is based on meat and Ciorbă, that is the Romanian word for soups. Ciorbă is prepared with meat and vegetables and it’s really delicious. Of course, garlic is the base ingredient of the Romanian cuisine!
What to see in Transilvania
I’m going to give you some ideas to organize your tour. Of course, it depends on the time you have, but this is my advice for a 3-days tour.
For the first day, you have time for two stops, one in Saschiz and one in Sighisoara, also because they are in the same direction.
In the direction of Sighisoara, from Brasov, you’ll find a small village that is quite unknown, even though it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site!
Here you can’t miss an easy walk to the top of the hill to discover an ancient fortress. Breathe the pass of the ages, the medieval time and the need for protection in the cold of that hostile land.
Inside the wall, there are many towers and a well 65 m deep, whose function, in the past, was to connect the centre of the town to an underground tunnel.
Here you can take photos and have a lunch in a typical Romanian restaurant!
After this visit, drive until Sighisoara, one of the main cities of the region, as well as the most preserved fortified-city of the world. This city is famous for the house of Dracula’s father, that has been converted into a weird restaurant: all the waiters are dressed like vampires.After a coffee there, go up to the graveyard to discover the real gothic spirit of the town.
Sighișoara is a Unesco World Heritage Site, called “the pearl of Transylvania”. So, you can’t miss it!
Bran is the most important stop in a journey in Transylvania because of the “Bran Castle“, that is believed to be the house of Dracula. I’m sorry to deceive you, but the authentic house of Vlad III of Valacchia is in Poienari, where now there are only some ruins.
However, the Bran Castle still fascinates all its visitors and it inspired the successful novel named after the count, Dracula by Bram Stocker.
Bram Castle is worth visiting. It is a mixture of different eras and it’s a good opportunity to review the history of Europe. The ticket is very cheap, around 6 euros.
After the visit, you’ll be attracted to the typical markets in the village.
There are many souvenir stalls and small shops of local products.
Everywhere you breathe the charm of the novel Dracula and every stall sells magnets, mugs, caps, towels and all sorts of objects decorated by the Count’s face.
Another place you can add to your tour is the fortress of Rasnov. If you reach Rasnov by car, you can take a cheap bus to go up to the fortress and have a magic view of the surrounding landscape.
Rasnov is historically important because, despite the many sieges, it proved to be a safe and almost impregnable base. It was a place that helped to defend and preserve this territory.
You must dedicate a part of your journey to visit the wonderful caste of Peles in Sinaia, another Unesco World Heritage Site
Peles’ Castle is unique in Europe, it is hard to not be surprised by its architecture.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside, because they are reforming the interior, but I saw some photos and I felt very sorry to not see it for myself.
The neo-Renaissance style full of decorations makes it a fairytale castle, a structure with bold shapes which recalls the castles of Switzerland or Bavaria. Also its gardens are very well-finished and make a good frame to the castle.
I am sure you will enjoy your tour in this magic region, that will surprise you with its mysterious and gothic places.