As we wrote in the post about the best attractions in Bucharest, we can easily now call the capital of Romania the best city break destination. In our opinion, a trip to Bucharest is worth combining with trips outside the city. Then the word “city break” takes on real meaning. Where to go? Definitely to Transylvania!
Transylvania is a historical land located on the Transylvanian Plateau in central Romania. It is known from seven castles founded by German colonists. The castles hide many dark stories as well as unique sights!
How to visit?
The historical area of Transylvania is closed on all sides by the Carpathian Mountains. So how do you get there? The simplest method is to buy an organized trip, which we finally decided on.
A one-day guided tour is a very convenient option. On Getyourguide or Airbnb, you can find many tours with reviews. The advantage of this solution is certainly access to a large amount of knowledge and… priority in queues. Tickets are already paid, so you do not waste time in the crowd and don’t have to worry about anything. A huge disadvantage, however, is that you have little time at any sightseeing points. Trips to this area usually last about 12 hours, and at a particular stop, you have a set amount of time. We really wanted to take cool pictures and so we had to literally run between picturesque spots!
The alternative is a train journey. For about EUR 12 you can get from Bucharest to Brasov. You can also always choose to travel by car. In the future, if we get to return to Transylvania, we will definitely rent a car and give ourselves a good week to discover its corners without a rush.
The road through the Carpathian Mountains is extremely scenic. The mountains are covered with dense fog and the charming villages are grabbing your eyes. It is also very, very winding. Both of us suffer from motion sickness, so we would be selfish if we did not warn you about intense dizziness and did not advise you to take the right pill with you 😉
Our first stop was Peleş – a palace in Sinaia city, in the valley of the Peleş river. It was built in 1873-1883 by the order of the Romanian King Charles I. Charles I, who came from Germany, until the last days of his life (he died on September 27, 1914), took care of decorating his residence. In 1884, electricity was installed, the palace also had its own generator.
After the outbreak of World War II, the Peleş Palace became the property of the State Treasury. In 1953, a museum was established here, but the communist leader of the country, Nicolae Ceaușescu, did not intend to spend money on its maintenance. As a result, the wooden elements were attacked by the fungus, the museum was closed and a large part of the exhibits was moved. The palace was opened again for visiting in 1990, in 2006 it was returned to the rightful owner, Michel I. The state managed to establish cooperation with the owner and the palace was opened for sightseeing.
Interestingly, admission tickets do not include photographing the palace and exhibits inside. If you want to capture it on pictures or film, you need to pay RON 30.
From the Peleş Palace, we set off to Brasov – one of the largest cities in Romania. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in this part of Europe and is sometimes compared with… Cracov!
It charms with its unique atmosphere, a sensationally preserved old town, where you can find numerous restaurants and cafes. The famous Black Church is right next to the market. It owes its colour to soot, which fell on him as a result of a great fire in 1689. Near the Town Hall, you will also find the narrowest street in Romania (Strada Sforii), which is only 1.32 meters wide and 83 meters long.
Romanians are very proud of Brasov – Hollywood of Eastern Europe also because of Braşov sign sitting on Mount Tampa, which can be obtained. And here the fun fact – the original sign in Brasov was built before that in Los Angeles!
There are two ways to reach the Tampa mountain. The first is the cableway at the foot of the mountain, and the second is climbing for people who like adventures.
The last stop was Bran Castle, also known as the Dracula’s Castle. Bran Castle is one of the most famous castles in Europe and at the same time a symbol of Romania. Annually, it is visited by crowds of tourists who come here hoping to meet with the legendary Dracula.
Dracula, who most probably never lived in the castle, owes his international fame to the 19th-century writer Bram Stoker, who probably embedded the story of his novel in Bran Castle.
Vlad the Impaler also known as Dracula is popular not only thanks to the novel by Bram Stoker. His nickname comes from his father – Vlad II, who belonged to the Order of the Dragon. Dragon, in Romanian “Draco”, was transformed into “Dracul” – “The Devil”, and Vlad the Impaler was called “Drăculea” (“Dracula”). He owes his fame (rather bad) to being an extremely cruel, effective warrior and assassin. While practising the most brutal method of killing – impaling – he killed about 20,000 people (or up to 40,000 according to some sources). The tool of torture was a previously prepared pal – a sharpened wooden stake on, which was pushed into the body of a condemned man. It pierced his guts, but the brain was left intact to keep the victim aware sometimes up to three days!
Inside the castle, you will find little connection with Dracula. In 1921, it was given to the wife of the then King of Romania, Ferdinand – Queen Mary, and it is her that most of the exhibit is dedicated to. What was very surprising to us, the castle inside gives the impression of being very small, while from the outside it seems to be huge!
Another interesting fact is that the current owner of the castle, Prince Dominik, put it up for sale for an exorbitant amount of EUR 140 million. The one who decides to buy a castle has to take into account the considerable heating costs – in winter, it is necessary to heat the castle with one ton of wood a day!
We will finish today’s post with another, quite a commercial fact. At the foot of Bran Castle, there is the largest souvenir market in Romania. One would suspect that you should avoid this place, but if you want to bring something home, here you can buy some cute and cheap souvenirs. We, for example, brought two beautiful, folk, hand-embroidered shirts.
Experience with us!
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