Three recommendations with love, from the heart of Transylvania and one cliché, as usual. The historic region is synonym with mystery, but travelers must look past Dracula to discover it properly. It has much to offer, from nature, adventure, mountains, fortified cities, Saxon villages and yes, appropriately spooky castles.
Transylvania is from Latin and it means “across the forest” and is surrounded/ protected by the Carpathian mountains. The locals speak Romanian and English, and some also German or Hungarian. The people are very kind and patient, the food is delicious, nature and sights beautiful.
How to arrive
Biggest airports in Transylvania are Cluj and Sibiu International Airports. Is also possible to travel by train or car from Hungary or Austria. Arriving in Bucharest is also an option, but I recommend you start the trip in Sibiu, and than head up south with a car, train or bus towards Bucharest.
Transylvania is the biggest and probably most well known region in Romania. Remember please the region is very big, larger in size even than entire Austria. You would need a minimum of 4-5 days to explore and travel around the beautiful region and understand why is so famous.
My recommendations for a first visit are Sibiu, Sighișoara, Brașov & the famous Bran Castle. Cluj is the biggest city in Transylvania, but I have been once briefly there, so I need to explore it more before writing.
If you have time and travel by car, don’t miss the beautiful mountain roads – Transfăgărășan that connects Transylvania and historic Wallachia – and Transalpina, for a panoramic view.
Sibiu is a city with a picturesque city center, Baroque Brukenthal Palace and Gothic churches. The city positively changed since it was the European Capital of Culture in 2007, the year we became a member of the European Union, and has continue to grow every year.
Good to know
- The German name is Hermannstadt after Herman II from Cologne, who is says has founded city
- In fact, Transylvania is knows as Siebenbürger, meaning 7 citadels, because the region was historically one of the most important center of german speakers Transylvanian Saxons
- The city center is organized around the Grand Square (Piața Mare), Lesser Square (Piața Mică) and Huet Square
- The Bridge of Lies is a metalic bridge that connect the Lower and Upper Town and is surrounded by many legendes around lovers lies, as you might have guessed
- Astra National Museum of Folkloric Traditional Civilization is one of the most impressive open air museums I visited
- Păltiniș sky resort is the older in Romania and is situated 30 km from Sibiu
- Sibiu International Film Festival will take place this year in October. And Sibfest, the International Theatre Festival has been for years on my list
- Lastly, the Christmas market is one of the most beautiful and authentic.
The Citatel of Sighisoara (Schäßburg) is one of the most preserved still inhabited citadels in Europe and an UNESCO heritage. This charming medieval fortress is truly special and should not be missed. It is located in the county “Mureș”.
Places and memories
- As a fortified citadel, it still has a well preserved wall around the old town where 9 towers are still standing anf can be be admired, including “the Tailor’s Tower / Turnul Croitorilor” or “the Butchers Tower / Turnul Macelarilor”
- The Clock Tower / Turnul cu Ceas was the entrance to the Citadel and can be visited for the most beautiful postcard view. Inside the tower, the actual mechanism of clock can be observed. The address is Piata Muzeului 1.
- Climbing “Scara acoperită”, meaning the covered staircase from the citadel until reaching the “Church on the hill / Bergkirche / Biserica din Deal” at the top, area influenced by the German school of architecture
- Is the actual birthplace of Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Impaler, also knows as Dracula. The childhood house is now a restaurant.
Brașov or Kronstadt in German is another citadel of Transylvania. Is a royal city, and together with Predeal, is definitely the holiday destination of my childhood or of the school camps and sky lessons. Is located very central in Romania and is actually the closest to Bucharest, only around 160 km away.
- Piata Sfatului in the central square, the “Black Church” in a Gothic style and the Rope Street as the narrowest street of Romania
- “Tâmpa” is a small mountain in the city center and a beloved sightseeing spot
- Brasov has its very own well known sky resort, Poiana Brasov. The mountains views and the pine trees forest of the Carpathian’s can be admired anytime, as the area offers many hiking trails
- Feeling the Royal charm by going to Sinaia to visit Peleș Castle and nearby, Pelișor Palace, technically in Muntenia region (Prahova county). The Castle was commissioned in 1873 by King Carol I, is definitely a piece of the history of my country.
Bran. Appropriately spooky
Bran is a commune 25 kilometers southwest of Brasov, our last stop. And the medieval castle in Bran it was a fortress and is now a museum open to visitors around the world, that visit his part of Europe thanks to the legends of Bram Stocker.
The site can be visited every day, last admission is at 6PM in high season (April – September) and 4PM in low season, and the full price for an adult is 9 euro. Read more information or but the ticket in advance from the museum website.
As the views and nature are very beautiful in Bran, I personally enjoyed visiting also the small open air museum outside the castle.
Still, we need to remember that sadly there is no evidence that Vlad the Impaler ever lived in this castle.
Transylvania is definitely one of my favorite regions in Romania. Traditional, yet modern and European. Thanks to the spectacular nature, I felt I was present without checking the phone or follow the map. Is not working always, but I try :).
If you have visited and have stories to share, or plan to one day, please let me know.