Romania Roadtrip Travel Guide
Romania Roadtrip Travel Guide
Romania is probably one the countries that surprised me the most in the last years – very positively. Located in the crossroads of Central and Eastern Europe, Romania is involved in an aura of mysticism and most known by the legends of Transylvania. It is often an underrated destination but it has so much to offer to travellers that anyone planning to go there should take enough time to discover the essence of this awesome country – I recommend at least one week just to cover the main sights.
I decided to travel to Romania in January this year for a long weekend with the main objective of exploring Transylvania (I admit, it was also one of the reasons why I booked my trip) and the Carpathians region, one of the biggest mountain ranges in Europe.
Due to the fact that I only had 3 full days to explore Romania, I had to prioritise and to make some tough decisions about what to visit in my limited time. Many attractions had to wait for a second trip to Romania – which is already in my plans.
I will share in this blog post an itinerary on how to make the most of 3 days in Romania, considering the southern part of Transylvania and Bucharest:
Day 1 – Sinaia, Peleş Castle and Braşov
Day 2 – Bran Village, Bran Castle, Raşnov and the Carpathians area
Day 3: Braşov, Bucharest
I recommend to rent a car for your adventure in Romania as it is the best way to explore the country and it will give you the flexibility to stop wherever and whenever you want. I rented a car at Bucharest airport on arrival and it was definitely a great option.
Beside of the flexibility, a roadtrip in Romania also rewards you with scenic routes and beautiful landscapes. Just take in consideration that roads sometimes are narrow and crowded so drive carefully (especially in Winter time) and be ready for some traffic.
Sinaia and Peleş Castle
Sinaia is a city located in the route from Bucharest to Braşov and the famous Bran Castle and it is one of the most known cities in Romania with several sights to visit. Nestled amidst mountains, it is also a popular destination for Winter activities.
I stayed there one afternoon on my way to Braşov and after wandering around the city centre and having a tasty lunch, I visited the main attractions:
Sinaia Monastery – This monastery was built in the 17th century to accommodate the growing religious community in Sinaia. Now you can visit the complex of buildings composed by the Old Church (inspired by Nazareth and Bethlehem) and the New Church. It is one of the most important religious sites in the south of the country.
Peleş Castle – Start your visit to Peleş Castle area by exploring the surroundings of the castle with beautiful parks and gardens. There is a terrace with great views where you can have a coffee and have some relaxing time in the middle of the nature.
You will finally arrive to the castle that is by far one of the most beautiful castles I’ve ever seen and it seems to be part of a fairytale. It was built in the 19th century in Neo-Renaissance style to the Royal Family. It is worth to take some time to visit its sumptuous rooms and chambers. As a curiosity, it was the first palace to have electricity in Europe.
Pelisor Castle – It is located in the same complex of Peleş Castle and it will take you less than 10m to walk from there. It was also built in the 19th century as a summer residence to the heir of the throne
This picturesque city located in the Carpathian Mountains is the perfect place to be based when traveling in Transylvania area. Braşov has so much to see that you can spend there more than a day walking around and visiting its several attractions.
Council Square and Old Town – The main square of Braşov is the heart of the city and the best place to start exploring the Old Town with its charming pedestrian streets. Search for Strada Sforii, one of the narrowest streets in Europe. In Council Square there are a plenty of coffees and restaurants and you have views to Tampa mountain and the Braşov Hollywood style sign at the top.
Black Church – Just around the corner of the Council Square is located Black Church, considered the largest gothic church in Eastern Europe.
Tampa Mountain – You can reach the top of Tampa Mountain and have amazing views of city by taking a cable car or hiking the hill.
Cetatuia Fortress – Dated from the 16th century with military purposes, it offers now panoramic views to Braşov.
Catherine’s Gate – Part of Braşov old fortified walls, it dates from the 16th century and it is the last standing medieval gate in the city. It also looks like it has been taken from a fairytale.
Only 15m driving from Braşov, this is one of the several fortress cities in Romania. When you arrive to this city you will see the impressive fortress at the top of the hill standing out from the landscape. Built in the 14th century by peasants, the Saxon citadel had the objective of protect its people. Now it is a popular attraction for everyone visiting the region.
If you go by car, when you arrive to the village, take a forest road following the signs to the fortress and drive to a big parking area. You have two options to get to the citadel, either you are prepared to walk through a mountain path around 30m, or you take a bus that drives you directly to the top.
At the fortress take enough time to walk around and to explore its picturesque streets and some attractions as the Old Evangelic Church or the Orthodox Church. It also offers stunning views to the village, the Carpathian Mountains and the forests that surround the area. It is particularly beautiful at sunset.
Located at the heart of Transylvania in Bran village, this castle is the country’s most famous medieval landmark.
It is also often called Dracula’s Castle and its legend began when the Irish author Bram Stoker was inspired by the 15th-century Romanian prince Vlad Ţepeş, known by its atrocities, to create the mythic character Count Dracula, the vampire count.
Bran Castle is the only historical building in Transylvania matching the castle description in Bram’s book, but apparently there aren’t clear evidences that Vlad Ţepeş, also known as the Impalor, actually lived there. Nevertheless the castle has inspired many scary stories about vampires and it is probably the main reason why this area is so famous around the world.
Take at least half a day to visit the castle that is now a museum dedicated to art collection and the history of the building.
Outside the castle it is also worth to explore the gardens around from where you have the best views to the building. You can also visit an open-air museum recreating a traditional Romanian village.
I ended my trip in Romania with an afternoon and an evening in Bucharest. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to visit the capital of the country, but I was glad I could see some of its most famous attractions like the impressive Palace of the Parliament, the Old Town with a vibrant offer of bars and restaurants, Stavropoleos Church with a beautiful colored facade, the Arcul de Triumf, Cismigiu Gardens and the Revolution Square.
Don’t miss some Bucharest hidden gems: Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse, a glass covered passageway that hosted the first Stock Exchange House of Bucharest and currently offers different restaurants and coffees; and Pasajul Victoria, a street covered by colourful umbrellas.