Recently Lonely Planet has declared Transylvania one of the top places to visit in 2016. With all the nice offers you can find to flight to Bucharest (13 euro tickets with Ryanair) and Cluj (9 euro tickets with Wizzair) it is very easy to reach this misterious land.
It is also very common, when you land in Cluj or Bucharest, to be offered some Transylvania tours which are very expensive compared to Romanian prices. What we want to show you in this post is a Transylvania minitour, starting from the Capital, that will bring you to some of the most important places, without having to pay 100 euro for each person.
Transylvania minitour: One full day in Bucharest
Bucharest (not located in Transylvania) is not one of the prettiest capital in Europe but it is the most common starting point when landing in Romania. But don’t worry, Bucharest has some gems that absolutely deserve to be visited.
The Romanian Parliament is one of the few vampires you can see in Romania. The 2nd biggest building in the World is sucking more than 6 millons of euro every year from Romanian taxes just to be maintained. It took 13 years to be finished for the amount of 3 billions of euro. A real bloodsucker!
The Village Museum is one of the most incredible open-air museum I have ever seen in my life. Imagine to walk through a village with all the typical wood building of traditional Romania: churches, houses, watermills, windmills, even wool factories! All these buildings were transferred to Bucharest during the last century from all the different Romanian areas. Some of them are even from the 18th century! A real walk through the past. Unmissable.
Caru cu Bere (The Beer Wagon) is probably the most famous restaurant in the Romanian Capital, with its wonderful architecture, internal and external, great food even for vegetarians, and traditional shows and music every day. Spend an entire afternoon, beer after beer, at Caru cu Bere, you will not regret it! Ah, it is one of the few restaurant in Bucharest where they ask if you are smoker or not.
Transylvania minitour: Reach Brasov by train, stopping by Peles Castle, Sinaia
Reaching your next base, Brasov, takes 2 and a half by train from Bucharest. By car it takes more or less 2 hours, so the choice is up to you. We have chosen the train because we wanted to feel the same atmosphere you can see in the train scene of the 1992 “Dracula” by Francis Ford Coppola.
This is what we saw from the windows, and trust me, even if we didn’t see any vampire we felt like going deep into the heart of Transylvania.
What you should do, if you take the train, is plan your trip with thetrainline-europe, a great website to schedule your train movements. In any case, by any means, on your way through Brasov stop by Sinaia to visit the incredible Peles Castle, one of the most beautiful castle in Europe.
Then, after arriving at Brasov, spent the rest of your day visiting this nice city, walking through its beautiful historical centre, touching the mysterious walls of the Black Church and admiring its scaly dragon roof from the top of the few remaining towers.
Transylvania minitour: Bran Castle, Rasnov and fortified church of Harman or Prejmer
The third day is the moment to rent a car, essential to reach all the above mentioned places. Remember that the majority of the monuments in Romania close very early, even at 15:00 in winter!
Of course unmissable is the Bran Castle, chosen as the Dracula Castle. Everybody knows that this is not the real Dracula (Vlad Tepes) castle, but it is probably the one that looks more similar to the one described in Bram Stoker’s novel. The building in itself, standing on a small rock hill, looks very gloomy from outside and mysterious inside, with its hidden secret passages. It definitely persuades you that you are really inside Dracula’s lair, so who cares about the rest! =)
On your way back from Bran, you can visit the outstanding fortification of Rasnov, but if you have only few hours we definitely suggest you to visit the fortified churces of Harman or Prejmer. These churches are an unique representation of life in Transylvania between the 13th and 16th century: imagine living in that gloomy period, nothing around you just some firelights and forest; dangers everywhere. The only safe place was the church which was fortified like a castle. And it worked: Prejmer, now an UNESCO monument, has been assaulted 50 times and was conquered only once.