THINGS TO DO IN TRANSYLVANIA – A DAY TRIP FROM BUCHAREST
If you just had one day in Romania – which, by the way, is way too little time – then make it a day in Transylvania. The region in central Romania is a must-see – mostly known as the setting of the Dracula Saga, it is actually a beautiful mountainous area dotted with medieval towns and castles.
This Transylvania day trip was surely the highlight of my Romania trip – and if you plan to visit – either as a guided tour or independently – these three places in Transylvania are places not to miss.
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DAY TRIP TO DRACULA´S CASTLE + MORE
One thing you have to decide in advance is whether you want to book a guided tour to Transylvania or go there independently by car. While I mostly road trip ad travel independently, I decided to book a guided tour. This was for several reasons: Every once in a while, I am happy not to drive. When I can just sit back and be driven to places.
Also, I did not have much background information on the history and sights – and a guided tour, with a good guide – can provide you with the important information. Also, when I searched for tours on GetYourGuide, I found a tour that focuses on the exact three places I wanted to visit the most. Thus, it was a no-brainer for me.
I booked this tour – and enjoyed it. The entrance fees for the castles were not included, but they are not very high, so I still thought (and think) the tour offers -overall – good value for money.
If you decided to go on a day trip to Transylvania in your own car, then you can check out this site which finds you a good deal for rental cars in Romania.
ONE DAY IN TRANSYLVANIA – THINGS TO DO AND SEE
So, without further ado, here is how to spend one day in Transylvania.
Explore the Luxury of Peles Castle
The charming town of Sinaia is home to Peles Castle. This majestic structure towers above the lush forests of the Carpathian Mountains. Widely regarded as one of the most breathtaking castles in Europe, this stunning building offers much to explore. King Carol I of Romania commissioned the castle in the late 19th century as a summer retreat for the royal family.
Its stunning Neo-renaissance architecture retains the castle’s air of grandeur with its grand entrance, ornate towers, arched windows, and intricate balconies. The castle’s interior is equally impressive and gorgeous, with intricate wood carvings, opulent decor, and gorgeous stained-glass windows. With over 160 elegantly furnished rooms, it boasts breathtaking beauty at every turn.
The magnificent throne room is a highlight of the visit, adorned with lavish murals, sparkling chandeliers, and the royal throne as the centerpiece. The room’s decorations depict a range of scenes from Romanian history, offering visitors a glimpse into the country’s intriguing past.
But the beauty of Peles Castle doesn’t just end there. It is home to an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and handcrafted tapestries.
The castle also features a museum containing several exhibits showcasing historical artifacts and documents, weapons, military uniforms, and antique coins.
A perfect end to a visit to the castle is a stroll through its magnificently diverse landscaped gardens. It comprises of several divided sections, each with its own unique character and distinctive variety of plants and flowers. This includes a traditional rose garden, a cobblestoned Italian park, and an English garden with a small outdoor theater.
Discover the Legend of Dracula’s Castle – Bran Castle
Nestled in the stunning Carpathian Mountains in Romania lies the iconic Bran Castle, known to many as Dracula’s Castle. Despite its dark and mysterious reputation, it’s a lovely sight with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
The castle is a beautiful historic site that offers much to see and explore. Its rich history, stunning architecture, and association with the legend of Dracula make it one of Transylvania’s most popular castles.
The Romanian state owned Bran Castle for just over 50 years. In 2009, the post-communist government decided to return it to Dominic Habsburg, a descendant of the royal family. This followed the death of his mother, Princess Ileana, in 1991. Luckily, he didn’t close it off to the public. You can explore the castle’s stunning interior, including its chapel, museum, bedrooms, and its main attraction, the Great Hall.
It is the largest and most impressive room in the castle. While the royal family was living here, the luxurious hall served as a reception room. With its high ceilings, ornate decorations, opulent furniture, and stunning fireplace, it is a great spot to explore or take some photos.
With its towering spires and eerie atmosphere, it’s no wonder that this ancient fortress has become synonymous with the legend of vampires. Bran Castle inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the infamous character created in his 1897 novel of the same name.
Transylvania is home to fascinating folklore and myths, including not only vampires, but also werewolves, witches, and other unworldly characters. Many generations have passed down these legends over the centuries, making at an integral part of the region’s cultural identity.
The story of Dracula, in particular, has been retold and reimagined numerous times in movies, TV shows, books, and video games. These mythical tales and legends continue to capture the imagination of millions worldwide. As a result, over 800,000 visitors, annually, flock to Romania’s most famous medieval castle, eager to immerse themselves in Transylvanian legends.
Bran Castle stands on a rocky hilltop watching over the surrounding landscape with its ancient stone walls and towers. The structure boasts elaborate exterior decorations, such as curved windows, fancy terraces, and a grand main entrance guarded by two striking pillars.
As the sun sets, the castle takes on a mysterious, otherworldly appearance with its shadowy steeples and vines creeping up the walls. The castle is a stunning blend of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles that date back to the 14th century.
It even has a moat and a drawbridge, which were standard features of medieval fortifications designed to protect from attacks and invasions. Over the centuries, the castle has served different purposes, including being a fortress, a royal residence, and a national museum. The prominent and influential Bran family acquired the castle in the 19th century.
During this time, the castle functioned as a political and cultural center and hosted many important figures and events. During the early 1900s, the castle served as a royal residence. However, the then-communist government seized it and turned it into a museum in 1956.
Experience the Charming City of Brasov
Nestled within the rolling hills of the southern Carpathian mountains, the city of Brasov pulsates with life, history, and cultural richness. Its seamless blend of traditional charm and contemporary urban living provides a vibrant and fascinating atmosphere. Often referred to as “the heart of Romania”, the city serves as a great starting point for exploring the many wonders of Transylvania.
The city center, locally known as the Old Town, has narrow cobblestone streets, quaint shops, and plenty of opportunities to experience the local culture and history. It is home to a number of iconic landmarks, including the Black Church, a magnificent 15th-century Gothic structure. It has intricate stained glass windows and houses Romania’s largest church bell and mechanical organ.
Another popular attraction in Brasov is Council Square, a charming public space lined with terraces, restaurants, cafes, and shops. Colorful and ornately decorated buildings surround the square, including the Town Hall and Clock Tower.
Both of these are culturally significant monuments that display the fascinating history of Romania. The square also has a gorgeous fountain in the center surrounded by flower beds and seating. It is the perfect spot to take a break from sightseeing and soak in the lively atmosphere.
Whether you want to immerse yourself in the history and culture or take in its natural beauty, Brasov is an unmissable stop on your Romanian journey.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON A TRANSYLVANIA DAY TOUR
As you can probably tell, I have a crush on Romania and Transylvania – there is so much to do that I wished I could have stayed much longer. However, with one day in Transylvania, I was able to see the main places I had on my bucket list.
I hope to return to this region and explore more of it, but given you do a day trip to Transylvania from Bucharest, the above-mentioned places were perfect to visit.