In Transylvania, you can find his home, as you know. However, that’s not all! This beautiful land also offers castles, fortresses, picturesque villages and perfect landscapes for painters, enclosed between valleys and mountains. It is a place of mysteries, myths and traditional tales with hundreds of inexplicable stories. My suggestion is to get to Bucharest, rent a car and start the journey in one of the most remote and mysterious places in Europe.
We arrived in Bucharest from Stuttgart where we picked up our rented car. Driving in Romania does not require an international driver’s license, which is an important advantage when renting the car. We stayed 2 nights in Bucharest, where we discovered an unexpected and almost bizarre nightlife in the city centre. Then, we left early in the morning to get to Braşov, the geographical center of Transylvania. We made a technical stop in Ploieşti where we were surprised by a large shopping mall with important brands and very cheap clothes.
We continued on our way to Braşov, but on entering Peleş we punctured a wheel and had to stop in a Romanian gumma with very rudimentary work elements. Luckily, the view at that point of the road was excellent; we could feel that we were closer to the Carpathian Mountains, renamed in the novel by Bram Stoker “Dracula”. We arrived in Braşov in the afternoon and we realized that the historical centre was rather far from the economic centre of the city.
Braşov is the most beautiful and picturesque city in the region, with a central square and cobblestone streets reminding of the old empire of Vlad, most tourists choose to stay in this city and use it as a starting point to explore the rest of the city, villages and Transylvanian attractions.
The next day, the first excursion we did was of course the visit to the Bran Castle, famous for being the castle in which Bram Stoker got the inspiration to write Dracula (The inspiration was from far since Stoker never visited Romania). The tour of the Castle and the surroundings of Bran took us about 4 hours. At noon, we visited the Piatra Craiului National Park, also admiring incredible views and entering the rural Transylvania.
Highly recommended to do it by car so you can get a bit lost on those mountain roads (But take GPS to return!).
The next day we went to the southwest again to Râşnov to see the citadel, which I recommend visiting for its history and the vast view of the region and the Carpathians.
There are two options to climb the citadel, you can do it by cable car or you can do the mountain trail, but it will take you around 30 minutes to climb.
In the afternoon, we visited a bear reserve in Zărneşti, which was not far from Braşov, our returning point.
The old capital of Transylvania, Sibiu, was our next destination. Also one of the most beautiful cities in the region with an imposing central square, a museum palace, several churches and a very attractive and busy shopping street.
On the way to Sibiu you can enter the famous Transfagaras route, one of the most beautiful routes in the world. This route is winding and steep but it is worth experiencing it as you will see enchanting landscapes all along the way.
The morning after, we visited Prejmer and Bod, had lunch in Bod and returned to Bucharest. On the way to Bucharest, we visited the Peles Castle (Yes, the same place where we had punctured the whee), a beautiful castle, which happens to be the summer resort of the Romanian royalties.
The curious thing about the return was that the police stopped us for speeding, the method to stop was very striking: the police agent (Surely warned by another agent) was standing in the middle of the road, where cars can speed up to 100km/h, and he stopped us simply by raising his hand. The police officer did not speak English, so, using signs and notations, he fined us for 1400 Romanian Leu (around 300€). Ouch.!
We spent another night in Bucharest before leaving Romania and the day after we took a train and left to begin a new adventure in Sofia.
I suggest staying in Transylvania around 5-6 days, there are plenty of activities you can do and things to see, clearly the best way for moving around is by car because it gives you the mobility and dynamics to do what you want and spend as much time as you need in each place!
I hope this summary gave you few ideas on what to see in Transylvania, and how to do it. We will keep you informed about other destinations. Good travels!