WHERE is it located?
Brasov is a small medieval city in the fabled Transylvania region of central Romania. Located 160km from Bucharest, the country’s capital, Brasov is widely considered to be the second most important city in Romania.
WHY should you visit?
The welcoming red-roofed city is located in the Southern Carpathians, the second highest group of mountains in the Carpathian Mountain range, making it an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy hiking and skiing. Though often overshadowed by the world famous ski resorts in the European Alps, the Carpathians are scattered with terrific ski hills and alpine villages, attracting visitors from all over the globe.
With vampires being all the rage in mainstream entertainment these days, it’s no surprise that Brasov and Transylvania have enjoyed a surge in tourism traffic. Located about 15 miles outside of Brasov, perched high on a hilltop overlooking the ageless town of Bran, is the home of the world’s most famous vampire – the legendary Count Dracula Castle.
WHEN should you visit?
Obviously you can visit the popular city year round, but the best times to visit are either in the summer or winter (it is conveniently located near Poiana Brasov, a world class ski resort).
WHAT to see and do in Brasov?
Aside from its endless outdoor activities and enchanting Transylvanian countryside, Brasov is famous for it close proximity to the iconic Bran Castle. The picturesque red-roofed medieval castle is one of the most celebrated and visited landmarks in Romania.
Equally impressive is Peles Castle, located in the neighbouring town of Sinaia in Prahova county. The region is also home to hundreds of historical Saxon churches and fortifications built between the 13th and 15th centuries, seven of which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The list includes the Transylvanian Fortresses of Biertan, Calnic, Darjiu, Prejmer, Saschiz, Valea Viilor, and Viscri.
For the best views of Brasov, take the tram to the top of Mount Tampa. The panorama photo below was taken from inside the Mount Tampa tram. If you’re the energetic type you can also hike to the top of Mount Tampa by taking the well-marked hiking trails. You can also hike to the massive ‘BRASOV’ sign that overlooks the city (Brasov’s smaller version of the ‘Hollywood’ sign).
Other things to do in Brasov:
- Stroll around the Old Town Hall Square (Piata Sfatului), see the first photo above
- Take a peek inside the gothic Black Church
- Marvel at the charismatic Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in the Schei District
- Walk down the Rope Street, a four foot wide street claimed to be the narrowest in Europe
- Explore the historical defensive fortifications, including the newly renovated Graft Bastion, Brasov Fortress, Blacksmiths’ Bastion, Schei Gate, and both the Black Tower and White Tower
HOW to get there?
The best way to travel around Romania is by train. The train system is quite good, with several daily trips between Brasov and Bucharest. You can also catch an overnight train from Brasov to Budapest, Hungary, where you can easily connect to other Western European cities.
TRAVEL TIPS for Romania
Transportation in Brasov is decent (though not the most punctual), making it easy to explore its beautiful countryside. As one of Romania’s most popular tourist destinations, travelers will notice several tour packages to Bran Castle and the neighbouring Transylvania Fortresses. If you’re the budget concious adventurous type, skip the tour and tackle the sightseeing circuit by using local transit. Most hostels and hotels can hook you up with bus routes and schedules.
Be careful when taking taxis in Romania and Eastern Europe. It’s not a question of “IF” a taxi driver will try to rip you off, it’s “WHEN”. One thing that we learned (after getting ripped off) is that most taxis will display its rates (base fee, price per km and/or price per hour) on the outside of the vehicle.
First, have your hotel, restaurant or a trusted local person call for the taxi. Avoid flagging a taxi from the street (especially with your camera visibly hanging around your neck!). Second, make sure you confirm with the driver that the rates on the door are accurate. Third, keep an eye on the meter to make sure it’s working properly.
Have you visited Brasov? How about Romania?
Care you share your travel tips and experiences in the comments section below?
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