In December 2017 we spent six days in Transylvania, without a doubt, the most famous region of Romania. Bram Stoker took the myth of Vlad the Impaler as inspiration for his novel Dracula, whose castle located in Transylvania. However, Transylvania is much more than the vampiric myth and is an area rich in history, culture and landscapes. In this guide we explain, what to see, where to sleep and what to eat during six days in Transylvania.
Flight to Bucharest from Barcelona
We took a flight from Barcelona directly to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. We flew with Wizz Air for € 60 to Henri Coandă International Airport in Otopeni, on the outskirts of Bucharest. The flight with Wizz Air went well, but you have to keep in mind that this company only accepts a bulk in the cabin and they are very strict with this rule.
Change currency in Romania
The official currency of Romania is the leu (I read in plural). Upon arrival we change some money at the airport, but only the minimum necessary because the change is very bad. The official change in December 2017 was at 4.65 and at the airport they only gave you 4.12. In the center of Brasov, on the Strada Republicii, there are several exchange offices offering 4.61 per euro. In downtown Bucharest we also saw exchange offices with a similar rate.
Car rental at Otopeni airport (Henri Coandă airport)
As the plane landed at two in the morning, many rental companies were closed. We rented the car in Sixt with Rentalcars, which has the office open 24 hours. We booked a car with winter tires for six days for € 82 with insurance with a € 720 franchise. If you want to lower the franchise to zero you have to pay € 20 a day. Once you make the rental contract you have to go to the departures area (departures) to wait for the Sixt van to take you to its parking lot that is about two kilometers away. Upon arriving there, the Skoda Citygo we had booked had no winter tires, so they gave us a Dacia Logan for the same price. During the six days we spent a total of 230 lei on gasoline (43 liters x 5.35 lei / liter)
Roads and driving in Romania
Despite the infrastructure investment the EU is making, Romania's roads are not the bomb. To go from Bucharest to Brasov we take the national road DN1 / E60 and most of the route is only one lane in each direction. The maximum speed at which you can drive is 90 km / h, although much of the time was 70km / h, especially in the mountainous area of Transylvania. In that part, the road had some patches and potholes. In the Brasov area, Bran and Sibiu usually snow in winter, but snowblowers pass quite often and we did not have to use chains on the wheels thanks to winter tires.
Driving in Romania is a separate chapter. The Romanian driver is impatient at the wheel and does not hesitate to skip the speed limits and make overtaking kamikazes. In addition, women behind the wheel are not abundant, and at some point I took some expletion in Romanian of easily understandable meaning. Even so, it is easy to drive around Romania and it is the best way to get to know the country, since public transport is not very frequent in some areas and more in winter than it is low season.
Where to sleep at Otopeni Airport (Bucharest)
As we arrived very late, we looked for a hotel near the airport to be able to rest before starting the drive through transylvania. We stayed at the hotel La Livada, which is 10 minutes by car from the airport, on the national road DN1 / E60 towards Brasov. The double room with private bathroom cost us 115 lei. The room is very good and the situation of the hotel was very practical. The continental breakfast (coffee, croissant, chocolate Neapolitan, bread and jam) costs 10 lei per person. The hotel has no parking, but you can park on the street without problems.
Where to sleep in Brasov
To visit Transylvania we put base in Brasov and from there we made several day trips. We stayed in a apartment on the outskirts of the historic center of Brasov. The apartment was brand new (building 2012), had a living room and two rooms with a capacity of up to five people. Best of all, it has its own parking and that was great because parking in the center of Brasov is complicated. The only downside is that it is a third floor without elevator. The four nights cost us € 188 and we booked it at Airbnb.
Where to sleep in Bucharest
In Bucharest We looked for cheap accommodation in the city center and that had parking nearby to leave the car at night. We stayed at the Cloud Living 9, a hostel / apartment with 3 rooms. The room for two people cost us € 35 and the single € 30 (we could pay in euros). The towel is not included and you have to pay € 1 for each one. The apartment has two bathrooms, which are shared, and a living room. Since there were only three of us, we had the whole apartment for us. It is very well located, it is very new and clean. In addition, the check-in manager was very friendly. The downside is that there is no reception, so you have to agree very well the time of entry. On the other hand, the apartment is on an estate listed as historic by the government and is waiting to be renovated. In that farm there is an old cinema, currently closed and the truth is that the stairs give a little repair. When they finally renovate the building it will be a pass.
He Clould 9 living It has no parking, but we left the car in the parking lot of the Cismigiu hotel. Leaving the car 24 hours costs € 10 (you can pay in euros or in lei).
Six-day car route in Transylvania
The first day we left at 11 hotel to go by car to the town of Sinaia, about 120 km from Otopeni. It took us about two hours to arrive and it was all snowy. We left the car in the parking lot next to the Sinaia monastery. The hour cost 1.5 lei and the whole day 5. From there we walked about 500 meters to the Peles Palace.
Visit to Peles Castle
This castle, rather a palace, was built at the end of the 19th century as the summer residence of the first king of Romania: Carlos I. It is not the typical castle that comes to mind to think of Transylvania, since this was the first building with electricity and elevator in Europe, in addition to other amenities such as central heating, telephone, etc. Peles Castle is the second most visited in Romania after Bran Castle.
Peles Castle was built between 1873 and 1914 and has extraordinary value as a monument of typical European architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its rooms show various decorative styles: German and Italian neo-Renaissance, neo-Baroque, elements of Louis XIV and Louis XV, Rococo and others. It opened as a museum in 1953 and houses a large collection of weapons from around the world and fine arts. As a curious fact, it also has two secret doors.
The interior of Peles Castle It can only be seen with guided tour in English or Romanian. There are two types: the one on the main floor costs 30 lei and the full visit 60. We did the complete one and found it very interesting. If you want to take pictures inside you have to pay 35 lei. In winter the castle is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can check the schedules in your Web.
Visit to Pelisor Castle
Just 100 meters from the castle of Peles is the Pelisor, the summer residence of the crown princes. This palace is much smaller and "modest", it has just over 20 rooms. The style of decoration is art-deco and is much more luminous and minimalist than that of the monarch.
The entrance to the palace of Pelisor costs 20 lei and the visit is made for free. The explanations of the stays are in Romanian, but at the entrance they gave us a folio with the explanations in English.
Where to eat in Sinaia
In the area of the palaces there is a couple of restaurants, but if you do not have a reservation, it is difficult to find a table, especially on weekends and holidays. In front of the monastery is the restaurant Cu Farfurii House, a restaurant run by a Greek gentleman that offers a noon menu for 25 lei (drinks not included) that was very good.
After eating we follow the route with the car until Brasov, where we would base the next four nights. It took more than an hour to Brasov to travel the 45 kilometers that separate it from Sinaia ...
Sighisoara is famous for being the city where Vlad Tepes was born and personally it was the one I liked the most we visited. From Brasov to Sighisoara it took almost two hours (117 km / road DN13 / E60) and we parked at Hermann Oberth Square a few meters from the access to the wall. Throughout the historic center of Sighisoara you have to pay to park, except on Sundays. The hour costs 1.5 lei and the whole day 5.
He historic helmet of the city is in a fortified area on top of a hill. As it is a fairly small area, it is visited in a few hours. We access through the Strada Turnului gate, where the city's tourist office is and where you can get maps. The most prominent building is the clock tower, which can be uploaded. Next is the monastery church and in front the house where Vlad Tepes was born. It is currently a restaurant and for 5 lei you can visit the room where he was born. Honestly it is a difficult visit to catalog, but I recommend you in spite of everything. I don't give more details. 😉
At the end of Școlii street is the wooden staircase with roof which was built so that the students of the city could more easily access the school at the top of the hill. The staircase dates from 1642 and ends before the St. Nicholas church. To visit the church you have to pay, but next to it is the cemetery that is well worth visiting. Being winter, the cemetery was covered in fog and looked like the scene of a Tim Burton movie.
From there we walk to the Wall to visit the towers They are still preserved. The towers were financed by the different artisan guilds of the city, so you can see the tower of the manufacturers of boots, the tower of the manufacturers of ropes, the blacksmiths, butchers, etc.
The cobbled floor, along with the historical buildings and the houses with multicolored facades made Sighisoara very much like me. After lunch we started back, but on the way we made two stops.
Visit to the fortified churches of Saschiz and Viscri
In Transylvania the are famous fortified churches and several of them are listed as a world heritage site by Unesco. That day we visited those of Saschiz and Viscri. Although we had to visit them only outside because upon arrival we discovered that they were closed.
Being winter, many of these churches were closed to the public and the truth is that before we went it was very difficult to find information on the internet about it. That of Saschiz It is next to the road that connects Brasov and Sighisoara and is closed from October to April, approximately. 8 km from the main road stands one of the wonders of the area: the fortified church of Viscri.
This church is located in a somewhat remote town that can only be reached by a road in quite bad condition. The rain and snow made me doubt if it was worth going through, but I got scared to see other cars coming and going. The road has many bumps but is passable if it goes very slowly. In the end we find the town of Viscri and the church. It is open all year but from November to April you can only visit from 11 to 15 hours and by appointment at 0742069477. We arrived at 16 hours and, unfortunately, it was already closed. Admission costs 8 lei.
The fortified church of Viscri, which began to be built in the s. XIII, is considered one of the oldest in Romania. In addition, it is one of the best preserved and one of the jewels of the region. Too bad we could only see it outside ...
Where to eat in Sighisoara
That area of the country has a great Saxon tradition, a population that was invited to settle in Transylvania during the Middle Ages. So it is not surprising that in the restaurant menu of the hotel Gasthaus Altepost Pension we found a menu full of German cuisine dishes. We ate spätzle (20 lei) and schnitzel (24 lei), and the water came out for 6 lei. The food was very good and I liked the atmosphere of the restaurant. The waiters were a bit rough and took to bring the food, but it is common.
Would you rather spend more time in Sighisoara?
✪ Hotels in Sighisoara
✪ Guided tours and excursions in Sighisoara
✪ Apartments in Sighisoara and discount code
On the third day of the Transylvania route we decided to take it easy. We visited the nearby fortified church of Prejmer in Tartlau and in the afternoon we did a guided tour of Brasov.
Visit to the fortified church of Prejmer
In the Outside from Brasov is the fortified church of Prejmer. This church is one of the most important monuments in Transylvania. The church of the sacred cross in Tartlau began to be built in 1218 for the order of the Teutonic knights. When King Andrew II later forbade the order, the church was expanded following the Romanesque style, a style contributed by the Cistercian monks in the thirteenth century. However, the builders of this fortified church were the Saxon peasants and artisans settled in the area. The population of Prejmer / Tartlau was on the border of the lands that were granted to the Saxons and were highly exposed to invasions. The fortress began to consolidate in 1421 after the invasion of the Turks in Transylvania. In 1999 the fortified church of Prejmer was inscribed by Unesco in the list of world heritage sites.
The entrance costs 10 lei and during summer time (from May to October) it is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Winter time (from November to April) is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. except Sundays, which is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit to Brasov
Brasov is the seventh largest city in Romania and it is one of the most visited cities in Transylvania. However the historic center of Brasov It is not very large and can be visited in a day or in an afternoon if you have little time. Every day at 3 pm a free guided tour through the city of Brasov (in the end you have to pay what the guide considers).
The visit lasts an hour and a half, and in it we can discover the history of the city, known in the Middle Ages as "The crown" (Kronstadt) for the way its walls were seen from a bird's eye view. The meeting point is a fountain in the Council square (Piața Sfatului) in front of the town hall. It is a really interesting visit and the guides are very nice. It is possible that in the end you even learn to dance a traditional Romanian dance.