Romania has always fascinated me after I learned of its connection to the legend of Dracula and looked up photos of the Transylvania region. My favorite trips are always the ones that Jacob and I plan simply on a whim, and this was definitely one of them. I can’t think of anyone I know personally that has visited the Romanian countryside, which is a shame – the entire region is fascinating with its mountainous roads, pastel towns, and historic castles! We visited Romania in winter, but you can easily plan a trip to visit any time of the year and have plenty to see and do. Here’s a breakdown of how we structured our trip, starting with the Transylvania region and then the capital city of Bucharest…
you should visit
to see it all
Brașov • 4 days
a charming pastel town with trendy cafés, sights, and nearby winter and summer activities.
Sighișoara • day trip from Brașov
has beautiful towers and a preserved walled old town, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Râșnov & Bran • day trip from Brașov
an old town with a fortress overlooking the Transylvania region & the home of Dracula’s castle.
Bucharest • 3 days
the largest city in Romania, home to countless ruin bars, museums, and restaurants.
Where to Stay
- Teleferic Grand Hotel – we loved this hotel for its outdoor spa and views of the forest. It was located in Poiana Brașov, which is a short drive away from Brașov, and is adjacent to the slopes if you’re visiting in the winter time (there’s also plenty to do there in the summer!).
- Hotel Bella Muzica – this 400-year-old hotel with medieval architecture is located directly in the historic center of Brașov, so you’re walking distance from Council Square.
Where to Eat
- Dei Frati – for date night, this charming italian bistro was the perfect spot. We loved their freshly-made ravioli — and don’t forget the wine!
- Kafe Pub – this quaint coffee house features quirky decor and ample seating. It’s the perfect spot to grab a drink and get off your feet while exploring Brașov.
- Gratar Urban – if you’re in need of a satisfying lunch or dinner, this burger joint located just off the main square is a great go-to.
- La Ceaun – we stumbled upon this old-fashioned lunch spot which serves freshly made soups and stews, and it hit the spot! Their menu rotates daily.
- Doctor Jekelius – I couldn’t get enough of this old-pharmacy-turned-coffee-shop, which serves hot chocolate and lattes in lab beakers. At night, it turns into a bar with cocktails. What more do you need?
What to Do
- Visit the Black Tower and White Tower – both towers were built in the 15th century and provide beautiful views over Brasov. Visit the White Tower first and you can continue walking for 250m, alongside medieval walls, to get to the Black Tower.
- Enjoy the sunset (with drinks) – the best view of the city can be found inside the Aro Palace Hotel. Take the elevator up to the top floor restaurant and head to their bar. You can step outside on their patio to watch the sun go down over the city – it’s a narrow walkway, but so worth it!
- Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride – we were able to arrange a sleigh ride near Poiana Brașov just by pulling over at this equestrian facility just off the road and inquiring about availability. To avoid any language barriers, you can also ask your hotel to arrange one for you.
- Go skiing in winter – you’ll find that a lot of European tourists visit Romania to ski, since it’s a much cheaper option than resorts in Switzerland. The slopes are located in the Poiana Brașov area and totally worth visiting!
- Explore Brașov town – I’d recommend starting at Council Square and wandering down the side streets. For gift shops and boutiques, head to Piata Sfatului, as well as Republicii and Muresenilor streets.
Râșnov & Bran Castle –
Where to Stay
- Airbnb – we found a local Airbnb in Bucharest that was conveniently located near the city’s old town.
- Hotel Cismigiu – this historic hotel was recently remodeled and is a great option inside the city. It houses two restaurants, one of which is a brewery, so you’ll always have somewhere close by to eat.
- Hotel Epoque – this luxurious hotel with a full-service spa is located next to Cismigiu Park and is a short 15 minute walk from Bucharest’s old town.
Where to Eat
- Dianei 4 – hands down one of the coolest restaurants we’ve eaten at. This café was fashioned out of an abandoned, destroyed house after both world wars and is now a trendy spot to eat, hidden within the main city.
- Caru’ cu Bere – we just had drinks here, so I can’t personally vouch for the food, but the architecture alone is worth going for. The first floor is vaulted and built Neo-Gothic style with elaborate stained glass windows and carved wood panelings.
- Camera Din Față – this old-fashioned coffee shop serving teas and pastries was my favorite place to start our days in Bucharest.
- Beca’s Kitchen – this cozy restaurant is a local’s favorite and serves homemade seasonal specials. Don’t forget to make a reservation!
- Restaurant Joseph – for a night out, this restaurant has it all – fresh seafood and pasta dishes, fine wines, and a warm and inviting atmosphere.
What to Do
- Shop at the Carturesti Carusel – arguably one of the most photogenic bookstores I’ve been to, this beautifully designed shop sells great gifts to take home, and of course: books!
- Eat at Food Hood – this is Eastern Europe’s biggest street food market, which basically means: you won’t go home hungry.
- Visit the Palace of Parliament – second only to the Pentagon in size, the Palace of Parliament is a must-see while in Bucharest. We weren’t able to tour the inside while there, but according to Lonely Planet there is an entrance open to the public you can access with a passport.
- Attend an event at the Palatul Noblesse – I had this palace on my list to visit, simply because the interior looked absolutely stunning. You won’t be able to visit unless you have tickets to an event, but it’s worth checking a schedule just to see if your timing lines up!
- Tour Stavropoleos Monastery – this old monastery is located right directly in the Old Town of Bucharest. It’s worth visiting to experience the architecture and picturesque gardens.
What to Remember
- Romania uses the Romanian Lei, not the Euro. I’d recommend having keeping cash on hand for smaller purchases.
- Renting a car to explore Transylvania and visit small towns is key. We did this trip by car and it worked perfectly.
- Bucharest is not as picturesque as most cities and definitely more gritty – but it’s safe and has lots of charm if you know where to look.
Where have you traveled to that you’ve unexpectedly loved? We’ll add it to our list…