Transylvania is one of Eastern Europe’s most captivating regions and although it is often known as the land of bloodthirsty vampires and wolves, it is in fact loaded with incredible things to see and do, all without the fear of being bitten by a vampire. It is here where visitors will experience lush countrysides, undiscovered forests and lost-in-time villages. The birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, a man-made road that will have driving enthusiasts cheering and an abundance of wildlife that will have you snapping more photos than you ever thought await visitors here in the beautiful region.
5. Bran Castle
It wouldn’t be a visit to Transylvania without visiting the castle that actually fits Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle. It is open almost every day of the year and costs a mere 6 euros to enter. Visitors here will find a beautiful mix of culture, art and architecture and recently the castle underwent an extensive renovation. For the full Dracula experience make sure to take a ride in the glass elevator that lets you experience Dracula’s escape route. All year round there are music festivals, food fairs and children’s activities that draw over half a million visitors each year. Of course the most popular time to visit is around Halloween where the really spooky stuff comes out and night tours are offered throughout the castle.
4. Trek the Carpathians
A whole hidden world of hiking awaits those looking to get outdoors in Transylvania and renowned hikers from around the world come to trek through the Carpathians. First time hikers won’t want to miss The Heroes Cross at the top of Caraiman peak, a memorial built to honor the First World War. This magnificent sight is truly one of a kind. Another great place for hikers to explore here is the Piatra Craiului National Park, also known as King’s Rock. The park is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals including thousands of bears, wolves and lynx that are a part of the Large Carnivore Project. Spend some time here with your camera capturing wildlife at every turn.
3. Drive the Transfagarasan Highway
It is one of the best roads to put the pedal to the metal and experience some thrilling hairpin turns, rated as one of Europe’s most spectacular driving experiences. It is arguably one of Transylvania’s greatest man-made achievements, a complex system of switchbacks and runnels driven through the mountains. The highway is only open from June until October and is a total of 56 miles in length. Plan on zig-zaging your way up barren valleys to Lake Balea, driving through 900m-long tunnels and experiencing the forests. The highest point of the drive is at 6,670 ft alongside Lake Balea where waterfront restaurants make it the perfect stopping point for a bite to eat. Expect this road to be crowded when it’s open, but it is definitely a must do.
2. Visit Peles Castle
It is considered one of the most beautiful castles in all of Europe and for that reason alone, deserves a visit. It was originally commissioned as a summer residence during the reign of King Carol I of Romania and there is no shortage of breathtaking views everywhere in sight. The castle can be reached by a quick twenty-minute walk from the village of Sinaia, through an incredible forest. Once at the castle grounds visitors will delight in the Neo-Renaissance architecture, pristine courtyards and amazing gothic sculptures. The castle is closed on Mondays to visitors and also during the month of November. Visitors will have to join a guided tour to get inside the castle and can choose from tours ranging from one floor to all three.
1. Explore Sighisoara
It is the alleged birthplace of Vlad the Impaler and this medieval-style town shows visitors what Romanian village life is truly about. It was founded by Transylvanian Saxons during the 12th century and remains one of the most beautiful and well-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The focal point in this city is the towering Clock Tower that stands 64m high and is today a museum of history. Think cobbled streets, ornate churches, steep stairways, secluded squares, tower, turrets and more. Eat, drink and be merry in this quaint village that offers a mix of historic architecture, friendly people and culinary delights.