Bucharest is a wonderful city with so much to do and see. From Old Town to Herăstrău Park, there are so many beautiful neighborhoods. But you wouldn’t truly be seeing Romania if you spend all your time in the capital city.
That’s why we planned a day trip from Bucharest to Bran Castle & the nearby city of Brasov. We had heard that Transylvania was a must-do in Romania. The beauty of the region truly wowed us and we’d recommend this region to anyone visiting Romania.
Based on our own experience doing a day trip from Bucharest to Bran Castle & Brasov, here is everything that you need to know.
Getting to Brasov/Bran Castle
This is probably the trickiest part of planning your day: figuring out how exactly you’re going to get to Bran Castle and Brasov. Luckily, you have a few options for how to get there.
Book a Tour from Bucharest
We booked a day tour with Mr. Tripp’s Tours which completely takes care of the transportation part. They pick you up right from your hotel in Bucharest and first take you to Bran Castle, then to Brasov, and then back to your hotel.
We do have to let you know that doing a trip this way is a super long day. It’s about a three hour drive to the castle, then 30 minutes to Brasov, then another 3 hours back to Bucharest. This means you’ll be in the car for at least 6 hours and 30 minutes, but probably more if you hit traffic like we did. We left at 8 AM and didn’t get back until close to 10 PM.
We would maybe recommend spending a little more time in Brasov if your schedule allows. But if you are dealing with a tight schedule, it’s totally doable to see both in a day. You’ll just be very tired the next day!
Take the Train
Another option is to take the train from Bucharest from Brasov. From there, you can either take a bus or hire a cab to take you to Bran Castle. This is definitely a more cost-effective option, but you will have to figure out how to get out to the castle from Brasov since it’s a bit of a drive.
Prices for a train ticket may vary, but they’re generally pretty inexpensive. It should be about $5 USD for a one way ticket from Bucharest to Brasov. The duration of the ride should be pretty similar to driving–a little over 3 hours.
Take the Bus
You can also take the bus from Bucharest to Brasov. This is another cost effective option, and should cost around $10 USD. The bus will likely leave from the Bucharest, Terminal Memento Bus terminal.
We do have to warn you that in our experience, traveling by bus in Eastern Europe can be a bit frustrating. Bus drivers pull over frequently to take coffee and smoke breaks. So don’t expect to actually arrive in Brasov by the time it is scheduled to. In reality, it’ll probably take an hour longer.
About Bran Castle
History of Bran Castle
Bran Castle or “Dracula’s Castle” is an medieval castle built atop a hill in the Transylvania region of Romania. Although the exact date that Bran Castle was built is uncertain, we do know that it was built over 600 years ago.
The castle is rumored to be the source of the popular fictional novel “Dracula,” written by Bram Stocker. Although the novel may be fiction, many say the character of Dracula was based on a real person: Vlad the Impaler.
Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Dracul, was a ruler in Romania during the 1400s. Many agree that he was way worse than Dracula, due to his preferred torture method of impaling. He wanted the people he tortured to feel as much pain as possible, many times slowly impaling them over the course of 48 hours.
From 1920 to 1948, Bran Castle was the royal residence of Queen Marie of Romania. A very popular queen, her life in the castle is now documented and open to tourists. It displays the clothing, art, furniture and instruments that were once used by Queen Marie.
Visiting Bran Castle
Visiting Bran Castle today isn’t nearly as creepy as you would think. For one, it’s a fairly popular tourist destination in Romania so you won’t ever find yourself alone in the castle. But secondly, it mainly documents the life of royalty–there isn’t very much on vampires or torture.
Castle admission is about $10 USD per adult ticket, but the ticket price is included if you do a tour with Mr. Tripp’s Tours. Also included in the price of the private tour is a wine and cheese tasting! It was great to have a snack and try some delicious Romanian wine before we toured the castle.
The tour of the castle doesn’t take too long. There are multiple floors of the castle that you are allowed to see, most of which document Queen Marie’s life in the castle. You get to see her bedroom, living room, clothes, furniture, etc.
You do get to see a few creepy things during your time in the castle. At one point, you have to climb up a very narrow staircase carved into stone. It definitely gave us the goosebumps!
You also get to see some very dangerous looking weapons and knights in armor. We liked this part because it was exactly what we imagined when touring a medieval castle.
At the very end of the tour, you descend in a modern elevator back down to the ground floor. Then, you walk through a creepy tunnel to the exit. At the very end, there’s a place to take a photo with people who used to live in the castle.
Before you exit, there is a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs from your time in the castle. We didn’t get anything because we have no room in our luggage. But it did look like they have some cool stuff.
One thing we do want to call out was how crowded with people the castle was when we visited. At some points, we had to wait in a long line just to enter a certain bedroom. The pictures of rooms that you see with no people in them are because they’re roped off–no one is allowed to enter. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go–it’s just a warning.
Tourist destinations like this can be a little frustrating because the experience doesn’t feel super authentic. If we had known it was going to be so crowded on a Monday in July, we might have chosen to come back during off-season.
Since we booked a private tour, the next stop on our tour was Brasov. This beautiful Transylvanian town is the second most visited city in Romania, after Bucharest. It was so great getting a few hours to explore. Here’s what we saw and ate.
What To See
- Black Church: The Black Church is one of the most popular things to see in Brasov. It was once badly damaged by a fire that turned its stone to black, and that’s why it is called the Black Church. It costs a small fee to enter, but you can still admire it from the outside if you don’t feel like paying.
- Council Square: This is the main square in Brasov’s city center. It’s surrounded by restaurants, shops, cafes, and much more.
- Brasov Sign: We didn’t have time to check out the Brasov sign, but we did get to see if from down below! If you have time, take the Tampa cable car or hike up to the top and you can see it in person. There’s even a place to have a beer at the top!
Where To Eat
There are a ton of great restaurants located in Council Square. Just throw a stone and you’ll hit one! We opted for an authentic Romanian restaurant since we wanted to try the local cuisine. The food wasn’t the best so we won’t recommend it here, just know that you have lots of options.
Here are a few of the most highly rated restaurants in Brasov based on TripAdvisor reviews:
- Dei Frati: If you’re craving seafood, this is the place to go!
- La Birou Bistro: The most popular breakfast place in all of Brasov!
- Addiction the Ranch: Unusual meats like duck are great at this international hot spot.
A day trip to Bran Castle and Brasov from Bucharest is definitely a long day, but it’s so worth it! You get to see one of the most beautiful regions in Eastern Europe, all while learning about the history of Romania.
We’re pretty convinced that there’s no such thing as vampires after visiting Transylvania. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t glad we’re not living in Romania under the rule of Vlad the Impaler!
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