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  • Writer's pictureKristin

5 Places to Visit Near Brasov, Romania

We concluded our time in the Transylvania area by visiting the area around Brasov. There was so much to see and do in the area within an hour or less drive from Brasov. The areas we did explore, were so scenic and beautiful. Originally, we had hoped to do a little more exploration in the mountain (Omu Peak) and hillside areas, but it was cloudy and rainy for the entire time we were there, which made checking out the higher elevations not ideal. Pretty much anything in higher elevations risked having snow and we ran into low visibility several times up in the hillsides. Despite this, we still enjoyed visiting several of the other areas nearby. These are 5 places we checked out near Brasov during our 4 days in the area.

[In hindsight, for our particular interest of seeing the local Romanian life and being outside the cities, I think we would have enjoyed having a place in the Rasnov/Bran/Pestera & Magura area, as we ended up in that area for a majority of the 4 full days we spent in the area.]

No. 5 – Brasov Old Town

The Old Town of Brasov was scenic and fairly small so it was easy to explore compared to some of the other Old Towns.

Town Hall in the Main Square of Old Town Brasov, Romania
Main Square in Old Town Brasov, Romania

The main square was its focal point and one of the main places to check out in the Old Town was the Black Church. This 14th century church was a Catholic Cathedral up until the Lutheran Reformation, when many of the German Saxons converted it to a Lutheran Evangelical Church. One particular point of interest inside the church was how the pulpit was located in the center of the church – as the main focal point of the service is the sermon. The seating within the sanctuary was also determined by your position within the community and many of the pews had paintings on them to distinguish certain trade classes, etc. – like the carpenters.

The church got the name ‘Black Church’ because the church caught on fire in 1689 and what was left of the church was black on the outside from smoke damage. The rest of the church was rebuilt.

There is also the opportunity to take a cable car up the hillside located just up the hill from the Old Town to the spot on the hill that has the Hollywood-like sign that says Brasov for a view below. We decided to forego the cable car ride to save some money, but still headed up there for a little bit of a view and time at the playground.

In Brasov, we also came across our first Chimney Rolls in Romania, which are called Kurtos here. We’ve had Chimney Rolls in several countries now, including Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic. However, Romania had the biggest ones and for the least amount of money. There are usually different toppings you can get on your roll, but the traditional one in Romania was more like a hardened glaze on the outside of the roll. It was delicious! It was also the cheapest – the one roll we purchased in Brasov, was only 5 RON (about $1.18 USD or $1.45 CDN).

Mom & daughter with chimney roll/kurto in Brasov, Romania.
Romanian Chimney Roll - or "Kurto" in Romanian.

No. 4 – Fortified Churches

Within the Transylvania region there are several Fortified Churches. The Fortified Church in Harman was less than a 10-minute drive from our accommodation, so we checked it out. The town of Harman was originally linked to the Teutonic Knight & Cistercian Order during the period of 1211-1225. During this time they built castles & then brought German settlers (Transylvanian Saxons) into the area to create settlements. There is historical reference to the church in 1240; however, the Harman citizens began to build the fortification around it in the 15th Century due to the threat of Mongol hordes & Ottoman intruders. This particular fortification had a solid stone wall around the entire church, 7 defense towers, gate weirs, as well as a moat area. Inside the grounds of the fortified church there was the main church building & bell tower, as well as some living spaces built into the sides of the walls, which is where community members would come and live during the risk of a threat or invasion. The church inside the walls was originally a Catholic Church, but during the 16th Century, many of the German Saxons converted the church to a Lutheran Church after the Reformation.

Entrance was only 10 RON ($2.36 USD/$2.90 CDN) for an adult and 5 RON for children ages 6+. I thought the exhibit was a great value for the price – they had several rooms set up for the time specific era and it was the first church I have seen that was super basic inside. This particular church, just had wooden benches as part of its pews – giving you a glimpse of what it looked like during that particular time period.

No. 3 – Bran & Bran Castle

Probably the most famous castle in Romania is the Bran Castle, often known as Dracula’s castle. However, the title of Dracula’s Castle isn’t entirely accurate. The 13th Century Castle is only known as ‘Dracula’s Castle’ because it resembles the description that author Bram Stoker used in his Dracula books. However, Bram never actually visited the castle in person and he doesn’t make any distinct connection to Prince Vlad Tepes, who is also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula, who many people think the Dracula character is based off of. However, one interesting fact is that Vlad Dracula was supposedly imprisoned here at Bran Castle for 2 months. However, the castle that he resided in is Poenari Castle located on the plateau of plateau of Mount Cetatea Transylvania, which is a ruined castle at this point in time.

However, they definitely play-up the theme of Dracula at Bran Castle. Most of the Castle displays are normal Castle Room displays showing what it looked liked when the family lived there. However, on the upper floors of the castle they have a few rooms dedicated to Romanian Folklore horror characters. Plus, we lucked out that during the month of October they decorate a couple of the rooms for Halloween, so it added a fun little touch to it. We even found Jack-o-Lantern decorated cookies at one of the bakeries in Bran, which the kids were super excited about.

The admission prices into Bran Castle, also reflect its status as a tourist destination, as it was one of the more expensive places we visited in Romania. Basic admission into the castle was 45 RON per adult ($10.58 USD/$13.08 CDN), but luckily children 7 years old & younger were free.

I honestly think our kids thought they would be seeing Count Dracula and the characters from the Hotel Transylvania movies. We tried to explain that Dracula was a fictional character, but they were still a bit disappointed that they didn’t see him while there. At one point, Clara told us it wasn’t scary enough...ha ha!

Just across the road from Bran is an open field that provides great views of the castle from the other direction, as well as a hiking path that leads up the hill to a viewpoint. We attempted the hike, but with almost a week of rain in the area, the leaves, tree roots and pathway were slippery. We made it about halfway up before we decided we should turn back because it would be harder to go down. However, it looked like it would have provided some good views of the Castle if the trail had been a bit drier.

No. 2 – Sinaia & Peles Castle

Located about 1 hour drive from Brasov is the town of Sinaia. This town was considered the summer resort town of Romania up until the 1940s and was home to the Romanian Royal Family’s summer castle – Peles Castle. The drive from Brasov to there in mid-October was beautiful with the leaves changing colors. There are also other resort towns, such as Predeal, that you drive through that are now ski destinations.

Peles Castle
Peles Castle with Fall Leaves in the background in Sinaia, Romania
Peles Castle on a rainy, Autumn day in Sinaia, Romania

The Peles Castle as one of the newer castles we visited in Europe, as it was constructed between 1873-1914 for the King of Romania. It cost 40 RON per adult and 20 RON per child to go in and see the main floor. If you wanted to tour the 1st floor it was almost double the price, as well as there was a charge for photography and videography inside the castle, so we opted to just forego taking photos here.

There is also a hike that takes you up the hillside for views of Peles Castle; however, it rained the whole day so we opted to forego that particular hike.

FOOD & PARKING TIPS: There is an area just west of the castle that has some restaurants. One restaurant is located right on the pathway, but if you go through the gate there is a brew pub that had great food and was priced cheaper than the one on the pathway.

In addition, we parked in the main parking lot for Peles Castle at the base of the hill where it was 25 RON for parking and then a short walk to the castle. However, we later found out there is a parking lot on located right next to Sinaia Monastery that you can park at for 4 RON per hour and then you can walk down to the castle (probably just a 15-minute walk). Plus, with this spot you could visit both the castle & monastery at once, although there are a couple of free parking spots right in front of the monastery as well.

Sinaia Monastery

The monastery was here in Sinaia before the castle and it was built in 1695 and was named after the cathedral at the bottom of Mt. Sinai in Egypt. Within the monastery grounds you could see the outside of the buildings where the nuns live, as well as there is a small temple at the back of the grounds. The main church is prominently located in the middle; however, no photos or videos were allowed inside the church. However, these orthodox monasteries and churches have amazing paintings inside. Another great part was that it was free to go into the Monastery.

No. 1 – Driving Through the Villages Near Pestera & Magura

We had received the suggestion to check out this area just past Bran from someone who grew up in Romania and we had great aspirations to do a hike in the area. However, mother nature didn’t quite cooperate and we had fog in the morning & then when we came back in the afternoon, it started to sprinkle and there was increasing cloudiness. However, despite not being able to go for a hike, driving through this area was one of our major highlights of Romania. The roads here were a great glimpse into the everyday life. We saw so many animals, a herd of cattle being led down a highway, horses working, a horse wandering down the road and even lamb hanging as part of the butchering process.

Transylvanian farm near the village of Pestera, Romania.
A farm home with laundry hanging to dry & a traditional haystack near the village of Pestera in Transylvania, Romania.

The hillsides and valleys were so green and beautiful with the Bucegi Mountains peeking through the clouds just enough to get a tease of how gorgeous the view would be here on a clear day. As a special treat, the orange and red trees were starting to show their colors to give us one of the best Autumn views we had in Romania.

Bucegi Mountains in the backdrop of the Transylvanian hillsides near Pestera, Romania.
View on our drive near the village of Pestera, Romania with the Bucegi Mountains peeking through the clouds.
Cattle grazing on the lush green hillsides with Autumn trees in background near Pestera, Romania.
Fall colors starting to appear on the Transylvanian Hillsides near Pestera, Romania.

Our original goal was to do the hike between Casa Folea, which serves traditional food out of a farm hut, to Saua Joaca on the outskirts of Pestera. There was also a hike between Pestera & Magura that looked like it would have been beautiful, but when we returned in the afternoon the fog looked like it had headed toward Magura.

Fog going through the valley - Transylvania, Romania.
Fog rolling through the valley near Pestera, Romania.

We then tried to take our car to the start of the hike near Casa Folea; however, with the recent rain and rough roads, we ended up having to turn around in fear that if it rained even just a little bit we might get stuck with no traction on our tires. There wasn’t anywhere to park on that particular road and once we got to a place where we could park & walk in, it looked like more clouds were rolling in and it was getting a bit late.

Even though we didn’t get the hike in that we had hoped for, I would highly recommend checking out these villages and the roads around the area – even if just for a drive! If we ever make it back to Romania, this will be one place we will definitely come back to explore more!

Bonus Location – Rasnov Dinosaur Park

On our final day in the area, it was our son’s Birthday. Connor is obsessed with dinosaurs and we saw there was a Dinosaur Park in Rasnov so we surprised him with a visit to the Park. It was pretty rainy the day we attended, but with it being in the trees it helped block the rain a bit.

There is a trail that leads you around to look at and read about the different dinosaurs that are on display. They even had a life-sized Brachiosaurus. There were a few that were automated as well. Admission into the park was reasonable as well with adults being 30 RON ($7.05 USD/$8.72 CDN) per adult and kids over 3 years old being 23 RON ($5.41 USD/$6.69 CDN). The only unfortunate part about visiting in the rain was that they had several amazing looking playgrounds around the Park that we couldn’t take advantage of because they were wet. There were a few bonus things once you were in the Park that cost extra. We decided to do the 360 movie (6-7 minutes long) and the 9-D Rollercoaster Experience Ride. Both of those were 10 RON per person. The kids enjoyed both of them, except Connor got slightly scared with the 360 Movie when the bugs started to buzz in his face….ha ha!

We hope if you find yourself in Transylvania that you'll enjoy these 5 places to visit that are all within reach of Brasov! (Plus, hopefully a few more if the weather is nice!)


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