I recently toured Romania and was really glad to discover this country, which I don’t believe is much visited yet. Most of the people I know who have been really loved their experience and highly recommended it to me. Now it’s my turn to continue to pass on the recommendation. I previously covered two places I visited, Iasi and the Transylvanian mountains. After that I continued my journey down towards Bucharest and stopped off in 3 further locations.
1. Brasov, situated close to Bran castle (Dracula’s castle), Brasov is a really charming town.
Where to stay? I would highly recommend Jugenstube hostel. My guidebook didn’t contain much information on hostels but internet research provided me with this great place to stay. Ideally situated in the centre of the old town, the hostel is located in a small backyard meaning that it is quiet. The staff are super friendly and helpful, and I instantly met several people in the common area. The hostel is also really clean and comfortable. Tip: stay in the 4 bedroom dorms as they have their own private bathrooms. Additionally, the place is really affordable.
Where to eat? Staff at the hostel recommended the restaurant Sergiana. Located underground, the setting is perfect with lots of arches and stone walls. There is a huge variety of choice on the menu including lots of local dishes, so be sure to try them out. It’s in the pricier range for Romania, but if you come from abroad you will find it affordable.
Where to enjoy a coffee? I discovered an awesome café called Shake Coffee which I would highly recommend. Great atmosphere, cute and cozy inside with seating outdoors also, and friendly staff. Great coffee also, which I always enjoy finding whilst I’m exploring new places.
What to do? The tourism office offers a great free walking tour of the city, you can find out more here. The volunteers are super friendly and have a great knowledge of local history, as well as a sense of humour. The walk lasts approximately 2 hours, during which you will get to see all the sights of Brasov. As a solo traveler it’s a great way to meet other people.
Poiana Brasov: As a mountain person I wanted to visit the local ski resort. I would not necessarily recommend going up to Poiana Brasov unless you specifically want to go on a hike or do an activity like skiing our mountain biking. Though the view was nice, it’s not necessarily worth the detour. If you’re looking for mountain views, go to Sinaia.
2. Bran Castle, or otherwise known as Dracula’s castle and within driving distance of Brasov. As for all tourist activities, I recommend getting there early in the morning. If you are in Transylania you can’t really miss this key destination, however I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed. Bran is a relatively small castle and not as impressive as one may imagine. The size of the castle also makes it difficult to get around with the hordes of other tourists. However it’s still very pretty and worth visiting.
Eating near Bran castle: Club Vila Bran. A gigantic holiday resort including many different housing options, swimming pools, games etc. this place also has several restaurants including one with a stunning view.
3. Rasnov citadel also within driving distance of Brasov. I would highly recommend visiting as it has beautiful views of the surrounding area and is an experience in itself. Again, get there early.
4. Sinaia, one of my favourite locations perhaps because the scenery was so similar to that of the Swiss alps. A village at the foot of the mountains, it is supposed to be THE starting point for all eager hikers. The gondola will take you to 1,400m or all the way up to 2,000, I recommend you go to the top for the better views.
You can walk down from the 2,000 all the way back into Sinia – the guide at the information office told me this would take a good few hours (3). The walk between the two points I would say takes about 1.5 hours at a good pace.
Sinai is close to Peles and Pelisor castles which makes it an ideal place to stay, but other than that and the hiking (or skiing) there is not much else to do. I would recommend only making an overnight stop.
The castles are beautiful – in particular Peles castle and highly worth a visit. Peles castle is impressive for its decoration, location, and its innovation (for example, it was the first castle to have heating and electricity). The only problem is the huge groups of tourists that keep moving through the rooms one after the other. Makes it almost impossible to tour on your own so I would recommend joining one. Again, get there early.
Where to sleep? Thanks to Booking.com I got a good deal at the Smart hotel which was really nice, a bit out of town therefore quiet, comfortable and spacious. I recommend a room on the top floor for views and balcony.
Stay tuned for the last blog post on Bucharest!