Romania is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, a diverse country waiting to be discovered. Although its capital city, Bucharest, is the ideal destination for an unforgettable and value-for-money city break, it’s the countless amazing things to do in Transylvania that steal the spotlight and for good reason. Rich in history and abundant in natural and architectural wonders alike, this region in Central Romania is a truly unique place to explore.
Transylvania’s countryside is dotted with fairytale-like castles and fortresses that narrate Romania’s history in the most eloquent way. Moreover, Transylvania is home to stunning natural landscapes and traditional villages where time seems to have stopped ages ago.
Therefore, for anyone dreaming of a trip that combines natural beauty, history, and authentic vibes, a well-planned Transylvania itinerary is the best way to enjoy a little bit of everything.
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- 1 Why Plan a Transylvania Road Trip
- 2 The Best Transylvania Itinerary
- 3 Top 8 Things to Do in Transylvania
- 3.1 Spend a Couple of Days in Brasov
- 3.2 Search for Dracula in Bran Castle
- 3.3 Travel Back in Time in Rasnov Fortress
- 3.4 Be Enchanted by Sighisoara
- 3.5 Learn Everything about Fortified Churches
- 3.6 Live Your Fairytale in Corvin Castle
- 3.7 Mingle with Locals in Sibiu
- 3.8 Drive the Transfagarasan Highway
Why Plan a Transylvania Road Trip
There are many ways to get around Transylvania, such as public transport, guided tours, and driving. However, the latter is the best way to make the most of a trip across the region as only driving can take you to even the remotest yet absolutely unmissable places to visit in Transylvania.
One full week is the minimum number of days needed for a road trip in Transylvania. Spending at least seven days driving across the region means that you’ll be able to enjoy its charms at a relaxed and comfortable pace instead of rushing from one place to the other. The best time to plan a Transylvania road trip is the summer to make the most of longer days and enjoy spending most of the time outdoors thanks to the mild weather.
The Best Transylvania Itinerary
When planning your Transylvania itinerary, it’s useful to remember that following a circular route and adding multiple overnight stops along the way rather than wasting time driving back and forth is the best and most comfortable way to see the region.
Since most travellers visiting Romania fly to Bucharest, the ideal Transylvania itinerary would start from the capital and, after a few mandatory stops at gorgeous historical cities such as Brasov, Sighisoara, and Sibiu, would end back in Bucharest, via the Transfagarasan Highway.
Read more: Best things to do in Bucharest
Top 8 Things to Do in Transylvania
Spend a Couple of Days in Brasov
There are many fantastic things to do in Brasov, but merely roaming around the Old Town’s quaint alleys definitely tops the list. Brasov is the most visited city in Transylvania. Its colourful architecture, vibrant food and drink scene, and spectacular location in the heart of Transylvania’s mountains render Brasov a unique place to explore and the perfect introduction to all the wonders this region has to offer.
The Council Square is Brasov’s ultimate place to be, especially in the evening, when locals and visitors alike gather to have dinner or a couple of drinks under the shadow of Mount Tampa. Speaking of which, riding the cable car to the viewing platform near Mount Tampa’s top is yet another of Brasov’s ultimate highlights.
Where to stay in Brasov
Search for Dracula in Bran Castle
There are countless castles scattered across Transylvania’s countryside. Each of them is utterly impressive in its own unique way. However, there’s one castle that’s attracting the greatest attention, as it’s one of Romania’s most visited sights.
Bran Castle is the most famous castle in Romania and one of the best places to visit in Transylvania. The reason is simple: Bran Castle is believed to be the residence of the legendary Count Dracula. There’s no better way to find out who Dracula really was and if he ever lived in this castle or not than visiting Bran Castle and wandering around its narrow corridors and secret passageways. They sure have many stories to tell!
Travel Back in Time in Rasnov Fortress
If you ever wondered what life in the Middle Ages must have been like, you will definitely love a stroll around Rasnov Fortress. Perched atop a hill with gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside, Rasnov Fortress seems to have sprung out of the pages of a storybook. Paths, towers, cannons, and hidden corners compose the perfect setting for a unique journey through time.
Rasnov Fortress was built as a refuge against invasions. It eventually became a village of sorts, complete with its very own church, school, and houses. Back in its time of glory, Rasnov Fortress wasn’t easy to conquer. Although under siege for a considerable amount of times throughout its long history, Rasnov Fortress surrendered to the enemy only once.
Be Enchanted by Sighisoara
Sighisoara Citadel is a sight for sore eyes. Its charming Old Town is a maze of narrow cobblestone alleys lined with beautiful buildings painted in bright colours. The fact that no vehicles are allowed within the citadel’s walls only adds to the overall mesmerising effect Sighisoara has on its stunned visitors.
Getting lost in Sighisoara’s colourful streets is one of the best things to do in Transylvania. However, there are many other wonderful things to check out in the historic centre, such as the Clock Tower, the Scholars’ Stairs, and the Church on the Hill. A walk around the Lower Town, which is located just outside the citadel’s walls, is also ideal for a chance to hang out with locals.
Where to stay in Sighisoara
Learn Everything about Fortified Churches
Transylvania is abundant in fortified churches, which are absolutely fascinating in terms of both architecture and history. Back in the 12th century, Transylvania was colonised by German populations, the so-called Transylvanian Saxons. The latter founded numerous villages in the heart of Transylvania’s countryside, and people there led prosperous and happy lives.
But it wasn’t all roses, as Tatars and Ottomans frequently invaded Transylvania. Therefore, as a means to protect themselves, Transylvanian Saxons built strong fortifications around each village’s main church, which, gradually, became the centerpiece of a complex defensive system.
There used to be 300 fortified churches in the region, but only half of them have survived to this day. Among them, seven are awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, alongside the corresponding villages: Viscri, Biertan, Prejmer, Calnic, Darjiu, Saschiz, and Valea Viilor. Adding a visit to at least a couple of them to your Transylvania itinerary is a must.
Fun fact: Another interesting UNESCO World Heritage Site in Romania are the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina, called also Painted Churches of Moldavia.
Live Your Fairytale in Corvin Castle
Bran may be the most famous castle in Transylvania, but Corvin Castle is definitely the most enchanting one. This Gothic wonder is one of Europe’s largest castles and, hands down, one of the best attractions in Transylvania. Featuring an imposing drawbridge, an impressive interior courtyard, towers, turrets, and its very own bear pit, Corvin Castle is a medieval dream – or should we say nightmare? – come true.
Mingle with Locals in Sibiu
Most travellers visiting Transylvania on a road trip never fail to add Brasov and Sighisoara to their itineraries, but they often overlook yet another picturesque city: Sibiu. However, Sibiu is a place of exciting history, unquestionable charm, and irresistibly authentic vibes that’s really worth a trip in its own right.
First of all, Sibiu is home to the famous rooftop eyes that have taken over Instagram. Walking around the city feels as though you’re being watched by hundreds of sleepless eyes, which are, of course, nothing but attic windows.
Secondly, the fact that Sibiu used to be one of Romania’s primary trade centres and still is a significant economic hub explains the city’s special character. Instead of narrow alleys and tiny squares, Sibiu features airy boulevards and magnificent open spaces. Last but certainly not least, Sibiu is the best place to stay before hitting the Transfagarasan Highway.
Where to stay in Sibiu
Drive the Transfagarasan Highway
Moving on from suggestions on what to see in Transylvania, it’s time to talk about what it feels like to drive along the best road in the world, according to Top Gear. The Transfagarasan Highway is one of the world’s most scenic routes, and driving its entire length is a once in a lifetime experience.
The road was built between 1970 and 1974 under Ceausescu’s regime for military purposes. Little did they know back then that, for passionate drivers and nature enthusiasts from all across the globe, this route would become a reason in itself to visit Romania.
The Transfagarasan Highway winds its way through scenery of unreal beauty. One hairpin turn after another, the landscape never stops revealing its wonders in the form of waterfalls, lakes, and endless stretches of green magic.
The Transfagarasan’ total length is 150 km. As this is a high-altitude road, hence very exposed to extreme weather conditions, a section of the route – which is also the most fascinating one – is only open for four months a year: July, August, September, and October.
With so many incredible things to do in Transylvania, it’s absolutely certain that you will leave Romania with the best memories and a promise that you’ll never stop going back to this land of wonders; this source of endless fascination and enchantment; this region that can take your breath away and leave you speechless instantly; the place that will forever hold a piece of your heart: Transylvania.
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About the author
Katerina and Maria are content creators currently based in Athens, Greece. Together they run It’s All Trip To Me, a travel website which aims to inspire people with full-time jobs to travel more by making the most of their vacation time. To this end, Katerina and Maria publish highly informative travel guides, carefully planned-out itineraries and the best travel planning tips. Through stunning travel photography and top-notch writing, they promote destinations with a focus on authentic experiences and responsible travel.
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