Transylvania offers us a vast landscape of snow-capped mountains, wide open valleys, and some of…
Brasov sits at the centre of both Transylvania and Romania as a whole, in an enormous valley surrounded on all sides by spellbinding, rugged mountains. It’s a wonderful town full of so many things to see and do, but it’s also a great hub, from which you can take a lot of great Brasov day trips.
Here are five unmissable Brasov day trips for travellers who love their medieval history, sublime and jaw-dropping views, and Dracula mythology. From here you’ll visit remarkable Romanian castles, citadels, churches, and a UNESCO World Heritage town.
Bran Castle is at the top of everyone’s list of Brasov day trips, and rightly so! It’s an easy drive from Brasov that takes less than an hour; it sits on the border of Wallachia and Transylvania; and its legend is tied so completely to that of Count Dracula. But what is the truth of Bran Castle, exactly? And why is it the most essential of our Brasov day trips?
Bran Castle is an interesting beast. It was originally a 13th century wooden fortress built by the Teutonic Knights, and soon after destroyed by invading Mongols. Since then, the stone fortress we have today has been built, rebuilt, and expanded upon multiple times over hundreds of years. Now, it’s a museum dedicated to its own history and mythology. And yes, it is an incredible place to visit.
The castle’s connection to the myth is two-fold: first, it existed during the rule Vlad Tepes (Vlad Dracula, son of Vlad Dracul), the ruler of Wallachia who inspired the myth of Count Dracula. However, Vlad Tepes was the king of Wallachia, while Bran Castle sits across the border, in Transylvania, and was used, essentially, as border control.
The second part of the myth is the reason Bran Castle is often called ‘Dracula Castle’, and that’s because Bram Stoker – although he never visited Romania – based his description of Count Dracula’s castle off written records about Bran Castle: a castle atop a hill that sits at the border of Wallachia and Transylvania.
Mythology aside, Bran Castle is a simply jaw-dropping place to visit. It rests atop a tall, thin hill, taking up the entire hilltop in a remarkably and delightfully gothic fashion. In fact, as you look on it from below, you can see how some of the hill’s bare stone seems to be climbing up the castle like ivy, as though it’s reclaiming it. Bran Castle is so badass and thrillingly gothic!
Bran Castle inside is just as gorgeous and fascinating as outside. The Bran Castle museum furnishings were all owned by the one Romanian ruler who truly loved the place: Queen Marie. Marie was actually a British princess who married the king of Romania around the turn of the 20th century, shortly before the monarchy in Romania ceased to be. Queen Marie cherished Romania and spent much of her time living in Bran Castle, and so she furnished the place with so many traditional pieces of Romanian art and furniture which are, today, remarkable antiques.
Read More: 10 Books to Read Before You Visit Romania
Getting from Brasov to Bran Castle
The only real way to get from Brasov to Bran Castle is by car. So, you have two choices: either rent a car of your own in Brasov or get yourself a guide who can drive you there, as we did.
Renting a car in Romania is so cheap and so easy; we highly recommend it. You hear horror stories about renting cars in Romania, and they’re mostly nonsense. The only intimidating place to drive is in Bucharest. If you avoid driving in the capital, you’ll have no issues whatsoever!
As for getting a guide, the amazing people at Romanian Thrills hooked us up with a tour guide in Brasov called Smaranda, who took us from Brasov to Bran Castle and many of the other places mentioned on this list.
Read More: Brasov Old Town Complete Guide
Bucharest is the capital of Romania and is found across the border, in southern Wallachia. If you’re currently in Brasov, there’s every chance you flew into Bucharest and made your way north. In which case, you know about Bucharest well enough. If you didn’t, however, then Bucharest is definitely a city worth visiting and exploring!
Bucharest is the largest city in Romania, and its two biggest draws are its fantastic cuisine and its enormous selection of architecture that spans hundreds of years and many different eras and styles. It’s also a great place to go shopping in Romania.
When you head from Brasov to Bucharest, there are a few things to do in Bucharest that you don’t want to miss seeing and doing. The biggest of which being a visit to the Palace of Parliament: an enormous building which holds the world record for heaviest building on Earth, due to it being almost entirely marble. Today it remains the house of the Romanian government, and it was originally built by order of Nicolae Ceausescu.
The other unmissable places in Bucharest can all be found in Old Town, including the National Museum of Romanian History, the Stavropoleos Monastery, and Carturesti Carusel – an enormous multi-storey bookshop in the heart of the city which hides a delightful bistro on its top floor.
For more unmissable things to do in Bucharest, check out our complete guide!
Getting from Brasov to Bucharest
Finding your way from Brasov to Bucharest is simple, cheap, and fast. All you need to do is hop on a train. You can book tickets online or at the station ticket booth. You just need to head from Brasov Train Station south to Bucharest, where you’ll alight at Gara de Nord Station. The total journey from Brasov to Bucharest takes two hours and you’ll see some incredible scenery along the way.
Pro tip: The train journey on the way from Brasov to Bucharest will probably also pass through Sinaia, which is a fantastic mountainous medieval town, and home to perhaps the most beautiful of Romanian castles: Peles Castle. So, on your way from Brasov to Bucharest, consider a stop along the way at Sinaia before continuing on to Bucharest.
Read More: 9 Things to Do in Bucharest
Rasnov Fortress (sometimes referred to as Rasnov Citadel) is one of the oft-overlooked Brasov day trips. It’s as quick and easy to get to from Brasov as Bran Castle is, and yet so many people ignore it. Don’t be like them! If you can get from Brasov to Bran Castle, you can also get to Rasnov Fortress. And if you’re visiting Bran Castle for its history and hilltop beauty, wait ‘til you see Rasnov Fortress!
When you first approach the town of Rasnov, a delightfully small and uniform town a short drive from Brasov, you’ll see the Rasnov fortress standing ominous and powerful atop the hill, overlooking the town. Honestly, despite it not being a castle, its size and stature overlooking the small town, framed by jagged mountains, gives it way more of an immersive Dracula vibe than even Bran Castle.
Rasnov Fortress was constructed way back in the 13th century and has remained so incredibly untouched to this day. The exception to that being a few houses inside the fortress which have been awkwardly modernised with red brick. This would be disappointing if the story behind it wasn’t so funny.
Decades ago, the fortress was bought by an Italian man who began renovating it by himself, in order to turn it into a hotel. He was quickly stopped when the local government realised what this meant for the site’s historic significance, and he was ordered to stop renovating and walk away. He only managed to do little enough damage to make for a funny story, while the rest of Rasnov Fortress remains perfectly untouched.
The historic significance of the fortress is one reason to visit; the other is the view of the surrounding area. The whole Brasov area is in an enormous valley that stretches for miles, encompasses several towns, including Rasnov, and is bordered on every side by sublime mountains. Rasnov Fortress is the ultimate place to get a view of all of that. In the autumn and spring months, you’re likely to get clear skies and snow-covered mountains. We visited in the dead of winter and the view was still utterly gorgeous.
Getting from Brasov to Rasnov Fortress
Just like with Bran Castle, Rasnov Fortress is a very short drive from Brasov, and you really do need a car to get there. So, either hire your own car for very cheap from Brasov or get a guide to take you in their own car.
Once you’ve gotten yourself from Brasov to Rasnov Fortress, you can pay for a lift at a ticket booth. The lift consists of a trailer being pulled by a tractor, which is a fairly unique experience in itself! If you’d rather just walk, it’s a short stroll but a very steep one.
Halfway up the hill to Rasnov Fortress, there’s also a Dino Park that’s made up of a small wilderness area filled with life-size dinosaur replicas – a perfect visit to tack onto your journey from Brasov to Rasnov Fortress, especially if you have children!
Parking tip: Recently, a car park has been installed which you have to pay for. But lining the outside of the car park is a long strip of empty space where you can just park for free. Do that.
Prejmer Fortified Church
One of the most beautifully unique and historically alluring Brasov day trips is Prejmer Fortified Church. Like Rasnov Fortress, it was constructed in the 13th century and remains almost untouched to this day. It’s hidden inside what at first seems like the unassuming and uninteresting town of Prejmer, a short drive from Brasov.
When it was initially constructed, Prejmer Fortified Church was a Catholic church, but like many in Romania, including Brasov’s infamous Black Church, it later became a Lutheran church. It was also built as a fortress within the town of Prejmer, complete with battlements and a barbican.
The fact that it has remained so beautifully untouched for more than 600 years means that exploring this fortified church truly is like stepping back in time. This isn’t a museum or a recreation; these are the same walls and ceilings that supported the people of Prejmer half a millennium ago!
The church at the centre of the fortification is a piece of outstanding beauty, but the surrounding barbican speaks of the place’s remarkable history. Here, you’ll be able to walk up the wooden staircases to peer into the rooms which were once occupied by members of the town. Each town member could purchase a numbered room in the barbican as a place to hide from any potential invaders.
Today, many of the ground floor rooms are filled with machinery from the medieval period: looms, ploughs, and other farming equipment. The rooms aren’t set up like a museum with velvet rope and plaques; instead they’re more like untouched storage sheds. There’s a real untouched authenticity to this place that works so well to make you feel like you have fallen through a portal into medieval Romania. Without question, and especially for history buffs, this is one of the best Brasov day trips you can take.
How to get from Brasov to Prejmer Fortified Church
Just like with Bran Castle and Rasnov Fortress, a car can easily get you from Brasov to Prejmer Fortified Church. It’s a short drive from Brasov, and the town is super quiet; easy to drive around. Simply park in the free carpark nearby and stroll over to the church. You can’t miss it; surrounded by brutalist 20th Century buildings, this medieval fortification certainly stands out!
The UNESCO World Heritage town of Sighisoara is one of the most astonishing and beautiful towns in all of Romania – not just in Transylvania. It’s also a deceptively simple, cheap, and quick day trip from Brasov. Beloved as not only the country’s best-preserved medieval town, but in fact the best-preserved medieval town in all of Europe.
In terms of history, Sighisoara was arguably put on the map by a similar fashion as Bran Castle: its affiliation with Dracula. However, unlike Bran Castle – which really has no concrete connection to Vlad Dracula whatsoever – Sighisoara was the true birthplace of Vlad the Impaler.
Although Vlad Dracula was the king of Wallachia – the southern province of Romania – he was born in Sighisoara, Transylvania, and lived in a house which is now a restaurant for the first four years of his life: Casa Vlad Dracul (the house of Vlad Dracul, father of Vlad Dracula). When you visit Sighisoara, you can eat at this restaurant and even visit the upstairs room in which Vlad Dracula/Vlad Tepes/Vlad the Impaler was born!
Sighisoara’s old town also has a few other unmissable sights to explore, including the city’s clock tower, which includes an interior museum and grants you an incredible 360-degree view of the city from the very top.
You can also enjoy the interactive Dracula Investigation, stroll up to the Evangelical Church on the Hill via the historic wooden covered walkway, and eat some delicious Transylvanian food at the Medieval Café Restaurant.
Sighisoara is one of the best Brasov day trips by virtue of being an entire town that can be fully explored, photographed, and admired in a single day. It’s a stunning medieval city filled with fun and interactive history and some of the sweetest, kindest people. Don’t forget to pick up a souvenir at the shop beneath Casa Vlad Dracul, which is filled with authentic, hand-made local arts and crafts.
Read More: A Guide to Sighisoara
Getting from Brasov to Sighisoara
The quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to get from Brasov to Sighisoara is by bus. CDI is a transport company that provides cheap local buses between Brasov and Sighisoara. You can book tickets directly from their website or just turn up at the bus station, which is outside Brasov Train Station, and buy a ticket from the driver.
It’s estimated for the bus to take 3 hours but ignore that. It’s actually around 1 hour 45 minutes, which makes a Brasov to Sighisoara day trip very easy and doable. We actually stayed there overnight, which is also a fun option, but you really don’t have to.