“When in Romania, you’ve got to visit Brasov”
We did a bit of research once we touched down in Bucharest about where to explore and we kept reading about a quaint little city called Brasov, which is located in the heart of Transylvania.
It’s a three-hour train ride away from Bucharest and is without a doubt a stunning city by all accounts.
We arrived with the intention of visiting bran castle which was made famous by Bram Stoker in the movie “Dracula”!
A medieval marvel
Brasov is one of those cities that we’d love to return to again. It has a gothic, medieval feel to it and is surrounded by renaissance structures all around the city.
It was starting to snow when we arrived so a white blanket was visible everywhere – it was a little magical at times, as well as absolutely freezing!
Brasov became very important for the trade industry and by 1960, it was the second largest city in Transylvania.
One thing you’ll notice is the big “Brasov” Hollywood sign on top of mount Tampa. It’s possible to catch a cable car and climb up 3000 feet to reach the top. From here you’ll get a birds eye view of the city.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to do this as the weather made visibility too bad, or we were doing something else.
Next time though…..
As I mentioned earlier, we wanted to visit bran castle which is about 30km outside of Brasov.
This is one of the three castles in the area that attracts tourists. The other two castles are Rasnov and Peles.
We didn’t visit the other two, as we just wanted to gain an insight into the legend of Dracula.
We stayed in a little guesthouse which was about 3km from the town square. The cost per night was €25 for a double room and it had a cool little skylight view of a part of the city. We had a little trouble finding our guesthouse initially but with the help of google maps, we eventually found it tucked away up a pretty steep hill!
Things to do and see in Brasov
Apart from the big Hollywood “Brasov” sign overlooking the city, the Black church is the other most recognisable attraction.
1. The Black church
This thing is a monster of a building. It took 100 years to completely finish building and is supposed to be the biggest gothic cathedral between Vienna and Istanbul.
The black church got its name back in 1689 when the Austrian army caused a massive fire in the city that pretty much engulfed everything inside the church.
2. Free walking tour
We’ve always said that if you can go on one of these walking tours when you come into a new city, then you definitely should.
They are a fantastic way to get introduced to the city, find out some interesting snippets of local history and facts, ask some questions and meet other people.
We did the walking tour with Brasov Walkabout free tours and really enjoyed finding out about the city and its history. It was so cold and snowing pretty hard that the last half hour of the walk had to be cancelled as the viewpoint we had planned to go to would have been pointless as visibility was so bad.
The walking tour starts at Piata Sfatului at 10am every day and lasts about 2.5 hours. These times may vary depending on the time of year you visit, so make sure you check with their facebook above beforehand.
Over the past few years travelling, we’ve done dozens of these walking tours in various cities around the world.
3. First school in Romania
This can be seen in the Schei area and you’ll also find St. Nicholas’ church there as well beside it. The school consists of two-rooms and one of the rooms has details about the first printing press from the 16th century.
4. Town Museum
This is situated in the town hall in piata Sfatului and has relics from the stone age up through the centuries. There is a very detailed timeline of Brasov which gives visitors a nice breakdown of things.
5. Brasov Hollywood sign
As I said already, we didn’t get the opportunity to do this, but the view would be spectacular. You can take a cable car which we think costs about €8 for a return trip (open to correction on that), or you can just hike up yourself – which takes about an hour or so.
6. Narrowest street in Europe
Known as rope street, this is only four foot wide and is rumoured to be the narrowest street in Europe (based on technicalities). Apart from a few photos, there’s nothing else to see there.
7. Bran Castle
Situated about 30km away from Brasov, this is known as “Dracula’s castle”, even though there’s very little to actually link the castle to Vlad Tepes (Dracula was based on this guy).
The castle itself is pretty spooky looking and well worth a visit. There’s a dedicated room to the legend of Dracula in it.
Get to the castle early in the morning if you’d like to avoid heavy crowds. At this time of year however, there were very few tourists visiting the castle, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves!
There’s a bear sanctuary about 40 minutes away from the city, which we only found out about on our last day. If we’d done our research a little better beforehand, we’d definitely have gone to visit that.
One of the best things to do in Brasov is to just wander aimlessly around the town center.
With an abundance of cafes, shops and restaurants to check out, it would be a great way to pass a few hours.
We find ourselves doing this in a lot of cities as we love working on our laptops in cafes as we travel.
Internet and cost of living
Like everywhere in Romania, the internet is just fantastic. We initially got ourselves a local Vodafone sim with a data plan so that we could have mobile internet.
However, looking back, we actually didn’t need it (apart from when we needed to find our guesthouse on google maps).
Free Wi-Fi is everywhere and for 95% of the time, it’s an open connection, meaning you don’t need a password. So you can stand outside most cafes or restaurants and check your email on the go or whatever.
Cost of living is very cheap here, and the prices are even lower than Bucharest for a lot of things. You can get a decent apartment in Brasov for about €300 a month we were told.
Food and drink is very reasonable and we loved sampling some local cuisine while in Brasov.
We’d definitely love to come back at some point, maybe with a bunch of friends as it seems like a perfect weekend getaway retreat.