Located in the famous Transylvania region of Romania, the city of Brasov is one of the country’s most popular spots. The city is easy to reach from Bucharest, making it the logical next stop once you’ve explored the country’s capital. There are a number of great things go do and see in Brasov County, both in the city and the surrounding areas. Particularly impressive spots are Mount Tampa, which offers brilliant views over the city, and the towering Black Church. Visitors to the city are spoilt in terms of options for day trips, with some of the best spots being Peles Castle, the Libearty Bear Sanctuary and Bran Castle – often referred to as Dracula’s Castle. After visiting the city in late 2018, we’ve come up with a list of the best places to see and things to do in Brasov!
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Things to do in Brasov
Walking tour – One of the best things to do in Brasov is take a free walking tour of the city with Walkabout tours. These walking tours are extremely informative, giving an insight into the history of Brasov whilst visiting some of the most important spots in the city. Tours start next to the fountain in Piata Sfatului (Council Square) at 3pm every day. Booking isn’t necessary, so you can simply turn up on the day and enjoy the tour.
Council Square – The Council Square, known as Piata Sfatului in Romanian, is one of the most pleasant spots in the historic centre of Brasov. It’s one of the most significant places in the Old Town as it was the heart of the city during the medieval period. Piata Sfatului is surrounded by lovely pastel-coloured buildings, with the former Council House being the main focal point in the centre of the square. The square was previously used for public punishment and humiliation but thankfully nowadays is a lot more civilised. There are a number of cafes with terraces around the square, which make for perfect places to sit and take it all in.
Mount Tampa – Visiting Mount Tampa is one of the best things to do in Brasov. The mountain stands 960 metres tall and offers brilliant views of the city from the top. Mount Tampa is instantly recognisable from around the city thanks to the Hollywood-style Brasov sign that can be seen at the top of the mountain.
You can get to the top either by walking or taking a cable car. There are a number of different walking trails leading through the forest to the top of the mountain. The advantage of hiking up is that you get the chance to enjoy the beautiful nature and potentially even encounter wildlife – with bears, lynxes and much more found in the area. In total it should take around an hour to hike to the top.
The Brasov Cable Car to the top of Mount Tampa costs 10 Lei one-way or 18 Lei for a round-trip. During the winter months the cable car is only open on weekends, whereas it is generally open every day in the summer. The only exception to this is on Mondays when regular inspection and maintenance work often mean the cable car isn’t running.
Libearty bear sanctuary – One of the highlights of our trip to Romania was visiting the Libearty Bear Sanctuary. The sanctuary does amazing work rescuing and rehabilitating some of Romania’s mistreated brown bears. They have over 100 bears that have come from a variety of awful situations. Some were made to perform in circus shows whereas others were kept in small cages in restaurants for entertainment. Visiting the sanctuary allows you to see first-hand the incredible work they do to give the bears a better life. Brown bears can usually only live up to 20-25 years in the wild, but one of the bears at the sanctuary lived until he was 42 – a testament to the incredible work done there.
Unfortunately due to their sad backgrounds most of the bears at the sanctuary wouldn’t survive if they were released into the wild. Instead, the sanctuary provides them with a safe home and guaranteed food. The sanctuary covers 70 hectares of forest, meaning the enclosures are spacious and replicate the bears natural habitat. There are a number of bears in each enclosure, giving them the chance to interact with other bears if they wish. Bears at the sanctuary are neutered as they believe it wouldn’t be fair for bears to be born there without the chance of being released into the wild. The sanctuary instead aims to provide the best possible life for bears that have been mistreated.
The cost to the sanctuary of looking after one bear for a year is around 6,000 Euros. Considering the sanctuary has over 100 bears, then the yearly cost of the whole operation is in excess of 600,000 Euros. You can help contribute towards this cost by either taking a tour of the sanctuary or making a donation.
The Libearty Bear Sanctuary run tours in both Romanian and English, with tickets costing 55 Lei on weekdays (except Mondays when the sanctuary is closed to the public) or 65 Lei at the weekend. There is also a fee of 50 Lei if you want to use a camera, although it is free to use the camera on your mobile phone. From May 2019 both Romanian and English tours will operate 3 times a day – at 9am, 10am and 11am. Tours give you the chance to see the bears in their enclosures, as well as learn about the incredible work the sanctuary does. The tours do involve a fair bit of walking on a relatively steep path, so unfortunately they aren’t the most suitable for anyone with mobility issues. Bears at the sanctuary tend not to hibernate as they have a regular supply of food, meaning you should be able to see them whatever time of year you visit. The sanctuary is busier during the summer months, so make sure to book in advance if you plan to visit then!
The Libearty Bear Sanctuary is located close to the small town of Zarensti, around a 45 minute drive from Brasov. The last 2 kilometres are on an unpaved road with lots of potholes, but if you take it slowly you will be fine driving any car along it. As animal lovers, we really cannot recommend this place enough!
Poarta Ecaterinei – Known as Catherine’s Gate in English, Poarta Ecaterinei is the only gate in Brasov to have survived from medieval times. The gate was built in 1559 for defensive reasons after a previous gate had been destroyed by a flood. Romanians were only allowed to enter the city through this gate and were required to pay a toll when entering. The impressive architecture of Catherine’s Gate makes it one of the best places to visit in Brasov.
Peles castle – Peles Castle is one of the most amazing castles in Romania, making it a perfect day trip destination from Brasov. The castle is undeniably an architectural masterpiece, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. Its location amongst the wonderful nature of the Carpathian Mountains only adds to its beauty. Finding the words to do this place justice is hard, so make sure to visit during your time in Brasov.
Unfortunately when we visited we were unable to go inside the castle as it was being renovated, but it’s so beautiful that even just seeing it from the outside was worth the trip! The inside of the castle is closed every Monday, as well as every Tuesday during the winter schedule. Click here to see the opening times and admission prices at Peles Castle – although you may need to translate the website as it’s in Romanian. The easiest way to visit Peles Castle from Brasov is to drive, as it’s just an hour away by car.
Graft Bastion – The Graft Bastion is part of the defensive fortification of Brasov. It was built during the 16th Century to connect the main city walls to the White Tower. The Graft Bastion is located on Strada Dupa Ziduri, which translates as ‘the street behind the walls’. It’s a nice place to go for a stroll to admire this impressive fortification before making your way up to the White & Black Towers.
White & Black Towers – Brasov is home to 2 small watchtowers, the White Tower and the Black Tower, both of which were originally built late in the 15th century. Despite the names, both towers are in fact white. The Black Tower was given its name after its walls were blackened in a fire during the 16th century. Both towers have been renovated in recent years and so the Black Tower no longer lives up to its name. The towers are just 250 metres away from each other and can be accessed by a short but steep walk. It’s well worth the effort as you get great views of Mount Tampa, the Black Church and the Old Town of Brasov, particularly from the Black Tower.
Bran Castle – Often referred to as Dracula’s Castle, Bran Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Romania. Although the castle is best known for its associations with Dracula, there is little to suggest any real connection between the two. Bram Stoker’s character of Dracula was loosely inspired by Romanian prince Vlad the Impaler. According to some stories Vlad either attacked the castle or was imprisoned there once. Most historians, however, believe that there is no connection between Vlad the Impaler and Bran Castle. Bram Stoker himself never visited Transylvania, so would not have been aware of the castle’s existence.
Regardless of this, Bran Castle is a popular day trip from Brasov. Entrance to Bran Castle costs 40 Lei, which is relatively expensive compared to other attractions in Romania. The inside of the castle is underwhelming as many of the rooms are fairly empty. As the castle has no real connection with Dracula the majority of information relates to the members of the royal family that resided there.
Fortunately the castle is more impressive from the outside due to its gothic architecture. There is a field nearby that provides good views of the castle. As the inside is not that impressive, we’d recommend skipping it and simply heading to the field for the view. The field is outside of the castle grounds, so you don’t have to pay the 40 Lei entrance fee to get these views. Although it’s not the most impressive castle we visited in Romania, it’s still worth at least seeing from the outside if you’re visiting Brasov.
It takes around 30 minutes to drive to Bran Castle from Brasov. Parking isn’t available at the castle itself, but there are a number of car parks nearby that charge around 6 Lei per hour. Like many attractions in Romania, opening hours vary depending on the time of year that you visit. Click here to see up to date opening hours for Bran Castle.
Strada Sforii – One of the more unusual things to do in Brasov is visit Strada Sforii, also known as Rope Street. It’s one of the narrowest streets in Europe, just 44 inches wide at its smallest point. Although it isn’t a stereotypical attraction, it’s worth a quick visit as you wander around the streets of the Old Town.
Black Church – One of the most distinct landmarks in Brasov is the impressive gothic-style Black Church. Known as Biserica Neagră in Romanian, construction of the church began late in the 14th century – meaning it’s over 600 years old. In 1689 the great fire of Brasov damaged the church badly, leaving its walls severely blackened. Its new appearance led to it being renamed the Black Church, having originally been known as the Church of St Mary. Standing at 65 metres tall, the church can be seen from a number of viewpoints across the city. The imposing appearance and gothic exterior make it a must see in Brasov. As of 2019, entrance tickets to the Black Church cost 10 Lei, but make sure to check out the opening times before you visit as they change throughout the year. Click here to check out the opening hours of the Black Church for your trip.
Schei District – The Schei quarter is an area of historical importance in Brasov. Due to Saxon rule, Romanians were not allowed to live within the city walls between the 13th and 17th centuries. This led to the Romanians settling in what is known as the Schei district. It’s well worth wandering through the pleasant streets of this district during your time in Brasov. The most notable sight in the area is the St. Nicholas Church, which is a beautiful combination of the Gothic, Baroque, and Byzantine architectural styles.
How to get to Brasov
The easiest way to get to Brasov is by car. It’s relatively easy to reach from most places in Romania due to the city’s location in the centre of the country. We recommend flying into Bucharest and making your way to Brasov from there. It takes around 2 and a half hours to drive from Bucharest airport to Brasov, or just under 3 hours if you’re coming from Bucharest city centre.
Renting a car in Romania is extremely affordable and is also a very convenient way to get around. Some of the country’s main tourist attractions are outside of Brasov city centre, so renting a car makes it much easier to visit these spots. During our trip to Romania in November 2018 we paid just 130 Lei (approx $31 USD) to rent a car for 2 weeks. That works out at just over $2 a day! Although this is partly because we visited outside the main tourist season, it’s still possible find great deals for renting a car throughout the year.
We recommend booking through RentalCars to get the best possible deal for your trip. In our experience it was a lot cheaper to rent a car from Bucharest airport than from the city centre, so make sure to check out the prices at both before booking. Click here to check out amazing car rental deals for your trip to Romania on the RentalCars website!
If you do rent a car it’s best to avoid travelling between cities on weekends or public holidays. The roads can get extremely busy on these days which means journeys will take a lot longer, so it’s worth planning ahead to avoid this.
As Romania has good transportation links, it’s also possible to use public transport to get to Brasov. Trains and buses run to the city from around the country, with prices varying depending on where you are coming from.
It’s best to book train tickets in advance where possible to make sure you can travel when it’s convenient for you. Click here to buy tickets and find up to date train times to Brasov from anywhere in Romania. The train station in Brasov is around 2 kilometres from the city centre, but there are regular buses from the station into the centre.
A number of operators run buses between Bucharest and Brasov, as well as other cities in Romania. Click here to check schedules or book a bus to Brasov from a number of cities in both Romania and Europe!
Getting around Brasov
Assuming you’re staying near the Old Town, the main sights in Brasov are within walking distance of each other. As a result transport isn’t really necessary. If you do need to get between places in the city and don’t want to walk then taxis are relatively cheap in Romania.
To visit places like Bran Castle, Peles Castle and the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, the best option is to drive yourself. As we’ve already mentioned car rental prices are very reasonable in Romania, and you will end up saving money by driving yourself instead of paying for an organised tour.
Best time to visit Brasov
Brasov is a nice city to visit all year round, so deciding when is best for you to visit is dependent on what you’re looking for. If you simply want the warmest weather, visit during the summer months. Alternatively, if you’re ok with the colder weather then Brasov is pleasant to visit during winter. During December Brasov is home to one of the best Christmas markets in Romania. Both Mount Tampa and the city are a wonderful sight when covered in snow, although there is no guarantee of snowfall during your trip.
If you’re a wildlife lover then consider visiting Brasov between April and October. At this time of year it’s possible to spot Brown Bears in the wild. Bear watching tours run daily from Brasov to give you the best chance of seeing these magnificent creatures. Unfortunately it’s impossible to guarantee sightings, but if you get lucky it’s a truly incredible experience that you won’t forget. Click here to book a bear watching tour for your trip to Brasov!
Where to stay in Brasov
If you’re looking for budget accommodation close to Brasov Old Town then this check out the Sforii Residence. The apartment’s central location is ideal for exploring the historical centre of the city. If you’re planning to cook to save money then it’s a great option as the apartment has a fully equipped kitchen so you won’t have to rely on finding a cheap restaurant! Prices for the apartment start at 117 Lei ($28 USD) per night.
Vila 10 is another great budget option close to the historical centre of Brasov. The staff are very friendly and the accommodation is great value considering the excellent location and cheap price! Rooms start from just 140 Lei ($33 USD) per night.
Residence Hirscher is a brilliant choice if you’re looking for a comfortable stay in Brasov. Rooms are spacious and equipped with heating, which is especially important during the colder winter months. The location really couldn’t be better, making it great value considering how reasonably priced it is. Rooms at the property start from 234 Lei ($56 USD) per night.
Arce Boutique Hotel
The Arce Boutique Hotel is another brilliant accommodation option in Brasov. Located at the foot of Mount Tampa, the property is just a few minutes walk from the heart of the Old Town. As a result, there are a number of restaurants within walking distance. The property has large, comfortable rooms, perfect for relaxing after a long day exploring the city. Rooms at the hotel start from 260 Lei ($62 USD) per night.
Kronwell Brasov Hotel
If you’re looking for luxury, the Kronwell Brasov Hotel is a great option. The hotel has the advantage of having a swimming pool and restaurant on site. Rooms are spacious and are fitted with both air conditioning and heating for your comfort. The hotel is located nearby to Brasov train station, which means it’s a short 5-10 minute taxi ride away from the Old Town. Rooms at the hotel start from 550 Lei ($130 USD) per night.
Cosmopolit Booking is a great option if you’re looking for your own apartment during your time in Brasov. They have a number of different comfortable and stylish apartments available – perfect if you’re looking for your own space. The apartments are located around 2 kilometres from the Old Town, but taxis are inexpensive if you don’t fancy the walk! In peak season apartments start from around 426 Lei ($101 USD) per night, but during the winter months can be found for as little as 231 Lei ($55 USD) per night.
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