15 Remarkable Things to do in Transylvania, Romania
Transylvania, the most famous of Romania’s three provinces, is a wide wonderland of historic castles, medieval towns, and delicious local food. There’s a lot to explore, and a lot to take your breath away. These are the fifteen most exciting things to do and places to visit in Transylvania.
15 things to do in Transylvania
Visit Bran Castle
Bran Castle is at the very top of everyone’s list of must-see places to visit in Transylvania, and for good reason! This historic castle has stood since the 13th Century, was occupied by Romania’s most beloved queen, Queen Marie, and is tightly woven into the mythology of Count Dracula.
It’s a stunning castle that sits proud atop of a jutting rock and overlooks the invisible border between the provinces of Transylvania and Wallachia. Inside you’ll find a museum of antique furniture owned by Queen Marie, and outside the castle stands beautiful and picturesque like a gothic beast, captivating and daunting.
Explore Rasnov Fortress
Rasnov Fortress is, like Bran Castle, a structure that dates all the way back to the 13th Century. Unlike Bran Castle, however, which saw constant renovation over the centuries and was lived in by a queen as recently as a hundred years ago, Rasnov Fortress has remained an untouched sample of medieval history for centuries.
It’s a ruin, technically, but one that has remained in perfect condition. Rasnov Fortress also provides some of the best views in all of Transylvania. The view from the fortress stretches out for miles and miles across the surrounding towns and flat plains, and is one of the most beautiful sights in the province.
Climb up to the Brasov Sign
Brasov, the central city of Transylvania, is one of the most dynamic and exciting cities to explore in Romania, and what really makes it unique is a Hollywood-style sign that sits on the side of a mountain which can be found within the city limits. This sign is even lit up at night! You can take beautiful day and night shots of the sign, or take a cable car up there during daylight hours (9-5) and hike across to the sign to take in the view of Brasov from there. The view of the sign and the view of the town from the sign are both essential and beautiful in their own way.
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Sarmale is the official national dish of Romania, and has been a cherished dish in Transylvania for centuries. You can find it at every local restaurant in Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, and Sighișoara. Sarmale are, quite simply, cabbage rolls. Cabbage is wrapped around pork meat and a variety of spices, including garlic (Romanians really love garlic) and it’s all baked together. You can eat sarmale with sour cream or on its own. It’s a hearty dish that’s full of nutrients but also delightfully indulgent and a must-try Transylvanian dish.
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Known as mici in Wallachia, mititei is a local Romanian delicacy that’s popularly eaten in restaurants all across Romania. Mititei is somewhere between a sausage and a pork burger. The story goes that a chef in the 19th Century one day ran out of skin for his sausages, so he just grilled some pork meat in a rough sausage shape and hoped his customers would enjoy it. And they really do; so much so that it became a national delicacy. The proper way to eat mititei is with a very generous helping of mustard to dip each bite in, which almost every restaurant will certainly provide.
Visit Prejmer Fortified Church
In a small town just outside of Brasov – a town that is largely unremarkable – there hides an incredible secret, and one of the most incredible places to visit in Transylvania: an untouched medieval fortified church. Prejmer church itself can’t be seen from the outside.
Head in through the front gate, beneath enormous fortress walls and under medieval battlements, and you’ll come to an inner courtyard in which a huge, untouched church stands in all its majestic glory. The fortifications can be fully explored, and were onced used as sanctuary to protect citizens from attack. Today it is a museum that has remained completely untouched since the medieval period.
See the House where Dracula Was Born
In the heart of UNESCO World Heritage town of Sighisoara, found halfway between Brasov and Cluj-Napoca, you can find the still standing house where Vlad the Impaler (the man who inspired the vampire myth) was born.
While the downstairs is a gift shop and the first floor is a local restaurant, the exact room in which Vlad Tepes was born can be accessed with a ticket as you enter the restaurant area. This was the house of Dracula’s father, Vlad Dracul, and is where Vlad the Impaler spent the first four years of his life.
Climb the Sighișoara Belltower
While you’re in Sighisoara, right next to the birthplace of Vlad Draculas is a beautiful belltower which overlooks the entire old town and beyond. Pay a small fee and you can climb the belltower to the very top in order to secure one of the best photo opportunities in all of Sighisoara.
Inside the tower is also a small museum which the price of your ticket also covers. With all the beauty that Sighisoara offers, seeing it all from the belltower is vital.
Visit the Church on the Hill in Sighisoara
Sighisoara is easily one of the best places to visit in Transylvania for how untouched it is. History has been very kind to this town, and one of the coolest places in Sighisoara is the church on the hill. Stroll through the central old town, past the belltower and the birthplace of Dracula, and you’ll come to a long wooden covered walkway.
This leads up to a church that stands on a hill, the highest point in the city and a beautiful building to explore. The church itself is captivating, but the view from the hill is also fantastic and gives you a whole new perspective of this UNESCO Transylvanian town.
See the Black Church
In Brasov there exists one of the most famous buildings in all of Romania: the legendary black church. Heavily burned by a deadly fire which killed a third of Brasov’s population, and which occurred only a few years after the Great Fire of London, the church now carries the official name of The Black Church.
While photography is forbidden inside, it is nonetheless worth exploring for a painting of the Virgin Mary which survived the fire. Legend says that the dress she wore in the painting was originally blue, but was turned black by the fire and represents a mourning for the lives lost in the fire.
Enjoy the Brasov Coffee Scene
Brasov town is a great place to shop, enjoy local foods like sarmale and mititei, but it’s also a place with a really great coffee scene. There are so many unique cafes and coffee shops to enjoy, as well as late-night bars that serve delicious coffee if you’d rather that over a glass of wine.
Local coffee shops like Kafe Pub, The Pharmacy Cafe, Coffeol, and L’etage are all unique and delightful places to relax with a good coffee and while away an evening after a busy day exploring the city.
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Papanasi is to desserts what mititei is to savoury meals. It is the one absolute must-try dessert in Transylvania. Papanasi is sugary sweet indulgence in its purest form. Order it and what you’ll receive is a large fried lump of doughnut, another smaller doughnut placed on top, and the entire thing then drizzled with sour cream and blueberry jam.
It is soft and crunchy at the same time, sweet and bitter all at once, and a truly delightful delicacy.
Visit Peles Castle
Peles Castle is a relatively new castle in Romania, built in the late 19th Century. It was built in a neo-renaissance style and is perhaps the most aesthetically beautiful fairy tale castle in Transylvania. In terms of outstanding beauty and photo opportunities, there is no better castle to explore in Romania, making this one of the best places to visit in Transylvania.
Visit the National Museum of Art
Found in the unofficial capital of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca, the National Museum of Art is a beautiful building and a celebration of the great art that has defined Transylvania, and Romania as a whole, for centuries. It is the best place to discover the art and culture heritage of this incredible country. The galleries feature both historic pieces of art – both paintings and sculptures – as well as celebrations of contemporary Romanian art.
Explore Salina Turda Salt Mine
Salina Turda is a true hidden gem and easily one of the most unmissable places to visit in Transylvania. It is a daunting and huge salt mine in Turda that has been in use for a thousand years! Today it can be explored as an exciting tourist attraction but it also serves as a halotherapy wellness centre. When you visit, feel free to explore the mine at your leisure or indulge in some halotherapy.
When visiting Romania, make sure you have travel insurance! I highly recommend SafetyWing, which starts at $37 a month!
Other articles you will love:
- How to Get from Bucharest to Transylvania + the best stops!
- Traditional Romanian Food: 14 Must-try Dishes!
- 7 Castles in Transylvania That Will Blow your Mind
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