The word Transylvania conjures fanciful images of medieval red roofed villages nestled amongst densely forested mountains and turreted castles where fairytale creatures namely, Dracula lurk. Transylvania, a region in central Romania, turned out to be as stunning, but definitely less creepy than it was my imagination. With gorgeous scenery, easy day trips and direct access from the Bucharest airport, Transylvania is affordable, beautiful and easy to travel through, making it a fantastic destination that we would highly recommend, even if you only have a few days.
We stayed in the town of Brasov, smack dab in the heart of the Carpathian mountains for 5 nights using it as a base to explore the surrounding countryside. We flew into Bucharest with Romania's budget airline, Blue Air. From the airport we hopped on a shuttle directly to Brasov. Get the deets on that in our OTP- Brasov post! It was all easy and straight forward. With the limited time we had, we really wanted to 'sink our teeth' into Transylvania so Brasov was our only stop in Romania. It has, of course, now only left us thirsting for more!
I knew we were going to love Brasov the minute we got off the bus and crossed the street into the central, charming pedestrian area. Colourful and inviting, the cobblestone streets lead you on a delightful stroll past patios, restaurants and shops all while the glorious Hollywood-style Brasov sign hovers above, dominating the skyline atop of Mount Tampa.
Mt Tampa looms above Brasov beckoning to be climbed. The switchback hike to the top wasn’t as hard as it looked staring up at the Brasov sign from wayyyy down in Brasov’s main square. It was Sunday when we took on Mt.Tampa, and even though the town below was bustling with weekend visitors, the hike was peaceful and not crowded. Whatever sweat you donate to the cause on the trek up is totally worth the view. If you disagree, fear not - there’s a cable car for wimps.
Brasov has an awesome free walking tour which we highly recommend. The tour hit up all the town’s highlights and our charismatic guide Simona enlightened us with history, stories and jokes while we took in Brasov’s fascinating past. Check out their website for when the tours run!
In addition to strolling between different patios (in which we invested the majority of our time), another great place to stretch your legs in Brasov is the path between the Black Tower and White Tower that are on the hillside at the edge of the pedestrian area. Climb the towers for great views down over the impressive Black Church, main square and red roofed buildings.
Assuming all that walking has made you hungry head to La Ceaun (which was recommended by almost everyone) for yummy traditional Romanian food and local beer food. The prices are reasonable and both of their locations are super atmospheric with huge patios, comfortable chairs and over-sized umbrellas.
For great deals on food dine at Berăria Ciucaș, a brewery with very boring beer, but a huge food menu. There is no English menu, so make sure you download Romanian in the Google Translate app. That allows you to hold your phone over the menu while it automatically translates your options into English for you. Its amazing. This is definitely the cheapest restaurant we found to eat at in Brasov. We ate here more than once.
If you’re looking for delicious Italian in an adorable setting try Trattoria Artisinal.
Moving on from one favourite thing to another…Patios! We love patios. We love patios that serve beer even more. Thankfully Brasov has no shortage of such establishments. Tipograpia was one our our favourites, along with Seven Pots. Bibliotheque Pub was quirky and fun as well. Zaganu beer is an award winning Romanian craft beer. We tried as many varieties that we could get our hands on. Silva is another beer you’ll see around Brasov. We liked the Romanian Pale Ale best of the Silva beers.
If you’re more in to coffee than beer- Brasov has you covered. Tipograpia, mentioned above, has a good cafe menu. They have inside and outside seating. On our last morning in Braov before heading to the airport it was raining. We ducked in to Kafe Pub for a latte. What a delightful surprise. Inside the eclectic cafe was a brick wall covered from floor to ceiling with book shelves, cozy seats, warm lighting and a kitchy array of do-dads. It was adorable, and the latter delicious.
And, finally, dessert. Gelato Mania came highly recommened by Simona (our tour guide of the Free Walking Tour) and it was delcious! There was a line up down the street almost every night at the tiny gelato shop. After trying the Belgian-Chocolate and Mint-Lime-Basil flavours- its not hard to see why. This gelato is totally worth the wait.
Stay tuned for our Day Trips from Basov post coming soon!
Where we stayed: Jugendstube Hostel. We had a private room and ensuite in a building across the driveway from the main hostel. The kitchen in our room was stocked with breakfast supplies, a 2 burner stove and minifridge. Staff was friendly and helpful and the hostel was perfectly situated. We would stay here again for sure.
Tips: Bus#4 for autogara 1, #41 autogara 2