Brasov is a city truly at the heart of Romania, both in terms of geography and heritage. Brasov is a great place to make your base while you stay in Romania, its centrality means that you’re never too far away from some of the country’s best attractions and sight-seeing locations. Although there is a lot to see and do within the city’s limits, there are also many fantastic locations that are just a short drive away. Romania is a beautiful country with many towns and cities lacking the modern public transport connections of other more inter-connected countries. We’d heartily suggest hiring a car for the duration of your stay and getting out on the open road to explore Romania for yourself.
Zarnesti Libearty Bear Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is the brainchild of Cristina Lapis, a Romanian woman who was inspired to create the facility in 1998 after seeing caged bears outside of a restaurant to attract customers. The Sanctuary houses over 70 bears in a natural and luscious environment, allowing them to go about their natural lifestyle without intervention. The team there offer visitors the chance to see bears in their natural habitats, a beautiful sight to behold. The Sanctuary is roughly a 40 minutes drive from the centre of the city using the 73 and 73a roads.
One of the highlights of our Dracula Experience, Bran Castle is a magnificent structure completed towards the end of the 14th-century. Located in the famed region of Transylvania, Bran Castle is known as Dracula’s castle as it is the only one that fits Bram Stoker’s description. Having never actually visited the country, Stoker used a description of Bran Castle as the foundation for the home of his fictional character.
With a sunny backdrop, the castle looks almost dreamlike, whereas, with a background of cloud and rain, images of Dracula himself can easily be conjured. Bran Castle can be accessed by driving roughly 45 minutes south-west to the community of Bran. We also have a useful article that covers Transylvania, Dracula and the history behind the myth.
Rural Village of Viscri
Visiting Viscri is just as if you were stepping back in time. With its charming Saxon houses and cobbled streets, the village is a unique stopping point during your journey. Although the village is a fantastic attraction in of itself, with Prince Charles even owning a small guest house, the main attraction is undoubtedly the church.
Commanding the village from the hill stands the fortified church. A much-overlooked attraction, meaning that any visitors can likely enjoy a quiet stroll around the premises without the worry of crowds. Although Viscri is in a somewhat remote location, it can be accessed with just over an hour’s drive from Brasov and can make a good stopping point if you’re heading to Sighisoara.
Standing atop the town of Rasnov, the fortress is a monumental feat of medieval architecture. The location of the fortress is no accident, as it sits on the commercial route that linked the province of Transylvania with Wallachia. The fortress was designed as a place of longterm refuge for the locals, with houses, a school and a chapel, along with other buildings that more commonly would be found in a village. The fortress is also home to a museum that captures its history a showcases historical artefacts.
The town of Rasnov is roughly half an hour drive from Brasov which can be accessed using the main 73 road. Alternatively, you can drive the much more scenic 1E road which takes you on a more sheltered road with fantastic views, although the road surface may be slightly worse.
Prejmer Fortified Church
One of the finest examples of a fortified church in the whole of Romania, the Prejmer Church is protected by 40 feet high and 10-15 feet thick. Having been completed in 1225, the church was besieged 50 times and only ever captured once in 1611. The church was built with a secret passage that ran under the ground through which food and supplies could be transported. The wall also houses 272 rooms that were intended for families within the village in case of attack.
The church is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Romania, of which there are 25 in total. Considering the age and the history of the building, the site is in fantastic condition and is one of the best kept in the country.
Leading nicely from Viscri is the city of Sighisoara, a small location with roughly 30,000 population. That said, the city is relatively condensed so can feel busier than other locations of a similar size. One of the more popular tourist destinations is the walled old town, a well-persevered example of historical architecture from a bygone era.
The city is also known as the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler. To truly appreciate the city, it should be seen both during the day and during the night, as the many lights illuminate the skyline and its numerous historical monuments. The city can be reached using the 13 road, connecting to the E60 and takes just under two hours to drive from Brasov.
Inn on the Balaban
Having ventured to these numerous towns, cities and villages, why not escape the busy streets for something a little more relaxing? The Inn on the Balaban is a secluded and idyllic setting that offers authentic Transylvanian hospitality with a dramatic countryside backdrop. You can choose to either stay the night or pitch up for some delicious Romanian lunch and a walk along the many trails.
The inn can be accessed using the 73 road from Brasov and takes roughly one hour to drive. You can also make the most of your journey by heading out onto the Bucegi National Park and exploring the natural beauty that the park has to offer.
Poiana Brasov is the closest and perhaps one of the best ski resorts in the surrounding region, depending on the season of course. During winter, the snow-covered town opens its doors to both locals and visitors as it operates a full ski season, with fantastic slopes, beautiful chalets and unbelievable views across the hills. During the warmer months, the snow melts away, leaving an alpine style town that is idyllic for a day trip. It’s also possible to get an even better view of the area by heading out on horse rides, allowing you to explore the region without putting much strain on your legs.
Although slightly further afield, taking roughly two and a half hours to reach, the Ice Hotel is drivable from Brasov for a day trip, or an overnight stay. The drive will take you through the Romanian countryside, with views of rolling hills and dense forests, with the latter part of the journey showcasing the Transfagarasan, one of the most famed roads in the world.
The Ice Hotel is an experience like no other, with tables, chairs and even beds made of ice. Naturally, you’ll need to pack lots of warm clothing to make your stay comfortable, and as the hotel relies on cold weather, it is built fresh during the winter every year.
Our Romanian experience holidays allow you the opportunity to mix and match some of the best attractions and sight-seeing destinations in the country, why not check them out here? If you’re looking for more information before you head out to this beautiful country, why not check out our blog for other useful articles?