As you’ve probably gathered by now, we always try to squeeze our trips into weekends – and our Romanian break in November was a perfect example! For the sum of £58pp, we landed in Bucharest Airport at 1400h on a Saturday and had a flight back to the UK at 2230h the next day.
When landed in Bucharest you can book a taxi via touchscreens in the arrivals lobby, which makes for an easy passage into the old town – a 20 minute drive away. The Airbnb we stayed in was beautiful & in a great location for exploring the city! If you wish to check it out, here is the link.
We headed straight into the old town to grab some traditional Romanian food – which seems to consist of minced meat in everything!
It soon got dark and we didn’t really know what there was to see, so we paid £5 for a “Dracula” e-tour through Questo and decided to make a pub crawl of it – because there’s no shortage of bars in Bucharest! It was the first time we’ve used an e-tour and to be honest it was mostly a novelty, but definitely worth using if you don’t know where to start with wondering an unknown city.
I was delightfully surprised by the diversity of the cuisine in Bucharest, but I have to admit Bucharest old town wasn’t quite what I had pictured. It’s clearly going through a period of restoration right now, combined with an abundance of stag dos!
If you get the opportunity, head over to the Macca Vilacrosse in the evening. This yellow glass covered passage comes alive with Shisha bars during the evening and it is lovely to sit by fire pits in shelter of the cold outside.
We awoke early on the Sunday to catch the 0612h train from Bucureşti Nord to Braşov – which is the closest station to Bran Castle. The journey is nearly 4 hours long, but the train was comfortable enough and only £5 each!
If you’re returning to Bucharest, be sure to book your return journey as soon as possible. The trains towards Bucharest seemed to be selling out in the afternoon. Also, though the morning train wasn’t so popular, I’d suggest upgrading to 1st if possible for any afternoon journeys; as ours got a little uncomfortable on the way back!
From Braşov train station, we learned that the taxi drivers refuse to provide one-way trips to Bran Castle due to the traffic. We negotiated with a taxi driver to take us to all the places we wanted to see for approximately £60. This included his waiting time and valuable recommendations – it was well worth the cost considering a coach trip to see similar sights sells for about £60pp.
Bran Castle or “Dracula’s Castle” as it is otherwise known as, is Medieval castle which sits on the border of the Transylvania and Wallachia regions and once stood as a defence against the Ottoman Empire. The castle housed prominent figures in Hungarian and Romanian history – most notably Vlad the Impaler, who our modern idea of Dracula has been modelled on. We loved this building as it was like nothing we’ve ever seen before… I’ll let the photos talk for themselves!
Our next stop was the Râşnov Citadel – a 13th century fortress which defended local villages on the passage between Bran and Braşov. For us, the sun was hazy by this point in the day, and the fortress felt fairytale-like. There’s not much within the fortress as it is mostly historic ruins, but you get a great view of the beautiful Transylvanian countrywide!
Lastly, our taxi driver insisted that we explored Braşov a little more before heading back. He dropped us off in the Blumana district, near the Black Church. I can only describe Braşov as what I expected Bucharest to be like. Even it’s website claims to be one of the “best preserved old towns in Europe”, and it is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. Since coming back from this trip, I’ve actually recommended stays in Braşov rather than Bucharest. There’s plenty of restaurants and gorgeous buildings, everything I love about a holiday!
The three places we visited: Bran Castle, Râşnov and Braşov, provided a range of diverse architecture to feast our eyes on. Not to mention, the beautiful views of the Transylvanian landscape – look out for the Hollywood style signs within the hills, we found both Braşov and Râşnov! We loved these places and would 110% recommend to anyone travelling to Bucharest or the surrounding regions!