6 day itinerary for Romania and the Transylvanian region

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
6
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
6
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
6
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
7
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
65 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
Romania
Length of time
Around a week
Time of year visited
September
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
163rd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 50% SUMMARY RATING: Great Experience

Summary

Romania, and in particular Transylvania, conjures up images and feelings of some far off place . . . in the mountains . . . in the forests . . . with castles . . . kind of like Lord of the Rings, but with a spooky vibe . . . and indeed it is all of this.  And while there are not as much of a concentration of stellar attractions as you would get in Western Europe, that is kind of Romania’s charm and it makes for a great roadtrip for a week or so, with the itinerary below

highlights

#1 Driving the sensational "Best Road in the World" - the Transfagarasan Road crossing the Transylvanian Alps

#2 Getting that spooky Transylvanian vampire feel in the evenings

#3 Walking through the Sighisoara Citadel with its gorgeous pastel-coloured buildings, fortified walls, cobbled lanes and overlooked by its church on top of the hill

#4 Exploring Bran Castle and learning the non- Dracula history of the place

#5 Seeing the world’s largest Parliament building in Bucharest

#6 Driving the non-highway route from Sighisoara to Sibiu via Biertan as you pass by some of the lesser known old Saxon towns and with views of the brooding Transylvanian Alps

#7 Seeing some of the local wildlife up close as you drive through the Transylvanian mountains

#8 Wandering through the Historic Centre of Bucharest and seeing some of the beautiful old buildings

#9 Exploring the Fortified Church and village of UNESCO-listed Viscri. It felt incredibly real and you can easily imagine what it must have been like to try and defend it

#10 Being fortunate enough to be exploring an region where even your hotel room has 500+ year old murals

#11 Seeing the Poienari Citadel - the legitimate castle of Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula

The Route

#12 Visiting the stunning churches and monasteries in Curtea de Arges’ Princely Court

Rough itinerary

Day 1 A day in Bucharest.   The Old Town is worth wandering around and so is seeing the gargantuan Parliament building (the world’s largest), but Bucharest is really for flying into.  The highlights are in Transylvania
Day 2 – drive up the wonderful road from Bucharest to Brasov via Bran Castle which has gained fame as being “Dracula’s Castle”.  Then have a late afternoon / early evening to wander through the surprisingly pretty Old Town of Brasov, complete with views of the “Brasov” Hollywood sign, which is very odd.  Stay if you can in the lovely Vila Katharina
Day 3-4 – drive through the historic and remarkably well preserved Saxon Villages of Viscri and Biertan, and stay 2 nights in the highlight of them all – Sighisoara.  The area seems to be littered with UNESCO world heritage sites and make sure to drive through many of them as you venture off the highway and feel like you’re going a bit back in time.  For more details, see Driving through Transylvania’s Fortified Saxon villages and exploring Bran Castle
Day 5 Driving the Transfagarasan Highway of the Transylvanian Alps, the road labelled by Top Gear as the “best road in the world” offers stunning scenery of the nearby mountains and rolling hills where the Saxon towns are.  Take a day enjoying it and stopping to see the Poienari Citadel, the legitimate castle of Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula and a far more menacing location compared to Bran Castle, and Curtea de Arges’ Princely Court along the way
Day 6 – fly out from Bucharest

Travel Tips

Most of the tips are in the individual travel entries of A day in Bucharest, Driving through Transylvania’s Fortified Saxon villages and exploring Bran Castle and Driving the Transfagarasan Highway of the Transylvanian Alps, but I’ll list below some general tips for traveling in Romania:

  • For the above itinerary, you realistically need a car.  I think you could do it without one, but maybe not within 6 days and certainly not enjoying being able to nip to the small Saxon villages or driving the Transfagarasan.  We rented one from the Bucharest airport for the 6 days and came to USD700 with everything factored in
  • Romania is super cheap – for example far cheaper than nearby Hungary or the Balkan countries, so you could do the above itinerary far cheaper if you wanted to
  • The local people are super friendlythey really are wonderful once you break the often initially stern look and tone and typically just want to help, but they can often be a bit too eager to please.  I know this is kind of traveler 101 advice, but just be aware of the answer of “yes” to everything
  • Back in time – outside of Bucharest, many of the hotels, restaurants and general infrastructure is super dated.  As in think more along the lines of horses and cart.  This 100% adds to the experience, but just be aware
  • The itinerary is for September – which has warm spots but be prepared for it to get cold – it was 3 degrees Celsius / 37 Fahrenheit in our first morning in Brasov
  • Safety – you hear stories of petty crime in Romania, particularly in Bucharest and Brasov, but we had no problems at all.  People were super friendly throughout
  • Things we missed out on – one thing I think would have been cool to include in the above itinerary would have been the Salt Mines of Salina Turda.  Left for next time!
  • The driving route – took a total of around 11 hours of driving and you can see here in google maps the details of the route Google Maps Route Romania

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone