To truly experience the best of Transylvania, Romania, you must venture beyond 🧛🏻♂️ Dracula and feel the heart of this amazing off-the-beaten path destination by soaking in the culture, nature and wildlife.
If I could explain Transylvania in one word, it would be “exquisite hospitality”. It’s located in central Romania, surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains and littered with haystacks and wildflowers and excellent food.
It’s the strangest combination of new and old. You’re likely to be following both a BWM X5 and a horse drawn carriage when driving.
With its Gothic castles, medieval towns, and stunning natural landscapes, Transylvania is a destination that is both eerie and enchanting.
The UNESCO-listed Sighișoara Citadel, one of the most well-preserved medieval citadels in Europe, is located in Transylvania. The fortified city of Brasov, nestled in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, is perfect for wandering around within the city walls (my favorite earring shop in Europe is there).
This summer we planned a slow 10 days exploring the best of Transylvania with my kids and family friends and were mesmerized by the scenery and wildflowers.
It was a perfect trip, full of delicious food and amazing hospitality. In this no-bull guide to the best things to do in Transylvania Romania, I’ll share my top recommendations and insights.
Prefer video? Watch My Transylvania Youtube.
TL: DR: Best Things to do in Transylvania
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When to Visit Transylvania
May to Late October is Best
We went both in winter and in summer to Transylvania. I would recommend skipping the winter trip as the skiing is very gentle and best for smaller kids. In summer, however, the entire countryside has a carpet of wildflowers and sweet light.
The weather can be a tiny bit muggy and have thunder and rain storms but they usually pass quickly. Don’t forget, the currency in Romania is the Lei so you’ll have to convert cash for smaller places that don’t accept credit cards when you want to buy the perfect bowl of Ciorbă (soup).
What to Do and See in Transylvania
1. Hike the Via Transilvanica
It’s the new Camino de Santiago pilgrimage hike without the crowds and heat. We went hiking in Dracula’s country on the Via Transylvanica and it was the most social and girly of girly long distance paths full of wildflowers, haystacks, wild raspberries, with wicked nice hosts.
We flew into Cluj Airport and started in Bucovina. I highly recommend this bucketlist long distance path (1400km) that has a hand-carved unique 3 ft stone trail marker every km made by an artist at the Tășuleasa Social NGO.
We stayed in very nice pensions with double accommodation for about 20-30 euros per night…3 course dinner, massive breakfast and with the leftovers we made sandwiches and baggies of olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese and meat to take for sack lunches. Wine, palinka, fresh lemonade, coffee for drinks.
🔥 You truly do step back in time as the Via Transilvanica was built by an NGO with the intention to bring rural tourism to places forgotten. During hay season and the hay was being harvested by hand with a scythe, gathered onto a sled pulled by a horse and then lifted up to a woman standing on the top of hay pile hanging onto a tall wooden pole.
2. Duh – Dracula’s Castle
I know, I know it’s cliche. But if it’s your first time to Transylvania it’s worth a quick side trip to check out the world-famous gothic Dracula Castle. It’s otherwise known as Bran castle. There are abundant tours for this or you can drive if you’ve got a car.
|Click 👎🏻 to Book from:||🔥 Why It’s Awesome ⭐️|
|Brasov||Dive deep with Peles Castle, Bran Castle, Rasnov Fortress, Sinaia Monastery Tour|
|Bucharest||Full day guided tour with Peles and Bran Castle|
|Cluj||2 Full days exploring Transylvanian Castles|
|Brasov||A HELICOPTER RIDE!! For Super Ballers|
3. Best Carpathian Mountain Trek: Piatra Craiului
Piatra Craiului is a stunning mountain range located in the heart of Romania near Brasov, and is a favorite destination among hikers, climbers, and nature lovers. The name Piatra Craiului translates to “Prince’s Stone”, and it’s easy to see why – the jagged peaks and dramatic cliffs look like they were carved by a skilled sculptor.
One of the highlights of Piatra Craiului is the breathtaking views from the mountain summit. On a clear day, you can see for miles around, with rolling hills and lush valleys stretching out as far as the eye can see.
The mountain range is also home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including rare species such as the alpine ibex and the Eurasian lynx.
✅ Want to hike it? Book a two day trek complete with a guesthouse stay in the wild.
4. Epic Road Trip: Transfalgarasan Road
Let’s be real. All roads in Transylvania are windy. But none so much as the Transfagarasan Road. This stunning route winds its way over the Carpathian Mountains, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
From the towering peaks to the lush green valleys below, every turn on the Transfagarasan Road is a feast for the senses, or a test of nerves.
It’s a great reason to rent a car!
One of the highlights of this road trip is the famous Balea Lake, a glacial lake that sits at an altitude of 2,034 meters.
And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the local wildlife, including brown bears, wolves, and lynx. The Transfagarasan Road is truly a road like no other.
🚘 Book a full-day road tour to Transfalgarasan from Bucharest.
5. Swim in Balea Lake & Ride The Cable Car
After the Transfagarasan Road, you may need to settle the nerves with a dip in this stunning lake.
Balea Lake is a stunning glacial lake located in the Fagaras Mountains of Romania, and is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. It is surrounded by towering mountains, making it a popular spot for hiking, fishing, and camping.
You can also take a cable car to the top of the mountain for panoramic views of the surrounding area. There are also several restaurants and cafes in the area, serving up traditional Romanian cuisine and local specialties.
And for those who want to stay overnight, there are several guesthouses and cabins available for rent.
When the Cable Car at Balea Lake is Operational:
|June||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Monday-Friday)|
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Saturday-Sunday)
|July-August||8:00 AM – 7:00 PM (Daily)|
|September||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Monday-Friday)|
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Saturday-Sunday)
Please note that the cable car may be closed in case of bad weather or for maintenance. It’s always best to check with the local authorities or the cable car operator for the latest information before planning your visit.
6. Relax in Volcanic Hot Springs : Saint Ana Lake
Here’s the deal. Travel can be stressful and going to the hot springs is like the anti-dote to travel weary syndrome.
Saint Ana Lake is a stunning natural wonder located in the heart of Romania, and is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
The lake is situated in the Eastern Carpathians and is the only volcanic lake in the country. It’s easy to see why the lake is so popular – the crystal-clear waters and lush green forest surrounding it make for a truly magical experience.
✅ ❤️🔥 Book a relaxing guided tour to a volcano powered hot springs!!
7. Go Paragliding Over Brasov
Visiting Brasov should be at the very top of your list when considering what to do in Transylvania. Even better yet, why not go paragliding too!
The steep mountains that surround this gorgeous and highly walkable city and are perfect for taking flight.
🪂 Book a tandem flight over Brasov.
8. Ride Horses Across Transylvanian Fields
This ain’t no dude ranch, it’s riding horses through authentic Transylvania. With its vast open spaces, rolling hills, and stunning natural beauty, Transylvania is the perfect destination for horseback riding enthusiasts.
But what sets Transylvania apart is the sense of freedom that comes with riding through its picturesque countryside.
✅ Book a 3 hour horse riding experience with transfers and secret paths.
9. Go Bear Spotting – And to their Sanctuary
Let’s face it, Romania is famous for it’s wild bears. As one of the last places in Europe to have bears it is a bit of an exciting thought.
We didn’t see any bears during our long days on the trail, but we did see some tracks and poop! We saw plenty of cows, sheep, and wild dogs. Some we wanted to take home, others we kept our distance with no troubles – just waited for shepherds or owners to hear the barking as we approached and they calmed their dogs.
✅ Visit a bear sanctuary.
10. Marvel at Medieval Transylvania Architecture
The painted churches of Bucovina.
At the crossroads of many cultures, Romania’s architecture is unique. The fantastic wooden houses and painted churches along with the grand Gothic castles and Austiran looking fortresses make for a colorful landscape of architecture.
Hidden highlights include the fortified city of Sighisoara, which is home to a stunning citadel and a network of medieval towers and walls, and the fortified churches of the Carpathians, which are unique examples of the fusion of Gothic and Byzantine architecture.
✅ Book a 2 day history and architecture tour.
11. Turda Salt Mine Spelunking
Well it’s not exactly a wild caving experience, but a very cool one. Once you arrive at the salt mine, you’ll be able to purchase tickets for the tour.
The tour takes visitors through the mine’s underground galleries, which are filled with stunning salt formations, underground lakes, and even a Ferris wheel.
The mine also features several attractions, including a mini golf course, a bowling alley, and a spa. After the tour, you can stop by the on-site restaurant for a delicious meal or snack.
✅ Book a tour of the Turda Salt Mine and Gorge hike from Cluj.
12. Visit the Fortress of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula’s REAL castle?)
The actual castle of Vlad Teppish (Son of the Dragon) is disputed. He’s known to have impaled 50,000-100,000 people during his time.
The Fortress of Vlad the Impaler, also known as Poenari Castle, is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history and legends of Romania. This imposing fortress, perched on a cliff in the Carpathian Mountains, is steeped in legend and lore, and was once the stronghold of the infamous Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
To reach the fortress, visitors must climb over 1,000 stairs, which wind their way up the cliffside to the castle’s entrance. But the climb is well worth it, as the fortress offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
✅ Book a tour that includes a visit to Poenari Castle from Bucharest.
13. Track Wildlife Responsibly
We didn’t catch a viewing of non-farm animals when we were there…but this looks like something fierce.
Romania offers a ton of tours to help you learn to track wild animals. Beware: You’ll mostly be looking for poop.
✅ Book a responsible wildlife watching and tracking tour.
14. Climb Heights in Seven Ladders Canyon
This stunning canyon features a series of waterfalls and cascades, which visitors can climb using a series of ladders and bridges. As you climb higher and higher, the views become more and more breathtaking, with the surrounding forest and mountains stretching out as far as the eye can see.But the excitement doesn’t end there.
The Seven Ladders Canyon is also home to several caves and grottos, which visitors can explore as part of a guided tour.
✅ Book a Seven Ladder Canyon Tour.
15. Peek at the Opulence in Peles Castle
Peles Castle is a stunning example of Neo-Renaissance architecture located in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania.
This magnificent castle was built in the late 19th century as a summer residence for King Carol I, and is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Europe.Visitors to Peles Castle can explore its many rooms and halls, which are filled with exquisite artwork, antique furniture, and intricate wood carvings.
The castle also features several stunning courtyards and gardens, which are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a romantic picnic.One of the highlights of Peles Castle is the stunning Throne Room, which features a magnificent 4-ton chandelier and a collection of rare paintings and tapestries.
Another must-see attraction is the armory, which houses an impressive collection of medieval weapons and armor.
BONUS: Drink Palinca
Always drink Palinca in Transylvania. If you’re curious about how to drink palinka, read my full guide.
Planning your trip?
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Overall, Transylvania is a must-visit destination in Romania. With its stunning scenery, rich history, and colorful locals, it is the perfect place for an exciting vacation. I hope this guide filled with interesting information about the best things to do in Transylvania has given you the proper information to plan your next adventure.
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Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a physical therapist and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.