When you think about Romania, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is the tale of Dracula. The fictional character who sprang through the homonymous novel by Irish author, Bram Stoker, Dracula has been popularised by Hollywood movies and nowadays has become an urban legend.
Transylvania, the homeland of “Dracula” (associated with Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia also known as Vlad the Impaler) is one of the most famous parts of Romania offering great mountain views, impressive castles, historic medieval cities and little cute villages. From the impressive Peles castle to the beautiful town of Brasov, read on for a recommended 1-day itinerary in Transylvania!
1st stop: Peles Castle
After two hours of driving from Bucharest, you would reach Peles Castle (Romanian: Castelul Peleş), which is located at the foot of Bucegi Mountains, Prahova Valley.
Historically, Peles was built by Romania’s first King Carol I, between 1873 and 1914, with the intention of Peles Castle being the King’s summer residence. The area covers 3,200 square meters, has 170 rooms and 30 bathrooms. The Castle is surrounded by seven gardens with statues, wooden decorations and ornamental vases.
It is really impressive not only for its huge expanse, the beautiful garden that surrounds it or the elaborate architecture but also for its precious interior decoration and furnished rooms offering a mixture of styles. Its interiors have an exquisite display of European designs with murano crystal chandeliers in the shape of flower, leather frescos, porcelain decorations, stained-glass windows and ivory details.
The most impressive rooms of the castle are the Florentine Room, Moresque Room, the elegant French Room, the relaxed and cozy Turkish Room. Each room represents the country’s style. I should mention here the Big Armory Room, which showcases the King’s impressive weapon collection from all over the world!
Interestingly, Peles was a technologically advanced castle. In its inauguration in 1886, it was the first castle in the world that had electricity, central heating, elevator, moving glass roof for ventilation and an amazing cleaning system that simulates the current vacuum cleaner with a central mechanism of trash absorption!
The entrance to the castle costs 20 RON (~5 USD) for adults, 10 RON (~2.50 USD) for seniors and 5 RON (~1.20 USD) for students and it includes services of a guide. In case you want to take photos inside, there is an extra fee of 32 RON (~7.70 USD)
Bear in mind that the last entrance is at 16:15hr so you should be there at least at 15:00hr since the guided visit that they offer lasts about one hour.
2nd stop: Bran Castle
Next stop is Bran Castle, the castle of Dracula. It is just half an hour drive from Peles Castle. Much more simple and rugged, this castle dates back to the 13th century when it was built by the Teutonic order. Located on the border of Wallachia and Transylvania, the Castle was suffering from attacks all the time. Its narrow corridors, the low staircases and its complex construction allowed the Romanians to fight easily the enemy.
In the following years, the castle was used as a customs office due to its convenient location on the Silk Road, until it was taken by the royal family in 1920. It initially became the residence of Queen Mary and after her death it was given to her daughter, Princess Iliana. Bran Castle also functioned as a hospital during World War II and then came into the possession of the communist regime with the eviction of the royal family in 1948.
Although the locals insist that there is no connection of Bram Stoker’s novel with the castle or with the figure of Vlad III the Impaler, ruler of Wallachia, a whole floor is devoted to recounting the legend, showing the movies filmed based on this myth with an extended homage to Dracula.
Many people, lovers of vampires, come here every year to see Dracula’s Castle. Spooky events are frequent, especially during Halloween and special tours, shows and celebrations are organised following Bram Stoker’s character, Dracula. Check out the link at the end of article for a full listing of events happening in Transylvania.
The entrance to the castle costs 35 RON (~8.40 USD) for adults, 25 RON (~6 USD) for seniors and 20 RON (~5 USD) for students. No additional charge is required for photography. Admission is free for disabled persons.
Do note that the last admission during winter season (October-March) is at 16:00hr and during summertime (April-September) at 18:00 hr. The duration of the visit should take you more or less an hour.
3rd stop: Brasov
The beautiful Transylvanian city of Brasov is a must-see destination. Built at the foot of Mount Tampa, this picturesque city offers a great variety of shops, restaurants and a great walk on its pebbled streets. The main landmark of the city is the Council House (Casa Sfatului), which is located in Piaţa Sfatului. Don’t forget to visit the city’s Cathedral, Black Church just on the opposite side of Casa Sfatului. The Church which was built during the 13th and 14th century and was named “Black” after a fire in 1689.
The views of the snow-capped mountains that surround the village, the mist of cold and the castles create an almost frightening scene, perfectly matched with the myth of Transylvania. No, you need not fear that vampires will appear suddenly or bats flying all over the place .. but you’d think that if they once lived, they’d definitely be from here!
Transylvania, Dracula's land
There are several travel agencies that offer a trip across Transylvania, as it is very popular among tourists. One agency to consider is Travel Maker, whereby a private driver-guide will be arranged to join you on your tour. The excursion is one day long as the distances between attractions are not very close.
Wait no further! Discover the mythical land of Dracula Transylvania through a day-trip from Bucharest and explore the medieval cities, the impressive castles surrounded by great mountain view.
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