The Ultimate Travel Guide to Transylvania - What do to in Transylvania in 2023

Exploring Romania is a choice you will never regret making! This country should be on the top of your travel list with its mix of spectacular nature, unique architecture, medieval cities, history, delicious cuisine, and friendly culture.  If you’re worried about safety, this might come as a surprise, but Romania is a very safe country! You should know that a holiday here will be one of a kind.

Still, if you want to know more about scams to avoid, we have got you covered: you can read this blog post and learn how to avoid them and be extra prepared. Now that we have established that this East European country is one of the safest out there, let’s talk about why should you travel to Transylvania and what this magical landscape has to offer. This region is one of the main reasons people choose Romania as their vacation destination.  With that in mind, we created a complete guide with literally EVERYTHING you need to know before taking a trip to Transylvania! 

Why travel to Transylvania?

This central-western region of Romania has numerous mementos of medieval times. It might be world-known for its bloodthirsty vampires and savage werewolves, but you will not need to pack any garlic or silver to visit it. The famous Dracula is a big part of Transylvania’s popularity. Did you know this legend is about a real-life person? Yes, Dracula did exist. His name was Vlad Țepeș (Vlad the Impaler). He had quite a unique method of executing his foes - hence the name. He is one of the most important rulers in Wallachian history and is regarded as a national hero by many Romanians. 

But there is so much to love about this country that you do not even need Dracula! What you should bring with you is your desire to get lost in a land of castles and maybe be ready for a bit of time travel since you will be visiting lots of old towns and exploring a one-of-a-kind art culture. From embroidery to woodcarvings, Transylvanian crafts rank high up in the arts of Europe!

Transylvania travel

How do you get to Transylvania?

Transylvania is located in the center of the country, which makes it very easy to access once you arrive in Romania. When it comes to transportation, you can get there by plane, train, bus, or car. And we will tell you all about it.

Get there by AIR

Otopeni International Airport: All the major airlines fly to and from Bucharest - the capital of Romania.  Avram Iancu International Airport Cluj-Napoca: Airlines such as Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, or AirFrance fly here. Sibiu International Airport and the newly opened Brasov Airport: Right in the heart of Transylvania. The airlines for this airport are WizzAir, Lufthansa, Blue Air, and Tarom. Transilvania International Airport of Targu-Mures: Airlines that fly to and from here: WizzAir UK, WizzAir, Tarom.  

Get there by TRAIN or BUS.

Find below a list of the largest rail stations in Transylvania. It is good to know that there are many bus stops near these stations as well. 

  • Bucharest North Railway Station
  • Timișoara North Railway Station
  • Oradea Railway Station
  • Sibiu Railway Station
  • Brașov Railway Station

Good to know: trains can be pretty slow, so remember to bring your favorite book!

trips to transylvania

Unique stays in Transylvania

Accommodation is essential to the success of a good vacation. Taking that into consideration, here are some hidden gems of Transylvanian hospitality:

holidays to transylvania

(photo credits @ Booking.com)  If you are into glamping and watching sunsets, you will be amazed by this getaway called Nomad Eco Village! This village is where technology met nature and built a sustainable out-of-this-world location. You will love it here!

(photo credits @ BusinessMagazine)  Another accommodation that will show you the beauty of Romanian landscapes while transporting you into the old times of Transylvania is The Raven’s Nest. This one is a mountain retreat where you can enjoy the outdoors to the max while sleeping in restored village houses dating to the 19th century. Just imagine a campfire here with the locals!

(photo credits @ Booking.com) We even have one dedicated to fantasy lovers, and by far the best choice if you are looking for something you have never seen before! Dealu Verde is the place for you to catch a glimpse of what hobbit life looks like! Sounds fun? Wait until you see the thematic rooms and the dreamy sunrises from your hot tub. Pretty much perfect!

Our last recommendation has to be the restored old homes of the Viscri Village! One of our favorites is the lovely Viscri 125 B&B, located in Brașov county, and can be the best choice for travelers that enjoy the rural scenery. This village offers lots of history, cozy homes, and friendly locals! It is as if you enter a fairytale land in Viscri village. The colorful houses, the cobblestone road, the big trees, and the fortified church will show you a different face of Romania compared to the big cities.  

What to do in Transylvania?

  • Explore the towns

Before packing your bag and booking a tour to Romania, it will be good first to establish WHERE your home base will be and what cities are calling your name! To help you a bit with that, we created this short list of the best cities in Transylvania and what they have to offer:

Brasov

Brașov Probably the best mountain city. You cannot go wrong with making this city your base! People love it during the winter season for its skiing resorts, but year-round, you will find this city very lively, filled with coffee shops, traditional restaurants, and street music.

There is a lot to do here, such as exploring the history and ancient architecture, hiking up to the “Brasov” sign on top of the Tampa mountain for the view, or simply enjoying the nightlife in the old town. Also, near Brașov, there is a lot more to see and visit!  For example, near Brașov, you’ll find Bran village and Dracula’s Castle. It is a 30 min trip by car or bus, so do not forget to take a day trip to explore that!

Peles Castle

Another fantastic place near Brașov is Sinaia! Only 40 km away from Brașov and easy to reach by train or car, this mountain town is one of the most famous in Romania, simply for its natural beauties, the old monasteries, and the Peleș Castle! This fairytale-like castle used to be King Carol’s summer residence. You could say it is truly an architectural artwork combining elegance with the coziness of a family home.

Cluj Napoca

Cluj-Napoca Currently the largest city of Transylvania, Cluj is a cultural, university, economic, and industrial center. More than a third of its population comprises students from the country and Europe. Besides the historical attractions and nightlife, the city welcomes its visitors with a famous botanical garden and international festivals, the best-known being the Untold Festival!

Sibiu

Sibiu Former European Capital of Culture, the city of Sibiu has the most remarkable medieval heritage: towers, bastions, fortification belts, old buildings, and narrow streets, all of which give it a unique charm. Tourists love this place for its nearby hiking trails and the old town's Great Square.

Many events happen here in the open air, and you'll also find brunch restaurants, fancy boutiques, and street vendors. Sibiu is considered by many not only the most beautiful in Transylvania but also in Romania. Sibiu can make a great home base for you, as there are many other beautiful places to see nearby.

Corvin Castle

Another thing people love about Romania is the castles! With a 2h journey from Sibiu, you can reach Corvin Castle! This is a Gothic-style building with towers and bastions, where an annual medieval festival with medieval ladies, knights, and dances takes place. Worth seeing in real life!

  • Hike in Transylvania

Hiking in Romania is very enjoyable! It is not only good for the body but also the spirit! The Carpathians have lots to offer when it comes to hiking: you can easily find a route suitable for your skills and stamina. From gorgeous easy walks through the forest to difficult abrupt paths and huge caves, hiking is tons of fun, but always remember to be well prepared: have your hiking essentials, join a group with a mountain guide, and remember that this is the country with the largest population of wild bears! Find a good option for your hikes right here.

  • Eating and drinking in Transylvania

The food culture of Romania is well-known across the globe for being delicious and memorable! Have the courage to try traditional dishes and homemade food, even if some may not align with your personal tastes. We are sure you will fall in love with Romanian cuisine and everything it has to offer.

Some of the dishes we recommend trying in Transylvania are: SARMALE - Pickled cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice. Eat this with a bit of warm polenta and sour cream.  BEAN SOUP WITH SMOKED PORK - a delicious soup, usually served in a bowl-like carved piece of local bread. Simply a unique Transylvanian experience! BULZ - this one is polenta with local cheese, sour cream, and fried bacon. It is common to have it without bacon, so if you are a vegetarian,  ask for that option. Simple and savory! GOULASH (soup or stew) - This dish comes from the Hungarian influences in Transylvanian cuisine and is a very meaty dish with a red tomato sauce, a lot of paprika, and vegetables and usually cooked in a rustic cauldron.

PAPANAȘI - In most parts of Romania, this dessert is a fried dough served with sour cream and jam. In Transylvania, you might have the luck of tasting the regional version, made entirely from local sweet cheese and served with homemade jam.  ALIVENCI - A dessert well-known since communist times, this dish is mainly pimped sweet polenta with milk, sour cream, raisins, and vanilla. Sounds interesting? It is truly delish! Let us not forget about the drinking! You might have already heard some rumors about the alcohol-related culture in Romania. Yes, we do have one, and this is due to the richness of our vineyards and fruits! Locals in Transylvania enjoy their homemade PĂLINCĂ - which contains double-distilled plum (or apple and pears) and is similar to brandy. Whether you like a strong drink every now and then or not, you should not miss the opportunity of trying a shot of pălincă before your meal.

Transfagarasan road
  • Discover hidden gems of the lands

There are a lot of nature gems among the hills and mountains of Transylvania, and many of them are very popular in Europe and even the world. Discover some of them here: TRANSFĂGĂRĂȘAN HIGHWAY - Romania’s most famous road, it has a zigzaggy shape, and its beauty, while going through the mountains, is simply indescribable. No wonder the Top Gear Team called it “the best road in the world.” Transfăgărășan reaches an altitude of 2042 meters (over 6000 ft) and remains, until today, one of the must-see places in Romania. A favorite holiday activity in Transylvania.

Balea Lake

BÂLEA LAKE - At the highest point of the Transfăgărășan highway, you will find this uncommon glacier lake. Its water is the resource for creating the only Ice Hotel in Romania. Every year, the hotel is booked before it starts to snow, so be sure to reserve your room in time if this experience is on your list! During winter, the road is closed because of the heavy snow, and the only way to access this hotel is by cable car. Isn’t it wonderful? On the same road to this lake, you can also find attractions like Vidraru Lake, Capra Lake, and Bâlea Waterfall - great places for photos! 

LIBERTY BEAR SANCTUARY - This organization is constantly re-homing, rehabilitating, and giving captive bears a chance to live the rest of their days in a more natural environment. You will find the Sanctuary in the city of Zărnești (just outside Brașov), where you will learn about their heart-breaking stories while being delighted by the presence of these magnificent forest creatures. A visit to the Bear Sanctuary is one of the add-ons you can use to enhance your tour in Transylvania. 

Good to know if you're considering a Transylvania tour!

Cheaper than Western Europe We all know that traveling requires a very well-planned budget, so it might help to know that Transylvania is relatively cheap to explore. You can find accommodation for as little as 30-35 euros per night if you go for cheaper B&Bs, and meals can be as little as 15 euros per person. Of course, just like any other place on earth, the sky is the limit when it comes to costs. Still, relatively inexpensive travel is definitely a possibility in Transylvania.

WI-FI is crazy fast If you are a digital nomad or simply traveling and need to work remotely with good Wi-Fi, know that Transylvania’s internet is top-tier. The Wi-Fi is strong, fast, and free in most locations, you only need to ask the personnel for the password, and you will be checking your emails in no time!

Vegetarians might struggle If you are a vegetarian/vegan or on a strict diet, you might have some difficulties regarding restaurant menus since most dishes in Transylvania are meaty. There are options, just maybe fewer than what you are used to! Do your research well! In the meantime, here is a short selection of places with variety. 

While it is your choice how you wish to visit Transylvania, we recommend having a local tour guide with you. You’ll find out the local stories of each place, its history, and many times some cool details you won’t find so easily by only searching online. And, if you prefer to have everything organized for you, then booking through a local agency is the best way to travel. You won’t have to do much planning or spend hours doing research. Everything will be set up for you, from transportation to the itinerary, accommodation, and food.   

3 reasons to book a tour with BalkanTrails

  1. We only do private tours! We tailor the tour so that it best suits your needs. You and your companions will be the only travelers on the tour. Customizations to a tour include pacing changes, included sights, a different selection of hotels, and more. 
  2. We’re locals, so we can show you Transylvania better than any vlogger on Youtube. We also have over 20 years of experience in leading and creating incredible journeys, and we can share amazing insights during your visits.
  3. We create unforgettable experiences with the best possible value and lots of flexibility! 

Some of the tours that include the Transylvanian experiences are:

  • Romania revealed (where among others, you can learn about the ancient crafts of egg painting and black pottery or even visit the home of a Gypsy family)
  • Citadels of Transylvania (we discover all important castles and see famous paintings in UNESCO Monasteries) 
  • Dracula Tour (this one is all about the legend, we will uncover the history behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula and even visit his grave)

We also have numerous add-ons to these tours (like rafting, bear sanctuary visits)! You can check them out on our website. They include lots of activities mentioned in this extensive guide. Isn’t it nice not having to plan everything on your own?! Saving both time & money!  Explore Transylvania with us! 

Don't miss out on the chance to discover the hidden treasures of Transylvania!

Book your custom tour now and embark on an unforgettable journey through this captivating country. With our expert guides and personalized itineraries, you'll experience the very best that Romania has to offer.

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Pick the tour's start and end dates, visit only the sights you are interested in, spend as much time as you want to visit them, and enjoy the flexibility only a private tour can offer you.

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