Battle of the castles: Bran Castle or Peleş Castle in Romania?
Bran Castle and Peleş Castle are the most popular sights in Romania. During a trip in Romania you will definitely visit at least one of these castles. But if you have to choose: which one is the best choice? In this blog I will compare a visit to Bran Castle and Peleş Castle in Romania.
Bran Castle or Peleş Castle in Romania?
1. Entrance fee
Bran Castle: the entrance fee for adults is 40 lei, for students 25 lei and for children 10 lei. You can pay by card and with cash. For more information you can rent an audio guide for 10 lei.
Peleş Castle: the entrance fee for adults is 30 lei for the ground floor and 7,5 lei for students. If you wanna visit the ground floor AND the first floor the tickets for adults is 60 lei and for students 15 lei. Keep in mind that you can only pay in cash. There’s an ATM next to the castle. The guide is always included in the entrance fee.
2. Opening times
Bran Castle: this castle is open every day. It’s one of the only sights in Romania that is also open on Mondays. In high season Bran Castle is open 09.00 – 18.00 (on Mondays 12.00 – 18.00). In low season the castle is open 09.00 – 16.00 (on Mondays 12.00 – 16.00).
Peleş Castle: in high season this castle is open from Tuesdays until Sundays. On Mondays this castle is always closed. In low season Peleş Castle is also closed on Tuesdays. The castle is open 9.15 – 16.15 and on Wednesdays the castle opens at 11.00.
3. Impressive architecture
Castle Bran is for sure a nice castle, but because there is such a hype around this castle some people have really high expectations. Multiple travelers told me they were a bit disappointed by Castle Bran. There is less interior to check out than in Peleş Castle and most rooms kinda look the same. But I do think it’s a nice castle to check out. Because of the gotic style it looks a bit sober, but it also feels more historical than Peleş Castle. I think it helps if you change your expectations about this castle beforehand, so you can still enjoy your visit.
Peleş Castle is definitely one of the most beautiful castles I have seen in Europe so far. The architecture is simply amazing. There is a nice mix of architecture styles like the playful baroque and the chiq neoclassicism. There are also some rooms decorated in the French, Moorish or Turkish style, so no room is the same. I even felt a bit overwhelmed during my visit, because there is SO much to see. So many details, so many colors and decorations.
4. Interesting history
Bran Castle is famous because of the stories of Bram Stoker about Dracula. But did you know that Stoker never actually visited Transylvania? But he probably did heard of the castle and used it for inspiration for the stories. This is why Bran Castle is now linked with vampires and Dracula. There is a small exhibition in the castle about vampires, Bram Stoker and Vlad Tepes: the historical figure that Stoker probably used as inspiration for his Dracula figure. But I also enjoyed reading about the rest of the history of the castle. During the plague the castle was used for quarantine for example. And during World War II the castle was used as a hospital. So for sure you can learn more about Bran Castle.
Peleş Castle was only completed in 1914, so it’s a pretty new castle. The castle was mainly used as the summer residence of the royal family. Until 2017 the former king Michael I even lived in the king, until he passed away. At that time the castle was already open as a museum, so as a visitor you could even run into the former king. It’s a good place to get an impression how the royal family used to live.
5. How busy is it?
As I already told in the introduction Bran Castle and Peleş Castle are the most visited and most popular sights in Romania. So it’s not a surprise it can be busy during your visit at both places. In the summer there are even huge traffic jams towards both castles. My experience is that Bran Castle is a bit more quiet (I expected the worst) than Peleş Castle in autumn. But it was still doable and I enjoyed my visit to both castles.
If you have to possibility I would avoid visiting the castles in the weekends. Most Romanians go on small trips in their own country during the weekends, for example to the castles. If you go as early as possible you might even avoid the traffic jams and waiting lines at the cash desk.
6. Length of a visit
For Bran Castle you don’t need more than an hour. Most people visit the castle without a guide, so you can check out the castle at your own pace. There are a couple of information signs in the rooms, but you can also use an audioguide. With an audioguide you don’t need more than 1,5 hours.
For Peleş Castle I would suggest to take some more time. First of all because you can’t enter the castle all the time. There are specific time slots that people can go inside. So sometimes you have to wait 15 – 20 minutes. You can either join the group with a guide or once you’re inside you can walk at your own pace. The guide is included in the entrance price, so it’s nice to hear the stories about the castle and everything you see. The tour at the ground floor is 45 minutes, for both floors you need about 1,5 hours. And it’s also worth it to walk around the castle and in the gardens. I spend 2 hours at Peleş Castle.
7. Accessibility to the castles and the location
At first I thought Bran Castle was situated in the middle of nowhere, a bit like Castle Neuschwanstein in Germany. With a location on top of a hill and nice views over the surroundings and stuff. Well…you shouldn’t expect that. Bran Castle is situated in the village named Bran on a rock, 60 meters high. Bran is located at the food of the mountains of Bucegi, so that’s nice. From Brasov to Bran it’s about a 45 minutes bus drive, the bus ticket costs 5 lei. The busses go every hour. In front of the castle you can also find a parking lot. Parking is 4 lei per hour.
Also read: what to do in Brasov? Lots of tips! + VIDEO
Peleş Castle is located in the village Sinaia. Sinaia is also situated at the foot of the Bucegi mountains, but then on the eastern side. You can easily travel by train to Sinaia. From Brasov it’s about 1 hour and from Bucharest about 2 hours to Sinaia Train Station. Not far away from the castle you can find a couple of parking spots. I payed 20 lei for a parking spot for a full day (that’s the only option). But in the village of Sinaia you can also find some free parking spots, if you don’t mind walking a bit more.
8. Other stuff
Bran Castle organizes some special events a couple of times a year. The biggest event is the Halloween Party, end of October. This party is in and around the castle. If you’re into vampires, werewolves and other scary stuff this is a party that you wanna experience!
If you’re visiting Peleş Castle you can also visit the Pelisor Castle. This castle is only 2 minutes away from Peleş Castle. The entrance fee for this castle is 20 lei.
My favorite castle in Romania?
My favorite castle in Romania is absolutely Peleş Castle. I love historical, old castles a lot as well, but I think Bran Castle is a bit too much for me, with the whole vampire hype around it. At the same time I think they could have done so much more with Bran Castle, like multimedia expositions, real life actors or another way to make it more interactive. Besides that I like the fact that a guide is always included in Peleş Castle, so you hear a bit more about the history of the castle while you’re walking around.
Do you wanna visit Bran Castle AND Peleş Castle in Romania?
If you can’t choose and you wanan visit both castles: no worries! Bran Castle and Peleş Castle are actually situated quite close to each other, so you can both visit them in one day. You can join a tour both from Bucharest and from Bran. Most tours even include the citadel of Rasnov in the programme as well. But some of these tours I think are overprices and it’s also quite easy to arrange this day trip by yourself, especially from Brasov. The easiest way to visit both castles in 1 day is by rental car. It’s also possible to go by public transport, although you have to wake up a bit earlier and do some more preparation because of the bus and train schedules.
Of course I wanna know which one is/would be your favorite as well: Bran Castle or Peleş Castle? Let me know in the comments!