What to do in Brasov? Lots of tips! + VIDEO
My favorite city in Romania is by far Brasov. The city is surrounded by forests, mountains and castles, you will find a lot of cute coffee places here (where you can sit with your laptop as well) and everything in the city center is within walking distance. Besides that they love ice cream, pies and desserts in Brasov! It’s the perfect base and it’s a cheap destination for travellers as well. But what to do in Brasov and surroundings? I stayed more than 2 months in Brasov, so I have a lot of cool places to share with you in and around the city. Get a cup of coffee or tea, because this is gonna be a huge blog with a lot of tips!
Keep in mind: most sights and museums are closed on Mondays in Romania! Castle Bran is one of the only places that is open on Mondays.
What to do in Brasov, Romania?
1. Explore the historical city center of Brasov with Walkabout Tours
Brasov has a small city center and within an hour you have seen most of the streets and sights. But if you’re joining the free walking tour of Walkabout Tours you get some history about Transylvania and the things you see in the city as well. The tour is about 2 – 2,5 hours and shows you most highlights of the old city center. You don’t have to sign up beforehand. Just check the timetable on the website beforehand and go to Piata Sfatului, the central square.
Brasov had a perfect location in Transylvania back in the days, because it was a great stop for traders going from east to west (or the other way). Germany had a big influence on the architecture and the citadels in Transylvania, because many Germans were invited to help building the cities in this region. Because of this Brasov is also named Kronstadt (the German name for the city).
Price: free, although a donation will be appreciated. I would give 25-30 lei for a tour like this (about €6 euros).
How much time do you need: 2 – 2,5 hours
A couple of nice places that you will visit in the old city center of Brasov are:
1. Casa Sfatalui, the former city hall of Brasov. If there is anything to do in the city – from demonstrations to open air cinemas – it will happen on this central square.
2. Biserica Neagră, or the Black Church. A long time ago there was a big fire for 3 days in this church. This is why the walls became black – and the church got this name. Do you wanna go inside? The entrance fee is 10 lei for adults. Keep in mind that you can’t take pictures inside.
3. Strada Sforii: the Rope Street. In this area there were a lot of rope makers living, so that’s why this street was named after them. It’s the narrowest street in Brasov AND Romania. It’s not an amazing highlight, but the citizens are proud of it. Personally I think the narrowest street in Prague is more impressive (it has a traffic light so people will not enter from 2 sides at the same time).
4. Poarta Ecaterinei. Brasov used to have multiple city gates to enter the former citadel. Do you see 4 towers on top of a building in Transylvania? It means that in this specific place the death penalty was used.
5. Saint Nicholas church. Also this church has 4 towers around the main tower. So it means that the priest was allowed to use and execute the death penalty.
2. Really old books in First Romanian School Museum
If you’re a book nerd like me you will probably like this museum. The First Romanian School Museum is next to the Saint Nicolas church. Here you will find out more about how they made books back in the days. It’s interesting to see how they did this hundreds of years ago. Also you can find some books and bibles here that are quite ancient. It’s amazing to see how much time and effort they put in writing and printing back in the days. It took forever compared to now! Some books also have beautiful calligraphy and illustrations.
It’s not a museum where you can walk in and out whenever you want. You have to wait until someone picks you up and guides you. Tell the guy that you don’t speak Romanian though. The man doesn’t speak much English, but he does now a bit of German. And it’s adorable to see with how much passion he talks about this place and the old books.
Price: 10 lei for adults (only cash)
How much time do you need: 30 minutes
3. Nice view over the city from the white tower (Turnul Alb)
There are 2 towers at the west side of the city center: the black tower and the white tower (Turnul Alb). Although you can’t really see the difference because the black tower is also….white. The white tower has a small platform where you have a great view over the city center and the mountain Tâmpa. How do you get here? First walk to Strada După ziduri, a street with a small river. Then cross the bridge. When you walk uphill on your left side you have the black tower (that is white as well) and on your right side you have the white tower with the platform. You can also walk via Bastion Graft uphill or downhill. This road is shorter, but the stairs are a bit more steep.
How much time do you need: 30 minutes
4. Go to the top of the mountain Tâmpa
One of my favorite things about Brasov? It’s the fact that it’s surrounded by nature. It’s even located at the foot of a mountain called Tâmpa. This mountain is about 960 meters high. From almost every street in the city you can see the sign BRASOV, on top of the mountain. And it’s even possible to hike all the way up to the sign and take pictures next to it. There is a cable car that brings you to the top in a couple of minutes, but I like to walk in this area. It’s quite an easy walk uphill for about 45-55 minutes. From Brasov it’s about 400 meters hiking uphill. Follow the gellow arrows or the red-white triangle marks. It’s quite impossible to get lost, since there is only 1 road (a snake road) going up from that side.
After about 1 hour you will reach the BRASOV sign. It feels a bit like Hollywood, but then cooler. You can’t reach the Hollywood sign, but you CAN reach the Brasov sign. You can walk the same way back, but it’s also possible to make a loop. Keep following the yellow triangles, until Saua Tampei. From this place you walk downhill and you get some amazing views over the surroundings. After a while you end back in the city, but on the other side of the mountain. You can follow the trail of the blue triangles back to your starting point and the city center of Brasov. It’s a flat road so it shouldn’t take too long.
Price: free to walk. The cable car is 10 lei for adults one way, 17 lei for a return ticket
How much time do you need: 3 hours if you’re walking / 1,5 hour if you’re using the cable car
5. Spotting bears in the surroundings of Brasov
Romania has one of the biggest populations of brown bears in Europe. So you have some chances to spot some brown bears in the wild here. Brasov is surrounded by forests and mountains. Only in the surroundings of Brasov there are already more than 100 brown bears living! That’s a lot, because most bears need about 8 km2 of space to move around and eat. In this area the bears have less than 2 km2 per bear..
A few years ago the city had a huge problem with the bears. More and more bears were coming to the edges of the city to find food in trash bins. Not only is this food really bad for the bears, it became a new – really bad – form of tourism as well. Curious people came to these places to check out the bears and sometimes did crazy things. Like taking selfies, trying to pet them or trying to make the bears eat out of their hands. What’s wrong with people?
To do something about this they now created feeding places so the bears are not attracted to the cities in this area anymore. The feeding places are in the forest: the natural habitat of the bears. The bears can find most of their food in the woods, because they eat almost everything: berries, seeds, roots, grass, flowers and preferably something sweet like honey. Sometimes they go to the agricultural areas to eat grains, which is bad for the farmers of course. By creating these feeding places they make it less interesting for the bears to go to the areas where people live and eat ‘human food’. Most feeding places have something sweet like sugar corn. At least it’s better for the bears than eating plastic and old McDonalds fries out of the trash bins.
Bear spotting with RomanianFriend
Please don’t try to find bears by yourself in the areas around Brasov. Bears are not aggressive by nature, but they can be aggressive if they feel threatened or provoked. Also it’s forbidden to walk in some areas where a lot of bears live without a wildlife ranger. If they catch you walking around in those areas you can get a fine of 6000 lei: almost €1400 euros.
I joined a bear spotting tour via RomanianFriend. Our guide Simona picked us up at the end of the afternoon and brings us to one of the wildlife rangers in an area close to Brasov. Most bears became night animals because they are annoyed by humans at day time. So most of them will sleep until 16.00 – 17.00 in the afternoon. After a short walk in the woods we get to a small spotting hut. I was surprised that we already saw 3 bears immediately! My patience wasn’t tested, because when those female bears left soon a baby bears walks to the water and checks out the food.
Face to face with a brown bear
We stay in the hut for more than an hour, observering the bears and taking some photos. The moment we want to leave I hear some sounds behind me. The 2 wildlife rangers are standing in the doorway and stare to something at the left side. It’s a bear! Not even 10 meters away from us. If the bears wants he could reach us within a couple of seconds and knock us out. He’s big and strong enough to do something like that. He observes us for a few seconds and then passes, towards the water pool. I shiver by the idea of meeting that bear on the way back to the jeep, if we just left a few minutes earlier. It’s their territory after all. “If we don’t provoke him, he will not see us as a treat”, our guide Simona tells us. But my face to face moment with the brown bear still is quite special for me.
If spotting bears in Romania a good, sustainable form of tourism?
The amount of bears become a bigger problem in Brasov and surroundings. They eat bad food in the cities and they can be dangerous to people if they feel threatened. But there is another danger as well. What happens if one day they are not afraid of people anymore? Then Romania has an even bigger problem.
With the special feeding places in the mountains they do something about that problem. By placing something sweet but natural like sugar corn and grain the bears will most likely don’t feel the urge to explore the farms and cities. People can book a tour to spot the bears: the chance that you will see them at these places it not guaranteed, but the chances are high. Most of the money is used to buy that food. The government pays a little bit, but not enough to buy all the food. They need about 25 kilos of sugar corn per day at each feeding place, and there are multiple places in the mountains..
The rangers leave food every day for the bears, but most feeding places are not open for visitors and they don’t allow people to visit every day. I didn’t had the feeling at all that these people did it for the money. They really are concerned about the bears and the problems in this area. The groups are quite small: we had 2 groups of 5 people that joined the wildlife rangers. Besides that we had to sign that we would behave in the best interest of the bears. That means no smoking, no drinking, no hard sounds or music, no trash and no flashlights when taking pictures. Basically you’re signing for not being an asshole to nature and the bears.
Price: the tour with RomanianFriend is €45 euros per person
How much time do you need: 3,5 hours. The tour doesn’t go on Sundays!
Keep in mind: in the winter months (like end of October until half of march) you can’t spot bears in the wild because they keep hibernating.
6. Peleş Castle, the most beautiful castle in Romania
I have seen many castles and fortified churches in Romania but the most beautiful one is deinifely Peles Castle in Sinaia. This castle was built at the end of the 19th century as a summer residence for the royal family. There is SO much to see, you feel a bit overwhelmed when you walk around! There is so many beautiful things to see and every room is decorated in a unique style. The castle has different architecture style, like neo-Renaissance, baroque and the Moorish (Northern Africa) style.
Price: 30 lei for adults for the standard tour at the ground floor, 60 lei for the ground floor + first floor. Keep in mind that you can only pay in cash. There’s an ATM next to the castle.
How much time do you need: 2 hours if you do the standard tour, 3 hours if you do the full tour.
Bonus tip: nearby the Peles Castle you can find the Pelisor Castle. Also beautiful and nice to see. The entrance for this castle is 20 lei for adults.
7. Hiking in the mountains of Bucegi
Sinaia is located at the foot of the Bucegi mountains (you pronounce it as ‘Bucegj’, so without the -i). Nature lovers for sure want to see some of these mountains. From the villages Sinaia and Busteni you can take a cable car up, although it’s also possible to hike up. The climb is almost 1000 meters high, via different hiking trails. I did a 2-day hike from Rasnov to Cabana Malaiesti, and from there all the way to the highest top (2507 meter) at Cabana Omu and then finishing in the village Busteni.
It’s also possible to drive with a car to some places in the Bucegi mountains. You drive the car via the TransBucegi all the way up. It takes you a bit via the forest and then to a ‘plateau’. You can park the car at Cabana Piatra Arsa and walk from there to some sights like Babele, the Sphinx and the Caraiman Peak’s Cross. Cabana Babele is closed, but it’s possible to eat something at Cabana Piatra Arsa.
How much time do you need: 3 – 8 hours, depends how long you want to walk
8. Bran Castle, famous as the Dracula Castle of Transylvania
It’s interesting how a somewhat normal looking castle can be world famous. Bran Castle is one of the many castles in Transylvania, but it’s the most touristic and most visited place in the area. The castle is famous because of count and vampire Dracula. The story about Dracula is fiction, written by Bram Stoker. Nobody knows if the writer actually ever visited Transylvania or used the castle for inspiration. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the castle in his story looks a lot like Bran Castle. So keep in mind Dracula never lived here, because this vampire is a non-existent, fiction character.
Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad Dracula, was a real historical person. But as far as I know he never lived in this castle. He is born in Sighisoara and grew up as a kid in the Ottomon Empire because his father gave him away as a gift. They called him Vlad the Impaler, because he was a fearful guy who loved to impale his enemies. Probably Bram Stoker has used these stories about Vlad for his stories about Dracula.
So it can be a bit confusing and all these stories are getting mixed up, but none of them really are related to the castle. So who did actually live in the castle? For example queen Marie and king Ferdinand. Their grandkid is the current owner of the castle. He actually hates it that people relate the castle to the Dracula stories.
Extra tip: do you want to visit Castle Bran and Castle Peles? Then I would suggest to visit Castle Bran first. If you do it the other way around you might be disappointed. Peles is one of the most beautiful castles that you will ever see.
Price: 40 lei for adults
How much time do you need: 1 – 1,5 hours
9. Hiking in Piatra Craiului National Park
One of the most beautiful places I have visited in Romania is Piatra Craiului National Park. If you’re a nature lover you should definitely not skip this one! The views over the forests and from the mountain ridge are incredible. There are a lot of different hiking trails in these mountains, not far away from Brasov. In this blog I share a couple of nice hiking trails, for beginners and for advanced hikers.
Price: train ticket from Brasov to Zărnești is 4,4 lei. A ticket for the park (between 1st of May and 31st of October) is 5 lei for adults. Although you don’t have to show your ticket anywhere.
How much time do you need: a full day, although you can also sleep here (for example in Cabana Curmatura)
10. Hiking in the countryside (surroundings of Fundata)
Are you not keen to climb mountains but you do wanna do some nice hiking in the surroundings of Brasov? Then the countryside is your place to be! Together with Dan from Outdoor Activities in Romania I hiked for a day in the surroundings of Fundata. During the hike we saw many cows, sheep and a lot of adorable dogs. And the typical haystacks of course! It’s a great way to explore the daily life in the countryside of Romania and the hike is quite easy, so also perfect for kids and beginners.
Price: depends on your wishes and the amount of people. Email Outdoor Activities in Romania for the current prices of such a tour.
How much time do you need: 1 full day
11. Chilling in a sulfur cave and walking over an invisible lake: cool day trip with ZoZo Tours
My favorite hostel in Brasov, and in Romania, is ZoZo House. And it’s great that it’s not only an amazing accommodation, but they organize tours as well. Of course you can do a couple of the standard tours to the castles, but they have some special tours to less touristy places as well.
I joined a small group to some places north of Brasov. Our first stop was Malnaş Băi, an abandoned village that used to be a luxury resort town once. The mineral water that comes out of the springs here is apparently really good to fix some problems with your liver, stomach or nerves. Mainly old people come here with a bag full of empty bottles to refill them with this special water. We tasted some of the water in different springs. Weirdly enough it had a different taste every time! The water from the first source was super salty and smelled like rotten eggs, while the water in the second spring more tasted like iron.
Our second stop is the Saint Ana Lake; a beautiful place to make a small walk. Our guide tells us that he came here as a kid all the time and even spotted some bears around the lake. Near the Saint Ana Lake there is another special lake: Tinovul Mohos. Although.. Google Maps shows that you are arriving at a lake, but you don’t see anything. The whole lake is covered by a bog and is not visible. You can’t just walk everywhere, so you need the use the special roads. It’s dangerous to walk somewhere else. The lake is under all the vegetation and it can work as quicksand. Even animals have disappeared in this area because of this. Brr…
After a good meal at GastroLab we end the day with a walk to the mineral baths and Pestera Sulfuroasa: the sulfur cave. The sulfur ‘streams’ out of the cave all the time. You can see how high it flows by the yellow stripes on the walls in the cave. It’s a pretty weird, but cool experience. You can sit on the benches in the cave and you will feel that the sulfur is warming up your body and joints. Make sure your head is always above the yellow line, otherwise you choke. You can smell it by making a bowl with your hands and scoop it to your face.
Price: depends on what you want to see and the amount of people. Between €40 – 65 euros per person for a day trip.
How much time do you need: 1 full day
12. Ziplining and hiking at 7 Ladders Canyon (in Piatra Mare)
Piatra Mare is another nice place for nature lovers, south east of Brasov. Here you will find a bunch of trails, including the 7 Ladders Canyon. Via different ladders you can climb to waterfalls in all sizes. Really beautiful place! The trail for the 7 Ladders Canyon starts and ends at the cabana. This walk will take you 1 hour. It’s easiest to go here by car. You can park the car in the village named Timisu de Jos. From here it’s 45-60 minute walk to the cabana. After the walk in the canyon you can either walk the same way back, but you can also zipline back to the village. Keep in mind that the ziplining is possible every day in high season, but in low season only in the weekends. And in the winter months it can be closed, so make sure to check that beforehand.
Price: entrance fee for 7 Ladders Canyon is 10 lei for adults. Ziplining is 90 lei per person. Keep in mind that you can only pay in cash here.
How much time do you need: 3,5 – 4 hours
13. Fortified churches in Transylvania: Prejmer
In Transylvania you can find about 150 fortified churches. These big churches with a wall around it were used during wars, for example with the Ottoman Empire. During attacks or looting the people could find protection if they didn’t live in a citadel. Most of these fortified churches are built by the Saxons. These people were Germans that moved to Transylvania to help build and fortify the cities in this area, at the invitation of the Hungarian king. The fortified church in Prejmer is one of the best preserved fortified churches in Transylvania. It’s impressive to see how they build this and how big it is. It’s almost like a village. There are multiple floors with small rooms. Every room was for 1 family that lived in the area of Prejmer. Other nice fortified churches that you can visit are in Biertan, Viscri and Valea Viilor.
If you’re visiting the fortified church in Prejmer by train you stop in Iliene. The train trip from Brasov to here is 3,90 lei.
Extra tip: there is not much information during your visit in Prejmer, so it’s smart to download the free app Cetatea Prejmer beforehand for some information.
Price: 15 lei for adults
How much time do you need: 30 – 40 minutes
Moving around in Brasov
Moving around by bus in Brasov
The train station of Brasov is in the northern part, about 3 kilometers away from the old city center. It’s about 35 – 40 minute walk. But you can of course take a bus as well. From the train station you take bus 4 to Livada Postei; the bus station at the edge of the old city center. Within the center you can walk everywhere quite easily.
Many bus stops have a blue ticket machine to get your bus ticket. In front of the train station there is a desk to buy a ticket as well. A bus ticket for 2 rides is 5 lei. No idea why, but it’s not possible to buy a ticket for 1 ride. Within 50 minutes you’re also allowed to change to another bus.
Moving around by car in Brasov
A lot of people make a road trip in Romania, so they will come to Brasov by car as well. It can be a true nightmare to find parking spots in the city center of Brasov. There are parking spots, but there are a lot more cars searching for a spot, especially at the end of the afternoon. Some parking spots are free, some are paid. Just pay attention to the signs that say “Parcare cu plata/tax parking”. Probably it’s like 2 lei per hour, between 8 in the morning and 8 in the evening. Another annoying thing is that you have to pay the parking with coins.
3 tips if you’re coming to Brasov by car:
1. Check if you’re accommodation has a parking place. This will save you a lot of time! This is possible for hotels, but also on Airbnb. For example in front of ZoZo House you can park for free and there’s always space.
2. Does your accommodation not have a parking spot? Ask them what is the easiest place to park (for free). It can change from street to street if you have to pay or if it’s a free spot, so pay attention to that.
3. Is it too crowded in Brasov and are you not using the car for a while? Then you can park the car for free at the parking lots next to the malls outside of Brasov. For example the Carrefour mall at Calea Bucuresti, the Kaufland supermarket at Calea Bucuresti or the Eliana Mall at the Strada Bazaltului. From there you can take a bus to the city center. But I would only suggest this in the summer months, the rest of the year you should be fine and find a spot more nearby the city center.
Travel movie: Brasov in Romania
Also read: the best accommodations in Brasov in Romania
From Brasov it’s also easy to make a day trip to other nice cities, like Sighisoara and Sibiu. I spend most of my time (a couple of months) in Brasov, so just let me know if you have any questions. And more tips for me and other travelers are welcome of course as well!
In this blog I collaborated with Romanian Friend during the bear spotting tour with the wildlife rangers. My experiences and my opinions are my own. More information about collaboration you can find here.