We left the fairytale village of Sighisoara and went back to the reality of urban life in Brasov, a large city by comparison. The train ride from Sighisoara took less than three hours and cost around 65 lei (17 USD) per person. This leg was bookable online, so we already had the tickets in hand and were ready to board.
Where to stay in Brasov
We stayed at a place called Casa Iacob, a bit larger than the other guesthouses we’d stayed at but equally nice. There is a restaurant where we only had the included breakfast (abundant and tasty) but I’m sure they serve other meals as well. The room was airy and very clean, no complaints here. The location was great, not right in the center but tucked away in a quiet side street and still within walking distance from everything. I can’t recommend Romania enough for the standard of accommodation. This country is really overflowing with properties that rate 9+ on Booking.com!
Visiting Bran Castle as a daytrip from Brasov
When we’d decided to go to Romania, I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula as preparation, and learned that the book is mostly set in the UK and also that Bran Castle in reality has no connection whatsoever to Dracula. Either way, Bran Castle is a must visit when in Brasov.
Buses to Bran leave from Autogara 2 in Brasov, a bit away from the city center. The bus leaves often and takes about half an hour. The bus we went on had air fresheners hanging from literally all over the ceiling, like that scene in Se7en, which added a scary touch to the trip.
The castle itself is really just a castle. The location is really cool, it’s built on a cliff with lots of forest around, but the interior is pretty standard medieval stuff. Still, it was a nice visit and it was fun to walk around and look into all the different rooms. My favorite thing about the whole visit was the market outside, which is a huge tourist-oriented market of souvenirs and handicrafts.
A mountain hike over to Poiana Brasov
The forests around Brasov are really something else. Not only are they dense and deserted, they are also home to 800 bears. Yeah, that’s a lot. We read up on what to do if you meet one (hint: don’t climb a tree) and set out toward the next town, Poiana Brasov.
The trail starts by going up to the top of Mount Tampa just next to Brasov center, following a path where lots of locals were jogging. Seemed like excellent exercise. At the top of the mountain you can walk up right behind the huge Brasov sign. The trail from there toward Poiana Brasov is clearly marked, and also appears on Google Maps if you’re carrying a phone. The walk took a few hours but wasn’t too strenuous, apart from the first bit up the mountain.
Poiana Brasov is a ski resort of sorts, that looked deserted at the time. We found a restaurant that was open and served excellent food, then took the bus the short hop back to Brasov. All in all an excellent hike, and we didn’t see a single bear.
A free walking tour of the city
We joined a Walkabout Free Tour, one of those city tours that are available wherever there are students and tourists in the same place. We absolutely loved this one, which took us to most of the little sights in the city and gave us some history as well. They meet up every afternoon in Piata Sfatului and the tour lasts for over two hours. Don’t forget to tip your guide if you enjoy it!
The restaurants are so awesome
What I loved the most about Brasov was that around every corner was a little restaurant which served up amazing food. We looked some up on TripAdvisor, but mostly we just walked around the little alleys around the main squares, reading menus and popping our heads in to check the places out. The quality of food is SO high compared to what you have to pay for it. Don’t miss this fine opportunity if you’re in Romania!