If you throw a dart on a map of Romania and then aim at the heart, you would probably hit Brasov. Adventurous travelers often use Brasov as a base for their Transylvanian excursions. The rich history and the amazing nature surrounding Brasov make it very attractive place to for long term stay. The city itself boast medieval architecture and fortresses from the 14th century and has seen touches from communism before the turn of the century.
You can find the narrowest street in Eastern Europe near the Black Church, another famous landmark. Brasov once thrived as a power commercial center where traders from Western Europe would meet their Oriental or Western counterparts. Brasov sits below the base of Mount Tampa, an unimposing Mountain that looks more like a hill but nonetheless impressive in its position to provide an unforgettable view of the city.
I spent the whole month of May in Brasov but it rained every other day. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe it’s the norm. Who knows? But it did make my forays into a Transylvania a bit difficult. I manage to sneak in a few day trips even when it rained. If you find yourself in the same situation. Here are my top 10 best day trips from Brasov.
1 – Piatra Craiului National Park
There are several great hiking opportunities to explore Piatra Craiului National Park in the Carpathian Mountains. Explore mountain gorges, forest, and pastures where shepherds still do the things they have been doing centuries ago. Wild bears and wolves still roam in the wilderness in the park.
2 – Sighisoara
Sighisoara traces its origins all the way back to the Roman times. It’s also known as the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, who’s the model for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Sighisoara is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site with its distinctive clock tower and colorful medieval houses. You can possibly do this trip with Viscrii and Rupea in the itinerary.
3 – Viscri
Viscri is home to the fortified church built by the Saxons in the middle ages. The chapel is a UNESCO world heritage site. There are sporadic buses that come to the village so a car rental or hitchhiking might be the best way to get to the village. Viscri’s close proximity to Sighisoara makes it an ideal stop over on the way.
4 – Rupea Citadel
Rupea Citadel is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Romania. It’s rumored to the site where the last Dacian king took his own life to avoid Roman capture. With restored walls and multiple bastions, it’s an amazing place to visit even for just a few hours. Rupea Citadel towers above a hill that’s visible from the motorway on the way to Sighisoara from Brasov.
5 – Seven Ladders Canyon and the Piatra Mare
A short and scenic hike up on the Carpathians. The Seven Ladders Canyon got its moniker from the seven ladders built to scale the multiple waterfalls in the canyon. The hike is brisk and relatively moderate. The views of the Carpathians at the top of the mountain range is worth all the effort.
6 – Peles Castle
A Neo-Renaissance palace in Sinaia that is surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. Peles is an extravagant castle that demands attention. The magnificent scenery of the countryside and mountains compete with the castle’s lavish interiors and beautiful architecture. A few bucks get you in and a few more if you intend to take photos inside.
7 – Bran Castle
Undoubtedly, the most popular and most visited tourist attraction in Romania. It’s very close to Brasov and there are buses that make the trip daily. Bran’s claim to fame revolves around the Dracula myth which no doubt feeds the tourist frenzy. The castle itself is interesting enough and it was, in reality, a functioning tactically defensive citadel. Don’t set your expectations too high and it should be a decent distraction.
8 – Rasnov Citadel
Rasnov Citadel is another historic landmark and monument worth visiting. It’s just a few Kilometers from Brasov and just a few hours walk from the town square. Like Rupea Citadel, it has its origins during the Dacian times. There’s also several legends surrounding the citadel that is worth entertaining. Especially the one about the captured Turks who’s bargained for their freedom in exchange for digging the fortress’ well only to be executed upon its completion.
The Transfagarassan’s claim to fame is the zig-zagging mountain road the snake’s up to the Carpathians. It’s the second-highest paved road in Romania after the Transalpina. The hairpin turns on its winding road and sharp descents make it a fun place to drive. Balea lake at the top is worth the visit alone.
10 – Tampa Mountain
Tampa mountain can be a great place to take a break from the city life below. Tampa is the mountain that towers above Brasov. You can easily reach the peak with a cable car ride or enjoy the brisk hike up. The views up top are spectacular and you can spend an entire day hiking and exploring the area.