Last updated: 22/04/22
The gateway to Transylvania, where mystical castles, bloodthirsty vampires, howling wolves and enchanted forests are just some of the images that spring to mind when picturing this captivating region.
When I was a child, obsessed with vampires and werewolves, Transylvania was firmly rooted in fantasy, and even as I got older, the region still held this almost mythical status in my mind.
When I visited Romania for the first time, I knew that exploring Transylvania was an absolute must, and so my first stop after gritty Bucharest was Brasov (pronounced Bra-shov), where I immediately fell head over heels in love and proceeded to extend my 3-day stay in this charming medieval city to a full week.
While many people will say that a week is far too long, I actually found that there are so many things to do in Brasov that it didn’t feel too long at all.
With that said, I do enjoy a much slower pace when I travel, so 4 days may suffice for most of you!
So, if you’re thinking about visiting the capital of Transylvania then this article is for you.
Here are all the best things to do in Brasov, Romania.
19 Incredible Things to Do in Brasov, Romania
As I touched on briefly in the introduction, there are so many things to do in Brasov that whatever type of traveller you are, you will find something.
Do you enjoy sipping coffee in candlelit coffee shops and strolling around cobblestone streets?
Perhaps you’re a history buff and are more suited to fortifications and historical buildings that have a story to tell?
Perhaps, like so many before you, you’re visiting Transylvania for a spot of vampire tourism?
Whatever it is, you’ll find it in Brasov, and so, without any further ado, here are the best things to do in Brasov.
1. Piata Sfatului
Medieval old towns in Europe always have a delightful market square that is usually beautifully preserved, and Brasov is no exception.
Piata Sfatului, or Council Square, is one of the prettiest places in Brasov and is just the spot for a cocktail in the sun and a spot of people watching.
Not only is Piata Sfatului lined with both hip and traditional bars, shops and restaurants, but you will also find the Council House, Brasov’s 15th century town hall, now home to the tourist information office and Brasov History Museum, as well as the clock tower (or ‘Trumpeter’s Tower’).
As lovely as it is today, Piata Sfatului has a very dark history.
Like other medieval market squares, Piata Sfatului was once used for beheadings, floggings and public humiliation, as well as being the place where accused witches were tortured.
However, unlike other European market squares, legend has it that this square is linked to the Pied Piper of Hamelin – after he lead the children away from the German town of Hamelin, they were said to re-appear here!
2. The Black Church
Biserica Neagră, or ‘The Black Church,’ is the largest Gothic church in Eastern Europe, and its name comes from the fact that in 1689, a huge fire burned the church, and the walls inside darkened with smoke.
While the inside of the church is not as ornate as others you may have seen, it is home to the biggest mechanical organ in Romania, as well as the largest collection of Anatolian carpets outside of Turkey.
Just like many other things in Brasov, this church has its own legend…
On one of the pillars, there is a statue of a little boy leaning forwards.
Although nobody knows exactly who this boy is or what he is up to, many believe that a German child annoyed one of the Bulgarian builders who was constructing the church, and so the builder pushed the child off the church tower before bricking the child’s body into the church walls to conceal his crime.
Is the story true?
The Black Church of Brasov costs 10 lei to enter and is closed on Mondays.
3. Take a cable car up Tampa Mountain
Something you can’t fail to miss when visiting Brasov is the Hollywood-style ‘BRASOV’ sign that overlooks the city from Tampa Mountain.
Yet again, there is more to this sign than it may seem at first.
Between 1950 and 1980, Brasov was given the name ‘Orasul Stalin,’ which means ‘Stalin City.’
During this time, the name ‘Stalin’ was displayed on Mount Tampa using fir trees, which have now been replaced with the Hollywood-style letters!
You can get to this sign by taking a cable car or hiking up Tampa Mountain to enjoy the beautiful views over Brasov.
The walk is only about an hour, but there are some loose rocks and rough terrain so sensible shoes are advised.
The cable car takes just few minutes and costs 20 lei for a round trip.
4. Visit Dracula’s Castle!
If you visit Transylvania in search of vampires, you have got to pay a visit to Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle.
Dracula, or rather, Vlad the Impaler, was born not far away from Brasov, in the fairy tale town of Sighisoara.
Now, while of course Bran Castle is not actually in any way related to good old Vlad, that hasn’t stopped it from being considered Dracula’s Castle, a message that the Romanian tourism board embraces with open arms!
This association comes from the fact that apparently it is the only castle in Romania that fits Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle due to the fact that Stoker penned the novel after reading a description of Bran Castle.
Although Bran Castle is super touristy, and it isn’t considered one of Romania’s ‘best’ castles by a long shot, but if you’re a sucker (see what I did there?) for vampire lore, you have to pay Bran Castle a visit.
Bran Castle is located a 45 minute bus ride away from Brasov. Entrance to the castle is 45 lei.
5. Discover Brasov’s Medieval Old Town
It’s sweet and simple but one of the absolute best things to do in Brasov is simply walk around and take it all in!
Brasov’s medieval old town is beautifully preserved, and even if you’re not an architecture buff, you can’t fail to be impressed by the stunning buildings and cobblestone streets.
6. Attend a Free Walking Tour!
Something that I say in pretty much every single blog post I write is TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR.
To those of you who are unfamiliar with free walking tours but have seen the large groups of tourists being led around by a tour guide carrying a gigantic umbrella and thought ‘oh hell no,’ here me out.
Free Walking Tours are the best way to explore a new city as they allow you to not only get your bearings and figure out where everything is, but they also always include all of the main sights while hearing a fascinating historical breakdown of each one.
Not only that, but Free Walking Tours are a great chance to meet other travellers, and also ask your tour guide any questions you may have about the city.
The Free Walking Tour Brasov is run by Walkabout and takes place every day between April and September at 6pm from the main square. It lasts about 2.5 hours and is tip-based. I suggest giving 5 EUR.
7. Amble down Strada Republicii
Strada Republicii is the main street in Brasov and is totally pedestrianised.
Like many places in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, this is the place to be during the early evening, when everyone who is anyone takes a stroll here in the hopes of running into friends, enjoying a coffee, hearing some gossip and showing off their new clothes/dog/boyfriend etc.
This is also the main spot when it comes to Brasov nightlife, with many lively pubs and cocktail bars dotted along this street.
8. Enjoy the views from the Black and White Towers
A few steps away from the old town are the two towers of Brasov, the Black Tower (Turnul Negru) and the White Tower (Turnul Alb).
Much like the so-called ‘Black Church,’ the Black Tower of Brasov is not actually black! It got its nickname after it was struck by lightning.
Both towers are white (despite the names), and are situated on a hillside just outside the city walls.
Unfortunately when I visited, I wasn’t able to go inside the towers themselves (and recent Google Maps reviews seem to confirm that this is still the case), but you can still climb up and see the gorgeous view, which is the main reason for visiting the towers anyway!
9. Take a picture in ‘Europe’s Narrowest Street’
Strada Sforii, or Rope Street, is not actually Europe’s narrowest street (there are narrower streets in England, Sweden and Italy), but for some reason, it is known as such, and I don’t mind giving it the title if it wants it.
Strada Sforii was originally designed to be a fireman’s passageway. It is 53 inches wide at its widest point, and just 44 inches at its most narrow.
There isn’t actually anything on this street, but it’s worth having a mosey down just to say you’ve been to Europe’s narrowest street (that isn’t actually Europe’s narrowest street).
10. Soak up the German culture
As most of Brasov was constructed by the Saxons, lovers of German culture will be right at home here.
Once you’re done admiring the German architecture, make sure to kick back in one of the many German beer houses with a German beer or a good old bratwurst!
11. Visit Romania’s most impressive castle
Most people visiting Romania make a beeline for Bran Castle, but speak to any Romanian and they will tell you without hesitation that the most beautiful castle in Romania is actually Peles Castle.
Peles Castle is a German Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains and is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in all of Europe!
Peles Castle is around 40 miles away from Brasov and admission is 50 lei for the Basic Tour, 100 lei for the Optional Tour 1 and 150 lei for the Optional Tour 2.
If you want to truly immerse yourself in Romanian castles, check out this full-day tour of Peles Castle, Bran Castle and Rasnov Fortress!
12. Get a huge coffee in Kafe Pub
By far my favourite place to hang out in Brasov was Kafe Pub, a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop decorated like a cross between an antique library and the Gryffindor common room.
With rich mahogany, cosy armchairs and low lighting, complete with shelves stacked full of dusty old books, Kafe Pub is the kind of place I would live in, if they’d let me.
The coffees are also great, being served in 500ml measures and coming in every flavour, from hazelnut to crème brûlée.
Unfortunately when I came to update this post in 2022, Google Maps said that Kafe Pub is ‘temporarily closed.’ I am leaving it on this list in the hope that the closure really is temporary, so if you visit Brasov then do go and check it out to see!
If you aren’t lucky enough to find Kafe Pub open, another great coffee spot is Dr. Jekelius Pharmacy Cafe.
13. Admire Catherine’s Gate
If you’re looking for historical things to do in Brasov, then having a peek at Catherine’s Gate has got to be top of the list.
Catherine’s Gate is the last standing original medieval gate in Brasov, having been constructed in 1559 and bearing the Brasov coat of arms.
Although the medieval city of Brasov had five entrances, Catherine’s Gate was the only one that Romanians themselves could use to enter the city (paying a tax each time they passed through it) during the Saxon rule between the 13th and 17th centuries.
During this time, Romanians were forbidden from owning land or houses in the city walls and so lived in the nearby area of Scheii Brasovului.
14. Eat kürtőskalács
Kürtőskalács, or ‘Chimney Cakes’ are a bit of a mystery, with some believing that they originate from Romania, others alleging that they come from Slovakia, and others saying that they are actually a Czech food.
Whichever camp you’re in, you will find little vans and stalls selling kürtőskalács every few steps in Brasov, and if you have a sweet tooth, they’re a must try.
Kürtőskalács are made by wrapping dough around a stick and sprinkling it with sugar and cinnamon before roasting it over an open flame. They can be served alone or with treats such as Nutella or ice cream, and one thing that sets them apart from their counterparts in Prague is their colossal size – kürtőskalács are HUGE!
15. Visit Rasnov Fortress
Just 9km from the centre of Brasov is the small town of Rasnov, complete with its very own 700 year old fortress, which has only surrendered once throughout history!
While castles such as Peles Castle were designed to house the Royals, fortresses like Rasnov one were home to entire communities, and whenever the city of Rasnov was under attack, everybody would run to the fortress and take refuge in the small houses inside its walls.
After you’ve taken in the majestic fortress from the outside, you can enter Rasnov Fortress and wander around the cobbled streets inside, trying your hand at archery or buying a souvenir to take home.
Entry is 12 lei.
16. Explore the Schei district
The Schei district is the village-like area just outside the walls of Brasov Old Town and is where the Romanians lived under Saxon rule.
It is a charming area, and despite being right outside the old town, is much quieter and less touristy.
It is here that you will find two other major Brasov attractions – the 16th century St. Nicholas Orthodox Church and the First Romanian School.
This school used to be the only school in the whole of Transylvania – every village would pay for one student to be educated here so that when he returned to his village, he could share everything he learnt with the rest of the villagers!
Nowadays, the First Romanian School is open to the public as a museum.
It features a library of 6000 Slavic and Romanian books, the the first Romanian printing press (which produced the first ever Romanian letter in Latin), the first Romanian schoolbook, and the first Romanian Bible.
Entry to the First Romanian school is 2 lei.
17. Visit the Bears’ Sanctuary
There is a cruel history of cruelty towards bears in the Balkans.
Bears were kept in cages outside restaurants as a way to attract customers, or else they were made to stand on red hot sheets of metal so that they would ‘dance’ in front of the jeering crowds.
I wrote more about this topic in my guide to the Bear Sanctuary Prishtina.
Now the practice is thankfully illegal, but there are hundreds of traumatised bears that cannot survive in the wild and thus depend on the various bear sanctuaries to look after them.
Libearty Bear Sanctuary (see what they did there?) is just a 40 minute drive from Brasov and is home to 70 bears and 70 hectares of oak and hazel forest up high in the Carpathian Mountains.
Libearty Bear Sanctuary is only open to visitors in the mornings. You can buy tickets and find opening times here.
If you prefer to try and spot bears in their natural habitat, consider this brown bear watching tour in the Transylvanian forest.
18. Party at Deane’s Irish Pub
It may be an Irish pub in name, but Deane’s Irish Pub is super popular with locals, and every time I was there it was full of Romanians, young and old, singing at the tops of their lungs, drinking endless pints of beer and getting suitably trollied.
Make sure to go downstairs to the basement area, as that’s where all the fun happens.
19. Visit magical Sighisoara
Located just under two hours away from Brasov, Sighisoara makes for a great day trip.
Sighisoara is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula, and some of the main things to do in Sighisoara include visiting the actual house that Vlad grew up in, wandering the streets of the medieval citadel and climbing the clock tower to enjoy stunning views.
I personally recommend actually staying in Sighisoara for a couple of nights to properly soak up the atmosphere, but you can easily see all of the main sights in an afternoon.
Things to Know Before Visiting Brasov
Brasov is located in central Romania and is the capital of Transylvania.
With a population of approximately 280,000, Brasov is one of the largest cities in Romania and its medieval old town is one of the most well-preserved old towns in Europe.
The currency in Romania is the Romanian Leu (lei plural), with one leu being the equivalent of 0.21 EUR.
The language is Romanian, which is 77% similar to Italian, 75% similar to French and 71% similar to Spanish! Hungarian speakers are also in luck when visiting Romania, as the largest minority language in Romania is Hungarian, with 6.1% of Romanian citizens being native Hungarian speakers!
Brasov is very touristy, but if the thought of seeing Brits abroad makes you shiver like it does me, then fear not because tourists in Brasov hail mainly from countries such as Germany, Poland and Ukraine.
Brasov was developed by the Saxons and was essentially a German colony for many years, with Romanian citizens not having the same rights as the Saxons (such as being able to live inside the city walls or operate their businesses). The German influence can be seen in Brasov’s architecture, which wouldn’t look out of place in Bavaria!
Like all of Romania, Brasov is a very affordable city, with a pint of beer costing around 6 lei (1.26 EUR), hostel beds being around 38 lei (8 EUR) and a restaurant meal costing between 12 and 35 lei (2.5 EUR to 7 EUR).
If you’re wondering ‘Is Brasov safe?‘ then please don’t worry. I visited Brasov as a solo female traveller and never felt unsafe once. There is a large tourist police presence, and the only real safety issues in Brasov are that of wildlife in the surrounding forests (Transylvania is home to wolves, wild cats and the largest population of brown bears in Europe!) and pickpockets that hang out in and around the train station. As with anywhere, just keep your wits about you and you should be fine. Brasov is one of the safest places in Romania.
Getting to Brasov, Romania
If you’re beginning your trip from Bucharest, Brasov is very easy to reach.
Located 166km from Romania’s capital, the best way to reach Brasov (if you aren’t driving) is by train, which has a journey time of just over two and a half hours. Although the trains in Romania are kind of old (you won’t be getting a luxury travel experience here!), the views out of the windows are stunning and public transport in Romania is very affordable.
The best website to use for booking train travel in Romania is CFR Călători.
My go-to bus travel in Europe is always FlixBus. Flixbus is the most extensive bus network worldwide and all Flix buses have Wi-Fi, extra legroom, charging ports and the ability to modify your booking just 15 minutes before departure! Click here to book your Flixbus to Brasov.
If you’re running low on time then you can actually visit Brasov as a day trip from Bucharest!
Accommodation in Brasov Romania
I stayed in two hostels during my time in Brasov Romania and I recommend them both for different reasons.
JugendStube has the absolute best location, hands down. As soon as you step out of the door, you are on one of the main streets in Brasov’s old town, and the adjacent street is the main street where all the nightlife is, leading to Piata Sfatului, or the main square. The rooms are pretty basic but perfectly fine, and Jugenstube also provides a free breakfast.
Kismet Dao was the second hostel that I stayed at in Brasov, and it was my personal favourite of the two. Unfortunately, when I came to update this article I found that it is temporarily closed but I am leaving it up just in case it reopens! The rooms at Kismet Dao are decorated beautifully, and the building as a whole really has the extra ‘wow’ factor. From my experience, it was also the more sociable of the two hostels. Kismet Dao offers a free breakfast.
Is Brasov worth visiting?
If you’re STILL wondering ‘Is Brasov worth visiting?‘ then I almost want to shake you!
This gorgeous Romanian city has got so much to offer to tourists, from whimsical winding streets to cosy pubs, mountain views and hundreds of years of fascinating history.
There are also so many day trips from Brasov that make Brasov a fantastic place to base yourself if you’re staying in Romania for a week or two.
YES, Brasov is absolutely worth visiting.
Things to Do in Brasov | Final Thoughts
So, that just about concludes my list of 19 things to do in Brasov!
I really hope that this list has given you some ideas of how to spend your time in Brasov, and as always, if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section below.
Until next time,
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