In the heart of Transylvania, nuzzled in the foothills of the Bucegi mountains, is Bran. Less than an hour by bus from Brasov, this picturesque village is one of the most popular destinations in Romania. However, it’s not the hillside houses or the gorgeous green valley that draw in the crowds. That can be found across this wonderful country. It’s the spectacular Bran Castle that has visitors arriving by the busload. But before you plan a mere day trip to Bran, consider everything else this lovely town has to offer!
What to do in Bran
Bran Castle Tour
Jutting ominously from a hilltop overlooking the town, Bran Castle is one of the best castles in Romania. Its appearance is straight out of a fantasy novel. And while commonly referred to as Dracula’s Castle, there is no connection to either Vlad the Impaler or Bram Stoker — Dracula’s author.
For a Bran Castle Tour, buy your tickets online ahead of time, this will save you from waiting in extra lines during your visit.
- Cost: Adult 40 lei
- Hours: Tue-Sun:9-6 / Mon 12-6
Halloween at Bran Castle
If you’re visiting in autumn, consider checking out the castle for their annual Halloween! The party itself is in a covered tent on the grounds beneath the castle, and resembles a fairly simple tent-party. However, a night tour of the castle is included with admission, and celebrating Halloween under the shadow of “Dracula’s Castle” is pretty awesome!
Jazz Festival in the Castle
Held annually, over the past 7 years in August, the three-day Jazz fest takes place in the Bran Castle courtyard. The open-air concert brings music lovers from all over the world, together in an almost mystical setting.
Check out the website for details and upcoming line-up!
The Castle of Horror
Enter if you dare! Next to the castle grounds, this popular attraction is a great option for haunted house lovers or families entertaining children. Just understand that some children have been seen leaving in tears, so if you or your little ones scare easily, consider yourself warned.
Even though Dracula had no place in Bran, the idea remains and is marketing gold. So if vampires and haunted houses is your thing, this is a great place to come and spend some time.
- Cost: 20 Lei per person
- Hours: 9am-8pm
Hiking in Bran
Hiking in the Bucegi mountains is a popular activity for locals and adventure travellers alike. There are eight main trails in the Bran region that lead to some spectacular scenery.
Day hikes around Bran can be easily accomplished. However, many people gear up for multi-day treks through the mountains. If you are planning to venture into the hills, understand that this is bear territory. Remember to bring your bear chimes or spray and always ask the locals about safety concerns in the area before heading out.
Bran Village Museum
This small, though informative, outdoor museum offers a sample of Romanian village life back in the day. If you’re familiar with the ASTRA Museum in Sibiu this is basically the half-hour, quick tour version.
Only 4 lei to enter, you’ll see traditional Romanian houses, and have a peek into the past. While visiting Bran, especially if you’re only here for a short time, the Village Museum is definitely worth a stop.
- Cost: 4 lei
- Hours: Tues to Sun 9am-4:30pm
Where to Eat in Bran
As with many tourist spots, restaurant options range significantly. If you are only here for a few hours, grab a quick bite from one of the many vendors near the castle entrance. Just follow the smell of delicious cooked meats and smoked cheeses just off the main road.
If you have a little more time, these are two of our favourite spots:
Recommended by our guesthouse owner, we ended up loving Casa Thomas so much we went twice. Its not Romanian food, but honestly, if you have been here for any amount of time, you might polenta’d out! This house-turned-restaurant serves up some of the best pizza we tried in Romania — or elsewhere for that matter. Other Italian-inspired dishes are fantastic as well, and even the house wine is quite delicious!
Some of the best Romanian cuisine in the area for great prices. The decor of the hotel restaurant is equally impressive. The service isn’t always top-notch, but everything we ate here was outstanding!
If you need a pick-me-up, there’s a guy right near the castle ticket booth, close to the Bran Village Museum who makes a very potent Turkish coffee. This thick, sludgy brew is the delicious fuel you’ll need to make the most of your visit to Bran.
Where to Stay in Bran
Honestly, there are so many places to stay in and around Bran. From high-end hotels bed and breakfasts to hostels and campgrounds, you will definitely find something to suit your needs in Bran.
Check out Booking.com for ideas.