Six Nights in Romania: A Suggested Itinerary and Costs

Plans for my birthday trip away this year once again started with a Skyscanner search ‘UK’ to ‘Everywhere’.

Skyscanner search UK to Everywhere

I had less than a week to play with (because I’d already managed to wangle four weeks off work later on in the year for a long-awaited trip to Thailand and Myanmar) and – as always – a limited budget.

I wanted somewhere with a reliably warm climate (at least more so than the UK at that time of year), and somewhere that would offer me a good mix of buzzing city life and beautiful rural landscapes.  I also needed to juggle flights in such a way that I used the least amount of annual leave possible for the maximum amount of time away.

I toyed with three nights in Lake Ohrid (Macedonia), five nights in my beloved Barcelona, four nights in Copenhagen, and five nights visiting Milan and Lake Como, but finally settled on six nights in Romania.

The fact that a number of travel bloggers had recently waxed lyrical about this beautiful part of Eastern Europe had made me curious to uncover its charms for myself.

Romania

Our adventure would begin and end in the country’s capital, Bucharest and incorporate visits to Sinaia (for Peles Castle), Brasov, Bran (for Bran Castle; otherwise known as Dracula’s Castle), and Sibiu.

Despite the fact that the weather wasn’t particularly co-operative throughout much of our stay (it didn’t stop raining for the entire time we spent in Sibiu, and I’ve never heard lightning strike so close to me EVER before!), we loved Romania.

It’s a country of fascinating contrasts, as well as being beautiful, affordable, and untouched by mass tourism.

Bucharest – 2 Nights

We caught an early morning flight from Birmingham airport, staying at the really handy Ibis Budget the night before.  The hotel provides a substantial buffet breakfast from 4am for just £5.50, so we were able to fuel up on a selection of bread, croissants, cheese, meat, eggs, cereal, yoghurt, fruit, juice, and coffee before making the 30-second (literally) walk to the airport.

When you arrive into Bucharest catch bus number 783 to Universitate or Piața Unirii, depending on whereabouts you’re staying.  Our bed for the next couple of nights was at Book-a-Rest Hostel (see what they did there?), which is located in a lovely neighbourhood around a 10-minute walk east of Universitate.

BucharestBucharest Ancient and ModernBucharest

There’s a cute little bar (which also serves food) right next to the hostel.  We grabbed a couple of coffees here and waited for the storm to pass before starting our exploration of Bucharest.

Don’t miss the following sights and activities.

Beautiful Decay Walking Tour with the Interesting Times Bureau

It was actually a fellow travel blogger who put me in touch with the Interesting Times Bureau, and I’m so glad he did.  Their Beautiful Decay walking tour was one of the most fascinating tours I’ve ever taken.

BucharestBeautiful Decay tourRomania

I’ll be writing a separate post on my experience, but in a nutshell the tour explores the abandoned historical buildings and underground art culture of Bucharest, whilst at the same time sharing with you the history of the city and how its residents are coping with the aftermath of communism.

If you’re interested in history, architecture, or photography (or a combination of all three) then this tour is definitely one not to miss!

Palace of Parliament

Even if you don’t go inside (and I’ve been advised that you’ll need to book in advance in order to do this), you must make the short walk from Bucharest’s Old Town simply to appreciate the sheer size of this building.  It’s the second largest in the world after The Pentagon and is former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu’s most infamous creation.

Palace of Parliament, Bucharest (and this is only a small part of it!)

It was only constructed as recently as 1984, has more than 3000 rooms and covers a whopping 330,000 square metres.  There are 12 levels above ground and reportedly almost as many below ground – although the actual number remains undisclosed.

Fun Fact: The Top Gear crew actually filmed a race through the underground tunnels here in 2009.

Stavropoleos Church

Built in 1724, this is one of the oldest buildings in Bucharest.  The city has expanded and developed around it, leaving it now looking rather out of place amidst a rather more grand and modern collection of architecture.

But the humble Stavropoleos Church is a beautiful, tranquil spot away from the bustle of the city that surrounds it.

Stavropoleos Church, Bucharest

There’s a lovely leafy courtyard filled with tombstones, but it’s the church itself that will make a lasting impression – with its carved wooden doors, ornate wooden interior, and colourful ceiling frescos.

Aubergine Restaurant

If you visit one restaurant in Bucharest, make it this one.  Aubergine serves up some of the best food I’ve tasted in a long time, including a wide variety of fish dishes (try their black tiger prawns ceviche with avocado, mango and chilli pepper) and – as the name suggests – a lot of aubergine-based creations as well.

Aubergine Restaurant

Aubergine‘s quirky, theatrical interior is designed by architect Christian Corvin.  Over 300 doors adorn the restaurant’s walls, all made from reclaimed wood brought from Transylvania, Austria and Hungary.  And the floor tiles are pretty neat too.  It’s one of those places where you’ll want to Instagram (can I use “Instagram” as a verb?) more than just the food.

Address: Smarden 33, Old Town Bucharest

Brasov – 2 Nights (via Sinaia)

It’s possible to use Bucharest’s efficient metro system to get from Piata Unirii (on the edge of the Old Town) to the city’s Gara de Nord in under half an hour (no changes).  Direct trains run several times a day from Bucharest’s Gara de Nord to Brasov, but we decided to go via Sinaia in order to visit Castelul Peles (Peles Castle).  Thanks to the staff at Book-a-Rest hostel, we left Bucharest with a printed train timetable in hand.

Peles Castle is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Europe and I can totally understand why.  The Neo-Rennaisance beauty is grand – if a little pretentious – in every sense of the word, and boasts an equally impressive setting in the midst of the verdant forests that grow in the picturesque foothills of the Carpathian Mountain range.

Peles CastlePeles CastlePeles Castle

Construction of the castle was commissioned by the beloved and well-respected King Carol the First in 1866 and completed in 1914, for a total cost of 120 million US dollars (in today’s money).  The castle covers an area of 3200 square metres and was the first in Europe to be lit entirely by electricity.

The guided tours of the castle’s interior aren’t cheap (especially when you factor in the cost of taking photos – which is more than the price of the ticket itself) but I’d still recommend visiting, even if you don’t go inside.

Whilst in Brasov, I’d also recommend the following sights and activities.

Bran Castle

Another castle that’s not actually in Brasov, but this one is significantly closer – just 29 kilometres away in the village of Bran.  There are regular (if slightly decrepit) buses that run the route from Brasov’s bus station a few kilometres out of town.  They generally leave Brasov on the odd hour, and Bran on the even hour for the return trip to Brasov.

Bran Castle is known as “Dracula’s Castle” because it was supposedly the home of the title character in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.  However, upon researching this fact I discovered that there’s actually no evidence to suggest that the author has even visited the castle!

Even so, it totally looks like somewhere Dracula would have lived – especially when rumbles of thunder echo all around you and storm clouds roll overhead.

Bran CastleBran Castle

Inside is much less grand than Peles Castle but certainly no less interesting.  Just make sure you avoid visiting at weekends when the sheer number of people joining you will completely remove any sense of enjoyment from the experience.

Cable Car to Tampa Mountain

For the best views of Brasov catch the cable car up to Tâmpa Mountain and follow the red and yellow triangles uphill from the official viewpoint (which is located beside the Hollywood-style BRASOV lettering) until you reach a clearing with some wooden decking.  There are far fewer people here and – in my opinion – much better views of the city.

BrasovBrasov

Tampa Mountain is covered in well-marked hiking trails of varying lengths, including an hour-long hike that takes you back down to Brasov’s Old Town.

White Tower

For a close-up view of the Old Town from above, take a short walk to the White Tower, located on Warthe Hill on the opposite side of the city to Tampa Mountain.  The tower was constructed as early as 1494 as a defensive bastion, and stands some 18-20 metres high.

Romania

Whilst the White Tower is a more impressive structure and offers better views of the city as a whole, don’t miss the small diversion to the Black Tower (which isn’t actually black) in order to photograph the magnificent Black Church, the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul.

The Black Church, Brasov

Strada Sforii (Rope Street)

Whilst much of Brasov’s appeal lies in aimlessly wandering its maze of streets, lined with colourful baroque architecture, make sure you make a point of hunting out Strada Sforii (also known as ‘Rope Street’), Europe’s Narrowest Street, measuring just 44 inches across at its narrowest point.  Yep, I have a thing for superlatives!

Initially used as an access route for Firefighters in the seventeenth century, it now offers a fascinating peek into medieval life in the city.

Strada Sforrii

Sibiu – 1 Night

Brasov’s train station is right next to its bus station, around three kilometres out of town.  Whilst there are buses that run the route, we couldn’t find any timetables due to the Tourist Information Office being closed at weekends.  So we played safe and caught a taxi.

Although the train we caught from Bucharest to Brasov had clearly transported a fair few passengers over the years, I really felt like we’d stepped back in time as we boarded the carriage bound for Sibiu.  We were greeted by long, narrow corridors, wooden-pannelled interiors, and private six-person booths that, had they not been so tired and worn, would have made me feel like I should’ve dressed up for the occasion.

If you catch the early train from Brasov you should arrive into Sibiu around lunchtime, which will give you approximately 24 hours in the city.  Considering how compact Sibiu’s Old Town is, all of its major sights can be visited within this time frame, but if you want to be able to explore Corvin Castle, The Astra Museum of Traditional Folk Civilisation, or any of the rural villages surrounding the city, you’ll need to tack on an extra day or two.

Even when it’s raining Sibiu is as pretty as a picture.  Its Old Town is a charming tangle of narrow, cobbled streets and beautifully painted seventeenth century gabled houses that are reminiscent of a scene plucked straight from the pages of a fairytale.  Even the tiny windows in the terracotta-tiled rooftops look like eyes watching you as you pass.

Romania

Sibiu was named the European Capital of Culture in 2007, and has since attracted a steady stream of tourists eager to discover its ancient beauty and charm.

Don’t leave without ticking the following sights off your list.

Viewing the city from its Evangelical Church and Council Tower

The Gothic Biserica Evanghelica was built somewhere between 1300 and 1520 on the grounds of an old Roman church dating from the 12th century.  With a height of 73.34 metres, the tower is the tallest in Transylvania and therefore provides stunning views of the city from the top.

Opening hours: 09:00-17:00 Mon-Sat / 11:00-17:00 Sun

Sibiu from Above

Photo by Dalene and Pete Heck via Hecktic Travels with their permission

Whilst the views from the The Council Tower are not quite as impressive, it’s still worth the climb and – due to its location – offers a different perspective of Sibiu’s Old Town.

Opening hours: 10:00-20:00 Mon-Sun

Piata Mare – The large square

Right at the centre of the old walled city, Piața Mare is the largest of Sibiu’s squares, and is a great place to start your explorations of the city.

Sibiu

It’s flanked by museums, shops, cafes, and restaurants – including the quirky Mustache Caffee where you will be greeted by this curious red gentleman.

Colourful, quirky Sibiu

Piata Mica – The long square

Piața Mică is, in my opinion, the most attractive of the three Old Town Squares, with the highest concentration of beautifully-painted 17th century houses, and an overwhelming choice of inviting cafes and restaurants with outdoor plaza-facing seating.

Piata Mica - Sibiu

Photo by Torroloco via Flickr

Piata Huet – The small square

Piata Albert Huet was where Sibiu began; it was the first part of town to be fortified, in the 12th century.  Although lacking the picture-perfect beauty of its neighbouring squares, Piata Huet is home to the enormous Evangelical Church and its imposing tower, as well as Pasajul Scarilor – the most photographed sight in Sibiu.

Church framed by black trees

Photo by Kvitlauk via Flickr

Bucharest – 1 Night 

Although Sibiu does have an airport, it would only have been possible to fly back to London Luton from there, so we caught the bus (apparently the train journey is an absolute nightmare) back to Bucharest the day before our flight was due to leave.

This also gave us a little bit of extra time to tick all the things off our itinerary that we didn’t get around to doing the first time around.

One of these things was visiting the city’s cat cafe – Miau.  Being a little cat obsessed, Miau was actually one of the first items I’d added to our Bucharest itinerary.  However due to it being almost two kilometres from Old Town (and not on a metro line), we hadn’t gotten around to making the walk there when we first arrived in Bucharest.

I wish I could report back on how amazing it was and show you lots of photographs of adorably cute cats in support of this fact, but unfortunately Miau was closed when we arrived.  An internet search later that evening revealed that we’d rocked up on the only day of the week that it doesn’t open – a Monday.

Helpful tip: Do your research before visiting!

AddressMaximilian Popper nr 41Bucharest, Romania

Opening times: 14:00-23:00 Tues-Sun

Six Nights in Romania: Total Costs

In order to help you organise your own trip, I’ve included a break down of the costs of this trip below.  I’ve included all flight, accommodation and transport (between destinations) costs, but have excluded entry fees to sights and attractions and the price of any tours I’ve mentioned.  All costs are per person (but there were two of us to split the accommodation costs between).

Return flights Birmingham to Bucharest = £70 

2 Nights at Book-a-Rest Hostel, Bucharest (private room and bathroom) = £18.55

Train fare between Bucharest and Brasov (via Sinaia) = £23

2 Nights at Versus Art Studio, Brasov (apartment) = £41.83

Train fare between Brasov and Sibiu = £19

1 Night at Hader Studios, Sibiu (apartment) = £15.39

Bus fare between Sibiu and Bucharest = £9.76

1 Night at Antique Hostel, Bucharest (private room, shared bathroom) = £13.19

Total Cost = £210.72

Romanian Lei

So what do you reckon, is Romania somewhere you’d like to explore?

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**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  All this means is that if you make a booking through one of the links I have provided, I will earn a small commission as a result but the cost to you will remain exactly the same**

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Romania Pinterest graphic

Romania Pinterest graphic 2

Mentioned in this post
  1. Bucharest
    City in Romania

    Bucharest Romania
  2. Sinaia
    City in Romania

    Sinaia Romania
  3. Brasov
    City in Romania

    Brasov Romania
  4. Bran
    City in Romania

    Bran Romania
  5. Sibiu
    City in Romania

    Sibiu Romania
  6. Universitate
    Attraction in Municipiul București Romania

    Bulevardul Nicolae Bălcescu
    Municipiul București Romania
  7. Piața Unirii
    Municipiul București Romania

    Piața Unirii
    Municipiul București Romania
  8. Gara de Nord
    Neighborhood in Municipiul București Romania

    Municipiul București Romania
  9. Castelul Peles
    Attraction in Orașul Sinaia Romania

    Orașul Sinaia Romania
  10. Tâmpa
    Attraction in Brasov Romania

    Brasov Romania
  11. White Tower
    Attraction in Brașov România

    Str. După Ziduri
    Brașov România
  12. Strada Sforii
    Municipiul Brașov Romania

    Strada Sforii
    Municipiul Brașov Romania
  13. The Council Tower
    Attraction in Municipiul Sibiu Romania

    1 Piața Mică
    Municipiul Sibiu Romania
    0359 407 235
    http://patrimoniu.sibiu.ro/fortificatii/turnul_sfatului
  14. Piața Mare
    Municipiul Sibiu Romania

    Piața Mare
    Municipiul Sibiu Romania
  15. Piața Mică
    Municipiul Sibiu Romania

    Piața Mică
    Municipiul Sibiu Romania
  16. Piata Albert Huet
    Municipiul Sibiu Romania

    Piata Albert Huet
    Municipiul Sibiu Romania

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25 Responses to Six Nights in Romania: A Suggested Itinerary and Costs

  1. Simion Alb August 3, 2016 at 10:08 PM #

    Thank you very much for a nice, informative story, Ms. Gallop!
    And many thanks for your kind word!

    • Kiara Gallop August 4, 2016 at 7:26 AM #

      I’m glad you enjoyed my article and you’re very welcome! Romania is a fascinating country and one I’d love to return to one day to have a better look around 🙂

  2. Kathi August 13, 2016 at 12:08 PM #

    OMG I can’t believe how cheap that is! Romania has been on my list for ages – this has to happen <3

    • Kiara Gallop August 13, 2016 at 2:10 PM #

      It really is a fantastic budget destination 🙂 I wish I’d totted up how much we spent on everything else (food, drink, entry fees, local transport within each city) as well.

  3. Sophia August 13, 2016 at 12:31 PM #

    Wow this looks absolutely amazing! Your pictures are stunning, this is 100% going on my bucket list now. I’m so happy you had this experience (also super jealous)!
    – Sophia from http://sophiawithoutborders.com

    • Kiara Gallop August 13, 2016 at 2:13 PM #

      Thanks Sophia 🙂 I was lucky it was such a photogenic country! I’m liking the look of Bonn after reading your blog post, too.

  4. Eva Casey August 13, 2016 at 3:21 PM #

    Ah, Romania looks lovely! I want to visit very badly..it looks like an ideal affordable European vacation destination. Did you feel like 6 days was enough time to see Romania?

    • Kiara Gallop August 14, 2016 at 7:01 PM #

      I felt as though it was enough to get a good taster of the country, but there were so many parts/attractions/activities that I missed too. Ideally I would’ve spent two weeks there, but six nights was all my remaining annual leave balance would allow unfortunately.

  5. Soraya August 13, 2016 at 11:24 PM #

    This looks fantastic – what great suggestions for 6 nights in Romania. Although I have not been, I have heard great things. That Beautiful Decay Walking Tour looks so interesting. I think walking tours are a great way to discover a place. And that castle looks super cool. Thanks for sharing this – will pin!

    • Kiara Gallop August 14, 2016 at 7:03 PM #

      I absolutely love walking tours! I usually try to take one when I first arrive in a town or city, and it helps me decide which bits I’d like to re-visit 🙂

  6. Laia September 17, 2016 at 6:01 PM #

    So interesting! I know near to nothing about Romania (a part than the Dracula castle is there) so this post has been great to get an idea of what the country has to offer. And looks great! The Dracula castle looks very atmospheric… bit scary too! So funny the name of the Book-a-rest hostel haha.
    By the way if you decide to go to Barcelona let me know in advance, I might (might!) be there 🙂
    Laia recently posted…Bern: music, roses and… bears?My Profile

    • Kiara Gallop September 17, 2016 at 8:52 PM #

      I didn’t know a lot before visiting either, but I’d read a succession of blog posts about the country just months beforehand (if you don’t know the blog “Just A Pack” you should definitely check it out!) and they really piqued my interest to visit. I’m so glad I did! And yes, if I ever return to Barcelona (and I really hope I will!) I will definitely drop you a line, it would be fantastic to meet up 🙂

  7. Sarah - Exploring Kiwis October 22, 2016 at 5:39 PM #

    Good ol’ Skyscanner! Romania looks absolutely amazing – what an eye for photography you have!

    • Kiara Gallop October 23, 2016 at 8:51 AM #

      Thanks Sarah 🙂 Yep, I’m a total Skyscanner advocate. I’ve ended up in so many amazing places as a result of their UK to everywhere search!

  8. Sammi October 29, 2016 at 8:42 PM #

    Hey Kiara,

    Have you got any more info on the buses between brasov and bran?

    • Kiara Gallop October 29, 2016 at 9:03 PM #

      Hi Sammi,

      We caught the bus on a Sunday (so I’m not sure if the times are different for other days) at 9am from the bus station. They ran every two hours on the odd hour.

      From Bran back to Braşov they ran every two hours on the even hour. We got there at 10 and left at 2 and felt that was a sufficient amount of time – if you just want to see the castle (we had to queue a while to get in).

      Be warned – it is very touristy! A lot more so than Peleş.

  9. Kristy June 24, 2017 at 10:36 AM #

    This is a great post, so much useful info! I’m definitely saving for when I hopefully get to Romania!

    • Kiara Gallop June 24, 2017 at 8:18 PM #

      Thank you Kirsty 🙂 and I really hope you make it there whilst it remains so affordable and not overrun with tourists!

  10. Lolo June 24, 2017 at 1:02 PM #

    We also just returned from Romania as part of our honeymoon and went to Bucharest, Bran, Corvin, & Peles Castles, as well as Timisoara and loved them all! Sadly, we didn’t make it to some of the other towns you mentioned, but we’ll definitely be going back! #blogpostsaturday

    • Kiara Gallop June 24, 2017 at 8:20 PM #

      I’m gutted I didn’t make it to Corvin Castle, it looks amazing! Timisoara sounds great too, my friends have actually just returned from a long weekend there and loved it 🙂

  11. Kelly June 24, 2017 at 2:15 PM #

    Wow. I am so glad that you decided to go to Romania. First of all that decayed Romania tour in Bucharest looks absolutely fascinating. I would love to check that out. And that parliament building is enormous. Had no idea it was the second largest building in the world, clearly a vestige of the past. Also loved that you hit up all the castles, like Dracula’s. LoL. Awesome post and totally inspired right now to hop on a plane and head to Romania. Thanks for a great share.

    • Kiara Gallop June 24, 2017 at 8:22 PM #

      So pleased to hear my post has inspired you 🙂 And yes, if you do one thing in Bucharest, make sure it’s the Beautiful Decay tour. That was definitely my favourite part. That and the amazing meal I ate at Aubergine Restaurant. Nom 🙂

  12. Ingrid June 24, 2017 at 5:28 PM #

    Hi there Kiara! It is so cool to read lately a lot about my home country and particularly see my city (Bucharest) through the eyes of someone visiting for the first time. I think you managed to capture a lot in your article and I’m glad you liked your stay here. Just don;t feel sad about not getting to go to Miau, I live here and I LOVE cats and been planning to get there for 2 years now and did not manage to do it 🙁

    • Kiara Gallop June 24, 2017 at 8:25 PM #

      Like you I love reading about my home country or town from a tourist/visitor’s point of view. I’m glad I managed to capture a lot, although in 6 days I feel like I barely scratched the surface. It was a great introduction though, and I’m definitely going back – this September in fact, to Cluj Napoca for a long weekend 🙂

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