Best Things to Do in Transylvania: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Jen
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Are you planning to visit Transylvania soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Transylvania. These mystical sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Transylvania, Romania—a land shrouded in mystery, folklore, and jaw-dropping landscapes that seem to leap straight out of a fairy tale. Envision this: you’re cruising down the Transfagarasan Highway, a serpentine road that twists and turns through the Carpathian Mountains, offering vistas that make your heart skip a beat. With a variety of things to do in Transylvania, as you descend, you’re greeted by the towering spires of medieval castles, each with its own tale of heroism or treachery. Bran Castle, anyone?

But let’s not forget the charming towns like Sibiu and Sighisoara, where cobblestone streets are lined with colorful houses, and the air is filled with the aroma of local delicacies. Here, the past and the present coexist in a beautiful dance, inviting you to join in. Whether you’re an adventurer seeking thrills in the great outdoors, a history buff eager to delve into rich narratives, or simply a wanderer in search of the unknown, Transylvania beckons with open arms.

So, grab your garlic and wooden stakes (just kidding, you won’t need them!), and let’s embark on a journey to discover the best things to do in this captivating region of Romania. Trust me, it’s not just about Dracula—Transylvania is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be unearthed. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Transylvania.

The top places to visit in Transylvania right now
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Best Places to Visit in Transylvania

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Transylvania? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this mystical vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Transylvania places to visit.

Are you looking to tour historic castles steeped in local legends and outdoor adventures like hiking and skiing in nearby mountains? Or would you prefer to explore well-preserved villages, fortified religious buildings, and lively local festivals? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Transylvania can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Transylvania that you should know about.

1. Bran Castle

Ah, Bran Castle, the iconic fortress that has captured the imagination of countless travelers. Perched atop a rocky cliff, this 14th-century marvel is often dubbed “Dracula’s Castle,” thanks to its association with Bram Stoker’s infamous character. But let me tell you, there’s so much more to this place than just vampire lore.

As you step through the ancient wooden gates, you’re immediately transported to a bygone era. The castle’s interior is a labyrinth of secret passages, grand rooms, and historic artifacts that tell tales of Transylvanian nobility. Don’t miss the armory, filled with medieval weapons that have seen their fair share of battles.

Now, if you’re wondering about the best things to do in Transylvania, a visit to Bran Castle should be at the top of your list. The castle also hosts various cultural events throughout the year, from medieval fairs to concerts. This makes it a dynamic hub of activity. And the views? Simply breathtaking. From the highest tower, you can gaze out over the sprawling forests and rolling hills that make Transylvania so enchanting.

So, whether you’re a history enthusiast or a fan of the supernatural, Bran Castle offers an experience that’s both educational and thrilling. It’s a must-see in Transylvania, and a perfect start to our journey.

Exploring Bran Castle is one of the best things to do in Transylvania.
Bran Castle, perched atop a rocky cliff and often called “Dracula’s Castle,” offers more than vampire lore for travelers to explore.

2. Sighișoara

Sighișoara is more than just a town; it’s a living, breathing museum. Founded in the 12th century, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and ancient fortifications set the stage for an unforgettable journey.

As you wander through the Citadel, you’ll encounter nine surviving towers, each with its own history and architectural flair. The Clock Tower, the town’s most iconic landmark, offers panoramic views that are nothing short of magical. It’s one of those Transylvania attractions that you simply can’t miss.

But what really sets Sighișoara apart are its vibrant festivals. The Medieval Festival, held every summer, transforms the town into a spectacle of knights, fair maidens, and fire-eaters.

And let’s not forget, this is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the real-life inspiration for Dracula. While he might not have been a vampire, his story is woven into the fabric of this charming town.

Considering where to visit in Transylvania, make sure Sighișoara is on your list. It’s a blend of history, culture, and just a touch of the mystical. This makes it a must-visit on any Transylvanian adventure.

Sighișoara, a UNESCO World Heritage site founded in the 12th century, is a well-preserved medieval town.
Sighișoara, a UNESCO World Heritage site founded in the 12th century, is a well-preserved medieval town.

3. Turda Salt Mine

Imagine descending into a subterranean world where the walls glisten like diamonds and an underground lake reflects the soft glow of chandeliers. Welcome to Turda Salt Mine, a geological wonder turned tourist hotspot. This isn’t just a mine; it’s an underground amusement park!

From paddle boating on the saline lake to enjoying a Ferris wheel ride 400 feet below the Earth’s surface, the mine offers fun activities in Transylvania. And if you’re a health enthusiast, the mine’s microclimate offers therapeutic benefits. This makes a visit to this place one of the coolest things to do in Transylvania for wellness.

The Echo Chamber and the Crivac Room, with its ancient machinery, are must-see spots within the mine. The acoustics in these chambers are surreal, and you’ll find yourself captivated by the blend of natural beauty and human ingenuity.

When making a list of Transylvania places to visit, Turda Salt Mine should be right at the top. It’s not just a destination; it’s an experience that transcends the ordinary, offering a blend of adventure, relaxation, and a dash of the surreal.

Turda Salt Mine is an underground amusement park inside a geological wonder.
Turda Salt Mine is an underground amusement park inside a geological wonder.

4. Corvin Castle

If you’ve ever dreamed of wandering through a castle straight out of a fairytale, Corvin Castle is your dream come true. With its towering spires, intricate stonework, and a drawbridge over a rushing river, this is one of the best places in Transylvania to feel like royalty.

Built in the 15th century, Corvin Castle is a labyrinth of courtyards, hallways, and secret chambers. It’s not just the architecture that will captivate you; the castle is steeped in legends and myths. From tales of Vlad the Impaler’s imprisonment to the mysterious well in the courtyard, there’s a story lurking in every corner.

Ever wondered what to do in Transylvania? Well, attending one of the castle’s medieval festivals is a must. Picture yourself feasting on traditional Romanian fare while minstrels and jesters perform, all within the castle’s ancient walls.

And don’t forget to visit the Capistrano Tower, offering panoramic views that stretch across the Transylvanian landscape. It’s a sight that will make you realize why Corvin Castle is a must-see in Transylvania. Is this castle one of the top things to do in Transylvania? 100%!

Visit the Corvin Castle, a fairytale-like castle that makes you feel like royalty.
Visit the Corvin Castle, a fairytale-like castle that makes you feel like royalty.

5. The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

When you think about The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina, you’re not just considering a religious pilgrimage but also a vibrant art expedition. These monasteries spirituality meets creativity in the most vivid way.

Built between the 15th and 16th centuries, each monastery is a masterpiece adorned with intricate frescoes depicting biblical scenes. The colors have miraculously survived the test of time. This makes each visit feel like stepping into a living canvas.

But it’s not just the exteriors that are mesmerizing. Inside, you’ll find equally captivating murals and a serene atmosphere that invites contemplation. Whether you’re religious or not, the sense of peace that envelops you is universal.

To experience one of those unique things to do in Transylvania that is both ethereal and timeless, don’t miss the Voronet Monastery. This is often referred to as the “Sistine Chapel of the East,” for its striking blue frescoes.

So, if you’re curious about where to go in Transylvania for a blend of art and spirituality, the Painted Monasteries should be at the top of your list.

The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina blend spirituality and creativity in a vivid art expedition, not just a religious pilgrimage.
The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina blend spirituality and creativity in a vivid art expedition, not just a religious pilgrimage.

6. Râșnov Fortress

Ah, Râșnov Fortress, where history and scenery collide in the most spectacular fashion. Perched on a hill overlooking the town of Râșnov, this fortress is a Transylvania attraction that offers more than just a lesson in medieval warfare. It’s easy to see why this fortress is among the most incredible things to do in Transylvania.

Built as a refuge against invading forces, the fortress has stood the test of time, and today it serves as a window into Transylvania’s tumultuous past. The panoramic views from the top are nothing short of breathtaking. You’ll see the Carpathian Mountains stretch out like a natural tapestry, providing a backdrop that’s as dramatic as the fortress’s own history.

A visit to Râșnov Fortress should definitely be on your itinerary. Not only can you explore the ancient walls and secret passages, but there’s also a small museum showcasing artifacts from the fortress’s heyday.

And let’s not forget the charming little café near the entrance. After a day of exploration, there’s nothing like sipping a cup of Romanian coffee while soaking in the views. It’s the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. This makes Râșnov Fortress a destination that truly has it all.

Visiting Râșnov Fortress is one of the best things to do in Transylvania.
Râșnov Fortress, perched on a hill overlooking Râșnov, combines history and scenery spectacularly.

7. The Merry Cemetery of Săpânța

The Merry Cemetery of Săpânța is one of those unique places in Transylvania that flips the script on what a cemetery should be. Forget the somber, gray tombstones you’re used to; here, each grave marker is a vibrant wooden cross, hand-painted in bright blues, greens, and reds.

The cemetery is not just a resting place but a storytelling canvas. Each cross features a short poem or a few lines about the deceased, often with a touch of humor or irony. It’s a place where life is celebrated, even in the face of death.

What are the best things to do in Transylvania? Well, taking a stroll through this cemetery is undoubtedly one of them. You’ll find yourself chuckling at the witty epitaphs, pondering the lives of those who rest here, and marveling at the intricate carvings that adorn each cross.

And if you’re a fan of folk art, the small museum next door is a must-visit. It showcases the work of Stan Ioan Pătraș, the local artist who started this colorful tradition back in 1935.

If you’re looking to experience the lighter side of Transylvania, the Merry Cemetery of Săpânța is a must-see. It’s a vivid reminder that even in death, the human spirit can be full of life and color.

The Merry Cemetery of Săpânța is a unique place where colorful, hand-painted wooden crosses replace traditional somber tombstones.
The Merry Cemetery of Săpânța is a unique place where colorful, hand-painted wooden crosses replace traditional somber tombstones.

8. The Astra Museum in Sibiu

The Astra Museum in Sibiu is an expansive open-air wonderland that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Romania, definitely not your typical museum. Covering over 200 hectares, it’s one of the largest open-air museums in Europe, and it’s one of those cool destinations in Transylvania for anyone interested in history, architecture, or simply a special day out.

Visualize walking through a village where time seems to have stopped. Traditional wooden houses, watermills, and even churches have been transported here from all over Romania. Each structure is not just a building but a story, a glimpse into the lives of the people who once called these places home.

Thinking about what to do in Transylvania when you want a break from the mystical and the macabre? Spend a day at the Astra Museum. You can take a leisurely boat ride on the museum’s lake, participate in craft workshops, or even watch live demonstrations of age-old farming techniques.

For the foodies, there are also traditional Romanian food stalls. Try some mici, a type of Romanian sausage, or indulge in papanasi, a sweet cheese doughnut.

In a land often associated with myths and legends, the Astra Museum offers a tangible, authentic experience that’s as educational as it is enjoyable.

The Astra Museum in Sibiu is an expansive open-air showcase of Romania's cultural heritage.
The Astra Museum in Sibiu is an expansive open-air showcase of Romania’s cultural heritage.

9. The Făgăraș Mountains

The Făgăraș Mountains are the epitome of natural beauty, offering some of the coolest things to do in Transylvania for outdoor enthusiasts. Towering peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and lush meadows paint a picture that seems almost too good to be true. But trust me, it’s real, and it’s spectacular.

For those who love to hike, this is your playground. Trails range from easy walks to challenging climbs that lead to the highest peak in Romania, Moldoveanu. Along the way, you’ll encounter diverse flora and fauna. This experience makes each step a new discovery. And let’s not forget the breathtaking views that reward your efforts; they’re the kind of vistas that make you realize how magnificent our planet truly is.

But hiking isn’t the only thing on the menu here. Adventure seekers can also go rock climbing, paragliding, or even ice climbing in the winter. Yes, the Făgăraș Mountains are a year-round destination, each season offering its own distinctive set of experiences.

Transylvania attractions often focus on history and folklore, but the Făgăraș Mountains remind us that sometimes, the best stories are the ones we write ourselves, through our adventures and the memories we create.

The Făgăraș Mountains, with towering peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and lush meadows, offer breathtaking natural beauty.
The Făgăraș Mountains, with towering peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and lush meadows, offer breathtaking natural beauty.

10. The Black Church in Brașov

Ah, The Black Church in Brașov, a place where history and spirituality intertwine in the most fascinating ways. Built in the 14th century, this Gothic marvel is the largest church of its kind in Romania and one of the biggest in Eastern Europe.

Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by an awe-inspiring interior. The church houses an impressive collection of Oriental carpets, a grand organ with over 4,000 pipes, and intricate frescoes that tell tales of bygone eras. The atmosphere is solemn yet inviting, making it a perfect spot for some quiet reflection or even just to escape the hustle and bustle of Brașov’s busy streets.

What truly sets this church apart is its remarkable resilience. It survived fires, invasions, and the test of time, earning its name from the dark hue that a catastrophic fire left on its walls. Today, it stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Transylvania and its people.

The Black Church in Brașov, a 14th-century Gothic marvel, blends history and spirituality.
The Black Church in Brașov, a 14th-century Gothic marvel, blends history and spirituality.

11. The Haunted Hoia-Baciu Forest

The Haunted Hoia-Baciu Forest near Cluj-Napoca is not your usual woodland stroll. This forest is often dubbed as the “Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania,” and for good reason. It’s one of those Transylvania things to do where the line between reality and the supernatural seems to blur.

Upon entering the forest, you’ll notice oddly shaped trees, some twisted into bizarre forms, as if sculpted by unseen hands. Local legends speak of UFO sightings, ghostly apparitions, and even time lapses experienced by those who’ve dared to venture deep into its enigmatic depths.

But don’t let the spooky tales deter you; the forest is also a haven for nature lovers. The lush greenery, chirping birds, and the occasional deer sighting offer a tranquil contrast to its haunted reputation. It’s a place where you can both challenge your courage and appreciate the beauty of nature.

Thinking about the best places to go in Transylvania that offers a mix of thrill and serenity, the Haunted Hoia-Baciu Forest should be on your list. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature enthusiast, or a fan of the unexplained, this forest promises an experience unlike any other.

Haunted Hoia-Baciu Forest blurs the line between reality and the supernatural and offers a unique mix of thrill and serenity.
Haunted Hoia-Baciu Forest blurs the line between reality and the supernatural and offers a unique mix of thrill and serenity.

12. The Village Museum in Timișoara

If you’re keen on diving into the local culture, The Village Museum in Timișoara is a must-see in Transylvania. This open-air museum offers a captivating journey through Romania’s rural history, showcasing over 30 traditional houses from different regions of the country.

As you stroll through the museum, you’ll encounter charming wooden churches, windmills, and even a traditional Romanian schoolhouse. Each structure is authentically furnished, providing a vivid snapshot of life in bygone eras. It’s like stepping into a living postcard, where history comes alive around every corner.

It’s not just a walk through the past. The museum also hosts various cultural events, from folk music performances to traditional craft workshops. You can learn to weave, try your hand at pottery, or even join in a Romanian dance. It’s one of those coolest activities in Transylvania that allows you to not just see but feel the culture.

If you’re interested in a rich cultural experience that’s both educational and fun, The Village Museum in Timișoara is the place to be. It’s a delightful way to round off your Transylvanian adventure, offering a different but equally enchanting facet of this diverse region.

Exploring The Village Museum in Timișoara is one of the best things to do in Translyvania.
The Village Museum in Timișoara is a must-see for a captivating journey into Romania’s rural history.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Transylvania

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Transylvania? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Transylvania:

Why do people visit Transylvania?

Transylvania, a region in central Romania, beckons travelers for a myriad of reasons. Here’s why people are drawn to this enchanting destination:

  1. Dracula Legend: Bran Castle, often referred to as “Dracula’s Castle,” is a major attraction. While the historical Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) had little to do with Bran Castle, the myths and stories associated with Bram Stoker’s Dracula make it a must-visit.
  2. Medieval Towns: Cities like Brașov, Sibiu, and Sighișoara offer beautifully preserved medieval architecture, cobbled streets, and fortified churches. Sighișoara, in particular, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler.
  3. Stunning Castles and Fortresses: Beyond Bran Castle, Transylvania is home to Corvin Castle, Peleș Castle, and numerous fortified churches, each with its own unique history and architectural style.
  4. Natural Beauty: The Carpathian Mountains offer breathtaking landscapes, ideal for hiking, skiing, and wildlife watching. The Transfăgărășan Highway, dubbed “the best road in the world” by Top Gear, provides stunning mountainous views.
  5. Rich History and Culture: Transylvania has a diverse cultural heritage, influenced by various civilizations over the centuries. This is evident in its festivals, traditions, and the mix of Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture.
  6. Vampire Tourism: The Dracula legend has spawned a subset of tourism, with many coming to experience the eerie and supernatural ambiance, especially around Halloween.
  7. Traditional Cuisine: Transylvanian dishes, such as mămăligă (cornmeal porridge) and mămăliguță cu brânză și smântână (polenta with cheese and sour cream), offer a delightful culinary experience.
  8. Warm Hospitality: The locals are known for their warmth and hospitality, making visitors feel at home.

Is Transylvania safe for tourists?

Transylvania is generally considered safe for tourists. Like any travel destination, it’s important to take standard safety precautions such as being aware of your surroundings and securing valuables. Petty crime like pickpocketing can occur in crowded places. Always check current travel advisories and follow local guidelines for safety.

What’s the best time to visit Transylvania?

The best time to visit Transylvania depends on your interests. For mild weather and outdoor activities like hiking, May to September is ideal. For a spookier atmosphere and fewer crowds, consider visiting in October. Winter offers opportunities for skiing and enjoying Transylvania’s scenic beauty in a snowy setting.

Winter landscape in Sighișoara, Transylvania: Snow-covered medieval town with quaint architecture.
Winter landscape in Sighișoara, Transylvania: Snow-covered medieval town with quaint architecture.

Do I need to know Romanian to travel in Transylvania?

Knowing Romanian is not essential for traveling in Transylvania, especially in touristy areas where English is commonly understood. However, learning a few basic Romanian phrases can be helpful and appreciated by locals. In smaller villages, English speakers might be less common, so a translation app can be useful.

What is Transylvania best known for?

Transylvania is best known for its rich folklore, including the Dracula legend, as well as its stunning landscapes featuring the Carpathian Mountains. It’s a hub of history and architecture, with medieval castles, fortified churches, and vibrant local culture that captures the imagination of travelers worldwide.

Is Transylvania worth visiting?

Absolutely, Transylvania is a must-visit for anyone keen on a blend of natural beauty, history, and folklore. From the Carpathian Mountains to medieval castles and vibrant cultural festivals, there’s something for everyone. It’s not just about Dracula; it’s a region that offers a rich, multifaceted experience.

How many days do you need in Transylvania?

The number of days you need in Transylvania depends on your interests and the depth of exploration you desire. Transylvania, located in central Romania, is a region steeped in history, folklore, and natural beauty. Here’s a general guideline:

Short Trip in Transylvania (3-4 days):

  • Day 1: Visit Brașov, exploring the Black Church, Council Square, and the old city walls. Take a short trip to Bran Castle, often associated with the Dracula legend.
  • Day 2: Head to Sibiu, a European Capital of Culture, and wander its old town, bridges, and squares.
  • Day 3: Explore Sighișoara, the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for Dracula). It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site with a well-preserved medieval citadel.
  • Day 4: Visit Cluj-Napoca, the unofficial capital of Transylvania, known for its vibrant nightlife, historic sites, and the beautiful St. Michael’s Church.

Extended Trip in Transylvania (7 days or more):

  • Day 5: Explore the Turda Salt Mine, an underground wonder.
  • Day 6: Visit Alba Iulia, known for its star-shaped fortress and rich history.
  • Day 7: Explore the Transfăgărășan Highway (if open, as it’s seasonal) or venture into the Apuseni Mountains.
  • Additional Days: Dive deeper into the region’s castles, including Corvin Castle in Hunedoara, or explore the fortified churches scattered throughout Transylvania. You can also visit more off-the-beaten-path towns, go hiking, or attend local festivals.

How do I get around Transylvania?

Getting around Transylvania is relatively straightforward. The region has a well-connected public transportation system, including trains and buses. However, for more flexibility and to reach remote areas, renting a car is often recommended. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also available in larger towns and cities.

Concluding Thoughts on Visiting Transylvania

And there you have it, folks—a comprehensive guide to the best places to go in Transylvania. From the eerie allure of haunted forests to the serene beauty of mountain landscapes, this Romanian gem offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, an adventure seeker, or someone who just wants to soak in the culture, Transylvania won’t disappoint. So pack your bags, brush up on your Dracula lore, and get ready for an unforgettable journey into the heart of one of Europe’s most unique regions. Trust us, it’s a trip you won’t want to miss!

The top things to do in Transylvania for all types of travelers
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