Updated on November 4th, 2020
Something which surprised me was how much I enjoyed my visit to Brasov and the other smaller Romanian cities. Brasov and Sibiu have ended up being two places I highly recommend to anyone visiting Romania or Eastern Europe for that matter. Especially if you can visit during December and visit the amazing Christmas markets like we got to. Allow at least 3 days to explore the best things to do in Brasov and my favourite days trips into Transylvania.
The population of Brasov is close to 300,000 although has much more of a small-town feel. It was a nice change coming from Bucharest, one of Europes largest cities to a place where everyone smiled at you. Instead of being scammed by taxi drivers, we left the train station and were met with drivers who volunteered the history of the city and all the points of interest we should check out during our stay.
As we drove towards our Airbnb we marvelled at the romantic medieval architecture and Tampa Mountain which dominates the backdrop. To ensure you have the most enjoyable stay, read on for my top tips for visiting Brasov.
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How to get to Brasov
The easiest way to visit Brasov and other destinations within Romania is by train. While the train may not be the quickest way, they are frequent, cheap and offer beautiful views of the countryside. The Romania Tourism website gives a great rundown of the trains and their schedules. Expect the train to take 2.5 hours from Bucharest on the express line and close to 4 on the regional.
The closest airport to Brasov is 136km away in Sibiu but the most major airport is in Bucharest.
Another option is to hire a car and drive through Romania. If we weren’t on a budget-trip this would have been our first option. You get to enjoy the scenery and can take detours along the way.
Buses are available to take from cities the train does not go through. You can find bus schedules at Autogari.
Or if you’re coming from the magical winter destination of Budapest, you can catch a 10 hour train south into Sibiu.
Where to stay in Brasov
During my visit to Brasov, I stayed in Airbnb ‘Medieval Studio‘. It is centrally located making it an ideal location for ticking off the best things to do in Brasov. It’s located right on the edge of the pedestrian-only Old Town and 3.5 km’s from the train station.
The owner Miriam is a superhost and went out of her way to make us feel comfortable and check us in easily. The entire studio is just 31 Euros/night. Such a bargain!
Brasov is a walkable city, hence it feeling much smaller than it’s population. Stay anywhere within or close by the Old Town and you can walk to all the attractions and sites.
There are plenty of hostels in Brasov. A quick search on Hostel World brings up 20 different hostels. Although I didn’t stay in a hostel during my stay Hostel Boemia is located smack bang in the middle of the Old Town and gets a 9.6/10 on Hostel World. Beds in a mixed dorm start from $15 USD/night.
Things to do in Brasov
Brasov Free Walking Tour
If you know me, you’ll know I love to do free walking tours when I arrive in a city. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience this one personally but have been told it is well worthwhile. Brasov has a history dating back to medieval days and is located in Dracula’s country.
The tour lasts two hours and will tick off a few of the sites I mention below. The best part is you get all of your guides local knowledge to go with it. Tours start at 6:00 pm, perfect to do on the day of your arrival. Meet your guide in the main square by the fountain.
Explore Piata Sfatului
Piata Sfatului is Brasov’s main square. As with all medieval cities, this square was the place for town meetings and beheadings. Walking through the main square now with restaurants and their outdoor dining tables, it’s hard to imagine how far back this city dates.
In the centre of the square, is the town hall bell tower and right beside that the beautiful fountain surrounded by pastel-coloured buildings.
If you’re lucky enough to visit in December, this is where you will find Brasov’s, Christmas Market. Romania is a wonderful place to visit to hop between Christmas Markets and add to your Christmas travel destinations of Europe.
Enter the Biserica Neagra (Black Church)
The Black Church is located on the southwestern corner of the Piata Sfatului. The first thing I noticed when looking at the church is that it is not black. The church received its name from a fire which took place over 200 years ago and stained the walls black. Restorations have since cleaned up any smokey remains.
What makes the church famous other than its domineering presence in the Old Town is it is said to have one of the greatest organs in Europe. With over 4000 pipes and constructed in the 1800s this church is one to see for yourself.
Entry to the Black Church is 4 Lei (<1 USD).
See the Black and White Towers
These two watchtowers were built in the 1400s as part of the defence wall around the city. The defence wall was 3km long, 2m wide and 12m high to protect from repeated attacks by
To visit the towers, h
Climb Tampa Mountain
One of the top things to do in Brasov is climb to the top of it!
Brasov sits at the base of Mount Tampa. From the Old Town, you will notice the Hollywood-like ‘Brasov’ sign sitting on the hill and a cable car which takes tourists to the top.
Sitting at 900m above sea level, Tampa is a great mountain to hike up if the weather is nice and you have the time. The hike from the bottom takes around 1 hour with a variety of trails to choose from. Once you have reached the top there are plenty of other hiking trails to do.
For the people less inclined to hike to the top; luckily for you, there is a cable car. The cable car costs 16 Lei (4 USD) for a return trip and drops you off right by the peak. Less than 5 minutes of uphill walking you come to the top viewing platform. From here you are rewarded with beautiful views over the city of Brasov and the surrounding valleys.
Wander down String Street
During my European travels, I have come across two claims for the ‘narrowest street in Europe’. One here in Brasov called Strada Sforii or String Street and secondly in Trogir, Croatia. After a google search, String Street does come up time and time again – but it is not the narrowest. The narrowest point of String Street is 44 inches and the narrowest I could find is Spreuerhofstraße in Germany at 12.2 inches.
This street is very easy to miss and honestly all I can say now is ‘I have been down one of Europes narrowest streets’. But it does have some cool street art and a little plaque telling what it was used for (I’ll leave that for you to find).
Visit Brasov’s Saint Nicholas Church
Explore beyond the Old Town and visit Saint Nicholas Church and its surrounds. The church sits in the oldest part of the city and has records which date it back to the 13th Century. Within the church grounds, you will find the first Romanian school and a small cemetery also worth checking out.
Try a Kurtos Kalacs
No visit to Brasov is complete without trying a Kurtos Kalac. While I’m sure there are many places to find a Kurtos in Brasov, the only real place to buy one is the Kurtos stand on the main street.
So what is a
Admire Catherine’s Gate
As soon as I saw a picture of Catherine’s Gate, I knew I had to visit. It looks like something straight out of a fairytale! The entry into Brasov has four small turrets surrounding the centre one. This, in medieval times, signified the right for the town to sentence someone to death if they were to step out of line.
Day trips to include in your Brasov itinerary
Include a few spare days during your visit to Brasov for day trips. Brasov is a wonderful place to base yourself for a few day trips into the Transylvanian countryside. Some ideas of day trips to include are a visit to Dracula’s castle, the bear sanctuary, Rasnov Fortress and into the Carpathian Mountains.
Below are a few tours with Get Your Guide which are worth checking out. Or if you want to visit Bran Castle on your own here are some tips on getting to Bran.