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Brasov - Sibiu (and a few places in between)

Updated: Apr 1

Sibiu, Romania

If the call of cobblestone streets, medieval fortresses, Transylvania's mystique have ignited your wanderlust, the captivating cities of Sibiu and Brasov in Romania will more than satisfy. Nestled amidst the Carpathian Mountains, these urban gems offer everything you could want in a European adventure - architectural wonders, vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, mysterious castles, awe-inspiring churches, intriguing history and delicious dishes.

Sibiu, Romania square

Out of all the European countries I have visited, I feel Romania is the one that lets you experience the culture in a very authentic way. You can drive by shepherds sleeping in the fields with their sheep, farmers plowing their fields with a horse and plow, grandmas riding down the road in a horse and cart, and Roma walking in their traditional dress.

Farmers on a cart in Romania

A little history

Walls and tower in Sibiu, Romania

The history of Transylvania is complex and includes ancient civilizations, diverse cultures, and historical upheavals that have left an indelible mark on this enchanting region. The Dacians originally inhabited these lands, followed by the Romans, who left remnants of ancient fortresses and roads. Over the centuries, Transylvania became a melting pot of influences, with Hungarian, Saxon, and Ottoman rule shaping its culture. It eventually became an integral part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The 20th century brought geopolitical shifts, with Transylvania becoming part of Romania. Romania's experience under communism was marked by a tumultuous period of political repression, economic hardship, and social upheaval. From 1947 to 1989, the country was under the authoritarian rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who implemented harsh policies that stifled dissent and centralized power. However, the late 1980s witnessed a wave of anti-communist protests, culminating in the December 1989 revolution that ultimately toppled Ceaușescu's regime. Gradually Romania has made significant strides in building a democratic society and fostering economic development.

buildings in Sibiu, Romania

When to go

Most often when giving advice for when to go to Europe, I advise the shoulder season, meaning the Spring or Fall. This is not the case for Romania. Although the summer months do get busier, it is not overwhelmingly so. Prices are relatively affordable all year round and temperatures don't get unbearably hot. All this makes the ideal time to visit Romania any time between April and October.

Getting There

By Plane

Sibiu International Airport and Henri Coanda International Airport in Bucharest are your gateways. Several airlines operate daily flights, making it a convenient option. From the airports, you can catch a train, bus, or rent a car for the final leg of your journey.

By Bus

If you're an enthusiast of road trips and picturesque landscapes, hopping on a bus is an excellent choice. Multiple bus companies connect major European cities to Sibiu and Brasov. The journey might be longer, but the views along the way will make it a memorable experience.

By Car

If you have read my other post you know that we always rent a car. Romania's well-maintained roads lead you through scenic routes, with Transfagarasan and Transalpina highways being iconic choices. Car rentals are readily available at airports, providing you with the flexibility to explore at your own pace. A car will give you the freedom to discover small towns, fortified churches and impressive castles easily.

Sibiu: A Medieval Marvel

Town square Sibiu, Romania

Sibiu, with its well-preserved medieval charm, is a treasure trove for the curious traveler. It is an absolute delight and my favorite Romanian town. You probably only need one day to see Sibiu, but consider staying for longer and enjoying the city and its many wonderful day-trips.

As you step into Sibiu's Old Town, you're transported back in time. Cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses, and vibrant squares await you. There are two main squares - Grand square and Lesser square. They are very close to each other. Both are extremely characteristic and are wonderful places to relax and people watch or grab a bite to eat. The Grand Square is a picturesque expanse surrounded by colorful baroque buildings. Here, the Brukenthal National Museum stands as a testament to Sibiu's cultural legacy, housing an impressive collection of European art. You can climb Council Tower for panoramic views of the city. Lesser Square is adorned with architectural gems like the Council House and the Bridge of Lies where, according to legend, the bridge will collapse if someone crossing it tells a lie.

church in Sibiu, Romania

Sibiu is home to a myriad of churches, each with its unique story. The Evangelical Cathedral, an imposing Gothic structure, stands as the symbol of the city. Its interior is adorned with intricate woodwork and ancient frescoes.

The Orthodox Cathedral, however, is in my opinion much more impressive. It is a stunning edifice showcasing Byzantine influences and one of my favorite churches in all of Europe. The colorful paintings covering the walls and ceiling are breathtaking and the gold leaf makes parts of the ceiling sparkle.

Orthodox cathedral in Sibiu, Romania

The ASTRA National Museum Complex is a must-visit for those interested in Romania's rural heritage. Spread across an expansive area, this is the largest open-air museum in Europe. Located a few miles outside of Sibiu, ASTRA immerses you in the traditional architecture and lifestyle of the country. You will visit peasant homes, workshops, churches, and windmills learning about what life was like for the inhabitants. This museum commonly holds events where you can explore local culture, crafts and traditions through music, dance and specific gastronomy. You can also interact with traditional craftspeople and learn more about their history and cultural values.

If your visit aligns with summer, check out the Sibiu International Theater Festival. This festival adds a lively and artistic dimension to the city. Drawing performers and enthusiasts from around the world, there is always something fun to see and explore during the festival.

house in Sibiu, Romania

The eyes of Sibiu

The "Eyes of Sibiu" refer to the iconic dormer windows that adorn the colorful houses in the historic center. These distinctive windows, with their arched shapes resembling human eyes, contribute to the unique architectural character of the city. Dating back to the medieval period, these dormer windows were not merely decorative but served practical purposes, providing additional light and ventilation to the attics of the houses. This quirky characteristic adds to the charm of the city helps make Sibiu especially memorable.

Day Trips

Extend your journey beyond Sibiu with some of the many wonderful day trips available. Explore Fagaras Fortress, a medieval stronghold boasting impressive architecture, or the Cozia Monastery, a serene retreat with historical significance. The nearby Paltinis, a charming mountain resort, is ideal for nature lovers and those seeking a breath of fresh mountain air. Another wonderful day trip is Alba Lulia Citadel. A star shaped fortress, Alba Lulia was built in 1715 during the Hapsburg rule and is the largest citadel in Romania.

Alba Lulia, Romania

Expert tip: While visiting Alba Lulia, make sure to rent electric scooters to ride around the moat. It has been turned into a beautiful park with gardens. The scooters are available all around. You can grab anyone that is available as long as you have the "Lime" app on your phone.

Brasov: Where Fairy Tales Come Alive

Brasov, Romania town square

In the heart of Transylvania, Brasov unfolds as a city where medieval architecture meets breathtaking natural beauty. Among its many attractions, the White Tower and the Black Church stand as emblematic landmarks, while the panoramic view from the Brasov sign provides a captivating perspective on the city's charm.

Brasov's Council Square is a lively center where locals and tourists converge. The vibrantly colored baroque buildings create a picturesque backdrop for cafes and shops. The towering Black Church looms over the cobblestone expanse of the square. This Gothic marvel, adorned with striking elements of both simplicity and grandeur, holds the title of the largest Gothic church in Romania. Built in the late 14th century, it is said to have received its name from soot from a fire in the 1600s. Many, however, claim this is a myth. Step inside to witness the awe-inspiring collection of oriental rugs and the impressive church organ with 4000 pipes. For seeping views of Brasov and the surrounding Carpathian mountains, you can climb the tower. The largest bell in the tower weighs over 6 tonnes and is the largest in Romania.

Black church Brasov, Romania

Not far from the Black Church, the White Tower stands as a testament to the city's medieval fortifications. This cylindrical structure, part of Brasov's defensive system, offers an intriguing glimpse into the city's past. Climbing its narrow staircase rewards you with panoramic views, providing a sense of the strategic importance this tower held during turbulent times.

For a breathtaking view of Brasov and its surroundings, make your way to the Brasov sign. This iconic vantage point sits atop Tampa Mountain, accessible by either a challenging hike or a more leisurely cable car ride. The cable car, located near the Council Square, whisks you away to the summit in a matter of minutes, offering a bird's-eye view of the city below.

Expert tip: There can sometimes be a long line to get in the cable-car, so be prepared to wait. Alternatively, if you're up for an adventure, the hiking trail provides an nice hike through lush forests and historic landmarks.

Cable car up to Brasov sign

Once at the top, the Brasov sign, perched on a hillside, provides a spectacular panorama of the city nestled between verdant hills and medieval architecture. The Brasov Hollywood-style sign, with its large white letters against the green backdrop, becomes a focal point for panoramic photos and a moment of awe as you take in the beauty of Brasov from this elevated perspective.

Day Trips:

Like Sibiu, Brasov has many spectacular day trips to choose from.

Peles castle interior

Nearby Peles Castle in Sinaia, is a neo-renaissance masterpiece surrounded by lush forests and in my top 5 favorite castles in Europe. Built between 1873 and 1914, this beautiful castle was made for King Carol I. The rooms are gorgeously decorated with ornately carved wood and brightly colored walls. While in Sinaia, don't miss the monastery as well.

Expert tip: While at the Sinaia monastery, make sure to find the old chapel. It is easy to miss because it is located through a small gate in the white walls. It is small but absolutely breathtaking.

Rasnov Fortress, perched on a rocky hill and providing insight into medieval military architecture is another great stop.

Bran castle Romania

Of course, a trip to Brasov wouldn't be complete without a visit to Bran Castle, famously associated with the Dracula legend. Perched on a hill, this fortress is an architectural gem with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Explore the rooms filled with art and furniture from the Queen Marie of Romania collection.

Traditional Tastes

Romania dessert

Romania snack

The food in Romani comforting and delicious. The covrigi, a type of pretzel, is a popular street snack. For heartier fare, try mămăligă (polenta) with cheese and smântână (sour cream) or sarmale (cabbage rolls). For dessert, papanasi (doughnuts with sour cream and jam) is a must try. They are to die for!! I don't know what these are called in this picture but they were all over the main street in Sibiu and were sooo good. They are filled with ham and melted cheese. and only cost about $3.00

Brasov, Sibiu, and the surrounding area will absolutely capture your heart and imagination. The cities are full of charm, the churches are stunning, the people are warm and the food is tasty. What more could you ask for in a European destination?

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4 comentários

11 de mar.

Haven’t made it to Romania yet but adding this to our list! Also love you don’t have to go in shoulder season ! Great guide


11 de mar.

Sibiu is one of my favorite places to visit in Romania, thanks for the great post about it.


11 de mar.

Romania is definitely on my list - it's much more colourful than I imagined!


11 de mar.

I've only been to Timisoara, but really want to see more of this country!

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