The spectacular city of Brasov is nestled in the heart of Transylvania fringed by the peaks of the stunning Carpathian Mountains offering visitors a wonderful mixture of medieval history with German influences found in the old town and magnificent mountain and forest scenery in nearby Poiana Brasov. The historic city is resplendent with Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture, and brimming with fascinating historical attractions.
Brasov was founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211 and settled by the Saxons as one of the seven walled citadels. The medieval city exudes a distinct ambiance and has been the backdrop for many period films. A dynamic modern city with old-world influences and charm found in the narrow cobblestone streets of Old Town where Strada Sforii, one of the narrowest streets in Europe is located.
Things to see and do
Brasov is the gateway to Transylvania with iconic, eerie castles dotted all over the hills and countryside. Dracula’s Bran Castle is located 15 miles southwest of Brasov, a national monument and landmark in Romania. The castle sits high above a valley perched on a rock, is now in ruins, it was depicted in Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. The castle is strikingly similar to Bran Castle mentioned in the book where Vlad Dracul resides, even though Bram Stoker never visited the castle or Romania.
Spend the summertime hiking in the nearby Carpathian Mountain ranges which lead hikers through verdant forests and up the striking mountainsides filled with flora and fauna. The same applies to the surrounding region of Poiana Brasov which soars to 3,300 feet with trekking through Piatra Craiului National Park.
Brasov is full of medieval fortifications including ancient city walls, watchtowers, gateways, and more. The Brasov skyline is instantly compelling and filled with historic churches such as the Black Church, and sparkling baroque buildings. The historic medieval center of Brasov is a charm to walk through, cobblestone streets lead to the bustling arc-shaped Council square and colorful buildings brimming with lively cafes to sit at and absorb the pleasant atmosphere while people watching.
Walk under Catherine’s Gate, the last standing original medieval gate in the city dating back to 1559 proudly displaying the Brasov coat of arms. The Saxons adorned gates with 4 small turret towers in each corner, it was built by the Tailors’ Guild and named after St. Catherine’s monastery. Visitors can trace the pathways around the outer edges of the city’s fortified walls dating back almost 600 years.
Walk along the popular ,b>Tiberiu Brediceanu Promenade that leads to Tampa Mountain where you can hike or take a scenic cable car ride to the top to the viewing platform offering spectacular views over the city and surrounding region. The city sits at the foot of Mount Tampa which rises to 3,083 feet above Brasov, adorned with its own Hollywood-esque style sign. Stop in at the cafe at the summit for a snack and refreshment.
Go Skiing, Romania is the place to ski in Eastern Europe and the crown jewel of Romanias ski resorts is the charming Poiana Brasov located 8 miles away from the city center. The resort is nestled in the pine forests of the Carpathian arch sitting at around 5,000 feet altitude. They offer 19 marked runs and 22 miles of unmarked runs with slopes designated for different levels from beginner to advanced.
There are quite a few shopping opportunities to experience in Brasov, many of the locations concentrated around the ,B>Citadel and Republic Street. The popular Galeria Hora gift shop is found on this street offering modest gifts at moderate prices. There are a few shopping malls also including Unirea Shopping Center, Eliana Mall, and the massive Coresi Shopping Resort in the Tractorul neighborhood which includes brand-name clothing stores, a multiplex cinema, swimming pool, a supermarket, and a food court. There are hypermarkets in the Eliana Mall and the Coresi Shopping Resort.
Astra Market “Piata Astra” is a highly recommended market offering natural, healthy food which includes imported and produced items by peasants from the countryside. Orizont 3000 consists of some small shops, selling all kinds of different goods including fresh fruits and vegetables.
Shop for folk crafts, such as embroidered linen and clothing, painted and beaded eggs, pottery, carpets, wood carvings, ceramics, and other interesting gifts and souvenirs. Look for unusual handmade clothing items and accessories authentically handmade with patterns, cloth bags, and aprons.
Pebs Jewelry store is filled with lovely unusual items made from natural minerals and plants, along with original hand-painted ceramics. The Himalayan Boutique is a great location for gifts and original clothing made in Indian style.
Castles and Fortresses
Romania is home to some of the finest castles in the world, many are located just on the outskirts of Brasov including Peles Castle, Bran Castle, and Rasnov Fortress. Transylvania’s Saxon castles are one of the major draws to the region where visitors can soak up the elegant estates and crumbling fortresses and imagine the bloodthirsty counts that are said to have lived there long ago.
Peles Castle - An alluring castle built in the 1800s surrounded by the rugged wild beauty and once home to Romania’s first king Carol I as a summer residence. A favorite among the Romanian upper class and still a major attraction today. This grand and luxurious castle features neo-renaissance, gothic-revival, and baroque styles.
Bran Castle - This castle is associated with Vlad the Impaler or Dracula said to have once been his home and the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. The black castle features a museum that is well worth a visit as well as the spectacular surrounding grounds.
Rasnov Fortress - The stunning fortress overlooks the verdant Romanian countryside. Built between 1211-1225 the medieval fortress is still in great condition and features a walled citadel with tourist attractions within the walls, including archery, and ax throwing. There are some breathtaking views to enjoy at the top of the citadel.
Corvin Castle - The castle is the greatest Gothic-style castle in Romania and served as a fortress until the mid 14th century when it became the residence of Iancu de Hunedoara, Transylvania’s ruler. The castle was transformed into the most stunning in the region and features a Knights Hall, an impressive drawbridge, high buttresses, inner courtyards, a chapel, and 50 rooms with medieval art.
Cristian Fortified Church - A gothic-style Evangelical Church dating to 1495 in the village of Cristian, built on the site of the 13th-century Roman basilica enclosed by two rows of walls and guarded towers. There are two underground tunnels that allowed the villages to flee from the fortress to the forest in times of siege.
Fagaras Fortress - Established in 1310 on the former site of a 12th-century wooden fortress burned down by the Tartars in 1241. The fortress was enlarged between the 15-17th centuries and considered to be one of the strongest fortifications in Transylvania. The fortress is surrounded by a deep moat, a bridge over the moat, three stories, five towers, and now features the Fagaras County Museum.
Harman Fortified Church - In the heart of Harman village a fortified church dating back to the 13the century when built by the Saxons. There are massive towers, strong walls, and bulwarks surrounding the church.
Food and Nightlife
The cuisine in Brasov is very much authentic Romanian cuisine with various soups, meats, and vegetables actively used in dishes. Sour soups are a thing in Romania, soups contain various fresh vegetables and meat and almost all of them include wheat bran. The menus in Brasov offer a great variety of stuffed peppers, eggplant, and marrows. Vegetable ragouts are popular items with hundreds of different recipes. Meats cooked on an open fire grill are very popular in this region, skewers of delicious meat such as lamb, beef, and chicken accompanied with delectable vegetables are a delicious dish to try.
The city of Brasov is full of great quality restaurants (expensive compared to other Romanian cities). There are some unique foods to choose from in the city and unusual restaurants to visit. Butoiul Sasului is one of the most famous eateries in the city, the dining complex includes two cafes, an elegant bar, and a winery. Found in the historic district, offering a wide choice of authentic Romanian dishes and vintage wines. There is a wonderful outdoor terrace to enjoy in the summer months and the complex turns into an open-air coffee shop with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
There are some fantastic restaurant locations found in Brasov some with views of the historic towers and walls of the old city, others dotted along hidden streets, and many found in the charming squares offering a relaxed ambiance and magnificent views.
Visitors will not be disappointed with the options for a fun night out in Brasov, the city is brimming with traditional pubs, clubs, and restaurants. There are several different locations for some good nightlife options in the city so most visitors will be able to find something to suit their style.
Brasov is the location of many fun festivals held throughout the year, including;
Zilele Brasovului (The Feast Days of Brasov - The week of Orthodox Easter - The festival features several fairs including wine and food and Parades of the Juni (Youths) an old preserved tradition where young men ride horses through the old town center.
Cerbul de Aur - August-September - Annual music festival with hundreds of pop artists and musicians, contestants, and big-name modern and classic stars held in the city’s main square.
The International Chamber Music Festival - September
The Beer Festival (Festivalul Berii) - A small festival usually held in the fall with dozens of beer tents and traditional Romanian foods such as mici. Local and national bands take to the stage and perform.
Brasov Oktoberfest - September - The annual German festival held in the city with beer, traditional food, and great music.
The International Opera Festival - September - An annual festival with local and international opera performances.
Brasov Christmas Markets - Dec-Jan (dates announced in Nov) - Held in the heart of the medieval city in Piata Sfatului. A cute intimate market with stalls selling authentic handcrafted Christmas items, carolers walk through the square, the famously decorated Christmas tree adorned with 100 lights and hanging garlands. There are food and drinks on offer including the famed Kurtos Kalac (giant pretzels).