The scariest best things to do in Transylvania (2024)

Here’s a curated Transylvania travel guide to the best things to do in Transylvania.

Like most people with a resourceful imagination, I pictured Transylvania Romania filled with dark mountains, creepy castles, and forests crawling with menacing werewolves and flapping bats.

But now I know… the real Transylvania doesn’t exactly send a chill down the spine.

Transylvania is more like a fairy tale land. An unspoiled landscape of lush pastures and wildflower meadows, where shepherds tend their flocks and villagers make hay stacks in the sunshine. 

And the people there are quite tanned. Not pale-faced and pointy-toothed.

Let’s get to the fun part and take a look at what to see in Transylvania!

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So, no vampires?

Nope, Transylvania is not so much dark, moody vampire territory. But it is linked with the fearsome history of devilish vampires and the most famous bloodsucker of all: Dracula.

His fictional character was based on the very real Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler ↓

Vlad Tepes
Photo credit: By public domain

I introduced you in this post about Bran Castle, but I believe good old Vlad deserves a quick refresh.

Vlad III earned his nickname through his preferred method of dispatching his enemies. He liked to tie victims up and then hammer a stake through the poor soul’s rectum as far as the shoulder. And they lived for days this way. 

The region has a long history of myths and supernatural tales. But Romania has held back on promoting Dracula, which you can hardly hold against them since there is no proof that a) Dracula ever existed, and b) vampires ever occupied the area.

Also, although Vlad III and Dracula are seen as the same, they’re not. Dracula is a blood-sucking character made up by Bram Stoker. And Vlad is revered in Transylvania, not as a bloodthirsty vampire, but as a national hero who fought for independence against the Ottoman Empire.

So naturally not everyone is thrilled with Transylvania’s vampire reputation.

There are vampire stalls and various other promotions around Transylvania. But to be totally transparent, I missed a few more fangs and Dracula-themed organ music in D minor here and there.

I see a huge potential in vampire tourism and think it could benefit not only tourism in the region but to Romania’s economy in general.

Brasov, Romania
I found the Prince of Darkness in Sibiu
Romanian food

The best things to do in Transylvania

Transylvania is the most beautiful area in Romania and one that can keep you busy for days.

These are the main Transylvania attractions that you should check out. I’ll explain them in more detail below. 

  • Romanian castles
  • Transfăgărășan road trip
  • Medieval Transylvania cities
  • Salt mines (There are two salt mines in Transylvania: Salina Praid and the spectacular Turda Salt Mine)
  • National parks
You might picture Transylvania filled with dark mountains, creepy castles and forests crawling with menacing werewolves and flapping bats. Do you want the real version, though? Here's a guide to Dracula's homeland: Transylvania, Romania.
You might picture Transylvania filled with dark mountains, creepy castles and forests crawling with menacing werewolves and flapping bats. Do you want the real version, though? Here's a guide to Dracula's homeland: Transylvania, Romania.

1. Best Transylvania castles

Dracula may not be alive and biting in Transylvania, but there are plenty of creepy castles where you can imagine the old count flapping his cape and laughing in sinister fashion.

The 14th-century Bran castle – touted as Dracula’s castle – is located just an hour from Brasov.

And Bran is just one of the stunning castles – the more impressive Transylvania castles include Corvin Castle, Peles Castle, Rasnov Castle, Bánffy Castle, and Biertan Castle church.

Bran castle, Romania
This is Bran Castle

2. Charming medieval cities in Transylvania

When it comes to castles and charming medieval cities, Transylvania has it going on.

See, in the 12th century, the region was inhabited by Saxons from northwestern Europe. They built seven major walled towns in Transylvania and they have been very well kept to this day.

1. Bistrita (Bistritz) 

Bistrita is one of the oldest in the region, and it’s located close to the Borgo Pass. Its old town is dotted with quaint medieval houses, a 14th-century Saxon Evangelical Church, and a city wall.

2. Brasov (Kronstadt)

Besides its iconic Hollywood sign and other historical attractions, Brasov also has the impressive Black Church, which is the largest Gothic church east of Vienna.

3. Cluj-Napoca (Klausenburg)

The ancient Cluj-Napoca dates back to the 2nd century A.D. and is easily recognized by its 15th-century St. Michael’s Church. It’s a cultural city with arts, museums and opera.

4. Medias (Mediasch)

The charm of Medias comes from the narrow winding lanes, centuries-old houses, and a large pedestrian square. Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned here at one point (1467).

5. Sebes (Mühlbach)

Sebes, lined with colorful high-roofed 18th and 19th-century houses, have preserved its medieval feel. City highlights include the Evangelical church, Sebes Fortress, and the Tailor’s Tower.

6. Sibiu (Hermannstadt)

Rich in history and sights, Sibiu was designated the European Capital of Culture in 2007. And the houses there have eyes! It’s simply a must if you’re in Transylvania.

7. Sighisoara (Schassburg)

Sighisoara is a 15th-century gem with nine towers, narrow passageways, and beautiful cobbled streets. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sighisoara is also the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler.

Sibiu, Romania
The city walls in Sibiu

3. Do a Transylvania road trip

Itinerary: 4-5 days to see the major sights and cities

Transylvania is nearly three times the size of Wales and it’s perfect for a road trip. Roads are generally in good shape, but you have to be careful in traffic and on mountain roads.

A popular road to take is the Transfăgărășan Road, which stretches some 130 kilometers and connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia.

Similar to Vrsic Pass in Slovenia and Trollstigen in Norway, it’s steep and filled with hairpin bends so you need to focus (and not look out the window although it will be difficult not to).

Transfagarasan Pass
Photo by Carmen_d_cluj

4. Explore the Romanian countryside

One of the things that amazed me the most about Transylvania is how diverse it is. You can find the most developed cities there, like Brasov or Sibiu.

But if you drive 10 minutes into the countryside, you’ll pass old villages where people live as they did a hundred years ago.

There are peasants moving hay on horse-drawn wagons, giant stork nests atop lamp posts, shawled wives, Roma men with big hats and grandmas still sweeping the streets with their brooms.

If you are looking for the off-the-beaten-path experience, this is it.

Brasov, Romania
Catherine’s Gate, Brasov
Brasov, Romania

5. Discover unspoiled medieval landscape

It’s a beautiful sight driving through Transylvania’s landscape, with its flower-filled hay meadows and rural scenes.

Transylvania has four national parks. And although no werewolves (just wolves) and no vampire bats (more like small, harmless church bats) are found here, 60% of all wild brown bears in Europe live in Romania.

You might be lucky to see a wild one on your trip to Transylvania.

Photo by Cinty Ionescu

6. Devour Romanian food (Pork is king)

Romanian food is surprisingly tasty and specialties include fried dough with sweet cheese, pork aspic, and a flavored bean paste with smoked meat.

As far as I experienced, pork rules although poultry and sausage are popular, too.

Romanian food
Pork and potato stew

Transylvania travel tips

How to get around Transylvania

As mentioned earlier, Transylvania is perfect for a road trip, but it’s easy to take the train as well.

It takes time though, so the fastest way to get around without driving yourself is by minibus. Most big cities have a shuttle service between the bigger cities.

The best time to visit Transylvania

March to November is best for road-tripping. Colors are more intense in autumn. December to March is ski season.

Top tip for a Transylvania road trip 

Bring a map or GPS if you’re driving. Signs are few and far between.

Where to find Dracula-themed hotels in Transylvania

  • Dracula Castle, located 5 km from the Borgo Pass, was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula Castle. It has bathrooms created from stone grottoes and a medieval banqueting hall with skeletons and skulls.
  • Another entertaining hotel, the House of Dracula, is located between Brasov and Rasnov. This ornate castle-like building is backed by forests and is also close to Bran Castle.
  • Bran Castle – In 2016, Airbnb offered two brave souls a night in Dracula’s Castle for Halloween. Stay tuned, maybe they’ll host another contest in 2017!

Good reads and movies about Vampires

Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, “Van Helsing”, “Hotel Transylvania” and “Dracula Untold”, which is a personal favorite.

Good to know 

Eating out is quite cheap. A decent meal for two is around $18, and local beer is about $1.50 in a bar.

Transylvania attractions

A map of things to do in Transylvania

Below is a map of the top places in Transylvania.

To use the map, simply click on the pins to see which city they mark. You zoom in with the + and – sign in the right corner.

FAQ – What to do in Transylvania

How many days do you need in Transylvania?

You’ll need at least 4-5 days in Transylvania to get a good feel for the place, covering a few key cities and castles.

What is Transylvania known for?

Transylvania is known for its medieval castles, Gothic fortresses, and legends of Dracula, all set against the backdrop of dramatic mountains.

What is the most beautiful part of Transylvania?

The most beautiful part of Transylvania is the Saxon villages like Biertan and Viscri, or the scenic beauty of the Carpathian Mountains.

What are the best months to visit Transylvania?

The best months to visit Transylvania are May, June, September, and October. These months offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and the beautiful colors of spring and fall.

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  1. Hi Miriam! I enjoyed your guide to Transylvania, your tips were on point. Most of the places you have visited are among the favorites of the majority of tourists who come to Romania, but some of them also like to spend some time in rural areas. The fortified churches in Transylvanian villages are also interesting because of their history.

    1. I would love to visit some of the rural areas when I return. However, there’s very little information available on where to find small, rural and non-touristy villages. Maybe you have some suggestions?

  2. Thank you so much for the information on visiting Romainia .Will be heading out there next year for a big motorcycle tour . it looks amazing .Many thanks

  3. Leaving for Odorheiu-Secuiesc in two weeks. My grand parents were from Zetelaka (Zetea) and Telekfalva (Teleac). Will be meeting some of my distant relatives!

  4. One of the best times to visit Transylvania is on Halloween. There is a very funny party in Sighisoara citadel with magician’s shows, Vampire Killing show and a Ritual Killing of a Living Dead. Nothing scary just people enjoying a well-organized masquerade party with contests. Another one is Bran Castle Halloween Party, which is a club like atmosphere and the biggest in Romania

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