As part of my month of adventures backpacking in Romania, I made it to one of the must-go places in Transylvania: Dracula’s Castle! plus I also had a bit of time to improvise a little bit of Hiking in Bran where the castle is located!
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Bran Castle (Dracula’s) is a national Romanian monument and depending on where you read, you will find lots of stories either confirming or denying the links of this castle with Blad The Impaler, whom everyone assumes was a key inspiration figure for the fictional character of Count Dracula written by Bram Stoker.
Theories and stories apart, it’s still an awesome place to visit when backpacking in Romania. Although what made my day even better was to do a bit of hiking in Bran as there you can find a trailhead to go hiking in the Bucegi mountains which are a magnificent place for outdoor lovers!
How to go to Bran Castle?
One of the most common starting points is from the town of Brasov which is just 25 Km away. There are public buses running almost every hour and sometimes even more frequently.
The bus ride takes 45 minutes and the one-way ticket costs 8 Lei (about €1.6). Beware when going to Brasov bus station as the buses to Bran depart from the Bus Station Number 2!!! not from Number 1 which is right by the train station. (search on google Brasov Autogara 2)
You could also go from Bucharest as I saw in the capital some posters advertising tours to go to Bran and Peles Castles in one day, but I wouldn’t recommend if you have time it as it will be a lot of exhausting travelling.
The bus station number 2 in Brasov is 20-30 minutes walk from the city centre, I was staying at Centrum House Hostel and walked to the station in 25 min pretty much all on a straight line so it’s very easy to find! 🙂
Visiting Dracula’s Castle
The bus will drop you just a couple of minutes walk away from the ticket office for the castle. The adult tickets costs 40 Lei and you can pay 10 Lei for an audioguide and/or 20 Lei to enter the time tunnel. I didn’t enter the tunnel so I can tell you if it’s worth it.
Before climbing up the little hill towards the castle I walked around the park in the lower ground as you can get in my opinion the best views of the castle itself. I had a cloudy and a little bit rainy day which made it look even more dramatic. Spooky!
Bran Castle is now mainly a museum displaying furniture collected by Queen Marie, the last Queen of Romania as she lived at Bran Castle for a while.
Because of this, the castle inside does not look as old as Hunedoara Castle or as fancy as Peles Castle, but instead I found it to be quite cosy at times…except a room where they have an exhibition of torture devices which it’s pretty creepy for me.
You can expect to spend 1 hour or so at the castle. There are lots of signage telling the history of the castle and lots of references to Dracula.
Try to go early to avoid large groups as otherwise it can feel super crowded even with a few people around as there are many narrow passages between rooms.
Hiking in Bran
After I finished exploring the castle I started to wander around town, not knowing what to find.
Thinking in walking a bit away to get a “cool” photo of the castle in the distance I came across one of the trailheads towards the Bucegi Mountain.
It was already a bit late in the day so I doubted for a second if I could squeeze a bit of hiking in Bran on my day…but of course I had to at least get a taste of the mountain!
The start of the trail is already steep and it was a bit slippery as it was raining earlier, I also went with some trainers that didn’t help much on this terrain.
The trail is instantly beautiful along a pine tree forest, all going up for just over 1 Km and well signalled.
My initial idea of just climbing a little bit to get a shot of the castle from above was quickly dismissed as I just kept hiking and completely forgot about the castle. This is a beautiful place!
I knew from seeing a poster at the trailhead that the route was pretty long and it was not doable at all to attempt such a serious hike with no previous planning or even having the proper gear. But looking on maps.me I could see there was another trail diverting back to town so I could do a bit of a circuit.
As you can see from the screenshot below (taken from maps.me) there are also different viewpoints along the route.
The distance was not long at all, but having very little time before it got dark left me with not much of a choice to make it longer.
Even so, this was a proper little adventure! as at times I was walking on ankle-deep snow which made my trainers as useful as going barefoot.
Going down hill I got also stunning views…and I also got a little surprise on the trail!!!
I knew there was a bear sanctuary near by, but I was not expecting to find them roaming so close to town. Luckily for me I didn’t see any bears, but I was for sure very careful from that moment looking everywhere for a possible encounter with a Romanian Bear!
Finishing my little loop I made it right on time to catch the bus back to Brasov. This little hiking in Bran made this a really fun and unexpectedly adventurous day!
Leave no trace and the Romanian common-sense
Whether because this was the trailhead of an important hike where you’re supposed to go with plenty of provisions, or just because this is a clever way to communicate a global issue. I want to highlight a sign that I found in Bran and which puts graphically something I’ve said many times in the past.
The poster speaks for itself, but as a reminder to all of you adventurous souls. Whatever we leave in the mountain, stays in the mountain 🙁
Let’s always bring whatever refuse we carry as it is not heavy, aim to also bring back to town at least a little bit of rubbish if you find any, and more importantly, if you see anyone littering Our Planet, call them out! it’s our responsibility to take care of our home and it doesn’t matter if you’re travelling on a foreign country, Planet Earth belongs to all of us!
Check out the rest of my adventures in Romania for more ideas on your next trip!
Happy adventures! 🙂