Transylvania is home to some of Europe’s best-preserved mediaeval towns, most notably Brasov, featuring Old Saxon architecture and citadel ruins; Sibiu with its cobblestone streets and pastel-coloured houses, and Sighisoara, adorned with a hilltop citadel, secret passageways and a 14th century clock tower. There are many tiny shops offering antiques and fine hand-made products by local artisans across the region. Visitors to Transylvania will also encounter stunning castles such Bran, near Brasov - a Gothic fairy-tale structure, often associated with 15th century Walachian Prince Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While the connection with Vlad is tenuous, the deep bond of local villagers with the legend is not.
In close proximity to Brasov and Bran are the fortified churches at Harman, with its massive 13th Saxon towers, and Prejmer, the largest fortified church in Southeastern Europe. The 15th-century Corvinesti Castle, the most beautiful in Transylvania, located nearby Hunedoara, has a sumptuous Knights Hall – that is frequently used for functions or parties, as well as towers and buttresses reminiscent of the mediaeval times.
Transylvania’s multi-ethnic heritage (including German and Hungarian) is delightfully apparent in the folk costumes, architecture, cuisine, music and festivals. Colourful centuries-old traditions are alive and well in the small villages of Transylvania. People here still make a living at such time-honoured occupations as shepherds, weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters.
The Apuseni Mountain range, in the western Carpathians, is a landscape of exquisite beauty and mystery. Here, you’ll find ancient legends of mountain spirits and rare species of wildlife, along with 4,000 caves, many of which can be explored. Scarisoara Glacier, a national monument, shelters the second largest underground glacier on the continent.
Transylvania's cuisine displays a variety of flavours such as dishes spiced with thyme, red pepper or tarragon. Meats, such as pork, mutton and veal are among the most popular ingredient in Transylvania’s cuisine. The soups, to which sour cream and egg yolk are ofted added, also include flour dumplings or homemade pasta. Make sure you don’t leave the region without trying the delicious "Varza a la Cluj" – the Romanian version of lasagne - prepared from several layers of finely shredded cabbage (fresh or sour) and minced pork or veal mixed with rice and bacon and baked in the oven.
Transylvanians are not only artisans in producing fragrant, pleasant and light wines, but also sophisticated double-distilled liquors. Palinca, Horinca and Rachie are varieties of brandy made from fruits, particularly plums, apples, and pears, aged in mulberry tree barrels, acquiring a golden colour and a taste often rivaling whisky. There are also traditions of wine making in some of the Saxon villages in this region.
Where to stay
The Marylou Pension is situated in a quiet area of Alba-Iulia's Citadel and offers a welcome enhanced by the hospitality of the hosts. In the immediate surroundings you can visit the two cathedrals and ...
The Continental Forum Hotel is located close to the historical centre; a short walk to the pedestrianised squares and tourist attractions of Sibiu. The hotel is a historical monument dating from 1912 and ...
The Guest House Muntele Rece [Cold Mountain] is situated in the village of Predelut, near Bran and offers an unique view of the surrounding area including Bran Castle.
The Casa Wagner Hotel in Brasov provides its guests with a perfect central location, just a stone's throw from sumptuous cafes and bakeries and Brasov's main tourist attractions.
The Council is located in the heart of Sibiu, the Old Council Tower, a few steps from the Piata Mare, Liars' Bridge and Piata Mica.
The Hotel Capitolina "City Chic" is located in the historic centre of Cluj-Napoca; completely re-designed in 2013 to become a "Lifestyle Hotel".
The Guest House Hora Cu Brazi is located within an astounding natural setting, just a few kilometres from the legendary castle of Bran.
Hotel Sighisoara is one of the oldest buildings in Sighisoara's citadel; offering true historic atmosphere with modern touches.
The Hotel Am Ring Hotel is situated in Sibiu's main square; the building dates from the Gothic period and its latest restoration succeeds in offering all the modern conveniences of the 21th century.
Casa Luxembourg is located in the centre of Mediaeval Sibiu; it has exceptional rooms which look out over the city. Sibiu offers great cafés and plenty of historic sights, this hotel is an ideal ...
Hotel Bella Muzica is located in the historic centre of Brasov, in a building dating from early 17th Century.
The Tempo Guesthouse opened in Targu Mures in 1997 with 8 rooms and a small restaurant. Over the years the pension has increased its capacity with rooms being regularly upgraded and refurbished to ensure ...
Hotel Casa Wagner is located right in the mediaeval citadel of Sighisoara and offers an unforgettable experience in a unique historic setting.
Pension Casa Medievala is located in Bran, just 200 yards from the Bran Castle, offering cosy rooms with wooden interiors. You can enjoy panoramic views of the Bucegi Mountains and Bran Castle.
The Tulip Inn Sunny Hill Hotel is surrounded by the Faget forest just 10 minutes from the centre of Cluj-Napoca welcoming you in the natural environment of the Faget forest; you will find comfortable ...
The Guest House Rhein & Wine Cellars offer independent guests charming rooms and a fabulous restaurant serving locally-produced wine and traditional Romanian cuisine.
"Doina provided an excellent service and could not have done more. Mihai, our driver/guide was extremely knowledgeable and helpful and made sure we saw everything we wanted. We could not wish for a better guide. The hotels and guest houses were of a good standard and we were well fed. The sites we saw were quite amazing although on some days we wouldn't have minded one less church/monastery. We were delighted to be able to visit Biertan and Viscri and appreciated the trouble Doina and Mihai took over this. We enjoyed the train ride and Popa Museum. Mihai enabled us to visit the Sighet and Brasov Ethnographic Museums, a special interest of ours. Thanks to Andy the tour was arranged to give us free days in Sibiu, where we visited the Astra Village Museum, which is both friendly and impressive. A thoroughly enjoyable holiday we will remember for a long time."
R Moody, UK, Sept 2017
"I wanted to say that the itinerary you put together for us was excellent, thank you. As we said already, as was the local guide who showed us around Sibui. We loved our holiday and are definitely interested in going back to Romania in the future. Doina who hired the minivan for us was lovely and the car hire was perfect! And as a point for the future, we were very glad we had taken our sat nav with us! Thank you for everything. "
V Wall, UK, August 2017
"Continental Hotel was fine, overall just a bit impersonal. The location was perfect - our main criteria. Breakfast buffet was great. They had double booked us at the hotel in Sighisoara so we were moved to the Bulevard Hotel and allowed to use the pool at the original hotel. The manager (Anna) was fabulous. Actually we far preferred the location of the hotel we were moved to and enjoyed the pool facilities in the evening! "
V Wall, UK, August 2017
"We have all reached home safely after a very memorable trip to Romania. We were very pleased with your organising the trip and we are particularly thankful to Ms. Doina Anghel for all her support and help. We hope you will help us with our next travel as well."
P Annamalai, India, June, 2017
"Just wanted to pass on some feedback regarding our Romanian trip. Some of the highlights were the walking tour of the Old Town in Cluj Napoca where we first arrived. The accommodations at Capitolina were very nice. Our guide, Mihai, grew up in Romania and currently lives in Sibiu and he was quite knowledgeable about Romanian history, which made the tour very interesting and relevant. We thought the salt mine tour in Turda was absolute amazing. We were shocked at the size of it and the boating lake, tennis courts, bowling alley, medical clinic, and gift shop at the bottom of this massive pit started by the Romans. Alba Iulia was a wonderful stop. We really enjoyed walking around the Hapsburg Citadel and my husband is a lover of Roman ruins, so we were able to see some of these in Alba as well. Alba is on one of the major roads that lead out of Rome. Sibiu (where Mihai lives) is a lovely old Saxon city, with wonderful architecture and plazas. Mihai did a great walking tour of the Old City before we left. We loved the accommodations at Casa Luxembourg. The traditional restaurant we went to was right across the square where we were staying, so it was convenient and most excellent. We really enjoyed seeing the famous Transfagaran highway built by Ceacescu and hearing the story about how and why it was built. Our hike up the Balea Cascade was wonderful despite getting caught in the rain and snow up near Balea Lake. We arrived at the Brancoveanu Monastery and were told that dinner had been served all at once at 7:30 pm. They were nice enough to feed us, but the soup, French fries, and fried cheese were cold and quite unappetizing. The rooms were very small and sparse and the mattresses were the most uncomfortable mattresses we have ever slept on. They felt like they were made of straw but were beyond firm. The monastery is well worth a visit and it is in a beautiful place, but the 4 of us were in agreement that we did not care for the accommodations or the "all at once" serving of dinner. I don't think Mihai was aware of this fact. He said no one told him about the one time dinner serving at 7:30 pm. The fact that we arrived late was not Mihai's fault. One person in our group, was extremely slow, so the hike took a few hours longer than he had anticipated. The next morning we headed to the bear sanctuary near Zarnesti. Unfortunately, we were turned away because they only have one tour per day and you have to get there around 9:30 in the morning to gather at the gate for the group tour. Mihai told us that his group, Aldo Travel in Sibiu, did not tell him about this. We were quite disappointed, but he said we would go back the next morning, and we did, so all was resurrected. We really enjoyed Pestera and Mihai took us to one of the last working water-powered woolen mills in Romania. It was fascinating. Accommodations at Casa Folea on top of a lovely ridge were quite nice. The views on both sides of the ridge of the Bucegi Mtns and Craiului Ridge were spectacular. Bran Castle was a must but in some respects a disappointment. The place is packed with long lines to get in and it turns out that Bram Stoker never visited there and Bran may not even be the castle he referred to in Dracula, but it is a tourist mecca. Still glad to have seen it despite the hype. The Rhein winery guesthouse was a great place to stay. The dinners were lovely with paired wines included in the dinner. Loved the Zamora Ridge hike and seeing the amazing stone pillars, including the Sphinx. I made it to the top of Omu while the others turned back and waited for Mihai and I to get back to the cabin at the top of the cable car house. The only glitch to this day had to do with the cable cars. We got there after 9 am and the lines were over 1.5 hours long since the cars only hold 25 people and they only arrive every 20 minutes. The last cable car of the afternoon is at 3:45. We got there at 3:40 pm because of the late start on the hike and going to the ..."
M Attell, USA, October 2016
"Just to let you know that we are now home from a very successful holiday. Everything went pretty smoothly – I’ll write later about a couple of things (such as exact hotel locations) that might help future travellers. You have a very good local agent in Aldo Travel. Many thanks indeed for your advice and help in setting this up."
D Squire, UK, Sept 2015