Top Tips for Travelling from Sofia to Bucharest by Bus

Top Tips for Travelling from Sofia to Bucharest by Bus

Top Tips for Travelling from Sofia to Bucharest by Bus

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This was the final (and longest) leg of our bus journey to reach Romania. We started our travel at 08:30 in Pristina, Kosovo; then headed to Skopje, North Macedonia; and now we had just arrived into Sofia, Bulgaria at 21:00. We had booked accommodation in Sofia so that we could get our heads down, and then head from Sofia to Bucharest  by bus in the morning. BUT (and this is where it got interesting), we hadn’t booked our tickets yet.

As with every other leg of this mammoth journey, we were booking the tickets as and when. However, Sofia International Bus Station is an absolute mission and a half: a really stressful place in the evenings. Everyone seems to be panicking. At around 22:30, a woman was running round asking anyone to get her a bus to Vienna this evening. Vienna is a long old bus ride away! And this late in the day and so last minute?! Because it was so stressful, I know that we could have done with a lot more information on this journey and the international bus station to prepare us better. If you are thinking about making this journey, or heading somewhere else from Sofia, I hope this helps out. So, here you go, folks!

Sofia International Bus Station is Intense

The bus station is an outdoor maze of small counters run by different bus companies. Some stay open very late: we were probably there until 23:00, but a lot close earlier depending on the times their company runs buses. Companies operate similar routes with different stops and different prices, so make sure you ask around and check at the train station to weight up all your options. Don’t just agree to the first company that offers your route: you can always come back to them.

Most companies only accept cash as payment, even when they had the stickers in their doors advertising that they accept Mastercard and Visa! Don’t worry though, there is an ATM on site which does not charge withdrawal fees. We withdrew cash using our Starling cards without any problem or fees.

Sofia city views, Sofia to Bucharest by bus


Buying Bus Tickets Online

We have visited many websites for bus companies in the Balkans, the majority of which I would not feel comfortable inputting my card details, passport details etc. Many are not user friendly, don’t translate well into English, and some don’t even have the https in the URL. If this is the case, I would not recommend booking your tickets online. However, we found FlixBus that has a great website. We have booked several buses with them through their website; it’s logical and reliable. Buy your ticket, and they send you an email confirmation with a QR scanner. That’s it.

Is It Cheaper to Buy Online or In Person?

For our example of the Sofia to Bucharest that dreadful evening, it was far cheaper to buy the tickets online. The agent initially quoted us 20 EUR each for a seven hour journey which seemed reasonable. Then within about ten minutes, the price had jumped to 36 EUR each. Erm…what?! He told us that we were better off checking the website instead of booking through him. He even gave us his wifi password to complete the booking. It came to 18 EUR booking directly through Flix Bus.

Bus Times from Sofia to Bucharest

There are two buses that head to Bucharest from Sofia each day with Flix Bus: one at 13:15 arriving in at 20:15, and one at 23:30 arriving in at 06:30 the next day. We got the bus in the day from Sofia, and the bus overnight back to Sofia, and we can thoroughly recommend getting the night bus if possible. There won’t be as much mayhem at the border at night, so your journey will be shorter. Also, you save on a night’s accommodation. Win win.

Sofia tram, Sofia to Bucharest by bus

Getting on the Bus

Make sure you arrive at least fifteen minutes early at the international bus station. They will scan you QR code on your tickets and throw your bag underneath the bus. Now, our tickets had a caveat about luggage allowance: certain dimensions, weight etc. We both had huge backpacks that probably weigh 20kg, a smaller backpack we wear on the front that’s got to be coming up 10kg, and a small bag with odds and ends. No one checked anything, so regular luggage should be ok – just don’t bring five suitcases!

Sit in the seat assigned on your ticket. There is space for hand luggage above head and under the seat in front. There is also a flip down table, charging points and wifi.

Breaks Along the Way

There is one designated stop of maybe fifteen minutes at a petrol station that has decent toilets with a little cafe and shop just before Veliko Tarnovo, so about three hours in.

The bus then stops at Veliko Tarnovo if people are booked to pick it up from there, otherwise it will just continue on.

Veliko Tarnovo, Sofia to Bucharest by bus

Veliko Tarnovo

The Border Crossing

This is where the fun starts! The bus crosses the border at Ruse and it is by a long way, the busiest land border crossing we have ever experienced. The bus was crawling along in traffic for about two hours to cross the border.

Once we reached the border, the border police came up on to the bus. They asked everyone where they were heading and took their passports or ID cards in a huge pile off of the bus. It freaks me out when someone takes my passport away, but it’s the way that it works at this border.

The bus pulled over and we had to wait for thirty minutes to get the passports back. There is a small duty free, a currency exchange and toilets here.

We got back on the bus and were handed our passports back, which had been stamped with a Bulgarian exit and Romanian entry.

From the Border to Bucharest

This last part of the journey should only take about an hour, and will bring you to Autogara Militari.

You’ve Arrived!

Flix Bus’s station, called Autogara Militari, is quite a way out of the city centre so you will likely need to get more transport into the centre. We eventually arrived at 22:00.

I would 100% recommend getting a Bolt pick up from the station to your accommodation as it will probably cost you between 2-3 GBP. Otherwise, jump on a bus like us or there is a metro station close by.

There is a taxi layby right outside the entrance to the bus station which is where your Bolt can pick you up from.

If getting the bus, turn right out of the bus station and then turn right when you hit the main road. The bus stops just outside the flower shop. You can tap your Starling card for payment on the bus: 3 RON each.

If getting the metro, turn right out of the bus station, cross the main road, and the metro station is just on your left.

Google Maps works well in Bucharest so you can see live bus times etc. to keep track of where you’re going.

Romania, Sofia to Bucharest by bus

Welcome to Bucharest

Have you taken this journey? Is there anything else you would add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

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How to Visit Dracula’s Castle: Brasov to Bran

How to Visit Dracula’s Castle: Brasov to Bran

How to Visit Dracula’s Castle: Brasov to Bran

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Built atop a rocky perch, Dracula’s Castle (Bran Castle) stands tall with white brickwork, exposed beams and is topped with orange rooftiles and tall spires. You can see exactly why it has its associations with Dracula: it feels ominous and imposing, maybe even intimidating (or is that just psychological?). The castle evidently has plenty of stories to tell and has been associated with Romanian myths and legends. This really is an intriguing spot to add to your Romania itinerary.

We visited as a half-day trip from Brasov, and so have put together this guide of everything you need to know about a visit to Dracula’s Castle.

A Little of Bran Castle’s Back Story

A castle has been on this site since early 1200s, however, the stone castle of Bran was built in the late 1300s. Used as a defence against the invading Ottomans and a checkpoint along a trade route, it wasn’t until after the Austro-Hungarian rule in 1920, that the Romanian royalty were handed the property. Queen Marie was particularly fond of the castle and instigated renovations to bring it into the condition that we see today. Communism came in, the royal family were expelled, and their property taken. After the fall of communism, properties were redistributed to their rightful heirs and Bran Castle was turned into a museum.

courtyard, visit dracula's castle

The beautifully photogenic courtyard

views from the top of Bran castle

Views from the top

Did Dracula actually live here?

Ok, so first thing to clear up is that, quite upsettingly, this isn’t actually anything to do with the fictional character from Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula. Fictional Dracula is very often mixed up with the very much real Vlad Tepes (or Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Impaler as you may know him) who was a ruler of the Wallachia region of Romania in the 1400s. Even fictional Dracula is not believed to have been set here. So it seems that the imposing castle is a place where people could picture Dracula living and so it stuck? Disappointing, eh? Nevertheless, the castle is an amazing piece of architecture with a museum inside dedicated to Queen Marie of Romania, that is worthy of a visit.

I want to suck your blood!

Where is the Castle?

Dracula’s Castle or Bran Castle is located in the village of Bran in Transylvania, about 25km southwest of Brasov. It makes an easy day or even half-day trip from Brasov on a public bus that only takes about 50 minutes.

Shen Gjergji church

How do I get to Bran Castle from Brasov?

Head to Autogara 2 in Brasov city where a public bus leaves this station every half hour. You can’t pay for your ticket in advance, so just turn up, jump on and pay 13 RON in cash to the driver. We got there about ten minutes early and were able to buy tickets and grab a seat without problems. It is a straight forward journey and will get you there in about 50 minutes. The bus will drop you right outside the castle entrance. Walk through the market stalls selling Dracula souvenirs and enter the castle. Maybe stop for a Turkish coffee cooked over sand by this guy.

Red tower viewpoint, things to do in Korca


How much does it cost?

Tickets cost 45 RON, so they’re pretty pricey for a backpacker budget. You buy your ticket at the gate and then have to scan the barcode when you enter the castle itself, so make sure you hold on to it until then. You can actually enter the grounds of the castle, wander round, have a picnic by the ponds, take photos of the castle etc. without paying any fee. It is only entering the castle that requires payment.

Shen Gjergji church

Castle grounds

Is it worth paying to go inside?

It depends on your interests. As someone who really appreciates unique and historic architecture, I would say yes! You get to enter several rooms which have been laid out with traditional furniture and paintings etc. There are rooms that have more of a museum feel about them with information on the castle’s history, Queen Marie and even Romanian folklore and legends. You get to climb the stairs through a secret passageway, stand out on the balcony for some great views of the surrounding area and the internal courtyard. When we visited Romania, I felt like it was something that I really wanted to do: it’s probably Romania’s biggest claim to fame around the world! I think it was worth the entrance fee.

Korca Brewery Tasting Room

Korca Brewery Beer Taster

How long should you spend there?

We spent about an hour walking around the castle, reading the info on the exhibits and taking pictures. After visiting the castle, wander around the outside also. Maybe find a spot in the sunshine for a drink or a picnic.

Korca brewery

Does it get busy?

Yes! Queuing to get into a tourist attraction is THE worst, however, there are some instances where it is necessary, and this is one of them. My advice is to get the first bus from Brasov that leaves at 8am to get you to the castle before the 9am opening. We arrived about ten minutes before opening and there were maybe twelve people waiting in the queue. Get in and visit the castle first as this is where the backlog of people is created. The secret passageway and stairwells are narrow so it could easily cause a queue. If we didn’t arrive first thing, I probably would have struggled with the sheer amount of people.

Red tower viewpoint, things to do in Korca

Get that alarm set

How do I get back to Brasov?

Jump on the same bus on the other side of the road. The bus stop is right by a langos stand so you could always grab one of these while you’re waiting. It’s the same deal on the way back: you shouldn’t have to wait more than 30 minutes.

Have you been to Bran Castle? Are there any other tips that you would add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

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Top Things to Do in Sibiu: Romania’s City with Eyes

Top Things to Do in Sibiu: Romania’s City with Eyes

Top Things to Do in Sibiu: Romania’s City with Eyes

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Sibiu is a fortified medieval city in Transylvania, with similarities to that of Sighisoara and Brasov. Sibiu, however, has an airport with direct flights from the UK and other European destinations, which makes it a much easier destination to pop over to for a weekend. The city is best known for its classic old town with cobbled streets lined with colourful buildings, historic towers and hidden passageways.

The upper part of town has had restorations, but the lower part where the medieval peasants used to live, has not. This is where you’ll find real life: wonky doorways, flaking paint revealing brickwork underneath, well-worn house facades.

A strong courtyard culture is still present in the lower town; huge wooden doors off the main street open up into shared areas with buildings split into apartments and communal balconies (a similar but smaller version of that found in Tbilisi, Georgia). Sibiu has so much charm and character, and you’ll end up wanting to explore every nook and cranny of this medieval old town. Get your camera at the ready. Keep reading to find all our top things to do in Sibiu.

How to Get to Sibiu

Sibiu airport (SBZ) is largely serviced by budget airline, Wizz Air, which flies to cities all around Europe. You will likely be able to find very cheap flights on Skyscanner.

The trains that we got in and out of Sibiu are below:

Cluj-Napoca to Sibiu: cost 55.4 RON and took four hours, leaving Cluj at 10am. This requires a changeover at Copsa Mica station, which I was concerned about because the time for us to switch between trains was only five minutes! I was convinced that this was a risky move but the woman at the ticket desk said it would be fine. 10:00 – 12:44 into Copsa Mica, 12:49 – 14:00 into Sibiu. Squeaky bum time. I was stressed the entire first journey, especially as I could see our first train becoming further and further behind schedule. We ended up getting into Copsa Mica about ten minutes late, but the train to Sibiu had waited for our train! They knew we were coming and so waited for us and a few other passengers doing the same route. You’d never get that back home.

Sibiu to Bucharest: cost 82.9 RON and took six hours, leaving Sibiu at the awful time of 3:55am.

Find out more tips on train travel around Romania here.

romania train

Things to Do

Watch Out for the Houses with Eyes

Walk down the streets of Sibiu (particularly the lower town) and you will see all the houses staring back at you. Sibiu’s unique architecture means that the small ventilation windows in the rooftops look like shifty eyes spying on you.

bridge of lies, things to do in sibiu

Always watching!

bridge of lies, things to do in sibiu

Keep an eye out

Carefully Cross the Bridge of Lies

Legend has it that the bridge will collapse if someone standing on it tells a lie, so be careful, folks! There are some interesting buildings around here, but the real reason to come here is because of the legend.

bridge of lies, things to do in sibiu
bridge of lies, things to do in sibiu
bridge of lies, sibiu

Marvel at Holy Trinity Cathedral, and the Hidden Painted Archway across the Road

A beautiful building with intricate artwork and stained glass windows, and some really fancy doors. (I love a good door.) Cross the street from the church and you will see an arched entrance way, almost like a tunnel. The painting inside is so bright and detailed. Don’t miss it.

decorative door, holy trinity cathedral, sibiu

What a door!

The interior in the archway across the street

Wander through Piața Mare and Piața Mică (Big Square and Small Square)

Both squares are lined with grand buildings and restaurants. Piața Mică has market stalls where you can buy souvenirs, trinkets and food, whereas Piața Mare has benches and water features and tends to be where people congregate. Both are usually bustling with people, so it creates a nice atmosphere to walk around.

Big Square, things to do in sibiu

Piața Mare

Small Square, things to do in sibiu

Piața Mică

Explore the Streets of the Lower Town

Literally, the part of the town that is lower, as in the bottom of the steps. Back in medieval times, the peasants lived in the lower town, and this is really where you can feel and see the history in its atmosphere and architecture. This is where real life happened. It is full of colourful and characterful buildings: well-worn and a bit wonky.

lower town, sibiu
lower town, sibiu
medieval tower, things to do in sibiu

Our Favourite Vegetarian Food Recommendations

We didn’t eat out too much in Sibiu because we had an apartment where we could cook. These are the few things we did try.


Similar to a filled donut, gogosi is deep-fried dough with a variety of sweet or savoury fillings. Buy them from any of the bakeries in town. Our favourites are the salty cheese filling and the cherry filling.


A soft pretzel that is served plain, topped with seeds etc. or filled with something sweet. Again, you can buy these from any bakeries in town.



Shaka Bowl Restaurant

Serves poke-style bowls with tofu, edamame, loads of great vegan staples.

shaka bowl, sibiu

Bowl of goodness

Have you been to Sibiu? Is there anything else you would add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

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The Ultimate Guide to Train Travel in Romania

The Ultimate Guide to Train Travel in Romania

The Ultimate Guide to Train Travel in Romania

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Travelling Romania by train turned out to be the best for us. Hiring a car was not in the budget, and buses seemed to be more expensive and often only a little quicker than the train.

Train stations tend to be located more centrally in cities than the bus stations, which means that you can just walk to your accommodation and not have to fork out for taxi. So, for us, train travel was a no-brainer, but it completely depends on many factors and your style of travel.

If you’re looking for budget friendly travel with decent leg room, train travel is your best bet.

Train travel in Romania turned out to be relatively straight forward, though it did have some quirks. We used a lot of trains during our Romanian trip so decided to pull together all the information that we thought would be useful to you too.

Buy your Tickets at the Machines

You get a discount for not bothering the people at the ticket desk (and if you’re at Gara de Nord in Bucharest, trust me, you don’t want to talk to them anyway!)

Book Tickets in Advance if Possible

Try to buy your tickets a few days in advance, especially if travelling at peak times. We didn’t manage to book on to a morning train to Bucharest, and so had to take a train leaving at 4am instead.

Double Check your Carriage and Seat Number

Tickets have assigned seat numbers. The carriages are not always marked on the trains correctly, and are also not necessarily in the right order, so it’s not always logical. I recommend double checking with a ticket controller as you get on to the train.

train travel in romania

Hold on to that Ticket

Your ticket could be checked multiple times throughout the journey, so hold onto it for the whole journey.

Luggage Storage is Overhead

Luggage storage is generally on metal racks above the seats. So if you have 20kg backpacks like us, get training to lift that bag above your head!

Trains are Owned by Different Companies

Trains are run by different companies, so double check your train number on your ticket matches that on the digital displays at the stations. Our train from Sinaia to Brasov was delayed and another train run by a different company taking the exact same route turned up just before our delayed train. We (and others, not just us!) got on this wrong train, and then got kicked off a few stops into the journey!

Don’t Worry about Tight Train Connections

If you have a connecting train that you miss because of a delay to your first train, you will be able to get your ticket switched to the next train. Make sure you get this new ticket at the ticket desk though. Don’t just jump on the next train with the ticket for the earlier train you missed. The ticket controllers are more than happy to kick you off a train.

We had a tight train connection of five minutes! Squeaky bum time. The first train ended up being ten minutes late, but the connecting train waited for the passengers from the late train. So, if you have the connection booked already and the train can wait, they likely will.

Trains are Generally Pretty Slow

A lot of train journeys go all around the houses, traipsing through monotonous fields for miles on end. Don’t expect to get there quickly.

train travel in romania

Tell Them that You Don’t Need a Seat

If the person at the ticket desk tells you that there are no seats available, tell them that you are ok to stand. They might huff and puff a bit, but will likely still sell you the ticket. Chances are that you will find an empty seat for at least part of your journey; just be ready to stand up if someone has that seat reserved.

train travel in romania

Ask about Last Minute or Late Release Tickets

For longer journeys, five hours for example, they will likely not sell a standing ticket. However, they do hold on to a small number of tickets to sell on the day. They are released at a certain time before the train departs. If your train is sold out, ask when the late release is and get in the queue for bang on that time!

Facilities on Trains and at the Stations

Most stations have toilet facilities, a small shop and a café. Smaller stations might not have the ticket machines, so you will need to buy your tickets from the desk (and unfortunately not get your discount).

Trains are pretty comfortable and have basic toilet facilities.

Do you have any more top tips? Have you travelled around Romania by train, or maybe you’re planning on it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

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Discover Romania’s Fairy Tale Town: Sighisoara

Discover Romania’s Fairy Tale Town: Sighisoara

Discover Romania’s Fairy Tale Town: Sighisoara

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Sighisoara old town looks like it was used as the set for Beauty and the Beast. Pastel-coloured buildings, a tall clock tower with colourful tiling and puppets, cobble-stoned streets, medieval archways. An absolute treat for street photography lovers, I was in my element, camera in hand at all times! I’d say it is my favourite place that we visited in Romania. You know that old cliché of ‘it’s like you’ve stepped back in time’, it genuinely is like time has stood still here. This is a proper authentic medieval fortified town and you can’t help but feel it when you’re there. Even if you only have time to visit for a half-day, add this to your Romania itinerary (and then you’ll be wishing you stayed longer!). Keep reading to find our top things to do in Sighisoara.

fairy tale town

Decorated window sills

top thing to do in Sighisoara - wander the colourful streets

Colourful cobbled streets

A Little about Sighisoara

As with Brasov, Sighisoara has been around since the 12th century when German Saxon craftsmen were invited to settle here. They came, created the settlement and built the surrounding fortifications and towers; each tower named after the crafting skill that they brought with them. This location was strategic due to the natural barrier of the Carpathian mountains between the town and the invading Ottomans. Today, the medieval fortified town is so well-preserved that it is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

View from Sighisoara clock tower

Bird’s eye view of Sighisoara

How to Get to Sighisoara

From Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu and Bucharest, there are direct trains. Rome2Rio is reliable in Romania for public transport. For our top tips on using the train system in Romania, read this post.

Trains that we took in and out of Sighisoara:

Brasov to Sighisoara: cost 45.85 RON and took three and a half hours, leaving Brasov at 08:47.

Sighisoara to Cluj-Napoca: cost 72 RON each and took three and a half hours, leaving Sighisoara at 12:00.

There are also buses, but these tend to be a little more expensive.

Get Lost in the Colourful Backstreets

Look out for all the exquisite details of these historic streets and buildings. The BEST thing to do in Sighisoara is just to get lost in the backstreets. Grab your camera and put on some sturdy shoes to walk over the uneven cobbles.

cobbled street in Sighisoara

Colourful cobbled streets

Spot the 14th Century Clock Tower

The clock tower can be seen from almost anywhere within Sighisoara old town with its brightly coloured tile roof and pointed spires. Make sure you spot the small puppets by the clockface and the original painting and writing. For a 16 RON fee (or 8 RON for students), you can climb the stairs to the wooden balcony at the top for views across Sighisoara.

visit the medieval clock tower - top thing to do in sighisoara
Sighisoara medieval clock tower

Hunt Down All the Characterful Guild Towers

Towers around the Sighisoara fortifications were built, maintained and used during siege by each individual guild. You will find towers of the butchers, tinsmiths, ironsmiths, tailors, furriers, boot makers and ropemakers surrounding the old town.

tinsmiths' tower

Tinsmiths’ Tower

carpenters' tower

Carpenters’ Tower

Wander Down Culoarul Bătrânelor Doamne Walkway

Now, this feels like it’s straight out of Disney’s Notre Dame. This archway takes you under the clock tower and is so atmospheric. Walk a little further down and you will get some great views of the clock tower from the other side too.

Disney's Notre Dame-style archway, things to do in Sighisoara

I would not be surprised to see Quasimodo here

Climb the Steps Through the Covered Walkway to the Church on the Hill

175 steps lead up from the centre of the town to the church at the top (Biserica din Deal) and its cemetery. Climbing up the covered walkway is a rite of passage when visiting Sighisoara and was used to shield church-goers during the winter months. You can get some great views over the town from here and it’s worth exploring the church, cemetery and ropemakers’ tower while you’re up here too.

wooden covered walkway, Sighisoara

The covered walkway

Biserica din Deal cemetery

Biserica din Deal cemetery

See the Holy Trinity Church (Biserica Sfânta Treime) and the Church of Unitarian Universalism (Biserica Unitariană)

The Holy Trinity Church is just on the other side of the river from the main part of town, whereas the Unitarian Universalism Church is about another five minute walk from here. Both are very different. Holy Trinity is very grand with black domes, while the Unitarian is very small and narrow, yet tall with a pointed orange roof. We were unable to enter either: they were either locked or hosting ceremonies. If you manage to get inside, let us know how they are!

Giving the Italians a run for their money

Explore the Citadel Square (Piața Cetății)

Citadel Square is surrounded by beautiful old buildings. Stop here for a drink, see the souvenir shops or explore the alleyways leading off the square. Keep an eye out for the Stag House.

things to do in sighisoara

Citadel Square

Stop by the Birthplace of Vlad Dracul

Not necessarily a top thing to do in Sighisoara, but the city’s claim to fame is being the birthplace of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad the Impaler. The building where he lived up until the age of four has been converted into a restaurant. You could stop for lunch (but it is pricey, so we skipped it) or just wander upstairs to see some paintings of him. Maybe pop your head out the first floor window for a great photo taken from the cobbles outside. If you pay a fee, you can enter the second floor, where it is said that Vlad used to stay.

Birthplace of Vlad the Impaler

Birthplace of Vlad Dracul

Eat Lángos and Papanași

Genuinely one of my favourite things to do in Sighisoara! Probably not best to eat both in one sitting though: you will explode.

Lángos is basically a flattened, savoury donut. Deep fried to create a crunch on the outside but a soft and chewy centre. Get the classic which is smothered in sour cream and topped with cheese, but don’t forget to ask for extra garlic. Grab your lángos from Nuvela.

enjoying langos, top things to do in sighisoara

Langos at Nuvela

Papanași is a cream cheese donut that is smothered in a sweetened sour cream and topped with sour berry jam. Beautiful. Grab yours from the hole-in-the-wall vendor to the right of Vlad Dracul’s birthplace.

papanasi with a view - top thing to do in sighisoara

Smothered papanasi

Top Spots for Coffee Stops

The Bean Speciality Coffee

Great coffee and an even better view. Snag yourself a spot outside overlooking the staircase up towards the clock tower. Spot on!

View up the staircase to the clock tower

Clock Tower view from The Bean

Speciality coffees

The Bean’s speciality coffees

Atelier Speciality Coffee

Really good coffee and you get a beautifully presented little set. The interior is really cute, or sitting outside on the cobbles is great too. Check out this door while your sat there. (I have a thing about doors and this one is a stunner.)

Beautifully decorated door

What a beauty

Atelier coffee set

UP Speciality Coffee

Again really good coffee presented nicely, but a less exciting outlook on to a car park.

Have you been to Sighisoara? Is there anything else you would add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

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Best Things to Do in Brasov

Best Things to Do in Brasov

Best Things to Do in Brasov

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Brasov (Braşov) is the gateway to Transylvania and one of the region’s most visited cities. Thanks to its great connections to Bucharest, Bran Castle, Peles Castle and Transylvanian cities such as Sighisoara, many use Brasov as a hub. But, Brasov in itself is a beautiful and historical city with attractions to keep you busy for a couple of days. So, if you’re heading this way, stay a while and make the most of what this relaxed city has to offer. A colourful, medieval city with cobbled streets and amazing street photography opportunities, a city viewpoint hike and some of the best vegetarian food in the whole of the country are just a couple of the reasons to stay.

Keep reading this Brasov guide to find tips on travelling to the city, top things to do and places to eat vegetarian food, as well a brief history and tips.

Antique shop

Stained Glass Window

Unique Romanian architecture

Fun anecdote from the free walking tour: during communism in Romania, it was decided that a town would be renamed ‘Stalin City’ after the Soviet dictator. The two cities in the running were Brasov and Sibiu. If the city were to change name, any products that also contain the city name would have to change accordingly. This allegedly helped to make the decision, as Sibiu is known for its Sibiu sausage. ‘Stalin sausage’ didn’t quite bring the right connotations with it, so instead, Brasov became Stalin City in 1950.

A Little Bit of Brasov’s History

Back in the 12th century, German Saxons were invited to settle in the area and bring their trade with them. The strategic location on a trading route between the Ottoman Empire and the rest of Europe meant that the city began to flourish. The settlers developed Brasov with fortifications, guild towers and gates, giving the city its recognisable image.

A huge fire damaged a significant portion of the original wooden buildings and the city was rebuilt with stone that is still here today. Regardless, Brasov has succeeded in keeping its medieval charm. Wander around its backstreets, through the main market square and into its gothic church and you can feel the rich history.

How to Get to Brasov

The closest airport is Sibiu (SBZ), but Bucharest (BUH) and Cluj-Napoca (CLJ) are not much further away from Sibiu. All three cities are well-connected to Brasov by bus and train.

Trains tend to be pretty slow but are arguably more comfortable than a bus as you are able to get up and walk around. Read our top tips for train travel around Romania here.

Transport we got in and out of Brasov:

Bucharest to Brasov train: cost 56.3 RON and took two and a half hours, leaving from Bucharest Gara de Nord at 08:00. Now, to get to Gara de Nord station, you will likely need to get a bus as it’s not really in the centre of town. We had a rough experience on the bus getting there which you can read about here and learn from our mistakes! You can easily use Google Maps to pull up live bus times, and routes.

Brasov to Sinaia train: cost 16 RON and took about an hour, leaving from Brasov at 09:30.

Brasov to Sighisoara train: cost 45.85 RON and took three and a half hours, leaving Brasov at 08:45.

Brasov to Bran bus: cost 13 RON and took about 50 minutes, leaving Autogara 2 in Brasov at 08:00.

interior of Romanian train

The ease of train travel

Wander the Colourful Backstreets and Find the Iconic Spots

Piața Sfatului

Piața Sfatului was the main market square and meeting point back in medieval times before communism came in. During communism, the square was turned into a carpark which stopped people from meeting, talking and conspiring against the dictatorial regime. Now it is a historic square surrounded with characterful buildings: mainly restaurants and bars. Their seating spills out on to the square and creates a very sociable and inclusive atmosphere. At the weekends, there may be market stalls selling locally made souvenirs.

the main square in Brasov surrounded by colourful buildings

Piața Sfatului

Biserica Neagră

Take a look at the gothic Biserica Neagră or the Black Church. It is believed that the name came from the blackening of the brickwork during a fire. The church was originally Catholic and then was changed to Lutheran. Entrance costs 15 RON, and while it was interesting to go in, there was nothing too outstanding inside. I would recommend against paying the entrance fee for this one. For me, the inside of the building did not warrant the price. The view from the outside on the other hand is stunning. Wander round and see it from all angles, and make sure you see the decorated clock face.

Black Church Clock Face, Brasov

Biserica Neagră

Black Church, Brasov

Largest gothic Church in southeastern Europe

Strada Sforii

Strada Sforii or Rope Street is the third narrowest street in Europe at 111 centimetres at its narrowest point. It was originally made as a cut through between two main roads in case of fire so people could escape quickly and/or help to put fires out more easily. It has a huge amount of graffiti along its walls, and makes for some interesting photo opportunities.

Strada Sforii with statue

Strada Storil

graffiti on the walls of Rope Street

Tourist hotspot

Biserica Sfântul Nicolae

Biserica Sfântul Nicolae (a Romanian Orthodox church) is stunning from the outside with its gated archway and tall pointed spires, but it’s the inside which is really special. There is artwork everywhere. And this is one of the few religious buildings that actually has paintings of the then royal family inside. This church has no entrance fee and is much more spectacular inside than the Black Church.

Biserica Sfantul Nicolae, Brasov

Biserica Sfântul Nicolae

Poarta Ecaterinei

Poarta Ecaterinei (Caterina’s Gate) looks like a mini castle in itself with tall pointed spires typical of the Romanian style. Wander through and maybe take a quick look at Șchei Gate nearby.

Caterina's Gate, Brasov


Turnul Alb

Turnul Alb or White Tower has a lot of steep steps but offers great views over the orange tiled rooftops of the Brasov.

View down stairs from the White Tower, Brasov

City views

Head up to the Brasov ‘Hollywood’ Sign

You can either hike up to the sign in about thirty minutes or get a cable car. 

To hike

A short but steep hike, you can reach the top in about thirty minutes. We started walking behind Bastionul Țesătorilor (you can find it on Google Maps). There are several routes to get to the top and unfortunately, we ended up picking the steepest route with no proper steps; avoid the route furthest to the right! The others have steps most of the way at least and take you to the same place. Once at the top, there are a couple of viewing platforms. The busiest is always the one at the V of Brasov, but if you walk a little further, you’ll get better views. With your back to the Brasov sign, walk back towards the main path and turn right, and keep walking until the trees clear where you’ll find a wooden platform. This is it! Perfect, uninterrupted views all around.

To cable car it

We didn’t take the cable car, but had heard it was about a five minute journey up and cost 25 RON for a return ticket.

View over Brasov orange rooftops

The hike is 100% worth the reward

Take a Free Walking Tour

Brasov has a really good free walking tour. (The same company also runs two tours in Bucharest.) When we visit a city that so evidently has a lot of history, a walking tour is a top priority. We learnt so much and explored a lot of the city that we wouldn’t have even known about otherwise. All the history, legends and anecdotes bring the city to life even more.

Find more info for tours on their website here.

Stop for Ice Cream at Gelato Mania

Gelato Mania always has at least a few people waiting to place orders. The ice cream here is so so good and is 100% worth the little bit of a wait outside (it just gives you a chance to decide on which flavour you’re choosing).  While we were in Brasov, we tried the blackberry, blood orange, kiwi and Nutella with banana; and we can thoroughly recommend them all. For 7 RON per scoop, you cannot go wrong.

The Best Ice Cream from Gelato Mania

Giving the Italians a run for their money

Sip on a Flat White at Nola Coffeeshop

Our favourite little coffee shop in Brasov is tucked down a quiet side street with a beautiful outdoor seating area right on the cobbles.

Nola Coffee Shop Seating Area, Brasov

Escaping the crowds

Day Trips from Brasov

Get the Bus to Bran to see Dracula’s Castle

A dead easy day trip or even half-day trip. Jump on the bus from Autogara 2 to get you there in 50 minutes. Tickets for the castle cost 45 RON which is pretty pricey but if you visit Transylvania, you’ve got to take a look round Vlad’s place, no?

Bran Castle

Vlad’s place

Take the Train to Sinaia

Wow, Sinaia is beautiful! Castles, greenery all around, monasteries. It’s such a relaxing place to recharge and breathe in the fresh mountain air.

Sinaia medieval archway

Fairy tale land

Best Places to Find Tasty Vegetarian Food

We honestly had some of the best veggie food in our Romanian trip right here in Brasov.

Manna Manna

The top spot goes to Manna Manna (previously known as Simone Bistro/Disco/Bike Repair Shop). The majority of the menu is either veggie or vegan and it’s done well. Not like the option that’s just been added on to the bottom of a menu out of courtesy for us veggie folk; it’s bloody good. The menu changes depending on what produce they have that day. There is an outdoor seating area with a really laid-back feel. If we were living in Brasov, we would be regulars. Try the feta and quinoa ‘meatballs’ and a salad of charred leeks, olives, sundried tomatoes, preserved lemon, tabbouleh and seeds. Wow.

Vegetarian Meatballs at Simone, Brasov

Quinoa ‘meatballs’

Vegan Meal at Simone, Brasov

Our kind of salad

Ceasu’ Rău

For an authentic Romanian meal where the locals go, head to Ceasu’ Rău. Just out of the centre of town, it serves several veggie options. We had the zacusca (roasted veg dip) and the beaten beans with a hunk of bread, and they serve cider too. Guaranteed you won’t see another tourist here.

Romanian Meal, Brasov

Zacusa and beaten beans


Another Romanian meal, more catered to tourists though, this restaurant is in the centre of town. The mushroom stew with polenta is good and everything is served with a massive basket of bread. You will not leave hungry.

mushroom stew with polenta, Brasov

Proper Romanian food

Pizzeria della Nonna

The pizzas here are outrageous. The best we’ve had in this part of the world. Crispy base, tasty toppings and it’s all served in an outdoor seating area (that can be covered) while a musician plays guitar. 10 out of 10 would recommend.

Pizzeria della Nonna, Brasov

Pizza party

Have you been to Brasov? Is there anything else you would add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

Thanks for reading!

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