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Brasov, or Braşov is a beautiful ancient city in central Romania. It is at the heart of the most famous region of Romania, Transylvania. Brasov occupies low ground in the heart of the Carpathian mountains making it a popular winter ski town. Its medieval stone walls are still standing and there are pleasant walks around their perimeter. Here you will find the bastion and black and white towers, interesting historical features. The towering Gothic Black Church dominates Brasov’s picturesque central square, the council square Piața Sfatului. In this post, we explore Brasov, what is there to see, and things to do in Brasov, but also what’s nearby. There are many incredible places of interest just a short drive (or tour) from Brasov itself.
Is Brasov a good place to visit? What is there to see and how about things to do in Brasov? Take a look at our short video introduction, below.
Let’s explore the city of Brasov and some of the fascinating places nearby. We’ve been many times, but on our last trip the sun shone and we had plenty of time to find some beautiful historic treasures that we’d never seen before. Use the menu below to find what you need, this is a long post on one of our very favourite parts of the world and what makes our travel site different, is we do the research ourselves. We visit these places and get to know them before we share them with you. We are family-owned and operated, so thanks for supporting our business. Do look at the photos, there are incredible sights to see.
The whole of Brasov is incredibly ancient and much of it you could call superficially crumbling. Pretty baroque buildings in yellow, pink, and blue show the passing of time clearly in their plaster but the basic structure of the city is very well preserved.
From Roman origins to Saxon development and medieval fortifications, the layout and constructions of the old parts of town seem to have changed little. Brasov has history, class, and quality and the ancient center is free from communist residential blocks. It has modern up-market shops and plenty of tourists. It’s a must-visit and hugely interesting if you can find some of the gems we list below.
Head out for a walk or take a guide, but certainly give Brasov a full day of your time. There are stunning places to see near Brasov too, see a few towards the end of our blog post.
Did you know that Transylvania used to be part of Hungary and that many people are ethnic Hungarians? Hungarian is spoken in some parts. Also, look out for the Romanian gypsies, you can see their Indian (Rajasthan) origins in their outfits a thousand years later.
You did know that Romania is called such because of the Romans, right? You’ll see a statue of Romulus and Remus in almost every town. Some parts of Romania, for instance, Alba Iulia, also in Transylvania, have fantastic Roman ruins. Then there’s Dacia to learn about, it’s not just a make of car. This stuff, this is worldschooling.
Things to Do in Brasov
Below we give you a list of things to do in Brasov. Historic sites, places of interest, and some fun activities to make your trip memorable. We all give you information on nearby places to visit as a day trip or part of a roadtrip in the Brasov area. Our Brasov travel blog is designed to help you plan your best trip to Brasov. The table below gives a quick overview, a Brasov bucket-list of things to do and see, more details and photos follow.
|Piața Sfatului (Council Square)||In the center of Brasov. Walk and explore this beautiful area with its open-air restaurants. The center-piece is Casa Sfatului (Council Hall). Originally a medieval watch-tower, today it houses a museum collection of medieval artifacts. Strada Republicii, Brasov’s main street, comes off the square. This pedestrianised street is great for shopping and dining.|
|The Black Church (Biserica Neagră)||Just off Piata Sfatului|
|Şcheii Braşovului,||The old Roman district. A short walk beyond Brasov’s fortified walls at the southwestern end. Find the old Roman school here and the oldest church with ancient frescos on its outer walls, St Nicholas. The museum here houses ancient documents as well as Romania’s first printing press.|
|St Catherine’s Gate||An interesting and visually attractive gate in Brasov’s walls. There is a museum nearby.|
|The Bastion and Graft Alley||A walk around the outside of Brasov’s Fortifications|
|Rope Street (Strada Sforii)||Claimed to be the narrowest street in Europe. A short walk from the Black Church.|
|Brasov Cable Car and Panoramic Lookout||A journey up the mountain with the “Brasov” sign. Walking distance from the town. You can also hike up the mountain, Mount Tâmpa. The mountain is a nature reserve with many routes to the top. Look out for the Knight’s Walk, an ancient pathway skirting the citadel.|
|Bastionul Țesătorilor (Weavers’ Bastion)||This Bastion is on the Mount Tampa side of Brasov’s fortifications and is the most complete part remaining. It houses a museum.|
|Poiana Brașov||High on the mountain, just 15 Km from Brasov town, you’ll find the ski resort of Poiana Brasov. Skiing is usually possible here between November and March. There are over 20 Km of pistes and snow cannons make for reliable conditions. You can take the bus up here from Brasov. In summer this is another good option for hiking.|
|Fortified churches and “The Saxon Trail” of Transylvania.||A day trip, or more, from Brasov. Best done using your own vehicle. This trip is really worth doing, the small villages, towns, churches, and fortresses are stunning.|
|Brasov Bear Sanctuary||A short drive from Brasov, well worth your time and a good place to take kids. Look for Libearty Bear Sanctuary.|
|Adventure Park Brasov||A forest recreation area with ropes and zip lines. On the outskirts of Brasov city.|
|Aquatic Paradise Brasov.||A leisure and water park on the outskirts of Brasov. Closed at the time of writing.|
|The Black and White Towers||You can see these on your walk through forested paths outside Brasov’s fortified walls. The white tower has a good viewpoint over the ancient city of Brasov.|
|Pietrele lui Solomon (Solomon’s Rocks)||A popular place to enjoy the great outdoors on the Șcheiu River. This place is steeped in legend and history. Find it in the southwestern district of Șchei|
|Dino World Rasnov||Just down the hill from the Rasnov Fortress, a great little attraction with animatronic dinosaurs, play equipment, and high ropes courses. Great for kids, tweens, even teens.|
|Rasnov Citadel||A must-see ancient fortified town high on a hill. It’s just under 20 Km from Brasov, the drive should take you under half an hour. If you have kids, visit Dino World while you’re there.|
|Bran Castle||Bran Castle and its associated Dracula paraphernalia is about 30 Km from Brasov|
|Prejmer||Don’t miss this! The largest fortified church in this part of Europe is way better than you can even imagine. We loved this place. It’s, again, about 19 Km from Brasov, around 20 mins by car.|
|Fagaras Citadel or Fortress||Another ancient fortification that’s well worth your time. This one is rather like a stately home, you can go inside and see restored rooms and a museum collection. This one is about an hour by car, 66 Km, from Brasov.|
|Turda Salt Mine||This is another must-see, it’s about 3.5 hours by car from Brasov. So, yes, you could do it as a day-trip from Brasov, but I’d probably opt to stay in Turda at this themed hotel.|
|Alba Iulia||Another fortified settlement of immense historical interest, including Roman remains. Alba Iulia is close to Tuda in western Romania, about 3 hours from Brasov, making it a bit of a stretch for a day trip.|
|Transfagarasan Highway||If you’re staying in Brasov in summer, when the Transfagarasan is open, you could drive this route in a full-day trip from Brasov. Starting from Brasov drive to Fagaras, then Cartisoara and the Transfagarasan (Balea waterfall, Balea lake, Vidraru lake) to Curtea de Arges, Campulung Muscel, Bran, back to Brasov. Snow closes all or part of this route outside mid-summer. This will be a trip getting on for 400 km, a very big day.|
|Sighisoara||Beautiful Sighisoara, the birth-place of Vlad Dracul, is about 1 hour 40 mins (117 km approx) drive from Brasov. I’d recommend staying the night here too. The spooky covered walkway is great after dark.|
|Bucharest||The drive to Bucharest from Brasov is about 2.5 hours. Expect heavy traffic as you approach the city.|
|Bike tours, walking tours, bear watching tours, caves, canyons, wineries, day trips and more.||There are endless activities and tours you can book from Brasov. We suggest you look here to see which will best suit you. We use this company ourselves and fully recommend them.|
Brasov’s Main Square, Brașov Council Square, Piața Sfatului
This square was the original market place, site of beheadings and home of a pillory for punishing, among other things, witches.
Legend links this square to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, they say the children re-appeared here after being lead away.
Today it is a pretty piazza with plenty of open-air dining.
The Black Church
The Biserica Neagră or Black Church (Schwarze Kirche, Fekete templom) is the huge gothic style church in Brașov that dominates The Brașov Council Square Piața Sfatului .
Built as a Roman Catholic church in the 1300s, the Church of Saint Mary, it replaced an even older place of worship.
There is a legend that a German child ( this church, like many in the region, was built by the German community) annoyed one of the Bulgarian builders so he pushed him off the church tower before bricking the child into the walls to hide his crime.
The Oldest Church in Brasov and the First Roman School
Moving now to Şcheii Braşovului, the old Romanian district outside Brasov’s fortified walls. The First Romanian School, Prima școală românească , is adjacent to and in the grounds of the oldest church in Brasov, St. Nicholas. This church dates back to the 1300s. There is a school museum but unfortunately, it was closed when we visited.
This was the only school in Transylvania . Each village would pay for one student to be educated here so that he could share that knowledge with the rest of the villagers on his return.
The White and Black Towers
Brasov’s first line of defense, these towers were built in the 15th century. Located outside the city walls there were originally 4 of these 11 meter high towers.
The black tower is actually white but was named the ‘Black Tower’ after it was struck by lightning on the 23rd of July 1559
With epidemic outbreaks in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was also used as a quarantine area.
The city turned the towers into tourist attractions in 2003 when tourism became a main source of income for Brasov.
We walked to both the Black and White Towers, they’re an easy short walk through deciduous forests starting from the Graft alley and canal. The towers are impressive, but the views are spectacular.
The Old Gate St Catherine’s Gate
St Catherines gate was built in 1559 after the orginal gate was destroyed in floods in the 1520s.
Built by the Tailors guild it was much bigger than what you see today.
The gate is named after the St Catherine’s Monastery that was here many years before on the same land.
Brasov medieval city had 5 entrances but this one was the only one that Romanians could use to enter the city after paying a tax to the Saxon rulers between the 13th and 17th centuries. Romanians were forbidden from owning land or houses in the city walls and so would enter and exit through here and live in the nearby area of Scheii Brasovului.
The four turrets symbolise jurisdiction over the city including for capital punishment. This can also been seen across other cities in Romania.
The Bastion and Graft Alley
Bastion Graft or Bastion Gate seen above, provides a bridge from the main city walls to the white tower above. There are 200 steps up to the white tower from the base of the gate. It took 6 years to build, from 1515-1521.
All of the water and run off from Şcheii Braşovului had to past through the channel under the graft. Şcheii Braşovului is the old Romanian and Bulgarian district, outside the main Brasov walls. Residents were forbidden from entering Brasov other than at certain times and then they would have to pay a toll at St Catherine’s gate, below.
Now the Bastion is used as a museum and you can still get up to the white tower via the repaired original staircase.
The path now runs along the wall but little remains as the city has extended and built through the wall starting back after some serious flooding in the early 19th century.
The Narrowest Street in Europe (They Say)
There are actually narrower streets in Europe (In Germany, England, Sweden, Italy, and more) so I’m not sure why this one wears the crown. Maybe it could be the narrowest in Eastern Europe.
Notably, the Brasov International Marathon passed through this street with policemen stationed on Poarta Schei Street to allow runners to get through the traffic. The marathon route is nothing if not interesting. Poarta means gate in Romanian, this road runs from one of the main gates in the old city wall.
The Brasov Cable Car and Panoramic Look Out
We didn’t go, time just didn’t allow, but there is a cable car that leaves from Brasov old town and takes visitors to the look out point on the Tampa mountain. You can also hike this trail if you prefer.
The Brasov Marathon
My husband competed in the marathon this year and completed it in three and a half hours. There is a lot of up hill (followed by down) but he had loads of fun. Brasov also runs a half marathon, 5 Km, 2.5 Km and kids’ race. This year (2018) it was on 20th May. See more in the video. Chef didn’t train for this, he just did it for fun on the spur of the moment. When you’re as fit as he is a full marathon is pretty easy.
Things to Do Near Brasov
Ideas on places to visit using Brasov as a base, if your itinerary allows.
Fortified Churches in Transylvania
There are dozens, maybe hundreds of fortified churches in Transylvania and many can be reached in a day trip from Brasov. The church above, at Cincsor (Cincșor) is a favourite of ours for its fairy-tale feel, along with the one below at Beirtan. Both of these places had matrimonial prisons, cells where husbands and wives would be locked up for weeks on end while they settled their differences and fixed their marriages.
This part of the world is sometimes known as the Saxon trail and Saxon churches are a-plenty.
If you’d like to see the biggest fortified church in Romania (and you should) see Prejmer, below.
The Brasov Bear Sanctuary
in nearby and well worth a look, we have a full post on the Bear Sanctuary, near Brasov in Transylvania here.
Dino World Rasnov
If you’ve visiting Brasov with kids of almost any age, Dino World is super cool.
Little ones will love the play facilities and dinosaurs, older ones will love the ropes course, zip line, lasers and, if they’re Ark obsessed like mine, also the dinosaurs. It’s on the hill on the way up to Rasnov Citadel so it’s very easy to do both in one day.
If you’re into Dracula and Vampires, Bram Castle isn’t too far away, around 30 Km. The castle actually has nothing really to do with the real Vlad. If you’d like to know more about that, read our post on Romania and Dracula.
Two of the most stunning sites in Romania are very close to Brasov
Rasnov, with its ancient citadel
The Biggest Fortified Church in South Eastern Europe
The biggest fortified church in southeastern Europe is at Prejmer (Tartlau in German) in Transylvania and is only about 18 km, 20 minutes by road, outside Brasov. It was built by Teutonic knights in the 13 th century and could house hundreds of local families within its 13 foot thick walls when it was under siege. This place blew my mind, one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been and I need to write a full post on it. It is UNESCO listed.
The powerful surrounding walls are 40 feet high and 10-15 feet thick.
The Fagaras Citadel’s construction started in the early 1300s on the site of an even older fortification. This site has been utilised for many purposes down the centuries and is more a museum than a ruin today.
It’s original job was to defend South-East Transylvania from marauding Tatars and Ottomans. 2 centuries later it was further reinforced doubling the thickness of its walls. It has a fully intact moat, torture and dungeon exhibits and a link to Vlad Tepes. A most incredible golden domed orthodox church stands next to it and it’s well worth the trip.
Fagaras Citadel is 67 Km, about an hour by road, from Brasov.
My younger son really enjoyed the Fagaras Citadel, so if you are visiting Brasov with kids, know that there is a cool wooden see-saw inside the walls here and plenty of ice cream outside along with swans to feed.
Cluj Napoca from Brasov
Cluj Napoca is one of the most modern, developed cities in Romania. We visit regularly for the airport and modern shopping malls but I don’t think it’s much of a tourist draw in itself although there are some stunning places nearby. Cluj Napoca is still in Transylvania and is 274 Km from Brasov. To get to Cluj Napoca from Brasov by road you’re looking at a 4-4.5 hour drive.
Turda from Brasov
Turda (Transylvania) and the Turda Salt mine (we highly recommend this place, take a look) is just before Cluj Napoca if you are driving. Brasov to Turda is 238 Km. It’s quite a long way, the drive may take you 3.5 hours. However, to come to Romania and not take a trip down this unique attraction would be a mistake.
Turda not only showcases salt mining history, but this is also where you’ll find a theme park and an eerie boating lake, at the bottom of a mine. As it’s so far, we’d suggest you stay overnight in Turda or maybe in nearby Cluj Napoca. This hotel, in Turda, is very special indeed and should give you a stay to remember.
Brasov to Alba Iulia
Alba Iulia is another lesser-known destination in Romania that more people should know about. If you possibly can, go. It’s quite close to Turda and about 220 Km from Brasov, making it a 3 hour drive.
Alba Iulia has been a seat of power in western Romania for centuries. It was an important city to the Romans, Hungarians and Transylvanian Saxons aswell as being an important religious centre for Transylvania’s Roman Catholics. There is much to see and enjoy inside Alba Iulia’s heavily fortified walls, not least original Roman roads and other ruins. Again, if you can, go, but Brasov may not be the best base for touring this far north into Romania.
Maramures from Brasov
Maramures is the county immediately north of Transylvania. If you’re heading up from Brasov to Maramures, know that the drive to Breb is 400Km, which could take you between 6 and 8 hours.
Brasov to Sighisoara
Sighisoara also in Transylvania and the birthplace of Vlad Tepes is 118 Km from Brasov. Click through to see our full post on beautiful Sighisoara.
Getting to Brasov from Bucharest
Brasov is an easy drive from Bucharest at only 170 Km. You could also take the train.
A Trip to Brasov
A little background on us and our Brasov trip. Chef, my husband, decided last weekend to enter the Brasov Marathon (Braşov). Normal people give themselves a year or so to train for these things, he gave himself a week. So not only did we have to organise a trip to Brasov Romania, but he also had to be marathon ready by Sunday morning. OK, so that part was easy, he’s super-fit. But what about Brasov? We created a post on things to do in Brasov and using Brasov as a beautiful base from which to explore more or Transylvania. We’d visited several times before, but this was our longest trip to Brasov yet.
I should say right here that we were living in Romania for three years, Romania travel is our thing and we are professional travel bloggers. But let’s talk Brasov travel.
Our trip to Brasov was a really fun family time. We love a good road trip and exploring the Brasov area by car allowed us to see loads, and also keep the kids super happy by throwing in the ropes course at Dino World. Chef loved his race, I loved the historic sites, good food and excellent shopping and the kids, mostly, enjoyed everything except long hours in the car.
It’s always hard to get them to visit fortresses and churches but the ones we mention below were actually cool enough to keep them interested. There is so much history to top up in Romanian, from Romans to Saxons to Turks along with shifting borders and empires. This part of the world is incredibly complex. So although this post is not specifically about Brasov with kids, this guide works for families too, as all posts on our site do. Brasov is certainly family and child-friendly and there is plenty to do with kids in and around Brasov Romania.
Where to Stay in Brasov?
We went with a little luxury this time and booked ourselves a rather beautiful apartment just steps from the main square from which the marathon starts. It wasn’t cheap, around 100 Euros per night, but for that, we got a beautiful and extremely well equipped 2 bedroom apartment with such luxuries as a home sauna, 3D TV, washing machine and more. I think you’ll agree it’s rather special. (see it here) There are a few photos of our apartment in Brasov above and you’ll also see it in the video further down the page.
We’ve stayed in quite a few places in Brasov over the years and there is something here for every budget. We’ve rented apartments here for under $30 per night (see it here) which were perfectly adequate for a family of 4. I’ll add links below for a few places we’ve used and give some other options for solo or couple travellers. in time.
Tours of Brasov
If you’d like to pre-book a tour of, or to. Brasov or the surrounding area and the places we mention below, take a look here. You can arrange tours locally or from Bucharest, including multi-day tours. If you don’t speak Romanian and really want to get the most of this region we’d recommend an English speaking guided tour.
Where to Eat and Drink in Brasov
Brasov has a million dining options. You’ll find all the large chains including Mc Donalds, KFC and Starbucks, along with a multitude of restaurants, often with pavement seating, serving Romanian specialities, good pizza and more. Prices are reasonable and there is plenty of really good ice cream and kürtőskalács (chimey cake) to enjoy on the street.
The simple soup above was 14 Ron (lei). That’s under $4.
How much does a hostel or budget hotel cost in Brasov?
Accommodation costs in Romania are fairly modest. In Brasov, for a room in a shared dorm, expect to pay from $15 US per night. For a private room with bathroom expect to pay $20 – $25.
Are there any luxury hotels in Brasov?
Yes, there are a few five star hotels in and around Brasov. Prices for a suite are in the region of $250.
How much should you budget for food in Brasov?
If you’re not on a tight budget, use the lovely outdoor-seating restaurants around Piata Sfatului. They’re a wonderful place to watch the world go by. For cheaper eats find the places the Romanians dine, or grab a savoury pastry from one of the many bakeries. Soups are hearty and good value in Romania and there is plenty of variety. If you want fast food, there is a McDonalds in Brasov along with supermarkets where you can buy your own groceries. You could feed yourself in Brasov for about $5 per day if you were really careful.
Can I book an apartment in Brasov?
Yes, absolutely, apartments are a very good choice in Brasov and many are very characterful, being located in the old town. We’ve enjoyed some beautiful apartment bookings in Brasov, budget, and more luxurious. You can look at Brasov apartments on AirBnb here, but all of our best finds have been found here.
What should I pack for Brasov?
You probably don’t need to pack anything special. Just know that there are defined seasons. Spring and summer can be very warm and in the depths of winter expect ice and snow. A good waterproof jacket and comfortable walking shoes are a very good idea.
Is Brasov worth visiting?
Without a doubt, yes. Brosov itself is beautiful and fascinating and most visitors to Romania will want to explore Transylvania. Our post tells you what you need to see in Brasov and gives you ideas for day trips to take from Brasov. There are so many places to see nearby that you could easily stay a week or more in Brasov.
How much time do I need in Brasov?
Try to stay at least one night in Brasov to enjoy an evening meal at a pavement cafe. One full day should be enough to explore Brasov city on foot, but if you want to explore the incredible sites near Brasov, spend a few days. We usually visit Brasov with our own car, but if you don’t have a vehicle book a tour, here.
How to get to Brasov from Bucharest?
There is a train from Bucharest to Brasov. You can book tickets online at https://www.cfrcalatori.ro/en/. It’s a good idea to book, tickets can sell out. There are night trains with sleeper compartments or regular seated trains. There are buses, but I’d strongly recommend the train, unless you speak Romanian well enough to book a ticket and don’t get car sick. The bus should be cheaper. Another option, and probably the easiest, is to book a transfer on a tourist vehicle, direct from Bucharest to Brasov. This is cost-effective for a small group sharing a ride.
Brasov in Winter
Brasov has skiing nearby. About 18 Km up the mountain from Brasov the ski town of Poiana Brasov has a good selection of runs and lifts. We haven’t tried skiing here yet but we will. We’ll tell you all about it. We regularly ski in Romania at Cavnic, which is tiny compared to Brasov, but fun skiing and very affordable.
Brasov – Conclusion
So, Brasov. We like Brasov a lot and just about every visitor to Transylvania, and indeed Romania, will either stop here as part of a Romania-wide road trip or base themselves here while they explore Transylvania. We’ve been visiting Brasov for years and have only recently found some of the places of interest above. There are a million things to do in Brasov, but the places to see above are some of the highlights. Do your homework before you arrive or take a tour of Brasov because you really don’t want to miss any of the above and I’m sure there are plenty more fascinating places we are yet to visit. Could you hit the Pinterest button below and save? Thanks.