Since we haven’t been exploring Romania that much lately, and the budget for the first part of the year was going in another place, we have decided to take a short one week holiday and hit the road in our beautiful home country, and more specifically to take a one week in Romania road trip and get from Bucharest to Transylvania.
Romania is such a beautiful country, remaining still an undiscovered hidden gem for most.
Of course, traveling through the country has its downside mainly because of the poor infrastructure, without highways. Transylvania has a few bits and pieces, but that’s hard enough when you want to see as much as possible.
But somehow, for this trip, I chose to see the beauty in everything.
The fact that we couldn’t drive on the highway meant we could go through different beautiful little towns, move from the communist Southern part to the colorful and very different central and Western parts of the country.
One week in Romania road trip – Bucharest to Transylvania
Best time to visit Romania
Even though we took our one week in Romania road trip during winter, I wouldn’t suggest visiting Romania from December to early March.
The country has a temperate continental climate, which means we have all the 4 seasons. Even though winters are not as harsh as I remember them since childhood, the winter months can still be unforeseeable.
In the latest years, heavy snow has fallen only for a few weeks and usually after January. However, temperatures can get below 0 degrees celsius which makes it a bit hard to travel around and enjoy the scenery.
From the weather point of view, I would say the best time to visit Romania is during spring (from March to June) and fall (from September to November).
Best time to visit Romania by destination
- The Black Sea or the Danube Delta – these are two destinations that are best seen during summer. Even though the weather might get hot, places are more expensive and crowded, there’s no point in going at another time of the year.
- Transylvania – if you don’t mind the occasional rainy days or hot weather, you can plan a visit to Transylvania in mostly any month. Even though I wouldn’t recommend going for a one week in Romania road trip during winter.
- Bucharest – with less and less snowy days, Bucharest can turn into a year-round destination soon.
- Maramures or Bucovina – the Northern part of Romania has colder weather. Years ago I’ve visited during the summer and it was really cold.
Traveling from Bucharest to Transylvania
Traveling in Romania is somewhat difficult if you don’t have a car, and even so, the roads are not the best and you will drive through many villages with speed limitation (50 km/h is the speed limit in most villages in Romania).
Thus, it will take quite some time to get through one place to the other, but as I said, this could also be the fun part since you can stop by and visit things along the way.
Just to put things into perspective, Romanians think that rules are made to be broken, especially in traffic. In fact, after I took my license at 18 (the legal age in Romania) I’ve started driving almost 10 years later because I was so frightened about the chaos.
As a result, I would recommend booking an organized tour for your one week in Romania road trip. Especially because you won’t have to worry about driving all those kilometers, think about booking accommodation, and you might actually get a better price than booking the trip yourself.
Here are a few great tours taking you from Bucharest to Transylvania you might consider:
- 7-day adventure tour in Romania
- Intrepid’s Haloween week in Transylvania – 10 days in Romania
- 7-day Haloween in Transylvania
- 8 days Explore Transylvania tour
Test your knowledge with this fun Europe Map Quiz
If you are planning to go by train, that would be somewhat more difficult but not impossible.
Is Romania safe?
With a dark history, and maybe a dark present in most people’s views, Romania can be mistaken as an unsafe country.
On the contrary, when it comes to violent crimes, Romania is one of the safest countries in Europe. Mainly because we never had access to weapons. That doesn’t mean that petty crime, pickpocketers, and the occasional taxi scams are not common in Romania.
I’ve written a comprehensive article here on Romania’s safety, check it out!
How to get from Bucharest to Transylvania
That’s a tricky question, mainly because Transylvania is not a city, it’s a whole region. We would need to narrow it down and refer to certain locations in Transylvania.
Getting from Bucharest to Transylvania by tour
As I’ve said before, I recommend booking a tour for one week in Romania road trip:
- 7-day adventure tour in Romania
- Intrepid’s Haloween week in Transylvania – 10 days in Romania
- 7-day Haloween in Transylvania
Getting from Bucharest to Transylvania by car
I always book cars way in advance because that’s the only way to find great prices. Also, I strongly recommend paying for insurance in Romania because you can never be too careful and neer know about others.
On top of that, make sure you have a valid Rovinieta (Romanian road tax).
Getting from Bucharest to Transylvania by train
That’s an option, but you’ll waste plenty of time on the road. We don’t have high-speed trains, and certain parts of the trip are slower than others. You can check the train schedule here.
Getting from Bucharest to Transylvania by plane
Yes, you can. You can either fly from Bucharest to Cluj, Sibiu, or Oradea.
Check out flights on Skyscanner.com and look for Blueair, Tarom, Wizzair, or Ryanair.
Your one week Romania road trip itinerary
I just love this part of the country, and I’ve always done it. I remember being in university and deciding from one day to another to go on a road trip in Transylvania, without knowing where and how.
That was the beauty of being young and careless: jumping in the car with 2 or 3 friends and leaving Bucharest without a plan, without a place to stay in, and without knowing where we will be the next morning.
But this time we were a bit more organized, and we knew where we wanted to stop and what we wanted to see. That doesn’t mean we did not stop by in unplanned locations, because we did.
We left Bucharest behind with some supplies for the road and with some beautiful flowers (for the pretty pictures, of course. Check them out on Instagram!).
Driving West, but first going towards the center of the country.
Destination & activities
Where to stay
Sinaia: Peles & Pelisor Castles, Monastery
Brasov - plenty of things to do
Bran - Bran Castle & Rasnov Citadel
Sighisoara - the most colorful medieval town
Fortified churches & authentic villages
Sibiu - Old Center
Day 1 – Sinaia
Roughly 2 hours away by train or car from Bucharest, this is one of my favorite places in Romania. It might be because growing up I would return every year with my parents here. But also because of its castles and mountain views.
The tricky part about getting to Sinaia by car is that during the weekend the traffic can get really crowded. And I mean really crowded. Just to give you an idea about the levels: on a Saturday morning, we spent 2 hours on a 4 km portion. Needless to say, we decided to turn back to Bucharest.
As a result, I would suggest you start your one week in Romania road trip on Monday or any other day of the week. Especially when you want to rent a car.
Getting back to Sinaia, your first stop will be epic and you’ll get to see 2 of the nicest castles of Romania: Peles and Pelisor Castles. Check the schedule and avoid going on the days the castles are closed for the public.
I’ve seen both many times and would go back over and over again.
Read next: my full Sinaia guide – what to do, what and where to eat, and more.
Another thing you can do in Sinaia is to take the cable car all the way to the 1400 and 2000 quota and spend time in nature.
No matter what you choose to do, there are plenty of options for a day in Sinaia.
Where to stay in Sinaia
Throughout the years I’ve staid in many places, and I’ve wanted to stay in many others. These are my favorite ones:
- Camelia Villa – a small B&B in an old traditional house close to the city center and around the corner to Sinaia Monastery. The villa has a small garden where I liked drinking my coffee listening to the birds singing since it is located on a quiet street.
- Hotel Rina Cerbul – the smaller sister of Hotel Rina, I like this one better because it feels cozier than its bigger sister. Prices are more affordable, its location is perfect right next to Central Park, and you still have access to Rina’s pool.
- Complex La Tunuri – Vila Economat – This is one of those places I’ve dreamt of staying in but never got the chance, yet. I’ve dreamt of waking up with a castle view, in one of the quietest areas of Sinaia.
Day 2 – Brasov
With its German roots, the city is 3 hours away from Bucharest (depending on the traffic on Prahova Valley which can be very crazy) but you will find a very different town.
Getting from Sinaia to Brasov is easy enough and takes roughly one hour by train or car.
Things to do in Brasov
I’ve spent one full Sunday in Brasov on the weekend previous to our vacation and had the chance to explore some of the places I hadn’t previously seen.
The two towers ( the White and Black one) offer both incredible views over the city, with its brown ceilings and the Brasov sign overlooking the city from the mountain in front.
Strolling through the Old Town with pedestrian areas filled with restaurants, coffee places, and beautiful German infused buildings in the search for a good restaurant to eat at made us even hungrier. But in the end, we made the right decision and enjoyed some delicious Romanian food right in Piata Sfatului (Council Square), where all the people gather on a sunny afternoon.
Only a few meters away, there’s the most iconic Brasov attraction: the Black Church.
While you stroll through Brasov, make sure not to miss the Rope Street ( Strada Sforii – one of the narrowest streets in Europe), Schei and Catherine’s Gates, or take the cable car up to Tampa (the Brasov sign).
People come to Brasov to hike Piatra Craiului. Poiana Brasov is another popular destination especially during winter when everyone comes here for the skiing resorts.
Other potential activities from Brasov:
- Book a Romania’s mountain villages tour
- Go on a Brown Bear & Wildlife Watching
- Take a Day Trip to the Seven Ladders Canyon – the area is stunningly beautiful if you are into nature, and for me, climbing the ladders in the canyon was an experience.
- Go back to nature with a Half-Day Foraging Lesson
Where to stay in Brasov
When it comes to accommodation in Brasov, you will have 2 options: staying in the center or going to Poiana Brasov for peace and nature.
Here is my favorite place to stay in Brasov:
- Hotel Escalade in Poiana Brasov – I’ve been here several times because I really love the hotel and its location. It’s in Poiana Brasov, a short taxi ride away from Brasov city center, in a peaceful area right next to the slope. The hotel has a great spa and an inside pool. Make sure to book in advance because rooms are hard to find.
Where to eat in Brasov
I just love the kind of food you find in this part of the country. When we drove back together with some of my bets friends last summer, we stopped in Brasov only to eat at La Ceaun.
They have 2 locations in Brasov and sometimes it can get tricky to find a table. But they have really good traditional Romanian food and big portions.
Another great place with local traditional dishes to try in Brasov is Sergiana.
My third option might be a bit more expensive, but it’s a great place, with great food, and a funny history: Restaurant Gaura Dulce. The name means “the sweet hole” and I’ll let you learn about the name directly from them.
Check out my post on what traditional dishes to try in Romania!
Day 4 – Bran
From Brasov to Bran is a 35-minute drive. When you don’t choose one of the organized tours suggested above, you can take a taxi, drive yourself when you decide to do the trip by car, or take a bus.
The problem with the bus is that you will have to search for the autogara (bus station) and most information you’ll find out there is in Romanian.
In Bran, the main attraction apart from the fabulous mountain region is, of course, the Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle. Sorry to disappoint you all, but I’ll have to tell you that the castle has nothing to do with Dracula. And not even with Vlad the Impaler – the ruler of Wallachian who was the inspiration of Bram Stoker.
However, the castle is impressive and has a rich history. And I suggest seeing it on an organized tour if you are curious to learn more about its real history. Book your guided tour here!
Another thing worth seeing while in Bran, is the impressive Rasnov Fortress – the oldest military fortress in Eastern Europe.
Where to stay in Bran
At some point, we had developed an obsession with this area and we used to go in larger groups and book an entire house with a stunning view for the weekend.
When in Bran, you can always choose to stay in a more traditional place, or in one of my favorite hotels in the area:
- Resort Cheile Gradistei Moieciu – this is my favorite place in the area. I went back several times even when we rented entire houses elsewhere because of its location, restaurant with a view, and internal pool. Make sure to book ahead of time because rooms here are hard to find.
- Amfiteatrul Transilvania – one of the most epic views! Honestly, nothing can beat these views! You are right in the heart of the mountains, and the rooms are located in a 200-years old restored building. Can’t get more traditional than that! And yes, book way ahead of time, rooms are almost always sold out.
Day 5 and 6 – Sighisoara
Sighisoara is a place I dreamt about going to when I was little, and where I finally got to years later several times.
But the last time I visited it was back in 2010. Wow, almost 9 years ago have passed since then and I really wanted to get back.
So we did.
What to do and see in Sighisoara
What to do in 2 days in Sighisoara and why I allocated 2 days out of the one week in Romania road trip?
The good part about visiting Sighisoara during the offseason as we did is that you get to have the city all to yourself.
And if you wake up and go to the citadel at 10 in the morning on a Sunday, you will be one of the few people on the streets, like us.
We spent one hour just walking around, taking beautiful colorful pictures with the old buildings, admiring the architecture, and talking about history (well, my husband did the talking, I did the listening haha).
When looking for Dracula in Romania, Sighisoara is the place to come to because here is where you’ll find Vlad the Impaler’s birthplace.
See the Church on the Hill with its 500 years frescoes, climb the tower and see how stunning the region is, see the 13th century Venetian House and the Church of the Dominican Monastery
Even though it is not a bit city, its surroundings are filled with great destinations you should see.
Less than one hour away from Sighisoara, one place really worth visiting is Rupea Fortress. We’ve passed by this place so many times and always looked out the window wondering how this place looks like, so this time we’ve decided to stop and see it, on our way to Sighisoara.
Rupea Fortress dates from the XIII-th century and is easily spotted from the main road, triumphantly overseeing its surroundings from the top of a hill.
Of course, there are other places I would love to go back and see in the area.
Like the beautiful little village called Viscri dating from the 12th century, proudly displaying Saxon roots as well, with its fortified church part of the UNESCO World Heritage as the main attraction.
Another unique place also in the area, Biertan is located in a valley surrounded by hills and vineyards. Dating from 1283, the town is surely impressive and something worth visiting.
Check out these tours for and from Sighisoara:
- Half-Day Tour to Malancrav & Biertan
- Sighisoara: 2-Hour City Tour
- Varghis Canyon: Walking Tour with Cheese Tasting
Where to stay in Sighisoara
And we spent one night in this beautiful medieval city in the heart of Romania, where apart from the colorful streets, we found the most amazing place to stay, at the foot of the citadel: Casa Savri.
The guesthouse dates from 1568 as it can be seen on the facade and the owners have restored it some years ago and treated it like a museum, keeping the historic feel, while also keeping many of the objects discovered here.
From the first moment we stepped in we felt that Sorina and Cristi take care of this place with an open heart and really love the guesthouse and their home town, Sighisoara, wanting more people to hear about it and to discover its surroundings in Transylvania. And it can be easily understood why.
Maybe February is not the most common month for visiting these places, but we were lucky enough to have a sunny day to enjoy the colors in the citadel and its empty streets.
After spending a relaxing evening at Casa Savri, we woke up, enjoyed a delicious hearty breakfast and climbed the stairs starting in the guesthouse’s back yard directly to the citadel.
Day 6 – Sibiu
Another town with German influences, Sibiu is home to the most famous Christmas Market in Romania.
No matter when you’re visiting, Sibiu is a lovely destination with plenty to offer.
Climb the Council Tower in the city center, get lost on the colorful streets of Sibiu and cross over the famous bridge of lies, see the Brukenthal Palace, go to ATRA open-air museum and learn about the traditions of the area, take a trip and feel the true Transylvanian vibes in the surrounding villages, see the fortified churches, and take a bath in the Ocna Sibiului salty lake.
Close by you’ll find also the famous Valea Zanelor building, perfect for pictures.
Here are some additional things to consider for your Sibiu visit:
- Take a City Sightseeing Tour
- On a summer day, go to Balea Lake and see the famous Transfagaras Highway
- Take a day trip to Viscri, Rupea and Racos
- Go on a half-day trip to the Surrounding Villages on a Guided Tour
Where to stay in Sibiu
Since I love Sibiu so dearly, I’ve visited several times and I’ve stayed both in Central Square, but also in some of the villages outside.
Here are my recommendations:
- City Spirit Sibiu – an apartment in one of the building steps away from the main square. Our window was facing the square which was perfect since we visited for the Christmas Market. I love the type of buildings the apartment is in, and the perfect location.
- Pension Mai – outside of Sibiu, where you’ll feel one with nature. Close to the Paltinis mountain resort, I liked this place for its nature vibe.
Where to eat in Sibiu
Sibiu is another city with lots of great options when it comes to food and restaurants.
For a traditional meal, I would always go to Butoiul de aur a few steps from the Bridge of Lies, or to Casa Frieda.
When you are craving some great pasta dishes or something different, head over to Pardon Cafe & Bistro. I loved not only the food, but the building and the whole design are amazing!
Once we saw everything there was to be seen, we continued our road trip through Transylvania and drove all the way to Oradea, where we spent one-week taking advantage of all the pretty places. However, your one week in Romania road trip finishes here and you can either choose to go back to Bucharest or fly from Sibiu.
Read all about Oradea in my Oradea tourist attractions article
Other places to be included on your Romania road trip
- Saschiz – with its fortified church
- Fagaras – with the imposing fortress where I need to get back someday because when I went some many times ago I was feeling really sick and did not get the chance to admire it
- Cincsor – need I say more?
- Medias – and its surroundings
Other travel resources for when you visit Romania
- Take some of these day trips from Bucharest
- Amazingly delicious Romanian food to indulge in during your trip
- Spend the perfect one day in Bucharest and take some great pictures in these Bucharest Instagrammable places
- Learn where to stay in Bucharest from a local and all about Bucharest food – what to eat and where to go for it