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Brasov (pronounced Brash-ov) is a gorgeous medieval city located 170 kilometres (105 miles) from Bucharest. I was supposed to spend three nights in Brasov, but I ended up loving it so much I stayed for five. Brasov was a goldilocks city for me: not too big, and not too small. It has quite a lot going on, but is a far cry from bustling Bucharest.

If you are planning to travel to Brasov, here’s my ultimate guide to enjoying the city! Whether you have a day or a week, you’re sure to find plenty of things to do in Brasov and the surrounds.

Introduction to Brasov

Main Square in Brasov Romania

I’m going to be honest that the main reason I wanted to go to Brasov was because I wanted to go to Transylvania (Dracula, woo!). Brasov is one of the biggest cities in Transylvania (the biggest is Cluj Napoca, which I had planned to go to, but skipped over for more time in Brasov).

The city is very, very old (at least to me, as an Aussie!). In the 13th century, it was known as Corona (from the Latin crown, not the beer). It was built by the Transylvanian Saxons, and specifically, a group known as the Teutonic Knights (what a cool name), to protect the city from invasion.

Because Corona was located along a trade route between Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire, it quickly rose as an important market town. The Old Square, still the heart of Brasov, harks back to this time.

In fact, the old square has always been an important place for gathering and selling goods – except during communist times when it was decided that public gatherings were a bit risky. Ah, the good old ‘divide and conquer’ mentality! Briefly during this time, the town was also renamed ‘Stalin’. 

Today, gatherings are welcomed in the old square and the name Stalin has been long banished in favour of returning it to Brasov. Maybe I’m biased, but I do think that’s way nicer. What do you think?

How to get to Brasov from Bucharest

Train in Brasov Romania

It is super easy to get from Bucharest to Brasov via either the bus or the train. I personally chose the train because it was easier and more comfortable, however the bus is slightly cheaper. 

The train goes many times a day, about every two hours. Check the timetable online beforehand – my favourite website is Rome2Rio.

To get the train to Brasov, you need to buy the ticket from the Bucharest North train station on the day. The cost of the ticket was 50 lei (about 11 euro).

The tickets are available about one hour before the scheduled departure, and I suggest you get there at least an hour before – I got there half an hour before, and the line moved so slowly I nearly missed the train! The only reason I got it was because of some kind people who let me to the front of the line.

Once you have your ticket, you need to find your train! This is not quite as easy as it sounds – be aware that there are many train carriages on every platform and they are not all going to the same destination. You need to check the train number and destination – you should be able to see a paper sign in the window of the train, which you can check against your ticket.

Once  you are on the train, find your seat – the number is written next to the word Locuri (which, amazingly, means ‘seat’ in Romanian – thanks Google Translate!) Once you’re sitting, put your ticket somewhere safe for when the ticket conductor comes to check (don’t be like me, and end up awkwardly pulling stuff out of your pockets desperately trying to remember where you put it). 

Take note of when the ticket says you’ll be getting into Brasov, as the stations are really not well signposted and I was kind of stressed out wondering ‘is this Brasov? Is this Brasov?’. Although Brasov was better signposted than the smaller stops along the way, I was still relieved when we pulled in around the right time so I was sure it was the right place.

Snowy path in Brasov Romania

Getting Around Brasov

I found Brasov really easy to walk on foot, and just explored pretty much the entire city by walking. To get from the train to my hostel, I did get an Uber as its easy, cheap and safe. There’s also a cheap public bus system which is 2 lei for a ticket, but I didn’t use it.

Where to Stay in Brasov

There are plenty of accommodation options in Brasov, owing to its reputation as a travellers’ town. Whether you’re looking for bare basics or something luxurious, you’re sure to find it in Brasov.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of backpackers’ hostels, and I really hit the jackpot in Brasov! I loved staying at Kismet Dao hostel(☁), a friendly and clean hostel located near Union Square, about a ten minute walk to the main square in Brasov. 

Kismet Dao is not the cheapest hostel in Brasov, but I think it is the best value. For the price (which is very, very affordable) you get a free welcome drinks, a free basic but tasty breakfast and free towels. The staff are also lovely and so helpful.

I can’t make any personal recommendations for other places to stay since I pretty much became part of the furniture at Kismet Dao and nowhere else got a look in, but there are plenty of options for all budgets over at my favourite non-hostel booking website, Hotels Combined(☁)

Where to Eat and Drink in Brasov

I was dedicated to finding delicious local food while I was in Brasov, and I wasn’t disappointed! I managed to eat at a few nice places. I also managed to get tipsy drinking way too much Romanian wine one evening, so I also have a few recommendations… although let’s be honest, everything seems better with a vino in hand!

Tuica in Brasov Romania

Where to Eat Romanian Food in Brasov

For a great place to eat in Brasov near the main square, I really enjoyed La Ceaun. It was here that I had my first taste of ‘Romanian Rolls’ and the Romanian favourite of polenta. Very tasty, and in a beautiful setting as well!

Super close to Kismet Dao there is another great Romanian restaurant called Casa Românească on Union Square. I had a delicious meal here, complete with a shot of Romanian tuica that nearly blew my head off, yet warmed me up very nicely for the walk back to the hostel. There’s free wifi and lovely staff, so I highly recommend this place.

The Best Coffee in Brasov

Romania does good coffee – and that’s a big call, since I’m a massive coffee snob. I’m pretty hard to impress (looking at you, USA and UK – that is not coffee). I actually found pretty good coffee all over Romania, thank goodness.

My favourite in Brasov was at Kafe Pub, a cute little place on the walk from Kismet Dao to the Main Square. The coffee was super nice, and for an extra lei (like 20 euro cents), you could spike it with liqueur. At the risk of sounding like a problem drinker, I was all about that. I wouldn’t recommend the snacks, though, since I ordered tortillas and ended up with some corn chips with melted plastic cheese (as I tried to eat them I kept imagining the look of disdain on my Mexican friends’ faces).

Romanian wine

Where to Drink Wine in Brasov

Ah, the most important topic! Where to drink wine in Brasov… well, there is no shortage of good bars, which I discovered during one fairly large night with an awesome Australian lady and a seventy-year-old hippie (still staying in hostels, may I add). 

Most of the wine bars in Brasov are fairly fancy, sit-down type affairs so you should arrive early to get a seat. We did not do this, and therefore ended up sharing a lovely bottle of vino over at Casa Hirscher, which, despite its name – is actually an Italian place.

I had a pasta that was very tasty, although I decided “lots of chili oil” was a good decision in winter. I did get warm, but I was also nearly crying by the end of my meal. Jury’s still out on that one. Anyway, again the service was excellent and we even got given a free shot of Romanian liqueur (this seems to be a reoccurring theme with me).

After the pasta and wine, we headed over to Tipografia for more wine (of course). They had a great wine list, and we had a nice bottle of Fetească Neagră. At least I think it was nice – let’s be honest, most things taste pretty good when it’s your third bottle and you’re in a seriously intense D&M.

(By all accounts Tipografia is an awesome place day and night. I didn’t get to check it out but they seem to do an amazing bunch of events, so keep an eye out on their website). 

The Best Things to do in Brasov

Bran Castle near Brasov in Romania

I am planning to write some specific posts about things to do in Brasov, so am going to keep this short and shiny so I actually have content for next week. There’s stacks to do in Brasov! 

It’s not necessarily a place where you have to stuff every waking minute full of things (in my “humble” opinion, there is actually nowhere that you need to stuff every waking minute), however there is a great selection of activities and attractions. Here are my top 5:

Visit Bran Castle

Bran Castle – aka the Castle of Dracula that actually really has nothing to do with Dracula – is just a short distance away from Brasov and the most popular daytrip from the city. You can easily get the bus there, but if you’re lazy and prefer to be chauffeured around, do what I did and put down 120 lei for a full-day tour of the castles and the bear sanctuary (below).

Libearty Bear Sanctuary

A bear in a tree at Libearty Bear Sanctuary near Brasov
Look! It’s a bear in a tree!

I’m always a bit paranoid about visiting sanctuaries because, particularly in Asia, I’ve found some pretty awful places that just whack “sanctuary” in the name to make tourists feel better about visiting. It’s really important to actually research ‘sanctuaries’ to make sure they do what they say. I am happy to report that this is definitely the case at the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, which has been described as the most ethical bear sanctuary in the world. With over 70 hectares for the bears to run around in, its a joy to watch these happy bears having their second shot at life.

Climb to the Brasov Sign (or take the cable car)

If you look up at any point during your time in Brasov, you’ll see a large white Hollywood-esque sign atop the largest mountain. I had a local Brasovian proudly tell me that, actually, its way better than the Hollywood sign since theirs lights up. I’m not getting involved in that diplomacy-war asking to happen, but I will say it’s a lovely sign!

You can reach it by hiking or by cable car. I don’t hike, so I was all about the cable car, until snow tipped down and ruined my fun. So, actually, in five days I didn’t make it to the most famous landmark in Brasov. But I am assured by my hostel buddies that it is a must-do.

Take the Free Walking Pour

I love, love, love free walking tours. You know that tourist that arrives and nods WAY too enthusiastically, slows the group down by photographing everything and asks LOTS of annoying questions? That tourist is me and I am not sorry. I really enjoyed the free walking tour (tips are expected) in Brasov, which is put on by Walkabout Tours Brasov.

Pink House at the Main Square in Brasov Romania

Hang out at Piata Sfatului

In Brasov, all roads lead to the Main Square, or Piata Sfatului. It’s a beautiful old square with over 1,000 years of history including protests, markets and public executions. Here you’ll find beautiful buildings including the Black Church and the Town Hall, but my favourite thing to do here is simply to grab a coffee (because it’s good in Romania!) and do some people watching.

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