Europe,  Romania,  Travels

Bucharest, Sinaia and Bran, Romania – what to visit

Hey hey! I am planning to dedicate couple of posts to one of the best areas in Europe – the Balkans. Not that I am coming from this part of the world, but Eastern Europe is such an amazing region and yet so underestimated and unexplored. This is why I love it that much. You go without any expectations and it blows your mind. Best feeling ever! I will start with Bucharest, Sinaia and Bran in Romania and what is important to visit there.

The parliament of Bucharest
I visited Romania with my mom, during our traditional mommy-daughter trip.

It was the spring of 2016. It was my first time doing a bus trip – organized by travel agency bus trip. Definitely not my thing, wouldn’t do it again, but it was a good opportunity to visit many cities for a short period of time. As we were in a group and everything was scheduled, I couldn’t see absolutely everything that those cities could offer, but I’d seen plenty and I will tell you about it soon.


Let me start with our itinerary. We spent four days in Romania in total. The trip was called Transylvania trip, named after the region we visited. We started from Bucharest (which is not in Transylvania) and then visited Sinaia, Bran, Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu. These are many cities to be seen in 4 days, but we somehow managed and it was absolutely amazing experience. I am pretty sure that after this post you will check the flight tickets. 😉 I will divide the whole trip in two posts, because I have many things to show you!

Few things to know before going to Romania:
  • Romania is a really big country and every single part of it is different. They have amazing nature and beautiful landscape.
  • As almost all of the countries in Eastern Europe, it is pretty affordable and cheap, so the experience gets even better.
  • People in Bucharest do speak English, especially the young ones, but in the small cities it is a bit harder. Anyway, they are super nice and friendly and they will always try to help you even though they don’t speak your language.
  • In our part of the world we have four seasons and the winters are quite cold, be careful while choosing the best time to visit the country.
  • We Balkans have really great cuisine, we have pretty much the same dishes in every country there and we are constantly “fighting” over the ownership. Make sure to try as many dishes as possible, you will love all of them!

Our trip was planned and organized by a travel agency, this is why I cannot share recommendations about accommodation or transportation from one city to another. Inside the cities we have visited, you can easily go by foot, no need to use public transport (except Bucharest, it is the capital after all and the 6th largest capital in Europe).


Bucharest is the capital of Romania and the largest city of the country. It is located in the southeast part. It is super close to Bulgaria, but I haven’t visited it before. In the period between the two World Wars, the city’s elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of “Little Paris” and to be honest, some of the buildings reminded me a lot to the architecture of Western Europe. Bucharest is a beautiful city. I had just few hours to explore the city and I definitely haven’t seen a lot, this is why I have to come back again, but here are some of the interesting places that we’ve managed to visit.

What to see and do in Bucharest:
  • Old town Bucharest (Centru Vechi)
Bucharest Old town

I really loved this area. As every big European city, Bucharest also has old neighborhood. A bit crowded, but full of vibrant historical attractions, restaurants, small shops and bars. The buildings are impressive, the streets are narrow and the bars look really creatively decorated. Wandering around the cobbled streets you can find many banks as it was the main financial center, the famous beer brewery Caru cu Bere, monasteries, churches and many more. Most of the buildings are renovated, but sometimes you can see the discrepancy between the old aristocratic architecture of the building and the modern posh bar that currently takes place inside the building. It is truly fascinating!

  • Arcul de Triumf
Arcul de Triumf

The arch reminds of the one in Paris. Initially it was wooden, the arch was built to commemorate Romania’s independence. Few decades later was executed in stone.

  • Palace of the Parliament
The Parliament of Bucharest

Ok, this one is absolutely a must. I don’t know if you have heard about this building, but it is the heaviest building in the world (yes, the whoooole world) and the second largest administrative building in the world. It is absolutely enormous! It is located on Dealul Arsenalului (famous hill in Bucharest). The Palace was ordered by Nicolae Ceaușescu (1918–1989), the dictator of Communist Romania, during a period in which the personality cult of political worship and adoration was in full force for him and his family. As of 2008, the Palace of the Parliament is valued at €3 billion euros ($3.4 billion), making it also the most expensive administrative building in the world. The cost of heating and electric use and lighting alone exceeds $6 million per year, as much as the total cost for powering a medium-sized city.

The story behind his leadership is extremely interesting. Here you can read more about it in case you are interested. I will just add that during the Romanian revolution of 1989 he tried to escape but was captured by armed forces, convicted of economic sabotage and genocide and publicly executed by firing squad. And everything was broadcasted live on TV. Absolutely insane!

  • Stavropoleos Monastery

It is a beautiful Eastern Orthodox Monastery for nuns. Has amazing architecture and stunning wall paintings and icons from the inside.

  • Patriarchal Cathedral
Patriarchal Cathedral

It is also known as Metropolitan church. It is located at Metropoliei hill in the city center of Bucharest. It is still a working cathedral and citizens following the Orthodox Christianity attend many religious celebrations.

Holly water
  • National Theatre and Caragealiana Sculpture

The national theatre is located at University square and it is the biggest theatre in Europe. In front of it you can find the famous Caragealiana sculpture. It is also known as “Chariot with Characters”, is a work of art by Romanian sculptor, Ioan Bolborea. This bronze sculpture features 16 characters from plays by Romanian playwriter, Ion Luca Caragiale.

National theatre and Caragealiana sculpture
  • CEC Palace – Palatul CEC

A stunning building that houses the headquarters of CEC bank – the oldest bank in Romania.The architecture is truly amazing!

Palatul CEC
  • Biblioteca Centrala Universitara – Central University Library

In the 70s this library contained more than 2 million books but during the Romanian revolution after a fire ¼ part of them were burnt.

Biblioteca Centrala Universitara
  • Constitution Square

Piața Constituției is one of the largest squares in the centre of Bucharest. The square is standing face-to-face with the Palace of the Parliament (biggest building in Europe). The square is one of the best places to organize concerts and parades of Bucharest.

  • Palace of Justice

If you decide to have a short walk along Dâmbovița River, you won’t miss the building of the Palace of Justice.  

Palace of Justice
  •  Many beautiful churches

Bucharest has tens of churches. You can basically see a church at any corner. Many of them have really amazing architecture and beautiful decorations.

  •  The village museum

I am not into museums but I regret not visiting this one. We saw it from the bus only. The Village Museum (Muzeul Satului in Romanian) is an open-air ethnographic museum located in the King Michael I Park, showcasing traditional Romanian village life. The museum extends to over 100,000 m2, and contains 272 authentic peasant farms and houses from all over Romania. Elisabeta Palace, the current residence of the Romanian Royal Family, also located in the park, is an “island” inside the village museum, near the Arch of Triumph.


Our next stop was Sinaia. Sinaia is a town and a mountain resort in Prahova County, Romania. It is situated in the historical region of Muntenia. The town was named after Sinaia Monastery of 1695, around which it was built. King Carol I of Romania built his summer home, Peleș Castle, near the town in the late nineteenth century.The city is a popular destination for hiking and winter sports, especially downhill skiing. Among the tourist landmarks, the most important are Peleș Castle, Sinaia Monastery and few more. Our schedule was quite busy, so we only had time to visit these two.

Peles castle

On our way to the castle the views that were revealed in front of us were absolutely spectacular! There are amazing villas, beautiful mountain landscape and breath-taking nature. I was truly mesmerized.

As I told you, we managed to visit just couple of the most iconic places in Sinaia:
  • Peles Castle
Peles castle

By form and function, Peleş is a palace, but it is consistently called a castle.The Royal Castle is  surrounded by extremely pretty landscape with gardens built on terraces, all at the edge of dense forests. The establishment hosts one of the finest collections of art in Eastern and Central Europe, consisting of statues, paintings, furniture, arms and armor, gold, silver, stained glass, ivory, fine china, tapestries and rugs. There are 30 bathrooms!

Public visits are made within guided tours. One of the tours is limited to the ground floor, another adds the first floor and the complete tour includes the second floor. We took the complete tour. Admission is charged, and there is an additional photography fee, which I didn’t pay back then, so I don’t have pictures from the inside.The prices are: Ground floor tour – 30 lei (6-7 euros), complete tour – 60 lei (13-14 euros). If you want to take pictures you need to pay additional 35 lei. I think I managed to steal one or 2 shots, but they were so blurry that I deleted them 😀 The open hours are as it follows:

  • 15 May-15 September: Tuesday 11-17; Wednesday-Sunday 9-17; Monday closed
  • 16 September-14 May: Wednesday 11-17; Thursday-Sunday 9-17; Monday, Tuesday closed

These visiting hours are subject to change by the Romanian Culture Ministry. The castle is closed in November each year for maintenance and cleaning. So better check the open hours before you go, they might have changed in the meantime.

Peles castle
  • Sinaia monastery
Sinaia Monastery

The monastery is situated in the Prahova valley and it gave its name to the nearby town of Sinaia. The monastery consists of two courtyards surrounded by low buildings. In the centre of each courtyard there is a small church built in the Byzantine style. One of them—”Biserica Veche” (The Old Church)—dates from 1695, while the more recent “Biserica Mare” (The Great Church) was built in 1846. There is a museum that you can visit if you want.  The museum is open every day but Mondays, from April to October 10:00-16:00 and during winter time only for groups over 20. The entrance fee is 5 lei (1 euro). I told you, our part of the world is super cheap!

Sinaia Monastery


Our journey continues to Bran and the most famous castle in Romania – Bran castle a.k.a Dracula’s castle. And the most overrated Romanian attraction in my humble opinion.

Bran castle

The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. Commonly known outside Romania as Dracula’s Castle . This is one of the several locations linked to the legend of Dracula. It is often erroneously referred to as the home of the title character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad the Impaler, voivode of Wallachia, the inspiration for Dracula. Stoker’s description of Dracula’s crumbling fictional castle also bears no resemblance to Bran Castle. Researchers say that he has never lived there, but most probably he was imprisoned there after being captured by the Hungarians. Still there is no legit proof. But however, this castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Romania. Good marketing I would say!

Bran castle
Here you can find complete info about working hours and entrance fees.

We had time to shortly visit the town and eat something. There are pretty cool restaurants, very affordable and super delicious! You can also buy souvenirs, many vampire stuff as you can imagine.

This beer was called Blood beer (Count Dracula, you know…)

Our journey will continue in the next post about Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu

See you soon, when Travelista goes to…

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