Brasov is hands down my favorite city in Romania. Visiting and backpacking through Brasov was one of the best experiences I had while in the country and I loved it so much I ended up extending my stay!
It’s one the best-preserved cities, has fun bars and incredible restaurants, my favorite hostel in the country, a stunning town square, medieval walls you can walk on, and is located near Dracula’s famed castle (which wasn’t really his but hey, it’s still a good castle!). The city offers everything (including hiking in the nearby mountains).
You won’t be disappointed. Don’t breeze through the city. Stay awhile and really soak in this cultural capital of the country.
This travel guide to Brasov will tell you everything you need to know about visiting the city so you can have the best time possible.
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Brasov
1. Explore Bran (Dracula’s) Castle
2. Wander through Piata Sfatului
3. Climb Tampa Mountain
4. Visit Rasnov Fortress
5. Check out the Black Church
Other Things to See and Do in Brasov
1. See Catherine’s Gate
This medieval gate (known as “Poarta Ecaterinei” in Romanian) was built by the Tailors’ Guild in 1559 and is the only part of the medieval gates still standing. It was named after St. Catherine’s monastery, which used to be located nearby and was the only entrance to the city that citizens were allowed to use in the Middle Ages. In recent years, it’s become an unofficial symbol of the city and one of the many medieval tourist draws.
2. Wander along Brasov’s wall
The bastions here were part of the city’s large defensive wall, which once stood 40 feet high (it was also seven feet thick and two miles long). Since the region struggled with invading forces throughout history, the city invested in a massive defensive fortification. The original walls can still be seen today, though most of that wall was taken down in the 19th century to make room for the city’s expansion.
3. Visit Peles Castle
Not too far from Brasov is Sinaia and the site of Peles Castle. Constructed for King Carol I in the 1870s as a getaway spot, the building is lavishly decorated and serves as a great reminder of the luxurious lives these rulers enjoyed. (Fun fact: It was also the first castle in Europe to have electricity.) After touring the elaborate grounds and gardens, head inside to look at the art and antique collection, which includes over 4,000 arms and armor. The ground floor costs 30 RON while a tour of the upper floors costs 60 RON.
4. Admire the Saint Nicholas Basilica
Located in the Schei district of town, this Romanian Orthodox church was initially built in 1292. It was even mentioned in a Papal Bull in 1399. The interior of this church has frescoes painted by the renowned muralist Misu Popp, and there are also famous Romanians buried in the church graveyard. Since it is still a place of worship, dress conservatively when you visit. Admission is free.
5. Visit the Rupea Hilltop Fortress
The Rupea Citadel is one of the oldest archeological sites in Romania as the first signs of human settlement in Romania were found here (dating back to 5500-3500 BCE). Fortifications here were in use from the 10th century CE, though they were constantly upgraded and expanded until the present version of the citadel came to be in the 19th century. The fortress today has been heavily rebuilt and reconstructed so it’s by no means original but it does convey what the fort looked like in the Middle Ages and it makes for a great day trip from the city.
6. Search out the String Street
This street (Strada Sforii in Romanian) is reputed to be the narrowest in Europe at only 4 feet wide (although that’s up for debate; France, Germany, and England all have similar streets). It used to be used as a corridor for firemen on duty and is now a fun place to snap a couple photos. You’ll find the street not too far from the Black Church.
7. Take a free walking tour
To get a more detailed and nuanced picture of the city, take a free walking tour. Tours will take you along to all the major sites and give you a solid overview of the city, its past, its culture, and the people that call it home. Walkabout has a daily free tour that lasts 2-2.5 hours and serves as a solid introduction to the city.
8. Head to the hills for a day hike
Located just outside the city are the Piatra Mare Mountains. The highest peak is just under 2,000m and the hiking conditions are relatively easy. A hike to the summit and bake takes around 8 hours. There are shorter trails if you just want to hike for an hour or two as well. Be sure to plan ahead and bring all the supplies you’ll need for the day (food, water, sunscreen, etc.). Take the city bus to Dambu Morii (or drive there yourself as there’s a parking lot you can leave your car).
9. Have fun at Adventure Park
Parc Aventura (Adventure Park) is the biggest adventure park in Eastern Europe, offering obstacle courses, rope bridges, and ziplining. They have courses for kids 8 and up, as well as more challenging routes for adults, making it a fun activity for families looking to do something besides museums and history with their kids. Admission is 60 RON for adults, which allows you 3 hours of activities (additional hours are 20 RON/hour).
10. Visit Brasov’s County Museum of History
This small museum isn’t anything special but it does have lots of information about the city and its past. While only some of the displays are in English, it’s nevertheless worth a quick visit to learn a bit more about how Brasov came to be. Admission is 7 RON.
For more information on specific cities in Romania, check out these guides:
Brasov Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Hostels cost around 50-60 RON per night for an 8-bed dorm. Expect to pay at least 130-145 RON for a private room with a double bed. Wi-Fi and lockers are common, though free breakfast is rare (it is offered by Centrum House, however). Most hostels offer free coffee and tea as well.
Camping is possible in the area, though you’ll want to stick to dedicated camp grounds. Wild camping is legal but theft is a bit common so it’s much safer to camp in designated areas. Prices start at 25 RON per night for a basic plot.
Budget hotel prices – There are only a few budget hotels here. Mid-range 3 star hotels are much more common. They start at 135 RON per night. Most will include free Wi-Fi as well as free breakfast. If you want a hotel with a pool, prices will be closer to 315 RON per night.
Airbnb is available in the city, though shared rooms are rare. The few that exist cost around 85 RON per night. For your own room, prices will be closer to 100-125 RON while an entire home/apartment will cost around 170 RON per night.
Food – Cheap meals in Brasov cost around 25 RON, though the touristy places near the central square will be a bit more expensive. Soup is a good option for saving money, as it costs around 10-15 RON and is pretty hearty (it also typically comes with a side of free bread). A meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost closer to 50 RON for a three-course meal, while fast food will be around 20 RON. A beer out at a restaurant or bar will cost at least 6 RON, while you can get it for half that price if you buy it in a store.
If you buy your own groceries and cook your meals, expect to pay about 140-190 RON per week for groceries that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foods. Save money by shopping at discount supermarkets like Profi, Lidl, and Penny Market.
Backpacking Brasov Suggested Budgets
On a backpacker budget, you can do it for 125-170 RON ($30-40 USD) per day. On this budget, you’re staying in a hostel dorm (or camping), cooking most of your meals, eating out on the cheap, sticking to mostly the free activities, and using local transportation. If you’re going to drink a lot, add another $5 per day!
On a mid-range budget of about 255-365 RON ($60-85 USD), you’ll be able to stay in a budget hotel, eat out at cheap local restaurants, and see a few more sights (or enjoy basic tours, like walking tours).
On a luxury budget of 640 RON ($150+ USD), you can stay in a nice hotel, eat out for every meal, rent a car or use BlaBlaCar, and visit as many museums and attractions as you’d like.
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.
Brasov Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
To be honest, I didn’t find that Brasov offered any amazing ways to save. There wasn’t really one particular thing that I found and was like, “Wow! This is going to be great! My budget is saved!” That is mostly because it’s an affordable destination to begin with! It’s hard to spend money here if you’re coming with a budget mindset already. That said, there are a few things you can do to save money in Brasov:
- Couchsurf – Nothing’s cheaper than sleeping for free. Couchsurfing connects you with locals who will give you not only a free place to stay but also a local tour guide who can introduce you to all the great places to see. It’s a great community to be a part of.
- Eat lunch out – Although food in Romania is inexpensive in general, you can save more money by cooking your own dinners and eating your lunches out. A lunch menu in Romania typically consists of three courses (soup, main, dessert), and can cost as little as 30 RON.
- Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar and catch rides with locals between cities or between tourist destinations in the area. You save money and get to spend time with locals. Double win! Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe (though sometimes rides don’t show up, which is why you need to be flexible).
- Shop at discount grocers – If you’re going to cook or even are just grabbing a snack, save money by shopping at discount supermarkets like Profi, Lidl, and Penny Market.
- Stay at Kismet Dao – There are hostels all around Romania (and the Balkans) that are a part of the Balkan Backpacker network. Kismet Dao is one of them. If you book directly with these hostels and tell them you’re aware of the network you’ll get 10% off your stay.
- Take the train – To get to/from Brasov, take the train. Trains in Romania are slow, but they are the cheapest way to get around. If you’re not in a hurry, take the train (there are some night trains around the country as well if you’re going long distances).
Where To Stay in Brasov
Brasov has a few hostels in town and they’re all pretty comfortable and sociable. These are my suggested and recommended places to stay in Brasov:
How to Get Around Brasov
Bus – A single-ticket ride on the public bus is 2 RON per person while a day pass is 6 RON. If you’re going to be here for a while, you can buy a week-long pass for 30 RON.
That being said, most of the city is within walking distance though so you can likely get away without using the bus much unless you’re staying in a hotel or hostel far from the main tourist sites.
Taxi – Taxis here can get expensive so I’d avoid them for anything other than a short trip. Prices start at 2 RON and go up by 2 RON per kilometer. However, if you’re traveling with someone then taxis can be a good choice as you can split the fare and save some time (they are much faster than buses).
Always call your taxi in advance to be sure that you get a reputable driver. Never get into a taxi that doesn’t have the prices listed in the window (which is mandatory for official taxis).
Bicycle – Cycling is a great way to get around the city as everything is pretty compact and lots of locals bike around as well. You can find rentals for 57 RON per day or 99 RON for 2 days. Helmets are an additional 5 RON per day.
Ridesharing – Uber is available in Brasov and it’s the cheapest option if you need to get somewhere and don’t want to take public transit. You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
When to Go to Brasov
The best (and most popular) time to visit Brasov is during the summer, from June to August. Temperatures will be hot and rain will be infrequent. Expect temperatures around 30 C (86 F) during this time. These will also be the busiest months of the year for tourism, though and you’ll notice it here as Brasov is a popular destination for locals and foreigners alike. If coming here in the summer, book your accommodation in advance.
The shoulder season on late April-May and September-October are great times to visit as well. You’ll beat the crowd and have much milder temperatures, which is perfect for anyone looking to head into the hills for some hiking. You’ll get more rain in the spring, but you’ll get the stunning autumn colors in the fall which makes for a stunning backdrop to your trip (especially if you’re traveling on through Transylvania).
Winter is Brasov can be quite cold, with temperatures dropping just below zero (32 F). Snow is common though not abundant, which can affect conditions if you’re traveling by car. The city will look quite charming in the winter, though, making it a picturesque winter getaway (especially compared to Bucharest which has a much grimmer atmosphere due to the influence of Soviet architecture and their reliance of grey, bland concrete).
In short, I wouldn’t recommend a winter visit unless you have a specific desire to enjoy the cold and crowdless cities.
How to Stay Safe in Brasov
Crime against tourists in Brasov is rare so you don’t need to worry too much about scams or theft. Of course, you’ll want to take the same precautions you do at home such as not flashing your valuables, being aware of your surroundings, and not traveling alone at night while intoxicated.
Petty theft is most common in the busy tourist square in the middle of town or on the city buses if they are crowded. These are usually just crimes of opportunity so as long as you keep your valuables secure and are aware of your surroundings you should be fine.
Additionally, you will want to take some extra precautions when renting a car. While the roads are safe, rental cars are sometimes targeted for theft, so just make sure you take precautions and lock your vehicle when you’re not using it (this is more an issue in Bucharest, but it does happen elsewhere as well so just be aware).
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Brasov Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Brasov. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engine which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Sweden, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
Brasov Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Brasov Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
A Concise History of Romania, by Keith Hitchins
If you want to get a sense of how Romania came to be, this is a good book to start with. Spanning over 2,000 years of history, Hitchins paints in broad strokes but provides you with a concrete narrative to follow as you weave through Romania’s turbulent past. The country holds a unique place between east and west and this book does a great job of clearing up some of the muddied historical waters.
The Land of Green Plums, by Herta Müller
Published in 1994, The Land of Green Plums is a novel about four young people growing up under Nicolae Ceausescu’s totalitarian regime. Partly autobiographical and no stranger to painting with a political brush, the book was eventually translated into English where it went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.
The Holocaust in Romania: The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies Under the Antonescu Regime, 1940-1944, by Radiu Ioanid
Before World War II, around 800,000 Jews lived in Romania. Today, there are less than 20,000. Using archival records, unpublished reports, memoirs of survivors, and personal letters, Ioanid does an excellent job of illuminating this dark and tragic period of Romania’s history. It is definitely not an easy book to read as every page packs an emotional punch, but it is an important read that adds insight and context to Romania’s devastating history.
Romania Since the Second World War: A Political, Social and Economic History, by Florin Abraham
This book picks up where the last one left off, covering the brutal years under Communist rule and the barbary that occurred under Ceausescu. From there, the book navigates the socio-economic changes that stemmed from Romania joining NATO and also the EU. This is a long and detailed account that has a bit of an academic feel to it, but it is definitely worth a read for a modern perspective on contemporary Romania.
The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom, by Diana Doroftei and Matthew Cross
If you’re looking for some light reading, this book of quotes is a great place to start. It’s full of words of wisdom from famous (and not so famous) Romanians, covering topics like art, family, health, and more. If you want to get a sense of the people without doing any heavy lifting, this is the book for you!