Dark Weather in Charming Transylvania (Brasov, Romania)

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Town Square in Old Town Brasov, Romania

Town Square in Old Town Brasov, Romania

Brasov was our first stop in Romania after Bulgaria.

After a 17 hour train ride from Varna, Bulgaria (including 3 trains and 5 hour stop-over in the middle of the night at the Bulgaria-Romania border), we arrived to a overcast and rainy Brasov, Romania (fitting for a town in Transylvania, no?)

Through the wet windows on the 10 min taxi ride from the train station to the hostel, we got an eyeful of colourful exteriors, the famous Black Church and even the Brasov “Hollywood” sign.

It ended up raining the entire first day. The second day continued to be cloudy, about 18C, but the weather was pleasant enough to spend the day exploring the Old Town, including the charming town square, photographing beautiful exteriors and even going up the hill that’s 400m above town for a panorama view of the city.

View of the back of Black Church from the Town Square. Brasov, Romania

View of the back of Black Church from the Town Square. Brasov, Romania

From the town square, you can see the Brasov “Hollywood” sign looking over the town. I later took a cable car up to the viewpoint for 15 lei, about $5, for a round trip (or free if you hike up for 40 min).

View of Brasov "Hollywood" sign from Town Square

View of Brasov "Hollywood" sign from Town Square

Going up to the hill “Tampa Panoramic” to the Brasov “Hollywood” sign, I got a full view of the town below. In this zoomed in photo, you can see the town square, the White Tower and the Black Church (to the left the city square).

View of Town Square, Black Church and White Tower from hill (next to Brasov "Hollywood" sign)

View of Town Square, Black Church and White Tower from hill (next to Brasov "Hollywood" sign)

Coming back down the hill, two enthusiastic school kids on a field trip asked me in English to take a photo of them and even gave me his email to ask if I could tag them on Facebook. (It seems that Turkish, Bulgarian and Romanian locals like having their photos taken – we’ve had requests on numerous occasions by strangers for us to take their photos when they see us with our DSLR cameras, which is something I didn’t experience in Southeast Asia at all).

Teenage Brasov kids on a school field trip

Teenage Brasov kids on a school field trip

At late afternoon, the sky was still grey but the town square continued to be filled with families taking walks with kids, friends socializing over drinks, and even with street musicians.

Young Performers in Old Town Brasov, Romania

Young Performers in Old Town Brasov, Romania

Square in Old Town Brasov, Romania

Cloudy but charming day in the square in Old Town Brasov, Romania

Despite the grey weather, the charm of the colourful buildings, busy cafes, relaxed locals really shone through. I find this town captivating and laid back with a great vibe; and it also helps that prices are budget-friendly (see sample costs below).

For more daily ad-hoc travel photos, see my Facebook page.

Some observations

  • Similar to Plovdiv and Varna in Bulgaria, there seems to be any hardly any tourists in Brasov. My travel companion pointed it it could be because the nearest airport to Brasov is 3 hours away in Bucharest and the airport isn’t serviced by major discount airlines like Ryan Air (a major low-cost airline in Europe).
  • Seeing an Asian person must be unusual. In both Bulgaria and here, I’ve caught a number of people taking photos of me. It’s a bit odd to see people sneaking in photos of me, but I assume it’s out of curiosity so I usually just smile at them :)

Travel tips for Brasov

Getting in by train:

View Larger Map

  • Train ticket from Varna, Bulgaria to Brasov was 43 Bulgarian levs ($31 CAD) – although we have our Eurail passes, we haven’t started using them yet and are saving them for when train costs become higher
  • The journey consisted of 3 trains: a 3 hour 200km from Varna to Ruse (town at the border of Bulgaria and Romania), a 3 hour 75km from Ruse to Bucharest, and 3.5hr 170km from Bucharest to Brasov.
  • Train left at 5:40pm from Varna, Bulgaria, included a 5 hour stop-over in Ruse, Bulgaria and arrived at 10:40am in Brasov.

Sample costs in Brasov:

  • Taxi from Brasov train station to Old Town Brasov, 8.5 lei ($2.75 CAD)
  • Old Town Hostel Brasov, 8 bed dorm with shared bathroom, 8 Euros ($12 CAD) – includes WiFi, towel/lines, cereal/toast breakfast, tea and coffee all day.
  • Large load of laundry washed and folded, 15 lei ($5 CAD)
  • Groceries to cook pasta dinner for 2 with leftovers, 18 lei ($6 CAD or $3/person) – includes pasta, sauce, cheese, onion, 100g cheese, 100g smoked meat.
  • Large pizza and large tiramisu cake from “Andos” Pizzeria, 17.9 lei ($6 CAD) – Large “kebab” pizza with chicken, onion, olives, peppers (free beer), free delivery with order over 29 lei ($10 CAD)

More resources on Brasov and Transylvania

>> Does Brasov look like somewhere you’d like to visit? I’m finding the Old Town of Brasov very charming, what kind of places do you find charming? Leave your comments below!

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  • cristina

    Actually the nearest airport is not Bucharest, it’s in Sibiu and is served by low cost carriers (but not as major as Ryanair). Cluj Napoca is also close and is served by low cost carrier WizzAir.
    Greetings from Romania :)

    • Hi Cristina,

      Thanks for this information, I didn’t realize there’s an airport at Sibiu and Cluj Napoca – that’s good to know. I can see myself making another visit to Romania in the future :)

      Thanks for stopping by!
      – Lily

  • Hello, Lily, it’s not that unusual to see asian people in romania. it’s just that we don’t get to see many adventurers in our land. about the lack of the airport..it’s really sad that Brasov doesn’t have one. anyways, congrats for your trip! best thoughts!

    • Hi Oana,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. One thing I really loved about Romania was that were a lot less tourists compared to other parts of Europe, so that all the shops and restaurants were still very local and authentic, as opposed to serving french fries and hamburgers to cater to the tourists. I don’t think it’s bad that Brasov doesn’t have an airport, I think that keeps the town feeling cozy and charming :)

      Thanks for your kind wishes and for saying hi!

      – Lily

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  • Lily, looks like you’re enjoy your visit there. You’re like the free photographer for the people there haha. I guess FB is getting so popular I was asked to tag someone with the photo I took of him when I was in Jamaica too. Anyways I love the photos you shot at Romania. It looked so colorful and the people seems so friendly there too. I can’t wait to read more about your trips.

    • Hi Sarah,

      The charm of Brasov was a pleasant surprise. I think Romania is a hidden gem in Europe, I hardly saw any tourists here and even finding postcards was difficult. Isn’t it great how Facebook connects complete stranger? (and Twitter too, of course!) 

      – Lily

  • One of our dream destinations. The place looks so charming, and yes that includes the Dracula castle.

    • Hi Jack and Jill,

      This town was charming indeed! We stayed over a week because it had a great vibe and people were really friendly, especially the bus drivers. A hidden gem in eastern Europe I’d say :)

      – Lily

    • Hi Jack and Jill,

      This town was charming indeed! We stayed over a week because it had a great vibe and people were really friendly, especially the bus drivers. A hidden gem in eastern Europe I’d say :)

      – Lily

    • Hi Jack and Jill,

      This town was charming indeed! We stayed over a week because it had a great vibe and people were really friendly, especially the bus drivers. A hidden gem in eastern Europe I’d say :)

      – Lily

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  • This is great Lily,
    I know so little about traveling in Eastern Europe, so I really enjoy reading more and seeing photos (which are awesome). That town square looks like a wonderful place for a stroll!

    • Hi Mark,

      Sitting at an outdoor cafe (with wifi, of course) on the side of the square lends itself to a perfect afternoon of people watching. There were hardly any (noticeable) tourists, which made the experience seem even more authentic. Highly recommended, if you get the opportunity :)

      – Lily

    • Hi Mark,

      Sitting at an outdoor cafe (with wifi, of course) on the side of the square lends itself to a perfect afternoon of people watching. There were hardly any (noticeable) tourists, which made the experience seem even more authentic. Highly recommended, if you get the opportunity :)

      – Lily

    • Hi Mark,

      Sitting at an outdoor cafe (with wifi, of course) on the side of the square lends itself to a perfect afternoon of people watching. There were hardly any (noticeable) tourists, which made the experience seem even more authentic. Highly recommended, if you get the opportunity :)

      – Lily

    • Hi Mark,

      Sitting at an outdoor cafe (with wifi, of course) on the side of the square lends itself to a perfect afternoon of people watching. There were hardly any (noticeable) tourists, which made the experience seem even more authentic. Highly recommended, if you get the opportunity :)

      – Lily

  • Traveling Ted

    Cool post.  I have always wanted to visit the Bram Stoker Dracula castle ever since I was a kid.  Transylvania is a bucket list spot for me. 

  • I like Brasov heaps. All of Transylvania really. Beautiful – and slightly spooky. When I was first there (years ago), I thought that was how the Alps must have looked 100 years ago.

    • Hi Sophie, I’m loving Brasov too. I’ve been here almost a week now and it feels charming, comfortable and a great place just to hang out. It was a bit spooky the first four days I was here with the dark clouds as the backdrop for the Black Church, towers and Bran (Dracula) Castle… now there’s blue skies above the Brasov “Hollywood” sign, so it’s not so creepy anymore! (*Removes the garlic next to her bed* :))

      – Lily

  • Great overview of Brasov.  Having spent time in Eastern Europe, I would love to go a little beyond the mainstream countries and visit Bulgaria and Romania.  I look forward to reading more about this.  Great information on the costs and transportation to get there!

  • So funny that they were taking pictures of you.  The role of traveler and local is reversed.

    • It reminds me of India. My blonde-haired traveller friends were constantly asked to pose for pictures and even given babies to hold for the pictures on a few occasions!

      – Lily

  • I don’t know that much about this area, but it looks like a lovely place to visit. Great tips- interesting how much everything cost.

  • Yes, I would like to visit Brasov and all of Romania.  Great tips and information.

  • wow… one of my dream destinations.
    beautiful photos! thanks for the helpful tips

  • Oh I miss those old town squares of Europe. Funny how the school kid had a Facebook t-shirt on. Crackbook has infiltrated the whole world!

    • I’m enjoying the town squares as well, they’re so open and vibrant. Perfect for people watching. I didn’t notice the Facebook t-shirt until I downloaded the photo to the computer… funny because he gave me his email after I took the photo and asked if I could tag him on Facebook! I don’t think I’ve been anywhere in the world yet where people (both travellers and locals) don’t flock to Facebook in the presence of an internet connection – even in Vietnam where FB is blocked! Ah, Facebook addiction. I bet they employ as many psychologists and user interface designers as they do programmers :P

      – Lily

  • I don’t really know much about Romania – Brasov looks fascinating! 

    I’d also just like to say I really love the extra info you’ve included at the end of the post (the map, resources etc). Have been using blog posts to plan my Central America trip and this kind of stuff is so helpful! 

    • Hi Megan,

      I highly recommend Brasov if you ever decide to plan a trip to Romania ;) I often use blog posts to plan my trips too, and sometimes have extra tidbits of practical information that guides don’t provide.

      – Lily

  • What a sweet looking little town! I’ve been to Bucharest many times and admittedly have never cared much for Romania. Seeing these pictures reminds me that I still need to get to know the country better!

    • Hi Erin,

      We debated stopping in Bucharest before Brasov, but we didn’t find
      many kind words about that city. The gist we got from reading Lonely
      Planet and online was that Bucharest has a high density of stray dogs,
      not charming, and not pleasant to walk through. Although now I kind of
      wish I had stayed longer at the Bucharest train station instead of
      taking the connecting train to Brasov right away – it seemed
      interesting with lots of graffiti and buzzed with people. Maybe next
      time we can swap… I’ll go to Bucharest and you can go Brasov! :)

      Lily

      • Hey Lily :)

        Couldn’t help commenting on this one, as it’s quite the contested topic.
        One hand, I would 100% agree that if you’re strapped for time you
        should be spending your time outside of Bucharest – and this is not
        because of Bucharest being lame, but simply because the magic and beauty
        of various places in the Romanian countryside will blow your mind way
        more than any city ever could (i.e. Sibiu, the cultural capital of
        Europe for 2012; The Olt Valley; the Horezu monastery and its incredibly beautiful pottery; Maramures; Cheile Orzei and the Scropoasa Valley; Brasov, as you
        saw; even the salt baths and salt mine of Slanic; etc etc etc). That all said, there is a reason Bucharest is referred to as “the Little Paris of the East”: both in charm, and physically as well – the planners and architects who created some of the city’s key areas were from Paris, which can be extremely obvious at times. Old Bucharest, in particular (where I was yesterday when I tweeted you :P ), is a place I would highly recommend you spend a summer evening if you revisit Romania – the incredibly vibrant, sprawling sidewalk cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, and clubs, loaded with wonderful people, on the backdrop of beautiful architecture, is something worth experiencing. I could go on and on about the merits of Bucharest, but the point is: don’t write it off on account of stray dogs and lack of charm – those sound like words from finicky travelers – it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever back and have time :)

        Mario

        p.s. highly, highly recommend Sibiu if you have time – you may pass through the Olt Valley depending where you’re coming from, and that’s an amazing 2-for-1.