Romania’s capital, Bucharest, really should be top of your travel list of 2019! The city is full of recent history, beautiful green space, charming architecture and hipster bars but this guide is not boasting about Bucharest – it is going to tell you why you should escape the city. Day trips from Bucharest include lots of attractions from castles to coastlines, spit cake to sandy beaches – keep reading to find out more about the best independent and guided tours from Bucharest.
Day Trips From Bucharest
Sinaia is probably the most famous mountain resort in Romania, given its easy accessibility from Bucharest, at only 120km away. This makes it the perfect escape from the hectic capital, which can easily be done in just one day.
There is no shortage of castles near Bucharest but Sinaia is famous for the Peles Castle, the most impressive castle in Romania. Even though Bran Castle gets all its fame thanks to Dracula, Peles draws tons of tourists due to its Neo-Renaissance architecture and its location, secluded from the town centre, on a vast and green complex. Its construction was finalised in 1883 and became home to the Romanian royal family. The castle is definitely worth a visit, although during summer there are long queues at the entrance. During the summer months Peles Castle is closed on Mondays, and during winter months it closes both on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Sinaia is filled with restaurants and bistros, but a very famous one is Bistro La Teleferic, a cosy B&B with a tiny restaurant providing delicious meals. It even serves the Romanian staple sour soup made of beans and served in bread.
Bucharest to Sinaia: To get to Sinaia, you can either take a bus or even better, a train. They’re both regular buses and trains that get to Sinaia, but the train will provide a more romantic and smoother trip. Regarding prices, a train ticket will cost anywhere between 5 to 10 euro for a one-way-trip, around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
2. Peles Castle [also see Sinaia above]
One of Romania’s true gems, Peles Castle in the leafy town of Sinaia was once the summer residence of the Romanian Royal Family. The magnificent castle houses over 160 extravagant rooms furnished with exquisite chandeliers, fine arts and frescoes and stained glass windows and exploring the castle feels like entering a fairytale world. Access is by guided tour only and there is a fee for photography which is worth it to capture the majestic castle.
Many visitors combine a visit to Peles Castle with a stop at the nearby Sinaia Monastery which is home to Orthodox monks.
Bucharest to Peles Castle: Peles Castle is located in the town of Sinaia, a 90-minute train journey from Bucharest. It’s a lovely uphill walk from Sinaia Train Station to Peles Castle and it is accessible via a forest path or by walking along the main road. Taxis are also available outside the train station. If you have a rental car, the journey between Bucharest and Sinaia takes about 2 hours by road.
Elaine and Dave | Show Them the Globe
3. Bucharest to Transylvania [Brașov]
Transylvanian city of Brașov is quite a small city and, if you get there early enough, you can see all of the main attractions in a day. Several companies run walking tours, some of which are free, and these can be a great way to immerse yourself in local Romanian history and see all of the main sights within a few hours. These attractions include the old medieval walls, as well as churches like the Black Church, the church of Bartolomeu, and the Orthodox Church of Saint Nicolae.
Walking to the top of nearby Mount Tampa is definitely recommended, as it gives you some fantastic views of the city and the chance to see the famous Hollywood-esque sign up close. If you’re short of time, or not comfortable walking, there’s a cable car as well.
Finally, be sure to stop for some traditional Romanian food like Ciorba in paine (soup in a bread bowl), Sarmale (cabbage and pork spring rolls), and Papanași (Romanian doughnuts) before heading back to Bucharest.
Day trips from Bucharest to Transylvania: Situated about 170 km from Bucharest, the small Transylvanian city of Brașov is one of the most popular places to visit in Romania. Getting there takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes, which is just within the realms of a feasible day trip from Bucharest.
Bucharest to Bravos: There are three main ways to get to Brașov from Bucharest: either by train or by bus, on a tour bus, or by car. Driving gives you more freedom to set your own timetable and allows you to stop off at attractions like Bran Castle and Snagov Forest. Most importantly, driving in Romania is just a fun experience in itself.
4. Bran Castle tour from Bucharest
Bran Castle is famously known as the location of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Technically speaking, the castle doesn’t have much to do with Dracula, but it is still an interesting piece of architecture, perfect for visiting during a day trip out of Bucharest.
When in Bran, the first and most important thing to do is, of course, visit the castle. Perched on top of a small hill, the castle is open for public all week long, except for public holidays. The tours offered by the castle administrators are really interesting. The castle is perfect for both children and adults – there is something to do there for everyone. Most importantly, visitors have to make a wish in the castle’s garden well. Who doesn’t want their wish to be fulfilled as soon as possible?
Although most visitors expect to see Dracula in the flesh, that is definitely not going to happen. The only appearance might be made, perhaps, by some local actors trying to keep the legend alive. The inhabitants of Bran understand that people come to the castle for Dracula, but they might get offended if all you talk about is vampires. The people of Bran really need to be kept happy, so they can prepare the wonderful traditional dishes, such as polenta with sour cream, beef sour soup or kürtőskalács (a Hungarian spit cake sold everywhere in Transylvania), that the visitors must definitely try out.
The adventure awaits!
Bucharest to Bran Castle: In order to get there, there are a lot of options, many including expensive offers from the most various travel agencies. Some of the trips to Bran reach almost 150 EUR and they include a guide. If on a budget, the cheapest way to get to Bran is to take the train from Bucharest to Brasov and then the bus from Brasov to Bran (rides every 30 minutes and it is a 40 minutes’ trip). All in all, this costs somewhere around 15 EUR. It all depends on the type of adventure people are looking for!
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Dracula tour Bucharest
5. Sibiu [/Hermannstadt]
Bran Castle and Brasov certainly have a charm and are worth visiting. However, Sibiu has a splendid mix of Romanian culture and German traditions that tourists shouldn’t miss when in Romania.
Wandering in the streets of the Lower Town is definitely one of the best things to do in Sibiu, given the colourful German houses and the lovely Medieval atmosphere. It’s also where the oldest church in the town is, the Asylum Church.
Like Amsterdam and many other cities in the Old Continent, Sibiu achieved the title of European Cultural Capital and, as a result, multiple cultural events take place in the town. On days when the weather is good (and even on the bad days too), the Brukenthal Museum is an interesting place to go. This is a complex in the Mare square with one library, two art galleries, and five museums showcasing European art from different schools, including the Romanian, of course.
Alternatively, discovering Sibiu by bike is also a fun way to get around, even though everything can be reached on foot.
The Bridge of Lies in the historic centre is another place worth visiting, not only because of its beauty but also because there is a good restaurant right next to it. It’s said that when somebody tells a lie on this bridge, it starts moving and making weird noises. That’s where its name comes from.
For the foodies, Sibiu offers some delicious Romanian traditional foods, such as salted pretzels (covrigi) and polenta with cheese (bulz or mămăligă).
Bucharest to Sibiu: Even though Sibiu has an international airport, most people come to the town by train or car. Sibiu can be reached by train from Bucharest (20 ~ 30 euros return ticket) and it takes around 5 hours 30 mins to get there. However, renting a car and going on a road trip in the region of Southern Transylvania is the best option, since the town is 279 km away from Bucharest and the landscapes along the way are breathtaking!
6. Transfăgărășan + Romanian Mountains
If you’ve exhausted yourself of castles the next stop could be the Fagaras Mountains (Transylvanian Alps) but not before driving the crazily winding Transfăgărășan road. Notable tourist spots around the mountains include Curtea de Arges monastery, cable car rides at Balea Lake and of course another castle, Poenari Citadel (it is Romania after all). Hikers may want to base themselves in this are for one-day and multi-day treks.
Bucharest to Fagaras Mountains: It is best to travel by car (four hours) or by with a tour like this one.
7. Vama Veche
If you want to continue the party outside of the city head to Vama Veche village by the Black Sea. This beach town is where the old school hippies have settled in Romania and attempt to cling on to their nudist traditions (northern side of the beach) while the hotels move in and build upwards.
Bucharest to Vama Veche: Buses leave from the city and take around 3-5 hours. A ticket will cost between 6-20 euro.
Day trips from Bucharest to Bulgaria
Due to its close proximity, day tours from Bucharest are not limited to the country of Romania – visitors can easily hop the border to Bulgaria! Please be aware that Romania uses the Romanian leu and Bulgaria the Bulgarian lev, two different currencies.
8. Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Bulgaria
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ivanovo in Bulgaria is an excellent day trip from Bucharest. The stunning rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo are a complex of hill-top churches and monasteries cut right into the rock above a valley in northern Bulgaria and are known for their stunning frescoes. It’s a steep climb from the car park to the church complex and, if the vigorous climb doesn’t take your breath away, the stunning frescoes most certainly will!
The rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo were inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1979 and the frescoes are a perfect example of Bulgarian medieval art. Despite dating back as far as the 13th Century the frescoes are extremely well preserved and are wonderful to see.
Many visitors combine a visit to the rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo with a trip to Veliko Tarnovo, a beautiful hilltop city surrounding the medieval Tsarevets Fortress.
Bucharest to Ivanovo: Rental car is a cost-effective way to get to Ivanovo from Bucharest. It’s a 2-hour drive from Bucharest with a relatively easy border crossing into Bulgaria. It is also possible to join a guided tour which visits Ivanovo. Whichever way you choose to travel just don’t forget your passport for the border crossing!
Elaine & David, | The Whole World is a Playground
Bucharest Day Trips Map [click the image]
Bucharest day trips may not be massive if quantity but they certainly make up for it in quality and quaintness. It’s not just the top attractions that are the lure either, the Romanian food from the different districts is also appealing. Naturally, if you like to sample the local drink (like we do) you are better opting for one of the group tours from Bucharest to let someone else do the driving. So if you have more than three days in Bucharest, bookmark this post and start planning your Romanian holiday!
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