Brasov

Brasov has always been a fairly special city in our book of travels. Ever since I was growing up in Bucharest, this city has been always an excellent gateway from the hustle and bustle of the capital.

With its imposing Germanic architecture and amazing scenery, Brasov is an excellent city break choice for anyone looking to visit Romania. Read more below, why Brasov should be your next destination and why we think you’ll love it.

Overview

Brasov, pronounced brae·sov, is a city located in the heart of Romania, is a city steeped in rich history and captivating tales that date back centuries. The origins of Brasov can be traced back to the 13th century when it was founded by Germanic settlers known as the Transylvanian Saxons.

Nestled at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, the city quickly grew in prominence as a major trade hub along important medieval trade routes.

Throughout its eventful history, Brasov witnessed the rise and fall of various powers that sought control over the region. It became an important strategic stronghold during the Ottoman Empire’s expansion and played a crucial role in defending the Kingdom of Hungary against invading forces.

This tumultuous past can still be seen today in the city’s captivating architecture, which reflects a blend of Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance influences.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Brasov is the imposing Black Church, a Gothic masterpiece that stands as a testament to the city’s resilience. Built in the 14th century, it received its name due to its darkened walls after a devastating fire in 1689.

Today, Brasov is a bustling metropolis that effortlessly blends its historic past with modern-day amenities. Visitors can explore the well-preserved medieval fortifications, wander through charming narrow streets, and delve into fascinating museums that showcase the city’s heritage.

With its captivating history, picturesque landscapes, and warm hospitality, Brasov continues to captivate the hearts of both locals and travellers from around the world.

Travel to and Around Brasov

Travelling to Brasov couldn’t be easier. As of 2023 the city also inaugurated its own airport, making travel by plane direct to Brasov a breeze. Alternatively, you can fly to Bucharest to Henri Coanda Airport (OTP) and from there you can get an indirect train service to Brasov.

Once at the Airport you can take the train to the North Railway Station and from there make a connection for your train. Typically, there are trains every hour.

If you are looking for suitable flight options, make sure to check out this article with top tips on how to find cheap flights.

The train journey should be around 2 and a half hours from the airport and there are plenty of services running between Bucharest and Brasov. Tickets can be found either online at CFR Calatori, on the app or you can buy them at the counter or at any automated ticket vending machine.

An alternative way to reach Brasov is by coach with regular services running from any of Bucharest’s coach stations or by car.

Hristina and I always take the train from Bucharest as we first fly over there since we usually say our greetings to family and friends before heading out to the mountains.

Overall, a weekend away or 2-3 nights is more than enough to immerse yourself and enjoy the city to the max. Brasov is a very easy city to get by. As a rule of thumb, if you are staying the historic city centre then most of the attractions will be within walking distance.

Brasov offers buses and trams as a means of in-city transport. Tickets can be purchased from vending machines. If arriving by train there are plenty of vending machines at the central station.

All routes are mapped on Google Maps so no need to get your trusty map out. You can read more about the local transport network here and more about ticket fares here.

We normally take a taxi when we are in Brasov, as prices aren’t quite high and it is a fairly affordable means of transport. For longer distances, perhaps public transport is a good option.

Where to Stay in Brasov

In general, there are plenty of hotels and accommodation options, however, we would recommend staying somewhere central, perhaps near Council Square, as you can get around quite easily.

As a side thought, you could also stay at any of the Prahova Valley mountain resorts and then come to Brasov for a day trip. Some suggestions where to stay include Predeal, Sinaia or Busteni.

We have previously stood at Hotel Casa Wagner, which offers the perfect location for your experience in Brasov.

We would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. Use the widget below to find the best accommodation in Brasov for your specific dates.

Also, like we say in our article on how to plan a holiday, do account for the overall cost as you have to factor in breakfast.

Things to do in Brasov

Brasov is a culturally rich city to explore. It offers amazing architecture, rich cultural history which can be explored in museums and excellent hiking trails.

Like we’ve mentioned in our article How to plan a trip: Best tips for your next holiday plan, it’s worth exploring some of the attractions beforehand so you can plan your trip accordingly.

Below we will attempt to cover our favourite recommendations of what to do when in Brasov.

1. Enjoy a drink at Piata Sfatului (Council Square)

Council Square, or Piata Sfatului in Romanian, is a vibrant and historic centrepiece of Brasov. Located in the heart of the city, this square has been a hub of activity for centuries. With its colourful merchant houses, charming cafes, and lively atmosphere, Council Square encapsulates the essence of Brasov’s charm.

Surrounded by picturesque Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance buildings, Council Square exudes a timeless beauty. The square is adorned with the Council House, a striking Gothic building that has served as a centre of local administration for centuries. Its iconic clock tower stands tall, offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Carpathian Mountains.

From traditional Romanian music performances to charming Christmas markets, the square comes to life with excitement and celebration. Read more about Brasov’s Christmas market and other Christmas markets in Romania here.

Every year the Christmas Market hosts many local producers which offer everything from salamis to sausages and from spirits to wines this place has it all. When walking down the street, do indulge yourself with a nice mulled wine and a chimney cake! It makes the cold so much more bearable.

Exploring Council Square is a delight for food lovers as well. The square is lined with cosy cafes, lively bars, and restaurants serving a variety of local and international cuisines. Whether you’re craving traditional Romanian dishes or international favourites, Council Square offers a gastronomic experience that will satisfy your taste buds.

In the summer months, outdoor terraces spill onto the square, creating a lively ambiance as people enjoy their meals and drinks while basking in the sun. During the winter, the square transforms into a magical wonderland with the enchanting Christmas market. Here, visitors can sip on mulled wine, sample local delicacies, and browse through handmade crafts.

We always suggest you start your day here, perhaps even sit down for a coffee whilst enjoying the walking tourists and the magnificent scenery unravelling before you.

2. Visit the Black Church

The Black Church, or Biserica Neagră in Romanian, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Brasov, Romania. This imposing Gothic masterpiece stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and architectural splendour. Built in the 14th century, it received its name due to its darkened walls after a devastating fire in 1689.

The interior of the Black Church is equally breath taking. Its vast nave and aisles are adorned with stunning stained glass windows, depicting biblical scenes and religious figures. The majestic organ, one of the largest in Europe, adds to the ethereal atmosphere.

Today, it is not only a place of religious significance but also a cultural hub, hosting various concerts, exhibitions, and cultural events.

We suggest you go to visit the cathedral on non Christian Holidays or Sundays as services could be in full swing. Overall, if you are from Western Europe this cathedral will look very similar to the ones from Berlin or Vienna.

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3. Go up Tâmpa Peak

Located in the heart of Brasov, Tâmpa is a majestic mountain that offers amazing views and a unique hiking experience.

To reach the top of Tâmpa and soak in the panoramic views, visitors can take a ride on the Brasov Gondola. The cable car system effortlessly (respectable for its age) ascends to the summit, providing a convenient and scenic way to explore the mountain.

At the top you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of Brasov’s charming red-roofed buildings, the winding Carpathian Mountains, and the picturesque landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see.

You can embark on a leisurely hike along the designated trails, breathing in the fresh mountain air and immersing yourself in the tranquil surroundings. There are several routes to choose from, catering to different fitness levels and preferences.

We managed to go all the way to the Brasov sign but also discovered a few good viewing decks for some top notch panoramic photos. We do have to say that during winter you might want to bring your winter boots. Both of us had boots and still found it very slippery due to the ice and snow.

4. Gaze at Catherine’s Gate

Catherine’s Gate, or Poarta Ecaterinei in Romanian, is a fascinating historical landmark. This well-preserved gate is the only original entrance that remains from the medieval fortifications that once surrounded the city.

Built in the 16th century, Catherine’s Gate served as a point of access for merchants, as well as a defence mechanism against potential invaders. It is named after Catherine of Alexandria, a Christian martyr and one of the patron saints of Brasov.

The gate is a remarkable example of Gothic architecture, boasting intricate carvings and imposing stone walls. It serves as a gateway to further exploration of the historic city centre, leading you to delightful cobblestone streets, charming squares, and other architectural gems.

Overall we think it’s a great stop for photos in you are exploring the city further west.

5. Immerse Yourself in Culture at St. Nicholas Church and First Romanian School

St. Nicholas Church and First Romanian School are two significant historical landmarks that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Brasov.

St. Nicholas Church, also known as Biserica Sfântul Nicolae in Romanian, is a charming Orthodox church located in the heart of Brasov’s historic centre. Built in the 14th century, this architectural gem is a fine example of Gothic-style design.

The church’s exterior is adorned with intricate stone carvings and a beautiful rooftop adorned with cross-shaped finials. Inside, visitors can admire the stunning frescoes and religious icons that adorn the walls, as well as the ornate wooden iconostasis.

Just a short walk from St. Nicholas Church, visitors will find the First Romanian School, also known as Prima Școală Românească. Established in 1495, it holds the distinction of being the first Romanian language school in Transylvania.

The school played a crucial role in preserving and promoting the Romanian language and culture during a time of Germanic influence. Today, the First Romanian School is a museum that offers a glimpse into the educational practices of the past.

Visitors can explore the classrooms, browse through old textbooks and manuscripts, and learn about the important role this institution played in shaping Romanian identity.

The Church and Museum may not come across as imposing however, the significance of it is vast. Sometimes it’s not about the grandeur but more about the meaning behind it.

6. Go up The Black Tower

The Black Tower, or Turnul Negru in Romanian, is an iconic landmark in Brasov that holds a significant place in the city’s history and offers stunning panoramic views. Situated on top of one of the hills surrounding Brasov, this medieval tower stands as a testament to the city’s fortification system.

Dating back to the 15th century, the BlackTower was originally built as part of the defensive walls that encircled Brasov. Its purpose was to protect the city from potential invaders and provide a strategic vantage point for monitoring the surrounding area.

As you ascend the narrow spiral staircase, you’ll be greeted with a nice views of the city’s red-tiled roofs, the vibrant Council Square, and the majestic Tampa Mountain.

The Black Tower also houses a small museum that provides insights into the tower’s history and its significance in the defence of the city. You can learn about the medieval fortifications, the weaponry used during that time, and the challenges faced by the people of Brasov.

Whilst not a full on hike, depending on your fitness level we recommend you don’t underestimate this journey. There are 2 paths, one that ascends fairly easy in a snake like pattern or stairs that cross the path. On a rainy day, we do advise you bring your boots.

7. Explore the Brasov Tunnels

Brasov Tunnels is another good opportunity to visit the catacombs of Brasov. These have been accidentally discovered a few years ago and are a good visiting opportunity if visiting the White Tower.

Although nothing special, they provide a good cool experience on a hot summer’s day. They are very similar to the tunnels of Dover so do be careful with your head.

8. Take a Photo on Romania’s Narrowest Street, Strada Sforii (Thread Street)

Strada Sforii, also known as Thread Street, is a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Brasov. This narrow, winding alleyway is famous for being one of the narrowest streets in Europe, with an average width of just over one meter.

Originally built as a passageway for firefighters to reach the city’s walls more easily, Strada Sforii now attracts curious visitors who want to experience its unique charm.

Definitely worth taking a photo or two.

9. Go for a Spa Day at Aquatic Paradise

Photos taken from the Paradisul Acvatic‘s website.

If you’ve read our article about Therme Bucharest but didn’t have the time to go and see it for yourself then have no fear, Brasov has it very own indoors aqua park. Whilst it’s a considerably smaller venue than it’s bigger cousin in Bucharest, this Aquatic Paradise is still a great day out.

The venue hosts saunas, hot and cold water pools as well as a central pool designed for all. Inside you will also be able to eat as they have several options available.

Half day is a decent amount of time however, do go for 1 day if schedule permits.

10. Take Half a Day Trip to Dracula’s Castle (Bran Castle)

Bran Castle, often referred to as “Dracula’s Castle,” is a captivating and iconic fortress situated near Bran town. Perched on a rugged hilltop, the castle boasts a striking appearance with its towering turrets and fortified walls, creating an aura of mystery and intrigue.

The trip itself is easily accessible from Brasov either by taxi or coach. When we went there we took a taxi which was fairly convenient. If you prefer an organised trip, here are a few suggestions:

While often associated with the fictional character Dracula, created by Bram Stoker, the historical connections between the castle and Vlad the Impaler (Vlad III), the real-life figure who partially inspired the Dracula legend, remain debated.

Originally constructed in the 14th century as a defensive fortress against invading forces, Bran Castle has served various roles throughout its history, from a royal residence to a strategic military outpost.

The castle’s dramatic setting, intertwined with folklore and history, continues to draw tourists and enthusiasts alike, making it an integral part of Romania’s cultural and architectural heritage.

Food and Drinks Highlights

One can easily gain a few kilos when visiting this place. The culinary scenery is fairly diverse and offers tourists a great variety of eastern European foods as well as a blend of international and middle eastern cuisines.

Anything from shawarmas to fine dining are all great options depending on your mood. Some of the things to look out for when reviewing menus would be:

  • Tripe soup – a soup made with tripe and vegetable stock with tempered soured cream and eggs. To be served with white vinegar to taste. It’s decadent, don’t get me wrong, hence the vinegar.
  • Mamaliga – you might know it as polenta or cornmeal however, this staple of Romanian cuisine has stood the test of time. Served as a side dish or the main event, mamaliga should be eaten with sour cream, white cheese (feta style) and hot pepper.
  • Burduf cheese – is a salty type of Romanian cheese, made with sheep milk. It has a strong flavour and slightly soft in texture. Can also be bought from merchants who can sell it wrapped in pine covering as well for extra pine scent.
  • Papanas(i) – a traditional dessert in these parts is the Papanas. A cottage cheese doughnut (hear me out first), deep fried smothered in sour cream and jam. You see! Typical portion consists of two fist sized doughnuts.
  • Kürtőskalács – (or Chimney Cake) is a spit cake specific to Hungarians from Transylvania, more specifically the Székelys. Originally popular in the Hungarian-speaking regions of Romania, more predominantly the Székely Land, it became popular in both Hungary and Romania.

When we are in Brasov here are some places we typically like to go to and eat:

1. Enjoy Traditional Food at La Ceaun – Piata Sfatului

La Ceaun – Piata Sfatului is a good traditional Romanian restaurant serving typical dishes in a cosy atmosphere. Here you can enjoy all sorts of typical dishes from the region and not only.

It’s great if you want to eat here for lunch since they have a terrace or inside for dinner or during colder months. We found (as the name implies) their stews are pretty good. Hristina was impressed of the bean soup served in bread.

2. Try some Papanasi at Sergiana

If you’ve read out Bucharest article you would’ve noted one restaurant we like going to: Caru’ Cu Bere. Good service, excellent food and amazing atmosphere. We get the same feeling here at this restaurant in Brasov – Sergiana.

We’ve ordered a 3 course meal and we must say, each course and dish was prepared to the best it can ever be. All traditional and locally sourced. In reading the menu they also cure their own meets, now that is dedication.

For desserts we had papanasi. A Romanian staple. Here at Sergiana, I believe I ate the best Papanasi ever. Period. The jam, the soft yet crispy dry dough, all to die for.

When in Brasov we absolutely recommend you come here and maybe even book in advance.

3. Enjoy a Coffee with a View

We really enjoyed grabbing a coffee at Starbucks at the main square. When we went there, it was snowing and felt rather magical but during the summer you can enjoy the outside seating area and the beautiful views towards the main square.

Final Thoughts

Overall, when thinking of Brasov, it’s a city like no other. Its proximity to Bucharest, the great atmosphere, amazing architecture, all make it a great contender for your next destination. Brasov is a city for everyone’s budget and a city aimed at attracting all tourists whether, couples, families or solo travellers.

Its rich cultural heritage combined with amazing amenities make Brasov a leading city to be explored in Romania and Europe respectively.

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:


  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider Rentalcars.com for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

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