Sinaia, the famous mountainous city where the Royal
Aldovian Romanian ( 😉 ) family reside. Although, Netflix seems to have brought international fame to this mountain resort by choosing it for its famous Christmas movies, Sinaia has always enjoyed the spotlight when it comes to attention.
Read more below why Sinaia is a Romanian city like no other and how the Royal Romanian Family chose this place for their palaces.
Sinaia, pronounced [siˈnaja], originally started off as a settlement around the monastery built in 1695 bearing the same name.
It is situated around 800m above sea level and is conveniently located 2 hours by train from Bucharest, the capital of Romania.
Moreover, if you find yourself visiting Sinaia during the Festive Season we do encourage you to visit Brasov’s wonderful Christmas Market.
The name itself comes from the Biblical Mount Sinai from which the Monastery and the town get their names.
King Carol I having visited the location in 1866 fell in love with the place as it reminded him of his beloved German mountains. Several affluential families soon followed also.
Needless to say this brought international fame since the palace’s building began in 1873. The town grew exponentially and brought with it prosperity for the locals.
Travel and Accommodation
Sinaia, situated along the Prahova river, is conveniently located 2 hours by train from Bucharest or 1 hour away from Brasov. Assuming you want to fly in, your best bet is Bucharest airport.
It’s best if you go by train however, other means are available such as coaches, car rentals or even transfers.
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.
Depending on whether you are looking to ski for a few days or just looking to explore the place we’d suggest a minimum of 2 days.
Anything from guest houses to hotels are easily available. Some of the options I stood at in past years include:
These hotels are long standing names within the town and situated along the main boulevard.
Things to do
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.
First it would depend on whether or not you are a skier. After all, this is a ski resort to being with. If you are a skier and do enjoy the mountainous scenic view we would suggest you head over to the gondola.
Ski and sky
One should be aware that there are 2 gondolas. A state run one which starts from behind the New Montana hotel and a second one which starts from “Cota 1400m”.
The latter is only accessible by car. You could take a bus as well but you’ll need to consider walking as part of that.
Whichever means you choose, once you are up at 2000 m, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and amazing fresh powder snow. After all, you are in the mountains!
The ski slopes are on both sides of the “Valea Dorului” valley enchanting the skier with ever so beautiful snowed peaks. One can also ski from 2000 m all the way to 1600 m however, beware not all sections are wide enough.
Architecture & a royal walk
Once you’re done with your skiing feel free to start exploring the town itself. You could start off from the station itself and see the Royal Station (right next to the main one).
Progress up the stairs to Dimitrie Ghica Park, the main central park. Over there you will see a few landmarks such as the Caraiman Hotel, Hotel Palace and the Casino.
All worth a photo for sure! Excellent display of architecture from a bygone era.
From there, head up through the forest on the path behind the Casino to the monastery itself. An excellent display of a Romanian monastery.
A word of caution, however, whilst this monastery looks impressive and massive, it doesn’t look like a typical one you’d expect to find in other parts such as in Moldova. Remember, Sinaia has received a lot of attention and funds have helped the area develop.
Following from there head through the Peles Valley. Throughout your forest walk you’ll see many stalls with merchants selling all sorts of gifts and souvenirs.
At the end of your walk you’ll be met by the impressive views of the castle grounds. You’ve arrived. Within the castle ground you have several options which you can visit.
First, start off with the main Palace itself. It’s built in Neo-Renaissance and was the residence of King Charles I. It’s now a museum of national heritage artefacts.
Interesting fact – Peles Castle was the first castle in Europe to be lighten up with locally produced electricity. Take that!
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Do go outside also and take some photos on the terraces as they do offer amazing views of the gardens. Following from this head over to the other castle, Pelisor.
The castle was built in 1899–1902 by order of King Carol I, as the residence for his nephew and heir, the future King Ferdinand (son of Carol’s brother Leopold von Hohenzollern) and Ferdinand’s consort Queen Marie.
Economat Vila Complex
Another place you can see but also take a short break and enjoy an Amandina (yes, you have to try this decadent Romanian chocolate dessert) is the Economat/”At the towers” Vila complex.
Economat is the former Royal Guard Office of Peles Castle, located on the Royal Domain directly opposite the castle and just 100 metres from Pelisor Castle.
During winter and around the Christmas period, the whole resort looks like a fairy tale destination. With Christmas lights and Angelical silhouettes dominating the evening views.
Sinaia Town Hall
Go to the Town Hall area and surround yourself with all the Christmas decorations. They’ll for sure brighten up your evening! (see what I did there? 😉 ).
Other places worth visiting:
- George Enescu Memorial Museum – Famous Romanian composer’s house
- Știrbey Castle – Memorial house of the Știrbey family which was one of the more prominent and wealthier boyar (noble) families in Wallachia, and had been so since the 15th century
To give you a better taste of Sinaia, why not see a snippet of our winter holiday video below:
When it comes to the culinary scene, Sinaia won’t let you down. As hungry skiers wrap up their days, restaurants of all cuisines are ready to welcome them.
Plenty of traditional or international options available for all from kebabs to fancy Alps inspired restaurants.
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.
Some of the locations we have tried and could recommend would be:
- Cabana Vanatoreasca – generous portions and a great variety
- Taverna Sarbului – excellent meats selection all homemade
- La Tunuri – great for desserts
Sinaia is an established all year round resort that offers tourists something to do irrespective of the season. Skiing, sight seeing, good food and Royal views are what comes to mind when thinking of Sinaia.
A town that is safe and full of history can be a perfect retreat for a short weekend or even holiday for families or solo travellers. Its safe streets and easy to get to access make it a great location for you to explore.
Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:
- Flights – we use flight aggregators such as Skyscanner and Google flights to find the best options. You can find more information about finding cheap flights here.
- 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.
- 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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