A quick 48 hour trip to Romania! I knew If I was going to Romania I would have to visit Vlad Dracula himself. At his rumored Bran castle. We spent the whole of Saturday on our day trip to Bran, Brasov and Rasnov. Then spent Sunday around Bucharest, until we had to leave for the airport. This post will give you some tips for organizing your own day trip to Bran. Plus details from the places we visited on the organised company tour we took from Bucharest.
How to get there?
Firstly I suggest that If you can drive (which I can’t) and are able to hire a car, this would give you more flexibility with your day trip to Bran. Though some of the roads in Romania are crazy. Just look at the Transfăgărășan Highway, so you need to be a confident driver. Prices online to rent a car for the day from Bucharest seemed extremely cheap! I saw one for £10 per day, not sure If that’s too good to be true. Do your research If you’re going to hire a car. You can also message me I can book you car hire as a Travel agent.
You can also take the train to Brasov from Bucharest. It’s around 3 hours, depending on which train line you’re taking. You can check for train times here. It costs around 50-60 Lei (£9- £12) for a one way ticket. There is a public bus which runs from Brasov to Bran and Rasnov. Both places are about 40 minutes away from Brasov. So the train and bus would be a viable option for a day trip. From Brasov there are many organised bus tours. Which run to Bran Castle and Rasnov fortress, some go to Peles Castle aswell. There are other tours which run to places such as; the Transfăgărășan highway, Sighisoara and Sibiu. Brasov would be a good place to base yourself in if you’re staying in Romania for longer. We stuck with Bucharest as we was flying in and out of there.
Organised Full Day Tour
As we were limited on time in Romania, we decided to look for an organised tour running from Bucharest. Based on the fact that I can’t drive and that my mum was not down for driving on them windy roads for hours. At the time we didn’t even think about the option of taking the train to Brasov. But the tour we did was amazing!
I began searching for a full day trip to Bran on Viator. Knowing that I wanted a tour with multiple stops, including Bran Castle, eventually I found one that looked good. It was called Full Day Tour of Dracula’s, LiBEARty Brown Bear Sanctuary, Brasov Town and Rasnov Fortress. Here is the link for the full description
Day trip Itinerary
The tour is run by Voyager Turism, but as we were only booking for 2 people (me and my mum) It was quite expensive for a day tour. To be fair it is a small group tour so there’s only ever a maximum of 7 people plus the driver/ guide. It does make the trip better as there is less people to wait for/ load onto the bus, probably why it costs more.
It ended up costing us £95 each for the day, which was 12 hours in total, although this didn’t include entrance fees. The entrance fees are reasonably cheap and probably added an extra £20 for my mum and £15 for me (student prices). The prices for the bus tour change when you book more tickets, for example if you’re buying 7 tickets (the whole bus) it’s around £55 each.
The bus picked us up at 7am on the Saturday morning from our requested pick-up. We met our guide and driver Mihail, to then find out we were the only ones on the tour so it turned out pretty amazing! Anyway in the end it was well worth the money and we had a great day. Basically paying a cheaper price for a private tour. We saw some beautiful places, learnt a lot about them and about Romania in general from our local guide Mihail.
The First stop on the tour was Rasnov Fortress. It took us about 3-4 hours to get there but we had stopped for breakfast on the way. I was also asleep for an hour or so before the sun rose. Our guide Mihail woke us up when we began to reach the Carpathian Mountains.
At Rasnov you can walk up the path to the fortress or take a mini funicular which cost 12 lei (£2.20) for a return. It was completely empty when we got to the fortress, the morning fog was covering the trees, it was truly magical. Maybe that’s what heaven will be like (cringe). We didn’t enter the fortress as we were enjoying the views outside too much. But entry is 10 lei (around £2) for adults and 5 lei for students and children.
After that we went to the LiBEARty brown bear sanctuary. The sanctuary was created to rescue over 50 bears found suffering in small cages around Romania. Having been used as pets or as attractions, read more about the sanctuary here. The first thing we did there was learn how and why the organisation started, watching a film on the original bears which needed to be rescued. Then we went for a walk around the sanctuary. Guided by one of the staff, watching the bears, some of which came close to the park fence to wait for food.
The main park is 69 acres of oak forest, streams and ponds, where the bears are free to roam naturally. Obviously yes these animals are still in enclosures to protect them. But these bears have been abused and neglected in their previous lives and some would not survive in the wild now. Because of the health conditions and trauma which was put upon them previously.
Mothers and cubs get separated from the main park to keep them safe until the cubs come of age to be released into the main park. They do not breed the bears and these cubs came as a surprise as they neutered all the males, accept a young 2 year old cub as they thought he was too young to have his own cubs, but turns out nope.
As there are a few steep hills, they run a little train (at an extra fee) for people who don’t want to walk, but you have to let them know in advance so they can organize a driver. Also you must go in the morning as this is when tours are led, you cannot go around by yourself. The ticket fees go towards the care and welfare of the bears. Adults cost 40 Lei (around £8) and children 10 Lei (around £2).
We then had a short drive to Bran where we spent an hour or so around the castle and wondering around the markets. Having our guide Mihail meant we seemed to skip the queues. We would give him our money and he would sort out all the tickets hassle free.
The inside of Bran Castle is a maze of different levels, rooms and walkways. It was quite busy, especially for low season and sometimes difficult to walk around with so many people trying to pass each other on narrow staircases and corridors. At the same time I find that stuff quite funny, as long as no one falls down the stairs. An adult ticket cost 40 Lei (about £8) and a student ticket cost 25 Lei (about £5).
It was roughly a 40 minute drive to Brasov, where we stayed for a few hours, we had some lunch and a wonder around the town. I suggest looking up the better places to eat as we decided on the first place we saw, as we were so hungry. I enjoyed a nice plate of potatoes (limited veggie options, and not the best service). Brasov town is so beautiful, though we missed the Christmas markets as they weren’t open yet. The sun was just beginning to set over the beautiful pastel coloured buildings as we were picked up and began our drive back to Bucharest.
During the drive there and back Mihail was always giving us information and pointing out different things on the journey. If we wanted to stop to take a photo somewhere he was also happy to do so. Then he dropped us back in Bucharest at the restaurant we planned to eat at that evening called Caru’ cu Bere, which is a whole other story. If you have a day or more in Bucharest make sure you check out The Parliament Palace – You can read a great post here about the palace by Pink Luggage Abroad
There are many other tours available through different companies with roughly similar prices, but I highly recommend this one! And seeing Rasnov and Brasov was equally as good as the famous Bran Castle.
Rasnov Fortress was actually my favorite place from the whole day, accept seeing the baby bear cubs playing in the trees at the sanctuary. But if you need a cheaper option, you can create your own day trip to Bran and other stops on the way based on my other travel suggestions above.