Plan the perfect 5-day itinerary through Romania with kids. If you only have time for a short family break then Transylvania is the place to focus on.
In Transylvania you will find small villages nestled against green hills. Shepherds tending their flocks. Grand palaces and well preserved fortresses.
Follow this 5 day Romanian Itinerary to see the best of gorgeous Transylvania Click To Tweet
Stories of Dracula and cruel rulers add to the intrigue.
5-DAY TRANSYLVANIA ITINERARY : ROMANIA WITH KIDS
DAY 1: BUCHAREST
Bucharest Old Town
Spend some time wandering around the narrow cobbled streets of the old town where you will find a mix of elegantly restored building, glass-clad modern architecture, street art and buildings still in disrepair.
Head to Caru’ cu Bere restaurant, one of the oldest restaurants in the city. The dark wood carvings and frescoes glittering with gold foil decorate the walls which stretch up too high ceilings and stained glass windows.
The restaurant feels grand but highchairs and colouring pencils signal families are welcome here.
The restaurant serves a variety of traditional Eastern European, finding food suitable for kids in Romania is not hard, dishes include sausages, polenta topped with egg, pork knuckles and fish.
Grab some dessert at Cremeria Emilia for some of the best ice cream you will find anywhere.
DAY 2: PELES CASTLE AND RASNOV FORTRESS
This morning head to Sinaia and visit Peles Castle. Built in 1983 this castle sits in the mountains surrounded by trees and was used as a private alpine retreat by the royal family.
The interior is ornate down to the last detail and holds a large collection of decadent furnishings and art. The castle is closed on Mondays and in November. You must join a tour to view the palace.
In the afternoon visit Rasnov Fortress.
Rasnov Citadel was built as a fortification to protect those residing in the nearby Transylvanian villages during times of invasion. The villagers took refuge in the Citadel on a number of occasions sometimes for many decades at a time. The fortification became a mini working city with a market, church and school. Parts of the Citadel are in ruins but parts have been restored to create a museum recreating life in the times of occupation. From the carpark catch the tractor-trailer transport up the road to the fortress entrance. For visiting from the town of Rasnov check this post.
Overnight in Brasov.
DAY 3: LIBERTY BEAR SANCTUARY | BRAN CASTLE | BRASOV CITY
Liberty Bear Sanctuary
A short drive from Brasov visit the Liberty Bear Sanctuary.
In 1998 a Romanian, Cristina Lapis saw a bear caged and near death in a restaurant near Bran Castle. Through her dedication and passion the Liberty Bear Sanctuary was created and now holds 70 rescued beers.
At one time it was common for bears to be kept by hotels, restaurants and petrol stations to entertain customers. Bears were drugged to keep them docile and held in deplorable conditions.
The Liberty Bear Sanctuary has advocated for these bears and the practice of keeping bears for entertainment has now been abolished.
- The sanctuary is open in the mornings (closed Monday).
- A guide takes you through the park, giving a very educational and informative talk.
- This is a Sanctuary, not a Zoo, the stories of the bears that have been rescued are moving but seeing how they have been rehabilitated is uplifting.
- The bears have lost their natural instincts after being stolen from the wild when they were cubs. Once they have been rehabilitated they can move into the 70-hectare enclosure.
- Children will love seeing the bears frolic and play with each other, climb trees and swim.
Bran Castle is probably the most famous attraction in Transylvania, thought of as ‘Dracula’s’ castle the links to the Novel and Vlad the Impaler the ruler on which the Bram Stoker book was based are tenuous. Those looking for stories of Vampires will be disappointed. The attractive looking castle sits strategically high on a hill overlooking the town of Bran. The interior of the castle is simply decorated and well maintained, there is information about the history of the castle and a small exhibition on the legend of Dracula (some pictures might disturb younger children). Narrow staircases lead through to small rooms which give an idea of life in the castle. The castle can get very busy during peak times and there are usually queues for tickets. The castle is closed on Monday morning.
Return to Brasov in the afternoon. Head to the Council Square in the old town. Here you will find fountains, flower markets and an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Pastel Facades pop against the dark green forested hills behind. which also displays a Hollywood-esque sign “Brasov”.The looming Gothic Church Biserica Neagra (Black Church) contrasts the lolly-pop colours. On the square and down the pedestrianised main street you while find popular restaurants, bars and cafes. If time allows take the cable car up Tampa Mountain and take the short hike to the best views past the Hollywood-esque Brasov sign. During busy times expect queues at the cable car. Another alternative for the adventurous is to tackle the summit on foot. Expect to take 1-1.5 hours depending on fitness. There are a number of stores selling authentic traditional handmade Romanian handicrafts so this is a good place to pick up souvenirs. Finish the day with some decadent food in the cellar restaurant, Albert Bistro.
DAY 4: ROMANIA WITH KIDS
This morning head to the Saxon village of Viscri. This small remote village is a Unesco Heritage site. The main road is unpaved. 200-year-old houses, with slanted pyramid shaped clay tile roofs and pastel coloured plastered facades, are typical for the area. Turkeys and chickens scatter as we approach. Horses are tied next to a water trough. Prince Charles has a passion for preserving the Transylvanian culture and has purchased and restored a pale blue cottage with dark wooden shutters.
Visit the fortified church, the oldest and best preserved in Romania. Climb the main tower for a view over the Transylvanian country-side. Visit the small church museum for an explanation and examples of Saxon traditions. Tickets are sold by a weathered old woman with a good sense of humour. After we spotted the “Sinners step” where non-virgins were traditionally married she jokes that if that was still the case today they would have no use for the chapel.
Our tour guide had arranged for a farmer to take us on a tour of the surrounding countryside. Horse and cart is still the main form of transport for many people in the countryside. The farmer explained that he saved up to buy his horse by doing manual labour for other farms. Once he had a horse and cart he was able to become a delivery man, delivering feed, crops and building supplies, now he owns a number of horse an carts and has purchased his own small plot of land where he has sheep, pigs and chickens. The delightful and loyal Cappuccino, a Jack Russell, followed excitedly next to the cart as we trundled through the pastures.
Contact the local tourist board to arrange activities during your visit.
In Sighisoara you will find the only remaining inhabited fortress in Europe. The compact citadel is easy to explore on foot. With few attractions to visit the appeal of Sighisoara is more in wandering the cobbled streets, happening across a market or traditional performance on the main square and ducking through narrow doors into shops selling traditional handicrafts. A climb up the 14th-century clock tower is worthwhile to enjoy views down onto the medieval citadel, and down to the river which bisects the lower town.
Another link to the legend of Dracula lies here. A fresco depicting what is believed to be the birth of Vlad the Impaler was uncovered in one of the historic buildings within the citadel. At the time the building was being used as an old person’s home, now it is a restaurant. We enjoyed our meal at Restaurant Casa Vlad Dracul during a quiet lunch hour. The service and food can apparently slip during busy periods so take that into consideration Dracula fans.
DAY 5: ROMANIA WITH KIDS
The last leg of the 5-day itinerary can be taken via the Transfagarasan road. This picturesque road winds through the Fagaras Mountains of Transylvania reaching an altitude of 2042 metres. Launched to fame when the BBC’s Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, after driving the road for the TV show, titles it “ The worlds best road”. The road was built while Romania was under Communist rule as a reaction to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, to be used as a strategic military road. But as the road is closed for a large part of the year and other more accessible roads already excited in the area it is thought it was more of a show of strength rather than forward planning.
The road is usually open June to October but has been known to be closed well into the Summer due to late snowfall. Check the road reports before you go. While Jeremy Clarkson raced over the road taking the hairpin bends at speed these days the traffic congestion on the popular route has made it a much slower traverse. Best avoided on the weekends if you can.
We arrived in late May, the top of the road was still closed but we were able to follow the most scenic part of the road which leads up past Poenari Castle and the Vidraru Dam.
You will find Poenari Castle perched atop a high outcrop. Many say this is the real ‘Dracula Castle’ since Vlad the Impaler who was the inspiration for the Dracula character held residence here for a number of years.The steep path and view across the valley made this crumbling castle appealing to Vlad as a place to defend against an Ottoman empire invasion. The difficult path has been replaced by 1480 concrete stairs which gradually zigzag up through the forest. The Castle is in ruins but the remains take an impressive position of the cliff and with the history, scenery and incredible views the climb is satisfying and worthwhile.