As most people know I am OBSESSED with anything slightly geeky. I am a huge Sci-Fi lover and admit I have the urge to do cosplay, no judgement! When I booked my European holiday in Eastern Europe I knew I had to figure out how to get to Romania, and more specifically Transylvania. Romania is out of the way from where I was staying but I didn’t care, I had to go even if I only had a day.
Now if you are familiar with Romania you know that Bucharest is the capitol and one of the easiest and cheapest places to get to by plane. I took a plane from Budapest to Bucharest which was only a couple of hours. Now the tricky part was getting from Bucharest to Transylvania. Transylvania lies in the Carpathian Mountain Range which is a huge range with one road that has one lane each way. Now mind you I was visiting the castle in December, in the dead of winter. I debated renting a car but it is a three hour drive up a one way mountain road, not forgetting the mountains have bears and wolves, and snow lots of snow. I had horrible visions of getting stranded or lost, so I knew driving wasn’t for me. I decided to go through my hotel for a day trip that not only visited Dracula’s Castle but Peles Castle as well.
The total through my hotel was $89 dollars and included all transportation, and entrance fees into both castles. Now this may be a little steep but my peace of mind was worth the extra money, by not having to be responsible for my own transportation. The tour started promptly at 07:00am with a pick up at my hotel, then a pick up of a few more tour members from surrounding hotels. The first stop up the mountain was Peles Castle which is located in Sinaia, about a two hour drive.
The drive was pretty uneventful and it was really gorgeous scenery while driving up, the mountains were amazing. I would love to one day explore in them further. Once we arrived at Peles Castle we walked the small village, and then were lead to the castle.
The castle was gorgeous and had great views of the mountains all around. For those not familiar Peles castle is a fairly new castle that started construction in 1873 and was completed in 1914. King Carol the I was the one who visited and fell in love with the land. He quickly purchased the land and commissioned the construction of the castle. The castle is intricately decorated on the inside with music rooms and hand carved teak furniture. The gardens are also something to be seen, littered about are statues and sweeping views of the forest that surrounds it.
After exploring the grounds for another thirty minutes, we stopped in the local town to have lunch. After that it was another hour or so farther up the mountain and heading to the highlight of my trip – Dracula Castle!
Once we arrived I squealed with delight because seriously I was in the same city where Bram Stoker got his idea for Dracula. Bram Stoker actually based Dracula on real life Vlad the Impaler. Vlad was a scary guy who enjoyed impaling people hence the nick name.
Fun Fact : Vlad fathers name was Vlad Dracul, all that was missing was an A and you have “Dracula”
Some regarded him as hero for taking control three separate times, others feared him. Regardless of your opinion he has a very interesting backstory. He fought the Ottoman Empire and was thought to be a great military strategist. The castle is known as Bran Castle or Dracula castle and is currently up for sale. The construction of the castle started in 1212 and has been continuously updated since then. While walking through the castle you can tell that it was built in the 11th century. Hallways are narrower and ceilings much shorter indicating the occupants were much smaller then now.
Once outside the grounds are expansive and the courtyards rich with history. The whole place does have a somewhat creepy vibe to it. Visiting in December was perfect, it was cloudy, dark and dreary. I couldn’t have imagined seeing the castle in the sunshine, that just seems wrong.
After exploring the grounds it became way to cold for me and I headed back to our meeting spot at a local restaurant for dinner. Once we left to head back to Bucharest it took us five hours to get back! There was stopped traffic down the whole mountain and it was snowing. I was so happy I made the decision to go in a group and not have to worry about driving my self.
It was a 15 hour day, but so worth it. If you have the time to make a stop in Romania you will not be disappointed, Dracula and Peles castle are amazing to behold. The landscape is unreal most people refer to it as the last medieval country in Europe. That is definitely true it has its own special charm and the people are very welcoming.
Keep a wandering spirit my friends and thanks for following along!