Our guide to visiting Transylvania [Romania]

should i visit transylvania romania sinaia

Transylvania, located in the heart of Romania, was an unexpected delight. To be honest before visiting Romania we knew very little about what to expect. Images of vampires, medieval castles and gypsies came to mind. What we didn’t account for however was some of the quaintest streets, most flavourful meals and breath-taking views that we’ve ever experienced. Imagine towering mountains, vibrant old towns and scenic drives through green forests.

We were lucky enough to spend 4 days in Transylvania with Tess’s friend Alex who speaks Romanian and could help out when it came to getting around. While this was an added bonus and made the experience all the more enjoyable its definitely not a pre-requisite to making the most of all that Transylvania has to offer – most people speak very good English and the country itself is easy enough to navigate for tourists.

Is Transylvania safe to visit? Overall, from our experience, we would say yes! This doesn’t mean it was the safest place we have visited, however overall, we felt safe most of the time! We exercised higher than normal safety precautions during our stay, particularly avoiding crowded areas and empty dark streets, being aware of ‘bag snatchers’, locking our back-pack and carrying low amounts of cash on our person, however, we were likely being ‘overcautious’. We have heard reports of pickpocketing, however, this is commonplace in many big European cities.

Base yourself in Brasov!

The old town of Brasov was our base when we visited Transylvania. This charming town had beautiful streets, colourful buildings, a mountainous backdrop, and an excellent coffee/food scene. Additionally, it’s in the perfect base for your Transylvanian adventures. Interested? Have a read about our stay in Brasov, including our recommendations!

Our highlights in Transylvania!

Transfagarasan Hwy

This stunning highway is one of the best in the world! The road snakes through the Carpathian Mountains, providing a ridiculously picturesque drive. We would strongly recommend adding it to your list of road-trip destinations in Transylvania. Check out more highlights from the Transfagarasan Highway and recommendations for your visit here!

Wandering Sibiu old town

If you have this eerie sense that someone is watching you when wandering around the old town of Sibiu you’re not wrong (well sort of)… Look up at the rooftops and you’ll notice a fair bit of side eye coming from the houses themselves. Built between the 15th and 19th centuries the houses of Sibiu were designed with openings in their roof spaces to allow for adequate ventilation. Over time however the city has become famous for its ‘all knowing, all seeing’ rooftops and the town is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

Sinaia – Lunch at Restaurant Snow

We were dubious about the authenticity of a Romanian restaurant with an English name, but once we sat down and noticed a distinct lack of English speaking tourists we were pleasantly surprised. Sit out on the terrace and enjoy traditional meals including Goulash, Supa de galusti (Romanian semolina dumpling soup) and a seriously good Romanian Schnitzel. The flavours were some of the best, and our friend Alex mentioned they tasted like his Romanian grandmother’s cooking.

Dinners in Brasov

Brasov did not disappoint when it came to its nightlife. From our first walk around the town we found multiple restaurants/wine bars we knew we had to come back and try. Thankfully we had 3 full evenings to book ahead (as many of the good places have limited availability for walk ins). Our favourites are listed below!

Trattorian – This is the perfect place to soak up Brasov’s old town charm with aperatif in hand. They also serve a mean antipasto platter which goes down a treat after a full day of exploring the Romanian countryside.

Pilvax – Another restaurant that serves up mouth watering Supa de galusti. If you’re after something a little more filling you can’t go wrong with any of the slow cooked meat and mashed potato dishes they have on offer.

Bistro de l’Arte – Down a little alley not far from the main square you’ll find this gem of a restaurant. It’d be hard to miss given the number of people spilling out onto the street in an attempt to secure a table. We devoured some of the best slow cooked chicken with oven roasted veg and an equally delicious Romanian red wine. If you only have one night to eat out in Brasov this would have to be our TOP PICK.

Dei Frati – Another cute little establishment nestled into one of the alleys just off the main square. If you’re lucky enough to snag a table outside you would be forgiven for thinking you could be somewhere in the Trastevere region of Rome. The pastas here were divine – Tess has the spinach pasta with prawns and tomato while Ky opted for a classic fettucine al ragu.

Have a look at more Brasov recommendations and highlights here!

Coffee in Sighisoara

Sighisoara was definitely the most ‘touristy’ of all the Romanian towns we visited, making it difficult to find a really good place to stop for lunch (we ended up getting a quick and pretty disappointing chicken wrap on the go – would not recommend). We did however find a very recommendable coffee shop by the name of Atelier. Perch at a table just outside in the street under the umbrellas and watch the world go by – but maybe BYO lunch if you want to avoid the same mistake we made. Check out some more snaps of this cute town below.

Road trips around Transylvania

When it comes to getting around the Romanian countryside your options are admittedly a little more limited than in central or Western Europe.

Hire a car – The obvious pro of having your own car is that you can go anywhere on your own timeline. This allows for those spontaneous stops on the side of the road which ended up being some our best memories of the trip! Of course it comes with its downsides too – firstly you would need to feel comfortable driving on foreign roads (while the roads themselves were well maintained and signposted, some of the driving was questionable at times). Parking around Brasov can also be stressful although we did manage to find some around the park next to the old town. Finally, a car comes at a cost – thankfully we were able to split this 3 weeks making it a little more affordable.

Private Transfers – If you’re not up to driving yourself paying for a private transfer may be a good option. It takes out some of the stress of driving yourself and parking, although also gives you less flexibility when it comes to seeing different towns and how long you choose to stay in them.

Catch the train – If a car is not your thing catching the train from Brasov Central Station is another reasonable option. Sinaia and Sighisoara are the easiest to access by train, with train stations nearby. Sadly there’s no easy way of getting to the Transfagarasan Highway without a car and the train to Sibiu from Brasov would take upwards of 5 hours.


Brasov was our base for these adventures, and was also our favourite of the Transylvanian towns we explored. The town sits with a backdrop of mountains creating a wonderful visual as you wander the streets. An impressive main square and humming central street are great to wander, whilst the best bars and restaurants sit down the cute side alleys. Want to know more? Check out our Brasov highlights here.


Sibiu was our second favourite old town we visited. It had a wonderful charm about it, and the ‘eyes of Sibiu’ were particularly interesting as mentioned previously. We spent a few hours exploring, but could easily have spent longer. Out of all the towns, this was the one apart from Brasov we felt we could have spent a night or two in. The upper and lower old town were worth exploring, and there are a multitude of restaurants and cafes lining the streets.


Located in close proximity to Brasov, Sinaia is a perfect day trip option. The main attraction is definitely Peles Castle. Just out of the town, this picturesque castle is situated in a valley and surrounded by mountains. We didn’t venture inside due to large lines, however were more than happy to wander around and through the gardens (which is free). The Sinaia town is small, but the Dimitrie Ghica Park is worth exploring. Additionally, as mentioned above, the food at Rastaurant Snow was excellent!

Note: whilst on a map Sinaia seems close, driving will likely take longer than you think. The one way road gets extremely busy in peak season and took us around 2 hours to get each way. Luckily, the drive is very scenic!

Transfagarasan Hwy – link to post

Located around 2 hours from Brasov or Sibiu, this highway and surrounding mountains are stunning. As mentioned previously, it was a Transylvanian highlight. See our recommendations here.


We can’t deny Sigishoara is photogenic, however as mentioned earlier in this blog it was quite touristy. Home to the building where ‘Vlad the Impaler’ was supposedly born, this town has tourist appeal. Thankfully it was far less busy compared to other popular touristy regions across central and Western Europe (e.g. Tuscany). The covered walkway, old cemetery on the hill, and clocktower are worth checking out, whilst the old town streets are great for exploring. We wouldn’t say this was our absolutely favourite day trip, but still a great stop.


This town was the one that got away. Driving towards Sighisoara we gawked at the impressive castle on the hill. Both the fortifications and the surrounding town looked particularly impressive as we drove past. Sadly we didn’t have time to stop, however it is one to consider when visiting this region.

Best coffee & food in Transylvania!



  • CH9 Specialty Coffee [TOP PICK]
  • Meron
  • Tipografia
  • Nola Coffeeshop


  • Hug in a Mug


  • Atelier [TOP PICK]
  • The Bean Specialty Coffee


  • Bostro De L’arte
  • Dei Frati
  • Pilvax
  • Trattorian


  • Restaurant Snow

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