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Road tripping in Transylvania by rental car: an epic Romanian tour  

You’ve heard so many things about Transylvania and now you’re ready to take the ultimate road trip? Leave any assumptions behind and get ready to be mesmerized by some unique sights! Hop in the car and turn up the music, because there’s no better way take a flexible trip in Romania than by rental car.

We think a five-day holiday from Bucharest to Transylvania is ideal, but if that seems too long to take out of your busy life, check out the options for shorter visits or day trips that we’ve included below.

The key places we’ll cover are Brașov, the Bran Castle (Dracula’s home), the Râșnov Citadel and the fortified churches nearby, as well as the cities of Sighișoara and Sibiu. We’ve also planned your return to Bucharest via the amazingly scenic Transfăgărășan Road, which crosses the mountains at 2,042 m altitude. We even did the math on rental car and gas costs, so you can use this ready-made guide as your travel companion!

Planning your road trip

visit transfagarasan road

The Transfăgărășan Road

You probably don’t know much about this little Eastern-European gem that is Romania, even though you may have heard some mythical stories about Transylvania, the land of Dracula. But not to worry – we’re here to brush off any doubts you might have about these places, to guide you around and provide some updated information about traveling here.

Why visit Romania by Car

historical-city-center-sibiu

Sibiu City, European Capital of Culture 2007

If you want to discover Romania’s hidden treasures, the best way to visit is by hiring a car. A lot of historical sites, museums, and picturesque villages are close to one another, but many are not well served by public transport. It’s much easier to get by in a rental car, without stressing about bus schedules or heavy luggage. We recommend that you take advantage of the low rental costs in Romania and get off the beaten road to discover new paths in your Transylvanian adventure.  

From Bucharest to Transylvania

When you arrive in Bucharest, make sure you don’t miss out on what the city has to offer and spend at least a day visiting and enjoying the nightlife. Discover Bucharest for day one and then head off to the southern part of Transylvania, a land full of history and fairy tales, castles and medieval cities.

Day 1: What to visit in Bucharest in one day

Located on Strada Izvor 2-4, The Palace of the Parliament or the People’s House, as it is also called, is one of the main landmarks in Bucharest and tops your must-see list. Believe it or not, it is the largest administrative building in Europe and the second largest in the world, after the Pentagon. It houses the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, an international conference center, and three museums: the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Communist Totalitarianism and the Museum of the Palace. Guided tours take you through a dozen of the largest and most extravagant rooms and offer fabulous views down Unirii Boulevard.

what to visit in bucharest

The Palace of the Parliament – the largest building in Europe

Fun fact: the cost of heating and electric lighting alone exceeds $6 million per year, as much as a medium-sized city.  

Whether you call it the Old Town, Lipscani or the Historic City Centre, it’s the same concentrated strip of restaurants and bars, where you might end up having the best time of your life. Indulge at one of the many cafes, bars, clubs or restaurants along the Old Town and you’ll be sure to discover some drinks that you’ve never heard of before.

If you’re visiting Bucharest in spring or summer, Herastrau Park has a lot to offer and it’s fun for the whole family. Our suggestion is to take advantage of the bike hire and discover the entire area, as it’s a very large park. You can also enjoy a meal at one of the lakeside restaurants or check out the Hard Rock Cafe nearby.

Day Trips from Bucharest by Rental Car. Distances and Costs

If you come to the conclusion that you don’t want to leave Bucharest that soon (it happens more than you imagine), there are plenty of day road trips that you can take from Bucharest and still get the Transylvanian vibes. We offer car rental services at the Bucharest Otopeni International Airport, as well as in the city.

If you’d like to plan your own road trip to Transylvania or just spend more time in Bucharest, have a look at these estimated fuel costs and driving distances between the capital and several important stops.

Rental car costs: Dacia Logan: 15.20€/day, Dacia Duster: 36.10€/day, Peugeot 308: 19.95€/day.

Transylvania journey plan

Road trip itinerary: Bucharest – Peleș Castle – Brașov – Râșnov Citadel – Bran Castle – Sighișoara – Sibiu – Transfăgărășan

Routes:

Bucharest to Mogoșoaia Palace & Snagov Monastery (the legend says that inside the monastery lays buried the head of Vlad the Impaler)

Trip length: ~40 km

Fuel cost: 2,91€ on a Dacia Logan, 2,91€ on a Dacia Duster, 2.24€ on a Peugeot 308

 

Bucharest to Peleș Castle (Sinaia)

Trip length: ~127 km

Fuel cost: 9,24€ on a Dacia Logan, 9,24€ on a Dacia Duster, 7,11€  on a Peugeot 308.

 

Bucharest to Bran Castle (Brasov County)

Trip length: ~173 km

Fuel cost: 12,58€ on a Dacia Logan, 12,58€ on a Dacia Duster, 9,68€ on a Peugeot 308.

 

Bucharest to Brașov

Trip length: ~171 km

Fuel cost: 12,44€ on a Dacia Logan, 12,44€ on a Dacia Duster, 9,57€ on a Peugeot 308

 

Bucharest to Sighișoara: ~286 km

Trip length: ~127 km

Fuel cost: 20,82€ on a Dacia Logan, 20,82€ on a Dacia Duster, 15,79€ on a Peugeot 308

 

Bucharest to Sibiu

Trip length: ~279 km

Fuel cost: 20,31€ on a Dacia Logan, 20,31€ on a Dacia Duster, 15,62€ on a Peugeot 308

 

Bucharest to Transfăgărășan Road

Trip length: ~272 km

Fuel cost: 19,80€ on a Dacia Logan, 19,80€ on a Dacia Duster, 15,23€ on a Peugeot 308.

From Bucharest to Brașov, the ultimate road trip

While Bucharest – Brașov can make up a one-day trip, in this case, it will be just the beginning of your road trip to Transylvania. Getting to Brașov is easy and takes just under three hours. 

Trip length: 171.4 km

Rental costs: 15.20€/day (Dacia Logan), 36.10€/day (Dacia Duster), 19.95€/day (Peugeot 308)

Fuel cost: 12,44€ on a Dacia Logan, 12,44€ on a Dacia Duster, 9,57€ on a Peugeot 308

Even if Brașov is a major Romanian railway junction, your safest bet is to rent a car and just enjoy your holiday without worrying about bus or train schedules. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any important attractions along the way, you can also get in touch with a local tour operator company such as True Romania Tours and check all the hidden local sights. 

Day 2: Sinaia – Peleș Palace & the Carpathian Mountains

visit peles castle

Peleș Palace in Sinaia

After you get your share of the creative urban crowd of Bucharest, hop in your car and get ready for the mountains. Your first stop is the Peleș Castle in Sinaia, one of the most romantic sights in the country. With its Neo-Renaissance timber-framed style and its hand-painted interior courtyard façades, Peleș Castle seems taken out of a fairytale. The mountains make a beautiful backdrop to the castle which was built as a summer palace for the royal family.

It takes about two hours to arrive at the castle from Bucharest, via DN1/E60.

Trip length: 129.3 km.

Rental costs: 15.20€/day (Dacia Logan), 36.10€/day (Dacia Duster), 19.95€/day (Peugeot 308)

Fuel cost: 9,39€ on a Dacia Logan, 9,39€ on a Dacia Duster, 7,22€ on a Peugeot 308

Peleș Castle Hours and Prices

The Peleș Castle is open for tours from Tuesday to Sunday in the summertime and from Wednesday to Sunday in winter. Tours begin every day at 9:15, except on Wednesdays, when they start at 11:00. Keep in mind that the last tour of the day starts at 16:15 and every tour is guided.

You can visit the ground floor for 20 lei (4.40 €), which is the price of an adult ticket, or you can see both the ground floor and the first floor for 50 lei (11 €). Not many people choose to tour both floors, but this turns into the perk of having the first floor almost entirely to yourself, which is a bit like having a private tour. If you want to take photos inside the castle, you have to buy a license for 32 lei per tour.

Day 2: Cotinue to Brașov, a unique medieval city

Continue your road trip to Brașov, a medieval gem, unlike any city you know. Continue driving on DN1/E60, and you’ll arrive about one hour after leaving Peleș Castle.

what to visit in brasov

The Brașov Council Square

Trip length: 45,55 km.

Rental costs: 15.20€/day (Dacia Logan), 36.10€/day (Dacia Duster), 19.95€/day (Peugeot 308)

Fuel cost: 3,27 € on a Dacia Logan, 3,27€ on a Dacia Duster, 2,52€ on a Peugeot 308

Overlooking the city of Brașov, the Tâmpa Mountain is a habitat for a wide variety of animals, butterflies, and birds. You can quickly get to the top using the cable car and feast your eyes with a splendid view over the city. For a more in-depth look of Brașov, visit its Old Town and get to know its charming tiny streets and well-preserved medieval architecture.

What to visit in Brasov

In Brașov, you can find one of the narrowest streets in Europe. It’s called Rope Street and it gets featured in many tourist photos, as it is one of many things that make Brașov special.

It is also quite close to The Black Church, a beautiful gothic church built in the 17th century which you can visit while wandering through the city.

Fun fact: you’ll see a sign with the name of the city on the Tâmpa Mountain that will remind you of the Hollywood sign – it’s made in the same fashion.

what to visit in brasov

Tâmpa Mountain in Brașov

Hiking and Trekking in Transylvania and the Romanian Carpathians 

If you love hiking, Romania is your happy place! If you want to hike or trek in the Carpathian Mountains, drive 47 min back (37.5 km) via DN1/E60 to Bușteni and take the chairlift up to the Bucegi Mountains, or simply follow the local trails and enjoy the scenery and rock formations.

You can also follow the trails to Omu Peak (2,505 m) and explore the fields with unique plants and wildflowers, or even cross the Bucegi mountains by hiking all the way to Bran village. All the popular mountain trails are marked and the signs are very close to one another so that you can easily find your way. On your journey, you are also likely to find mountain chalets, where you can get food and accommodation in case you decide to spend more time in the mountains.

Day 3: Râșnov Fortress & Bran Castle

As it is very close to Brașov, it would be a shame not to stop at Râșnov Fortress, a superb medieval hilltop citadel. Many people go there for the beauty of Râșnov Citadel itself, but here you can also find the Evangelical Church and a Romanian Orthodox Church, both of which are fully restored and brought back to their medieval glory. The Orthodox Church now functions as a museum which draws many tourists every year.

visit the bran castle

Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania

Brașov – Râșnov Citadel 30 min via DN73

Trip length: 19.4 km

Rental costs: 15.20€/day (Dacia Logan), 36.10€/day (Dacia Duster), 19.95€/day (Peugeot 308)

Fuel cost: 1,38€ on a Dacia Logan, 1,38€ on a Dacia Duster, 1,06€ on a Peugeot 308

 

Brașov – Bran Castle 36 min via DN73

Trip length: 29.3 km

Rental costs: 15.20€/day (Dacia Logan), 36.10€/day (Dacia Duster), 19.95€/day (Peugeot 308)

Fuel cost: 2,11€ on a Dacia Logan, 2,11€ on a Dacia Duster, 1,62€ on a Peugeot 308

 

Only 30 km from Brasov and 10 km from the Râșnov citadel is Bran Castle, the infamous Castle of Dracula, which is also one of the most beautiful in Romania, with both cultural and historical value. Originally designed as a fortress, today it’s known as a main point of attraction in Transylvania.  

Bran Castle Hours and Prices

The Bran Castle is open all year long with slight schedule differences between high season (April – September) and low season. The final admission is at 4 pm in low season (October-March) and at 6 pm for the rest of the year. You can get a discount for your kids or if you’re a student, so make sure to bring along your relevant documents. For more information about the visiting hours, prices and other fees, read here.

Day 4: Sighișoara 

Your next stop should definitely be Sighișoara, via DN13/E60. From Brașov, you will spend about 1 h 42 min on the road to get there. This city is one of the best preserved medieval citadels in Europe and is a UNESCO world heritage site. With its fairytale gatehouses and hundred-year-old buildings, it will be a delight to spend a night here, if you have the time.

Trip length: 116.6 km

Rental costs: 15.20€/day (Dacia Logan), 36.10€/day (Dacia Duster), 19.95€/day (Peugeot 308)

Fuel cost: 8,44€ on a Dacia Logan, 8,44€ on a Dacia Duster, 6,49€ on a Peugeot 308

Keep in mind that historic places like Sighisoara tend to overflow with tourists during summer. If you want to avoid this, we recommend that you take this trip in late summer or mid-autumn, when you can have the old town walls for yourself. Wander around the City Square in the heart of the citadel and feel the air of a place where craft fairs, public executions, and trials were held.

what to visit in sighisoara

The Clock Tower of Sighișoara

The Clock Tower is one of the most visited medieval museums by both Romanians and foreigners. It was built in the 14th century and was further expanded 200 years later. Cultural and historical treasures aside, the Clock Tower offers a truly amazing view from the top.

Don’t forget to eat local! Grab a real Transylvanian or a Romanian meal from one of the many restaurants in the city center. You should definitely try the sarmale (cabbage rolls), mămăligă cu brânză și smântână (polenta/cooked cornmeal with salty cheese and sour cream), or a bean soup in bread, where the bread actually holds your soup like a plate. Truly interesting, right?

Tip: If you have more time and decide to spend it around Sighisoara, it’s good to know that in less than an hour, you can get to Biertan village, via DN14. There you can visit the Biertan Church, one of the most representative examples of a medieval fortified Saxon Church.

Day 4: From Sighișoara to Sibiu

If you’re still not stuffed with medieval architecture and culture and want to see some more, head to Sibiu via DN14. In less than 1 h 40 min from Sighisoara, you can experience another medieval treasure of Transylvania. Do you know Sibiu was the European capital of culture in 2007? The city was founded over 800 years ago and it’s surrounded by well-preserved 15th-century fortifications.

Trip length: 93.4 km

Rental costs: 15.20€/day (Dacia Logan), 36.10€/day (Dacia Duster), 19.95€/day (Peugeot 308)

Fuel cost: 6,04€ on a Dacia Logan, 6,04€ on a Dacia Duster, 5,20€ on a Peugeot 308

The idyllic pedestrian Old Town is very similar to medieval Vienna. Thanks to the mix of gothic and baroque architecture, Sibiu is an ethnographic open air museum in itself.

what to visit in sibiu

Enter the Astra Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization

We also recommend that you visit the Astra Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization, which is located near Sibiu city center. This open-air museum offers a fascinating view into Transylvania’s past, with hundreds of authentic houses and structures to explore.

While some of them are replicas, many more were found and brought from various areas in the Romanian countryside. The Astra Museum also hosts various craftsmen fairs and traditional folk festivals. This should top your list of must-see things in Sibiu, and for just 15 lei, we can think of no better way to spend your money and time in Sibiu.

Day 5: From Sibiu to Bucharest, via Transfăgărășan

Wake up early on your last day of the itinerary and walk around the city center for one last time, enjoying the quiet streets. Give yourself time to drink your coffee at one of the cafes in town and prepare to be mesmerized. You’ll drive for another 150 km via DN7/E81 before you finally arrive on the amazing Transfăgărășan, the most spectacular driving road in the world, as recommended by BBC Top Gear in 2009.

Sibiu to Bucharest Journey Map

Returning to Bucharest from Sibiu via the Transfăgărășan

Keep in mind that the Transfagarasan road is open between June and October. If you’re planning your holiday between November and May, drive on the Olt Valley, another scenic road that offers you a magnificent view of the Carpathian Mountains.

On your way back to Bucharest, you’ll cross the Carpathians on the Transfăgărășan and you’ll be able to see the entire Transylvanian Plateau. The road links the northern and southern sides of the Făgăraș mountains at Lake Bâlea and reaches 2,042 m altitude, taking you through endless amazing curves and drops. It’s a favorite trip among both Romanian and international drivers who come here in the summer just for these three hours through the impressive landscape. If you’d like to know more about driving and regulations in Romania, you can read our Romanian car rental guide.

Although there are plenty of other breathtaking sights you can explore in Romania, this Transylvanian road trip is guaranteed to give you a taste of what Romania is like and make you come back for more.  Drive safe and get the most of it!

 

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