the 2024 guide made by locals for

The best 15 'must see' sights of Transylvania

Want to visit Transylvania in 2024? Great idea! In this travel guide, we'll tell you why this region is so famous, what are the best places to visit, things to do, and famous tourist attractions so you can plan an amazing holiday here!

You probably heard Transylvania is a place somewhere in Eastern Europe (actually part of Romania!) supposedly beautiful, mysterious and where (legends of) vampires come from, hidden in menacing medieval castles. In fact, the region is so shrouded in mystery and legend, that some people are not even sure if Transylvania is a real place or not.

Or perhaps you heard great things about its charming, authentic rural life from the UK's King Charles who owns 4 village houses in Transylvania?

Or maybe you've seen some beautiful pictures of famous tourist attractions, perhaps a medieval castle? While all these are true - except for the Count Dracula and vampires part - there is so MUCH more about visiting Transylvania you should know! So after reading this article, I hope you'll want to travel here and see for yourself :)

Practical info to plan your trip to Transylvania

During my travels, lots of people told me ‘I want to visit Transylvania’, but what many of them fail to realise is how big it really is. It's not easy to travel through the whole region of Transylvania and see it all - the region is 1/3 of Romania and it's larger in size than Austria! Therefore, you need to make a proper plan and match the available time you have for a holiday with your interests and your travel style. Usually, you have to choose between crossing the main attractions of Transylvania off your list, with little time available for each one, or choosing one or two sub-regions and really diving into the history and culture of the places.

  • Local tip: I really recommend the second option, because slow travel is guaranteed to give you the best experience.

Either way, there's a lot to do and see in Transylvania and you still need to do a lot of research before embarking on the journey or rely on local guides to take you from one place to another - or both!

To get more basic info (tourist cities, sights, public transport) you might want to start with our travel guide on how to visit Romania for the first time.

  • Pro tip: Beware of some "expert travel bloggers" and foreign-made travel guides that think all of Romania's attractions are in Transylvania, for example, Peles Castle or include commercial, TripAdvisor-style attractions such as Clay Castle in their list; while these are examples of Instagrammable places in Romania, they have nothing to do with Transylvania's culture or history.

Transylvania is a cultural melting pot because of various populations that influenced its inhabitants or came to settle here over the centuries. Nowadays, the most noteworthy ethnic minorities are Székelys (a Hungarian ethnic group) and Saxons (a German ethnic group).

Latin for land beyond the forests, Transylvania is also called Erdély in Hungarian and Siebenbürgen or Transsilvanien in German (or Siweberjen in the Transylvanian Saxon dialect). Probably based on an adaptation of the Hungarian name (the etymology is disputed), Romanians also commonly name the region Ardeal.

Long story short, the region of Transylvania is the whole area inside the arc formed by the Romanian Carpathian Mountains and is made up of many sub-regions:

  1. Saxon Transylvania is a triangle-shaped region in central Romania between Sibiu - Sighisoara - Brasov known for its Saxon culture and villages with fortified churches
  2. The region of Maramures (N-W), is the most authentic for Romanian culture and is famous for its UNESCO Wooden Churches
  3. Bukovina (N-E), equally Romanian, famous for its UNESCO Painted Churches
  4. South-West of Cluj-Napoca, Motilor Land in Apuseni Mountains and Natural Park, for rural mountain villages
  5. Banat - the region around the city of Timisoara

Each of these regions has its distinct cultural identity with local celebrations, cuisine, folk costumes, unique places to visit, and tourist attractions.

And even if the many castles in Transylvania and medieval cities made the region popular, locals in rural areas have preserved their traditional way of life as if in a time bubble - far from modern civilisation and mass tourism - which is the #1 reason why you should come visit!

As our historians say, the heart and spirit of Romanian culture are best experienced in the *ancestral Romanian village*. There, a lifestyle of hard work, self-sufficiency, community, faith, simplicity, and harmony with nature has been cherished and passed down through the generations.

This is why King Charles fell in love with this region and owns 4 village houses where he spends his summer holidays!

So the most important thing you should know is that visiting Transylvania is NOT just about seeing its top tourist attractions to snap some quick pictures, grab a tacky Dracula souvenir from gift shops, or do a day trip from Bucharest to the city of Brasov and Bran Castle, the main tourist destination in the region.

The best thing to do is to experience the magical Transylvania countryside to meet locals, see how they live, and eat a home-cooked meal with produce from their households. This is by far one of the best activities to do in Romania, and Transylvania especially.

A vacation in the region of Transylvania is also a good way to slow down and disconnect from the busy, digital, and sedentary lifestyle that the COVID pandemic accelerated, and to reconnect with nature! As you'll see, there are many things to do and places to visit and this is why more tourists come here compared to the other two regions of Romania - Wallachia and Moldova.

Get inspired by our handpicked collection of day trips in Transylvania and unique experiences:

If you're planning to visit Transylvania you'll need min. 3-5 days to travel between different cities and tourist attractions. If you're short on time and want to get a condensed tour of the region with the best places to visit, starting from Bucharest, check out this amazing and unique itinerary we prepared for this:

We prepared a similar one starting from the city of Cluj-Napoca, the largest city in Transylvania:

But if you want to have an authentic holiday in Transylvania, then you need min. 4-6 nights in the region. You can alternate between:

  1. visiting major tourist cities: Brasov, Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca, Oradea, and Timisoara (also the most beautiful cities in Romania)
  2. day trips from these cities to popular tourist attractions and places to visit (Bran Castle, Corvin Castle, Sighisoara Citadel, Rasnov Fortress, the Saxon villages with fortified churches, Transfagarasan Highway etc.)
  3. do some cool things and tourist activities popular in Transylvania: hiking in the Carpathian Mts, brown bear watching, have an agro-tourism experience, do wine tasting in the picturesque hills
  4. experience authentic rural life by visiting Transylvania's sub-regions, staying in family-owned guesthouses and doing the best thing you can on your vacation - relax!

And for 2024 we're planning a 8-day shared trip for a small group with fixed departure dates, that includes the best of what Romania can offer:

Before we get on with the list of the best castles, places to visit, and tourist attractions in Transylvania, I want to tell you a few things about the region's history so you understand why these places are important and how to make sense of what you're about to see!

A short history of Transylvania and what you're about to see

Transylvania is arguably among the most beautiful regions for tourism in Europe, easily comparable with Tuscany or Provence. Yet, what truly sets it apart is its intricate past, reflecting a multicultural identity. If you're a history buff, Transylvania's story unfolds like a captivating saga, intricately weaving together tales of conquest, settlement, and cultural exchange. Wikipedia has a whole page about the full history of Transylvania, but if you want a TL;DR version, here it is:

Over 2,000 years ago large parts of the region were settled by our ancestors, the Dacians, leaving behind visible remnants of their civilization at Sarmizegetusa Regia (former capital of Dacian Kingdom), Costesti-Cetatuie, Costesti-Blidaru, Luncani-Piatra Rosie, Banita, Capalna. The ruins of Dacian citadels are now a UNESCO World Heritage site called by "travel bloggers" the Romanian Stonehenge - what a way to disrespect two tourist attractions at the same time...

Dacia was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 A.D. and became a wealthy Roman province renowned for its agriculture, wines, and gold mines. The remnants of this era, including the "Germisara" Roman Thermal Baths (in Geoagiu-Băi resort) or the Roman ruins of Apulum (now in the city of Alba Iulia), offer glimpses into the opulence of ancient Transylvania. Over the next centuries, the combination of locals, Roman settlers, and migrants is what eventually gave birth to the Romanian population who continued to live in these parts. After the Roman Empire disintegrated, the province of Transylvania became part of various empires and kingdoms mostly under Austrian and Hungarian rule. The medieval period saw the rise of fortified strongholds dotting the landscape, bearing witness to the tumultuous power struggles of the time.

Starting from the mid-12th century, German settlers colonized South-Eastern Transylvania under the reign of King Géza II of Hungary. They built the Saxon villages with fortified churches mainly in the area between Brasov, Sighisoara, and Sibiu. If you want to visit one or more of these villages, you can choose between Viscri (where King Charles of Great Britain owns a house), Biertan, Prejmer, Saschiz, Valea Viilor, Darjiu, and Calnic. Majestic fortresses like Bran Castle and Corvin Castle, also stand as enduring symbols of the medieval period, when Hungarian and German settlers left an indelible mark on the region's history. Let's not forget about the iconic medieval cities Brasov, Sibiu, and Sighisoara - a must on the itinerary of any traveler who seeks to discover Transylvania. Rasnov Fortress is another attraction that has a long history linked to the Teuton Knights (who built it) and the Saxons (who fortified it).

Fertile ground with rich resources and a clear natural border (the Carpathian arc), it was caught between the power struggles of the Ottoman, Habsburg, and Russian empires which defined the history of South Eastern Europe for the past seven centuries. So alliances, betrayals, battles, and truces every couple of decades were the norm here...

The popular tourist city of Sibiu

Despite its very complicated political history, Romanians peacefully coexisted with Transylvanian Saxons, Hungarians, Jews, Slovaks, and many other minorities. So you can imagine the melting pot of cultures, traditions, and lifestyles you will see in cities, villages, and tourist attractions in the region.

And even though Romanians were always the most numerous - we never had political autonomy and independence during the Middle Ages time period. Our language, culture, and religion were not recognised - and even forbidden! - which is why Romanian churches played an important role in keeping our culture alive. There are a number of churches that were included in the UNESCO heritage sites in different areas of Transylvania - the painted churches in Bucovina, the wooden churches in Maramures, and the fortified churches in Saxon villages (southeastern part of the region).

All this lasted until the Great Union of 1918 was proclaimed in Alba Iulia when Transylvania united with the Kingdom of Romania (formed in 1859 when Wallachia and Moldova were united and later King Carol was put on the throne). This was our people's struggle and dream for at least 300 years!

So you see, there is much history behind all the castles, churches and cities you'll see. That's why authentic Romanian culture was best preserved in the rural villages where Romanians could be free and themselves, far from foreign controlling powers and wars, or city aristocracy and prohibitions.

And now, let's unfold our list of what to do in Transylvania:

1. Bran Castle a.k.a. Dracula's Castle

Let's begin with Transylvania's most famous spot, Dracula Castle, known historically as Bran Castle. Despite its fictional associations, it's a real place and a medieval marvel, standing tall amidst the dramatic landscapes of Bran.

The castle became hugely popular thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel about a fictional character supposedly inspired by the Romanian prince Vlad the Impaler (or Vlad Tepes or Vlad Dracul), known for his cruelty. The 1992 classic Hollywood movie Dracula propelled it into mainstream fame and turned it into Romania's #1 tourist attraction.

  • Local tip: The 'local' vampires are called vârcolaci which are similar to werewolves, and there are lots of stories and myths in Romanian folklore about them.

However, the connection between Dracula and Vlad Dracula, is purely fictional. Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania or Bran Castle and it's unlikely he knew about Vlad the Impaler who died in 1476 - almost 400 years before the novel was written! Google and Wikipedia didn't exist back then :)

  • Local tip: The Dracula thing is a blessing and a curse for Romanian tourism - everything is Dracula-branded, from souvenirs, products (including wines and chocolate no Romanians buy!), and tours to attract naive tourists; they're all fake, cheap, and of low quality so watch out!
  • Local tip: If you want to find the real residence of Vlad the Impaler, you need to get to Poenari Citadel, a site worth visiting for enthusiasts seeking authentic connections to the legendary figure.

Located in Bran, this is the most visited castle in Romania and is accessible on day trips from Brasov, Bucharest, and Sibiu.

Tickets cost 11 euros or $12. And if you want to avoid all the Dracula tourist traps and (false) stories around this sight - our guides will give you the real story behind this famous castle in Transylvania.

Perched on a mountain ridge in dramatic landscapes and woodlands at the base of the Bucegi Mountains, the badass looks and menacing towers will surely impress you. Built 700 years ago as a strategic fortress to defend the mountain crossing against invaders, the castle has a fascinating history of its own. Its rooms are simple because that's how they were in medieval times with narrow corridors and staircases.

Once overlooked, it gained new life in 1920 when donated to the Royal Family, becoming a beloved retreat for Queen Marie, who lavishly restored and decorated it. You can check some old pictures here to see what that looked like.

Viscri fortified church

2. Saxon Villages with Fortified Churches (UNESCO World Heritage Sites)

There was a lot of migration going on in the Middle Ages. So in the 12th century, the king of Hungary who ruled the province of Transylvania invited Saxon Germans from Western Europe to colonise the area around Brasov - Sibiu - Sighisoara in exchange for land and benefits. With help from Teutonic Knights, they were tasked to build fortifications and defend the empire's borders against pagan invaders.

So that's why there are so many fortified villages, and small medieval towns surrounded by walls and castles in Transylvania. These well-preserved historic sites are a living testament to Transylvania's fascinating, plot-twisting history. In total, there are over 150 fortified attractions to visit, most of which are well-preserved, so tourists passionate about history will have a busy itinerary!

Biertan Fortified Church, another UNESCO World Heritage site

There is a group of seven villages with fortified churches out of the many Saxon villages in Transylvania - Viscri, Biertan, Prejmer, Saschiz, Darjiu, Valea Viilor, and Calnic - that are inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Of this group, the village of Viscri is the most popular thanks to the UK's King Charles who fell in love with the area and bought and restored a house to spend there his summer holidays.

Other beautiful villages in Transylvania you should consider visiting are Malancrav, Copsa Mare, Crit, Alma Vii, Cincsor, Richis, and Cisnadioara. In most of them, you'll find traditional houses that are restored and transformed into gorgeous, boutique guesthouses where locals love to escape the busy city life on a weekend break.

  • Pro tip: Fortified churches don't have typical visiting hours, and they're still in service; without a guide, or very good local info, you won't be able to get in or know what you're looking at.

Besides being incredibly old, these medieval villages preserve our rural culture and ancestors’ way of life as if in a time bubble. You will literally make a trip 100 years back in time if you go visit them on a day trip or spend a couple of nights there.

3. Wander through Sighisoara Citadel (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Sighisoara Citadel is one of the best-preserved citadels in Europe dating back to the 13th century where people still live! Since 1999, Sighisoara Citadel is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. With its cobblestone streets and colourful houses, this is an accessible and must-see attraction in Transylvania. Perched atop a hill overlooking the picturesque countryside, the citadel exudes medieval charm at every turn. Its well-preserved fortifications and architectural wonders, including the iconic 14th century Clock Tower (that you can climb to the top for panoramic views), offer visitors a glimpse into the region's rich history.

You can wander through the citadel's narrow streets lined with artisan shops to get a better feel of the local culture and then stop at one of Sighisoara's many excellent restaurants to try traditional Romanian food.

Also, don't miss the Covered Starway and the enchanting *Church Hill*, home to a historic church and a tranquil cemetery dating back centuries.

A stunning castle in Transylvania

4. See a Gothic castle full of legends: Corvin Castle

In our opinion, this is the best castle in Transylvania even though it can't compete with Bran Castle's popularity! Corvin Castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle is a splendid gothic-meets-renaissance historic tourist attraction with an authentic medieval feeling.

Built in the 15th century as a fortified residence for a regional ruling dynasty, there is much history to be learned and seen here - and on a different plot line than at Bran. There are also some legends about the family’s seal and symbol of the castle - a raven, Corvus in Latin, with a golden ring in his beak.

  • Local tip: We think Corvin Castle is the best castle in Romania! It's more authentic and has a fascinating history compared to any ‘Dracula’ fantasies you’ll ever hear at Bran Castle - so we highly recommend you put this stunning castle on your list of things to do on your vacation in Transylvania!

With well-preserved crenels, towers, and meeting halls, including original stained-glass windows depicting Iancu de Hunedoara, the ruling prince of this impressive sight. Corvin Castle is one of the best attractions in the region even if it's not the most famous castle in Transylvania.

  • Fun fact: Contrary to the reputation and looks of most Gothic Castles, Huffington Post considered it as one of the ten most fairytale-like constructions of this kind in the world!

Corvin Castle is in the city of Hunedoara and can be seen on day trips from the cosmopolitan cities of Sibiu and Timisoara but also from Cluj-Napoca.

Although the castle has been growing in popularity considerably over recent years, getting there using public transport is quite a hassle so a car or a guided tour would be your best option. Ticket costs 8 Euro or $9.

5. Visit the spectacular (and healthy!) Turda Salt Mine

If you're looking for a unique place in Transylvania then Turda Salt Mine should be on your list. The difference between salt mines and all other mines is that breathing salty air is good for your lungs.

This is a good place for people with respiratory problems such as asthma and doctors often recommend ‘salt therapies’ aka sitting and breathing the air. There’s even evidence the Romans spent time in salt mines 2,000 years ago for the same reason!

Since 2008, with the help of cleverly designed lighting installations, the abandoned Turda Salt Mine has become one of Romania's top attractions. With stunning views of the underground, visitors will discover huge grottos and many galleries to go for a walk while detoxing their lungs.

Besides walking and sitting, Turda Salt Mine literally has an amusement park to keep people busy. You can ride an underground Ferris wheel or go on a boat ride on an underground lake. Wait... what?

Turda Salt Mine is one of Transylvania's best attractions

Yup - going to a salt mine in Romania is like going to the park on a chilly day. It's a great place to spend time reading, socialising, playing all sorts of games or just walking around. No cellular reception - and you're not allowed any food or drinks other than water to avoid air contamination. The idea is to spend at least 2 hours inside and for this reason, salt mines in Romania are usually set up as small amusement parks.

And Turda Salt Mine does a great job at that. I personally like to take mindful walks through its galleries and admire the beautiful patterns on the walls. It's easy to visit on a day trip from Cluj-Napoca or Sibiu. Entrance ticket costs 10 Euro / $11 and be sure to bring a jacket or something to keep you warm.

6. Take a day trip to Rasnov Fortress

Transylvania's beautiful Rasnov Fortress, built on a rocky hill, is a testament to the region's strategic significance and rich history. It was built in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights, then owned mostly by the Saxons, who expanded and fortified it, especially around the 17th century. This impressive medieval fortress served as a vital defensive stronghold during a tumultuous era marked by conflicts between the Ottoman, Habsburg, and Hungarian empires.

Today, Rasnov Fortress stands as one of Transylvania's most iconic attractions, drawing visitors from around the world to marvel at its imposing walls, picturesque surroundings, and rich historical significance.

Because it's in the Brasov area, Rasnov Fortress is a great day trip idea and can be visited on the same day as another close-by attraction - Bran Castle.

  • Pro tip: If you're visiting Romania with kids, in the close proximity of Rasnov Fortress you can find Dino Park, which is an open-air museum with full-size and realistic dinosaurs.

7. Visit Romania's spiritual capital: Alba Iulia Citadel

Alba Iulia Citadel in the small town of Alba Iulia, is considered the spiritual birthplace of modern Romania. Within its walls, the 1918 Great Union was proclaimed unifying the principality of Transylvania with the rest of Romania (Wallachia and Moldova) after WWI.

A few years after this pivotal event in Romanian history, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie had their coronation ceremony at Alba Iulia Cathedral within the Citadel Walls. They became the first king and queen of Greater Romania, something Romanians have been dreaming of for a very long time!

That's why Alba Iulia is considered Romania's spiritual capital and why on 1 December (National Day) the celebrations here are impressive.

The citadel itself has a rich history too! Built in the early 1700s on the remnants of a Roman castrum it served as a strategic fortification and centre of power in the heart of Transylvania. Today, Alba Iulia Citadel is a gorgeous and restored historical sight in Transylvania that breathes history through its many buildings and cobblestone alleys.

It regularly hosts outdoor activities, events, and fairs, and every day at 12:00 there's a changing of the guard ceremony. Consider visiting Alba Iulia Citadel on a day trip from Cluj-Napoca or Sibiu. Both Transylvanian cities are close to Alba Iulia and it only takes about 1,5h by car from any of the two locations.

The best driving road in the world!

8. Transfagarasan Highway - a thrilling ride with awesome views!

Have a quick look at our video - this popular tourist attraction in Transylvania needs no other introduction! It was named by Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson as the best driving road in the world for good reason: every twist and turn only gets you more beautiful views than before! Built during communist times for military purposes, it's also known as Ceausescu's folly due to the huge resources spent to build it.

Reaching 2,042m at its highest point, this is the main road crossing the mighty Fagaras Mountains from Cartisoara to Curtea de Arges (DN 7C). These are the highest, most beautiful, and wildest mountains in our country and a favorite destination for nature lovers who want to go hiking in Transylvania.

As you go on the road trip, you'll see their impressive ridges and peaks, and when at the top you'll be rewarded with the most breathtaking views of Transylvania's vast plains between mountain ridges!

  • Local tip: Due to snow, the road is open for driving only 1 July - 30 Oct so that's the best time to visit if you want the driving experience or if you're planning to visit from Bucharest.

Outside this period, Transfagarasan Road can be seen from above! Coming only from Brasov or Sibiu and driving partially on the road and then taking a cable car across the closed section all the way to the top of the road at Balea Lake, a mesmerising glacial lake. Once there, you can go on a short walk above it to get the best view of the area or on longer hiking trips in the Fagaras Mountains. So visiting this place is one of the top things to do in Transylvania.

  • Local tip: If you enjoy breathtaking scenery and winding roads, then you'll love Transalpina Road also known as King Carol Road. West of Sibiu, this is the highest road in Romania reaching an altitude of la 2.145m. It crosses the Parang Mountains from Sebes to Novaci (DN 67C). It has even more restrictions than the Transfagarasan Road but is equally breathtaking.

9. Transylvanian culture in cities and villages

Each tourist city in Transylvania has its unique personality, vibe, and reputation. If you ask locals, they're all very different!

Here are the main medieval cities you should consider visiting (on each link you'll find our selection of tours and the local city guide):

  1. the hip, bustling, IT and student town of Cluj-Napoca the largest city in the region and second largest in the country, the unofficial capital of Transylvania
  2. multicultural and artsy Sibiu with its bohemian Old Town made up of Piata Mare (Big Square) and Piata Mica (Small Square), and the best Christmas market when winter in Romania comes
  3. medieval, laid-back Brasov with its Black Church, the largest Gothic Church in South-East Europe towering over the main square Piata Sfatului (Old Town) and its many well-preserved defensive walls and seven bastions (most of which have small museums inside). If you're interested in visit Brasov, check out our complete city guide.
  4. the little town of Sighisoara in the heart of Romania with its famous Sighisoara Citadel that's like a small museum for medieval times and the impressive Clock Tower dating from 1350
  5. the less-popular small towns of Medias, Sebes, Bistrita and even Targu Mures shouldn't be overlooked as they're also representative of Saxon heritage with their medieval architecture, large town squares, and small museums

These medieval cities are the reason why in German Transylvania was called Siebenburgen translated as 'the seven citadels' Bistriţa (Bistritz), Braşov (Kronstadt), Cluj (Klausenburg), Mediaş (Mediasch), Sebes (Mühlbach), Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Sighişoara (Schassburg).

A typical village Saxon village Transylvania

But Transylvania’s true beauty lies in its famous countryside and rural areas, in traditional villages where the simple way of life of locals, their sense of community, and hospitality will capture your soul instantly. Add to the mix picturesque landscapes and quiet village life you've got yourself a perfect holiday in Romania to disconnect and wind down far from the business of city life.

There are lots of day trips or trips where you can experience this. You can go by car to visit villages, or on hiking trips from village to village, photo tours, horse riding, agro-tourism experiences -- you name it! Although without a guide who knows the area and locals, it will be harder to have the experience you want. Check our suggestions below - or contact us if you'd like a private custom tour.

There are lots of bike paths connecting the Saxon villages of Transylvania and this is a great way to explore the area!

Or perhaps you'd like to stay in a traditional farm turned modern guesthouse and have an agro-tourism experience?

Besides Saxon Transylvania, the greater region also includes the traditional sub-regions of Maramures, Bucovina and Motilor Land in Apuseni Mountains which will give you the most authentic experience of Romanian culture and countryside you can find in our country.

For example, in Maramures centuries old Romanian traditions and customs are still part of everyday life. You'll see wood-carved decorations everywhere and locals who wear their best traditional folk costumes on Sundays to go to church (the Romanian traditional blouse called ie by the way).

Besides the delicious food (all with home-grown ingredients!), there are some interesting things to do in Maramures such as visiting the Ethnographic Museum, the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta or the famous UNESCO Wooden Churches. Going on a ride on the Mocanita Steam Train is a favorite too! To visit this region, another must see sight of Transylvania, it's best to start from Cluj-Napoca and have min. 2-3 days.

10. Transylvanian food and wine - a must try!

The whole region is naturally blessed with fertile lands and sun-bathed hills. With its mix of cultures and rural traditions of farming and self-sustainability, Transylvania has a reputation for its delicious food and wines. Much of Romanian traditional food and products come from the region and they're famous and preferred even by locals.

The region of Sibiu is particularly famous for its products (cheese, fresh sour cream, cured meats, salami, and jams) and typical dishes, which is why it was awarded the European Region of Gastronomy title in 2019.

In the city as well as on day trips to tourist villages nearby (called Marginimea Sibiului) you'll find lots of small, old-school food producers, or hip restaurants with young chefs who reinterpret traditional dishes with a modern twist.

For years, locals have had a clear preference for homemade, organic produce from small, local producers - which makes food in the region truly delicious! Sibiu has several restaurants known for this (check our Sibiu attractions guide for more) and on day trips our guides will take you to family households and small guesthouses where locals will cook for you!

A wine tasting trip in Transylvania

Even 2,000 years ago Transylvania's wines were famous among the Dacians, Romans, and migrating people. There are lots of wineries in central Transylvania perfect for vineyards! From old-school, large-scale wineries to boutique, specialised producers, in the last 10 years the quality and popularity of Romanian wines have increased significantly - and so has wine tourism!

  • Local tip: Unfortunately most wineries don't offer 'walk-in' tastings for 2 people, but we can arrange that for you on a custom tour. But you can also order a glass of Romanian wine in any restaurant or bar - we're sure it will surprise you!

11. Go hiking in Transylvania

The entire region exists because of the natural border the Carpathian Mountains form around it! Read our full guide on hiking in Romania to find out the huge - and undiscovered - outdoor potential of our country.

In short, there are mountains and trails for EVERYONE no matter your physical condition or how much time you want to spend in the mountains. So exploring Transylvania's beautiful outdoors and unique natural landscapes is one of our most recommended things to do on your holiday here!

Brasov, Sibiu, and Cluj-Napoca are the best starting points to go on hiking day trips or multi-day tours in the Carpathian Mountains. The best time for hiking in Transylvania is between May - October, although outside of this is also possible with the right gear and experience.

  • Pro tip: In the winter months, you can trade hiking trails for ski slopes. We have an article ready if you want to check the best ski resorts in Romania.

The best part? On a guided trip our guides can take you through picturesque foothills with traditional villages (600 - 1,200m) to medium mountains (Apuseni Mountains or Piatra Craiului) or the high peaks (over 2,200m) in Fagaras or Bucegi. It all depends on your interests!

Famous natural attractions you should see:

  • Zarnesti Gorges and the the Seven Stairs Canyon close to Brasov
  • the impressive Turda Gorges, White Cliffs, Scarisoara Ice Cave or the steep hill Szekler's Stone close to Cluj-Napoca
  • Balea glacial lake (NOT for dipping!) and Red Lake.

12. Wildlife tracking and bear watching

In the natural beauty and pristine wilderness of Transylvania, wildlife thrives in its natural habitat, offering enthusiasts unparalleled opportunities to observe animals that are almost extinct in other parts of Europe. Romania is known as Europe's last wilderness reserve thanks to its vast and untouched Carpathian Mountains that provide a haven for a diverse array of wildlife, including brown bears, wolves, lynxes, and wild boars.

Around the area of Piatra Craiului National Park, you have the best conditions to hike through wild forests, stay in animal observatories (and watch them safely), or check wildlife observation cameras for recent sightings in the area.

Hiking & Wildlife Tracking Trip in the Carpathians

Start from: Rucar, Arges county or Brasov

See details

Also, with the Carpathians boasting one of Europe's largest populations of brown bears, organized bear-watching tours offer an immersive experience for nature lovers.

While these majestic creatures can be found in many Carpathian mountain ranges, you can join bear-watching safaris in the area near Brasov. These tours promote conservation efforts and responsible wildlife viewing practices, ensuring the preservation of Transylvania's rich biodiversity for generations to come.

  • Pro tip: While these tours usually run from spring to autumn, the summer months are when the animals are the most active and you have the most chances to see them roaming around.

13. Stay in family-owned boyar mansions or restored village houses

The combination of Transylvania's multiculturalism, heritage buildings, picturesque countryside, and sustainable, ancestral way of life attracted many locals tired of the big cities and looking to create a different life.

From 2008 onwards a trend started where many traditional houses in villages, old boyar estates, or bourgeois manors were bought by corporate city folk looking to escape busy life. These were restored and transformed into boutique, luxury guesthouses for tourists.

Offering premium accommodation services, locally sourced organic foods, amazing views, and a beautiful example of how rural life can blend with modern needs, these guesthouses are so beautiful and popular that they're in high demand all year long!

Check here for some inspiration and you can find most of them on or Airbnb. However, most of them are in remote areas accessible only by car and are on the expensive side. Nevertheless, spending one or two nights there will be a unique memory from your holiday in Transylvania!

14. Relax in one of Transylvania's many thermal baths and spa resorts

Transylvania boasts an array of spa resorts and thermal springs renowned for their therapeutic properties, offering visitors a tranquil escape from the bustle of everyday life. Whether nestled within historic towns or tucked away in picturesque countryside settings, these spas invite guests to indulge in soothing mineral-rich waters, renowned for their healing benefits.

My favorite location for relaxation is Geoagiu-Băi Resort, a place that combines historic sites with modern wellness facilities. Located in the southeast part of the Apuseni Mountains, in the proximity of Orastie and Deva cities, you will find pools with natural thermal water, good for rheumatic, neurological, and cardiovascular disorders, skin conditions, and more. Near the resort, you can visit the ancient ruins of *"Germisara" Roman Thermal Baths*, a place used since the times of Dacians, but modernized by the Romans. This amazing site is not officially included in the local tourist circuit, so unfortunately, the authorities don't do a good job maintaining it, but on the bright side, at the moment there is no entrance fee to visit.

Other thermal baths and spa resorts worth visiting are Baile Felix (near Oradea), Baile Tusnad and Baile Balvanyos (near Tusnad), and Baile Cojocna (near Cluj-Napoca).

15. Attend cultural events and festivals

Transylvania is not only known for its stunning landscapes and rich history but also for its vibrant cultural scene, which comes to life through various events and festivals held throughout the year. One of the highlights for music enthusiasts is the Untold Festival, one of the world's largest electronic music festivals, held annually in Cluj-Napoca. Other notable music events are the Electric Castle Festival (near Cluj-Napoca), ARTmania Festival (Sibiu), Rockstadt Extreme Fest (Rasnov), and Jazz in the Park (Cluj-Napoca).

Beyond music festivals, Transylvania hosts a myriad of cultural events celebrating its heritage, including traditional folk festivals, medieval fairs, and theatrical performances. Some examples include International Theatre Festival (Sibiu), Sighisoara Medieval Festival (Sighisoara), Transilvania International Film Festival (Cluj-Napoca).

For more music festivals and events in Romania, check out our article.

And since we're talking about events, if you happen to visit Transylvania around the winter holidays, you can check out our beautiful Christmas markets, where you'll see artisan products, traditional food, folk costumes, concerts, and much more. The most beautiful Christmas markets in Transylvania are in Sibiu and Brasov.


Seriously underrated, Transylvania is many times included in renowned travel guides such as Lonely Planet or Conde Nast.

But I hope you see how the best things to do in Transylvania are not just simple tourist attractions to tick off your list like most foreign bloggers and travel guides tell you...

It's about discovering how a unique mix of cultures is kept alive, about experiencing rural life, admiring nature and relaxing. It's about using slow travel to get to the heart of Romanian culture and history.

It's about being present on your holiday - not just rushing from one famous castle to another top sight....

I hope this article gave you a taste of what to do in Transylvania and help you plan your visit here - and if you have any questions contact us, we're here to help!

Your Romanian Friend