Brasov City Guide: top things to do & places to visit
Brasov is the gateway city to Transylvania and probably Romania’s most famous tourist city - for good reason! If you’re wondering why you should visit, the best things to do when here, attractions and tours in the area and other useful info to help you plan your trip - this city guide we prepared contains everything you need to know about visiting Brasov!
Brasov is famous for its historical attractions and impossible to miss landmarks like the Black Church, its rich medieval history and large open squares like Council Square where locals and tourists alike enjoy the good life.
The city's historical center is known simply as Old Town and is filled with colourful Saxon townhouses, narrow alleys and many fortifications all wearing the heavy cloak of centuries past and with lots of history to share with curious travelers.
Surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains from all sides, it’s hard to resist Brasov’s charm. Located in the heart of Romania at the intersection of the 3 historical provinces that make up our country, Brasov is a great place to set up base for a couple of days on your holiday in Romania.
Here's a quick summary of what you can do in Brasov:
- see how Saxon culture influenced city architecture and life
- visit famous castles in Romania such as Bran Castle (aka Dracula Castle), the luxurious Peles Castle and the impressive Rasnov fortress
- discover Romanian rural culture in the traditional villages of Magura, Pestera, Ciocanu, Sirnea or Viscri and the other Saxon villages
- go hiking in Piatra Craiului, Bucegi or Fagaras Mountains
- see brown bears in the wild and other wild animals
- check some of the popular things to do in Transylvania
This guide made by locals and has 2023 info on the best things to do in Brasov, places to visit and how to plan your trip. We collected in here - but with context, not just a simple listicle.
Table of contents
- 1. Top attractions & things to do in Brasov
- 2. Lesser-known places to visit in Brasov
- 3. Day trips and guided tours from Brasov
- 3. Hiking tours from Brasov
- 4. Go on a wildlife watching tour in Brasov
- 5. Best places to eat in Brasov
- 6 Best places to go out in Brasov for coffee and drinks
- 7. Where to stay in Brasov & budget
- 8. Getting to Brasov & public transport
1. Top attractions & things to do in Brasov
Brasov is packed with many great things to see and interesting places to visit. The city has a charming and well-preserved medieval architecture, most of which you can see in the Old Town area and Schei neighbourhood.
Here’s a list of the major landmarks in Brasov:
- the Black Church (or Biserica Neagră) is Brasov’s most popular landmark
The largest gothic church in Romania is also one of the largest gothic style churches in Eastern Europe. Dating back to the 14th century, it sits proudly – and unmistakably imposing, at the edge of Piata Sfatului (Council Square) and is often the first thing tourists want to see when in the city centre.
The church can be visited all year round but visiting hours depend on the season and church service. A ticket costs 20 Lei (approx. 4 Euro) and is worth it. If you’re lucky there might be an organ concert during your stay, but tickets must be bought in advance.
- Piata Sfatului is the heart of Brasov Old Town.
On any given day you will see children running around, adults taking a stroll, old folks feeding pigeons and tourists mesmerized by the beautiful square. Blending in with the locals is one of the best things to do here and a great way to understand local culture.
Just like all medieval city squares Council Square was a place for public gatherings, trials and where capital punishment was carried out. The building in the middle called the Council House used to be the old town hall. It was was also known as the Trumpeter’s tower because a man used to go up the tower and sound the trumpet every hour on the dot so locals knew the time.
Today it’s packed with cafes, restaurants and old buildings with impressive, well-preserved Saxon (Germanic) architecture – and many legends. Local fairs with stalls selling homemade food and artisan products are usually held here and not just during high season so keep an eye out!
From the main square begins Strada Republicii a long pedestrian street and the perfect place to get acquainted with the eclectic architecture of the city of Brasov and its evolution in time. Just pay attention as you walk from one end to another!
- St. Nicholas’ Cathedral is the first stone-made Orthodox church in Brasov.
Located in Schei neighbourhood where Orthodox Romanians lived, here you’ll find a huge collection of liturgical objects and old Orthodox frescos. And with a local guide you'll also hear stories about how the majority of Romanians lived under Saxon rule.
On the outside the church has a stunning blend of architectural styles mixing Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque influences. Don’t skip the church’s annexes as they are also packed with important paintings, historical documents and unique hand-made souvenirs.
Brasov Old Town back in the day with Catherine's Gate
- Brasov Old Town fortifications from the 13th – 15th century
Like many settlements from medieval times in Romania, Brasov had a complex system of city defenses and they’re worth visiting! The Weavers’ Bastion is the most famous and well preserved with a unique architecture in Southeast Europe.
It started being used as a venue for opera and music concerts thanks to its impressive acoustics so check if anything’s on while you’re there! On any other day there's a small museum where for a small fee of 2 Euro you can find a model of Brasov Fortress with all its defence systems, old weapons and handmade products crafted by the city’s weavers – the ones who funded the bastion.
Another must-see fortification is the Graft Bastion built in the 16th century to allow soldiers to get from the White Tower (or Turnul Alb) into town. Though restored in 2004 the rifle holes are impeccably preserved.
There is also the Artists Bastion close to Poarta Schei (Schei Gate) and just below the Brasov Hollywood sign. Though lesser known, it's well preserved and used sometimes for concerts and other shows. It also has a small medieval museum which you can visit for a small fee.
Another notable historical landmarks is the Blacksmith’s Bastion – and there are 4 more of these to see!
- Visit the White Tower, Black Tower and the medieval city walls.
Besides the defense bastions, Brasov was surrounded by towers and walls which are now very good reasons to go for a walk around in search of viewpoints.
The Black Tower and the White Tower are famous for their well-preserved medieval charm: find them at the edge of Brasov’s Old Town and climb to their top to get an equally stunning view of the city!
Take a stroll by the fortification walls that connect all the towers in the city. They're all within walking distance from one-another and suitable for anyone used to moderate physical activity during their holiday. And don’t skip the city’s gates: Poarta Ecaterinei and Schei Gate.
Local tip:most of Brasov's main attractions are related to Saxon culture and history; look for Brasov walking tours that will also take you to Schei neighbourhood and St. Nicholas Church where Orthodox Romanians lived
Unless you want to wander aimlessly without knowing what you're looking at or search for a free walking tour of questionable quality, we offer a guided walking tour of Brasov. Our local guide will tell you about the city’s history dating back to the 13th century, local culture and help you make the most out of your time in Brasov.
You'll find out why was the city so important it needed to be
fortified from all sides? How come the opened in Brasov? Why is there a network of
underground tunnels beneath the city?
- Mount Tampa & the Brasov sign
On any Brasov walking tour you’ll notice a massive Hollywood style sign perched high up on Tampa Mountain. Going there is a must - you’ll be rewarded with the best views of Brasov, the Romanian Mountains and the hills of Transylvania!
Telecabina Tampa cable car will take you up there and back for 25 Lei or 5 Euro, but you can also go on an uphill hike to it and then a little more when there.
Pro tip:what I like to do is go up with the cable car just before sunset and find my way back down on foot :)
- Rope Street (Strada Sforii) - the narrowest street in Europe.
Finally, another popular place to visit in Brasov. The street is only 135 cm or 53 inches at its widest and 112 cm or 44 inches. And if you think this is one of the most useless narrowest street in the history of Europe - remember it was used by old-time
firemen passageway to avoid the packed streets in the city!
Typical streets in the city of Brasov
2. Lesser-known places to visit in Brasov
Of the many things to do in Brasov by far my favorite one is to get lost exploring side streets and narrow alleys. To imagine what the city was like 300 years ago.
In the 17th century there was a great fire that affected many buildings. Most of them were redone in a baroque style but elements from the past remain so I like to inspect the style and decorations of these old townhouses. And the yellow evening lights and crisp mountain air makes my walk even better!
Casa Muresenilor Museum is a cultural space that hosts classical music events and interesting expositions. The Ethnographic Museum of Brasov has an impressive collection of objects (clothing, ceramics, religious items) from the Romanian and Saxon cultures of Transylvania
Or maybe you'd like to see how ordinary people lived under communist Romania? The recently opened Museum of Communist Memories is an apartment decorated with objects and furniture from Romania's communist period.
This is not your typical museum as you will experience life as it was for all Romanians back then. The owners built the museum based on their personal history and memories. It's filled with objects from that era and you'll go on a time-traveling journey into communist Romania during your visit. This is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Brasov!
The first Romanian school museum nicely completes the list of cultural attractions in Brasov. The local guide here can tell you many fun facts about how the first educational institution in Romania operated. And since you won't know the Romanian language, having someone to ask for a translation here is a good idea.
The Christmas Market is a great reason to visit Brasov during winter. Lots of decorations, a festive Christmas atmosphere and a LOT of mulled wine is a killer combination! Romanians are jolly fellows and winter holidays always bring out the best in our people!
The Council Square is beautifully decorated and the Christmas Market brings craftsmen, artisans and local producers from all over the country in Council Square. Buy some traditional cured meats or local cheese, enjoy a kurtos kolac while sipping on mulled wine or tuica to warm up.
The Planetarium part of the Zoo in Brasov offers incredible immersive shows about space and our solar system. Even if the shows are in Romanian, the visual effects and experience your kids will have is worth it. Tickets are 5 Euro for an adult and 3 Euro for children.
Speaking of kids and fun things to do with the family, you might want to check out Aqua Paradise a huge complex with pools, SPA and leisure facilities. It features indoor and outdoor pools so it's perfect all year long if you're looking for a nice way to relax after all the sightseeing in Brasov!
One of the most important and oldest banks in Brasov is located in a historical monument building that was recently restored and opened to the public. Apollonia Cultural Bank hosts shows, cultural events and can be visited freely.
The building is impressive on the outside and is one of the few ones built in Jugendstil in Brasov. So if you're looking for something different than the typical medieval houses and architecture, this is for you! :)
3. Day trips and guided tours from Brasov
Brasov is the perfect city to set up base for a couple of days to tick off your list some of the things to see in Romania from your list.
Visit the medieval castles near Brasov or UNESCO heritage sites, explore traditional villages, natural parks or see wildlife – take your pick! We created the best tours and
unique trips from Brasov you won't find anywhere else, have a look:
- Medieval castles near Brasov
Thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel and the 1992 Hollywood movie, Bran Castle also known as Dracula Castle is Romania’s #1 tourist attraction. This 14th century fortress is truly impressive with many stories to tell and a popular trip to do from Brasov. Did Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for Count Dracula) have any connection to this place? And why did Queen Marie fall in love with it?
Well, a will answer these questions – others will just tell you
fake touristy stories so beware!
Bran Castle is 30 km away and getting to Bran from Brasov is possible only by road: on a guided tour, with a rented car, with a taxi (about 45 Euro round-trip) or on a bus from the local bus station. Tickets cost 10 Euro and there's usually a queue, especially during weekends and tourist high season.
Peles Castle in Sinaia is another famous sight close to Brasov. Built in the late 19th century with state-of-the art technology for those times, the castle served as summer residence for the royal family.
Its beautiful exterior is equally matched by the lavishly decorated interior so don’t miss the opportunity to take a tour inside. Getting to Sinaia from Brasov is easiest by train as all trains heading to Bucharest will stop there.
Another popular attraction close to Brasov is Rasnov Citadel. Perched high on a mountain in the city of Rasnov, the citadel offers spectacular views of the entire area and that’s reason enough to visit!
It was built as a place of refuge for villagers in the area against invading forces and continuously expanded over time. If you can take your eyes from the beautiful landscapes you’ll notice artisan shops through the citadel’s old alleys.
Pro tip:Rasnov Citadel is currently
closedfor restoration works. The cable car from the city up to it operates normally and you can visit the exterior courtyard, but can't go inside.
Fagaras Fortress is another interesting attraction to visit from Brasov. It served as a seat of power for rulers in the late Middle Ages and was later used as a communist prison, so there’s much history to learn there.
Rupea Fortress is also worth mentioning and shares a similar history with Rasnov Citadel. It's located in the small city of Rupea 1h away from Brasov in Saxon Transylvania.
Last but not least, Sighisoara Citadel is one of the must-see attractions in Romania and easily accessible from Brasov by car on a guided day trip or by train.
Located in the heart of Transylvania at the crossroads of major trading routes, this citadel was fortified by the Saxons and is entirely part of UNESCO heritage for its authentic style. The citadel is still inhabited by locals and on its narrow streets with colourful houses you’ll find artisan shops, traditional restaurants and cosy cafes. Walk up the (many) stairs to the Monastery Church too – it’s worth it!
On your way to Sighisoara you will also stop in the famous village of Viscri. Other tourist sights in the area include Feldioara Citadel built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century to help defend against invaders, and Rupea Fortress.
- Visit the Saxon villages with fortified churches
South-East Transylvania was settled by Saxons (ethnic Germans) in the 14th century to defend against pagan invaders. Traces of Saxon rule and culture are everywhere in Transylvania, but are particularly visible in the villages between Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu.
Saxon villages have a particular layout, building style, crafts and culture. 7 of these have been included in UNESCO heritage for their well-preserved fortified churches: Viscri, Saschiz, Biertan, Calnic, Darju, Valea Viilor and Prejmer.
Of these Viscri is the most famous since King Charles of the UK bought and restored a house here to spend his Summer holidays.
Local tip:other noteworthy beautiful villages in Saxon Transylvania to consider visiting: Malancrav, Alma Vii, Richis and Cincsor.
In the last decade most of these villages were brought back to life by city folk and non-profits looking to preserve and restore the traditional way of life. City folks bought traditional houses and turned them into inspiring, boutique guesthouses and restaurants so visiting the villages is one of the top things to do when in Brasov!
In my opinion, this is the most picturesque area in our country!
- See rural life in traditional mountain villages near Brasov
South-West of Brasov at the base of Piatra Craiului Mountains - in my opinion the most picturesque area of our country - are several villages famous for their well-preserved authentic mountain lifestyle.
At altitudes of over 800m, the villages of Magura, Pestera, Sirnea and Ciocanu are spread over hills and locals here live as they used to decades ago. Mountain farming, friendly locals with an active yet simple life, and, crucially, peace and quiet. The old school values of a good life.
Pro tip:if you come across shepherds roaming the hills it's polite to say hi or wave to them! however, beware of their dogs since they can be overprotective
The best way to visit these villages is to go on a guided day trip from Brasov because without local knowledge you don't really know where to go on the trails, where to meet locals, take great pictures or enjoy a traditional lunch with cheese and locally sourced, homegrown products from the villagers.
Another great way to experience Romanian village life and enjoy life in Transylvania countryside is to book an agro-tourism experience in Transylvania at a typical farm close to Brasov.
3. Hiking tours from Brasov
One of the best things to do when in Brasov is explore the Great Romanian Outdoors! With the wild Carpathian Mountains everywhere offering lots of outdoor activities for everyone in all seasons - there’s no way you’ll be bored! Check our guide about the best hikes in Romania to get a better idea of what to expect.
Pro tip:because the Carpathian Mountains are and have an underdeveloped hiking infrastructure for tourists, we strongly recommend you have proper hiking boots + clothing and hire a licensed mountain guide for your trip (like our guides)
The closest mountain range from Brasov with the most options for day trips in nature for is Piatra Craiului Mountains. They're famous for their spectacular and unmistakable 25 km long limestone ridge (pictured above) that scratches the sky! It can be crossed on a 2-day tour by experienced hikers. You can also reach the ridge and summit La Om the highest peak at 2,238m altitude in a one day hiking trip.
These mountains they have lots of easy and medium difficulty trails and short trips for everyone. You'll go at 1,400 – 2,000m altitude through dense woodlands, clearings and traditional villages.
Piatra Craiului National Park is famous for its significant biodiversity and is known as one of the most pristine, beautiful areas in our country. Zarnesti Gorge is a popular, must see attraction in the park!
If you’re looking for a challenge and more adventurous hiking trails – Bucegi Mountains is for you! Besides popular attractions such as Heroes’ Cross, the Sphinx and Babele natural monuments, the 6th highest peak in Romania, Omu Peak at 2,505m altitude is here and can be summited on a 2-day trip.
Start from: Brasov or Sinaia or Busteni
Reaching the plateau of Bucegi Mts where these attractions are is easy to do with a cable car from Busteni or Sinaia (Prahova Valley). That's why they're so popular with city folk and inexperienced hikers who want a day in nature to visit places with spectacular views! You can descend Bucegi Mts on the Western side into Moeciu - Bran area and from there continue hiking in Piatra Craiului.
Last but not least, Fagaras Mountains the highest mountains in Romania with trails starting at 2,300m altitude, are easy to approach from Brasov. To do that you'll drive on the best driving road in world - Transfagarasan Highway! The road is open for driving during 1 July – 30 October. Outside this period you can get to Balea Lake, the starting point for most trails, using the cable car that goes right above the road.
The silence, wilderness and raw beauty of Fagaras Mts, hiking on high crests with narrow trails where mist comes from one side and goes on the other – is absolutely spectacular! The highest peak in Romania Moldoveanu at 2,545m altitude is here, so they're the preferred destination for experienced hikers.
Start from: Brasov (pick-up)
Another outdoor attraction close to Brasov is the 7 Stairs Canyon - a beautiful creation of nature that will make you feel adventurous as you climb the narrow ladders to the top!
This popular attraction is usually visited on half-day trips: a short walk in the forest, climbing the canyon, and then back.
You can also go on a trip horse riding in Transylvania over the hills - beautiful and picturesque for both beginners and experienced riders!
Plenty of options for bike tours around Brasov too! You can go in the mountains for a proper mountain bike adventure or through the Saxon villages in Transylvania connected by a vast network of picturesque bike paths.
If you’re a fan of winter sports then Poiana Brasov is a good place for you with the largest ski domain in the country! You may want to check our guide for skiing in Romania.
4. Go on a wildlife watching tour in Brasov
Finally, one of the best things to do in Brasov is to go on a wildlife watching tour!
Romania is known as
Europe’s last wilderness reserve and there’s good reason for that: we are home for the largest brown bear population in Europe, and in the mountains you can find wolves, lynx, wild boar, chamois, bisons (extinct all over Europe but recently re-wilded here) and may other animals!
We work with professional wildlife guides who offer several wildlife tours (regular guides don't have the expertise for this):
- a short brown bear watching trip that will take you to a wildlife observation hide in the forest; you sit quietly and wait for the bears to show up (85%< chance for that) and the fun starts! (observation in controlled conditions; suitable for everyone and maybe our most popular trip!)
- a hiking and wildlife day trip in the mountains; you'll go deep in the wilderness to pick up animal trails and to vantage points where you'll see animals roaming in the wild!
- 3-day hiking and wildlife trips in the wildest (non-touristy) parts of Fagaras Mts; you’ll stay in a specially-built eco-cabin overlooking areas where animals roam and go on guided trips – higher chances of seeing animals and a wonderful experience!
Start from: Rucar, Arges county
Start from: Rucar village, Arges county
Our wildlife trips from Brasov are
unique in Eastern Europe. They're wonderful opportunities to learn about Mother Nature, especially for kids! But due to their complex logistics, don't underestimate them: they're not like regular hiking trips and require a very good physical condition to go in inaccessible, non-touristy areas.
And since nature can't be controlled - and you don’t want to run into brown bears or a wild boar - safety is our highest priority. The best time for wildlife trips is between late Spring - late Autumn.
There’s also the option of visiting Libearty Bear Sanctuary close to the city of Zarnesti. Home to over 100 brown bears rescued from circuses and cruel living conditions, you can now see them happy and playful.
Keep in mind that this is not a zoo but bears are kept captive. Visits are possible only in the morning and are led by staff from the sanctuary.
A typical Romanian appetizer platter - my favorite!
5. Best places to eat in Brasov
After all these day trips you must be hungry! Luckily, Romanians love to eat, drink and enjoy their time out! Besides your typical Western-inspired menu with fried foods, burgers and pizzas, there are quite a few restaurants in Brasov serving traditional Romanian food.
Go out in the city to find cabbage meat rolls (sarmale), polenta with fresh cow cheese (mamaliga), beef tripe soup (ciorba de burta), Cluj-style cabbage or pomana porcului (you’re in for a surprise with these!).
Here’s a list of our favorite restaurants in 2023 and places to go eat in Brasov (with an English menu too!):
- for traditional Romanian cuisine in Brasov, the best restaurants are at La Ceaun, Sergiana, Ograda or Sub Tampa. You won’t be disappointed! Pair whatever you order with local wines (another pleasant surprise!) or palinka the Romanian spirit that will boost your apetite & warm you up!
- Brasov is also known for its fusion cuisine restaurants, some of the best in the country! First on our list is Casa Hirscher, a cosmopolitan, elegant and discreet restaurant that brings the food experience to a whole new level. Poarta Schei 4 and Bistro Del’Arte are two other great places to eat
- budget-friendly but belly-filling options include Pizzeria Della Nonna, La Birou Bistro or Old Jack Burger House where a meal for 2 and drinks will cost around 15-20 Euro; don’t miss trying traditional street food snacks - we are a nation very fond of our pretzels, ice cream in any form, shape, and size, or pastries filled with cheese, meat, mushroom or jam called merdenele best enjoyed in the city center!
6 Best places to go out in Brasov for coffee and drinks
Besides eating, Romanians like to drink – especially coffee and a good wine :) The going out scene in Brasov is hip, modern and cool so you should try to experience this culture when there. Here’s a couple of suggestions:
- Romanians love sipping on coffee and Brasov has plenty of small cozy coffee shops: try Croitoria de Cafea, Home Cocktail Bar or NOLA Coffeeshop staffed by true coffee (and tea) connoisseurs; check our list with the best coffee shops in Romania to find out more
- we like our drinks just like we like our coffee: regularly! If you’re looking for a fun night try The Kafe Pub, For Sale and Monklint are two other places we like to go out
- nightlife in Brasov happens on Fridays and Saturdays so check out the following clubs: Times Pub, Deane’s, and Rockstadt; other fun things to do you may find when here by asking locals
7. Where to stay in Brasov & budget
As Romania’s #2 tourist city after Bucharest, Brasov boasts a wide range of accommodation: hostels, affordable guesthouses, medium-priced hotels and apartments, fancy hotels or boutique stays in medieval townhouses. Check Booking.com or AirBnB to find the best for you!
Keep in mind that Brasov is Romania's most popular tourist city (after Bucharest). Lots of tourists come here starting with the Summer months until early Autumn. Also in December when visiting Brasov, usually covered in snow, is one of the top things Romanians like to do to experience a charming winter. So we strongly recommend you book your stay and activities in advance.
Restaurant and accommodation prices are quite high during peak tourist season, but you can still find good deals if you venture on side streets a bit further from the Old Town area. A reasonable budget for accommodation and meals is around 50 – 70 Euro per day per person.
8. Getting to Brasov & public transport
You may see flights to Brasov Romania but they're likely not operating yet since the city is in the process of opening its airport. But being located in the heart of the country, the city is very well connected to Bucharest, Sibiu, Cluj and Iasi by train and roads.
The easiest way to get from Bucharest Airport to Brasov is via a shuttle transfer (check here) for a company we recommend does this well. There are trains running daily between Bucharest – Brasov almost every half hour and a train ticket costs around 10 Euro/trip.
Getting from Cluj-Napoca to Brasov is easiest by train, and same from Sibiu but from here you can also take a bus. Check our guide on public transport in Romania for more info.
The road connecting Brasov to Bucharest is usually crowded and during holidays or weekends it can get VERY busy with traffic jams occurring frequently especially over the weekends or public holidays. So plan ahead or for an extra cost but less hassle - get a guide who is experienced in navigating Romanian roads.
Taxis in Brasov are reliable and relatively cheap for short distances: CrisTaxi with a 1,99 Lei/km rate and FloTax with a 1,93 Lei/km rate. Uber also works in Brasov as does Bolt app.
Having a travel insurance when you visit Romania for the first time is a good idea.
That's it - lots of reasons to visit Brasov and spend a couple of days there! If you have more questions or need help with planning your trip contact us - we're happy to help!
Your Romanian Friend, a native of Brasov
- Guides to Major Cities and Regions (6)
- Natural & Geographical Sights (6)
- UNESCO & Cultural Spots (10)
- Medieval & Historical Attractions (7)