Transylvania, a land of legends and mysteries that have crossed borders, drawing people into knowing more.
Our journey today is one that we can’t wait to tell. It may be filled with mystery, but Transylvania is also filled with mundane beauty as well. Everything you need to know about top things to do and see in Transylvania, the best places to visit in Transylvania, and much more.
Things to do and see in Transylvania, Romania
Here is to a dive into the things to do and see in Transylvania when it comes to making a top out of everything: castles, medieval citadels, top-notch cities, food, and the outstanding nature that surrounds it.
1. Transylvanian Castles
- Bran Castle. Now this will be the first google search you will get. The castle, infamously known as Dracula’s Castle became famous in 1992 alongside the Hollywood movie Dracula. Trust that most stories around the castles are legends, nonetheless, its beauty cannot be challenged. Read all about it here.
- Corvin Castle. And beyond any shadow of a doubt, one of the most imposing and beautiful castles in Transylvania. Also known as Hunyadi Castle and Hunedoara Castle, it must make its way on your things to do and see in Transylvania list. We have a very detailed article on Corvin Castle, and you can read all about it here.
2. Fortified Churches of Transylvania
Fortified Churches of Viscri, Biertan, Prejmer. Whoever knows something about Prince Charles, knows he has been in love with Viscri village for a very long time.
The Lutheran Fortified Church of Viscri was built by the Zseklers, taken over by the Saxons and it is one of the 25 UNESCO World Heritage sites of Romania. Which explained the beautiful and somewhat special architecture. It was initially a Roman Catholic Church but serves today as a Lutheran church.
It can be visited daily throughout the day.
Read a detailed article on Viscri here.
Biertan Fortified Church
Biertan was first mentioned in a document during the 1222’s and it still is one of the most impressive medieval grounds of Transylvania.
The Fortified Church of Biertan was built in the 15th century and it’s located on top of the hill, overlooking the entire village. Built by the Saxons, it features late gothic architecture, a multi-paneled altar, and large wooden doors.
It can be visited from Tuesday-Sunday throughout the day.
Prejmer Fortified Church
Prejmer Fortified Church also included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest fortified church in southeastern Europe and it was built by Teutonic knights in 1212.
Records show that in 500 years, the church has been attacked 50 times. However, it could never be occupied by enemy forces because of its incredible defense system that still wows historians.
The Church can be visited daily throughout the day.
3. Medieval Citadels and Cities of Romania
Medieval Citadel of Sighisoara
Whenever you google Transylvania, the medieval citadel of Sighisoara will be one of the first things to pop up. The reason is white easy to understand. The citadel is the biggest inhabited citadel in Eastern Europe, one of the best-preserved ones, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in the 12th century by Saxon settlers, in Gothic style.
Brasov Old Town
Brasov is an exceptionally beautiful city overall, and the most essential sightseeing is in Brasov Old Town. From splendid architecture to themed cafes and traditional restaurants. Landmark buildings such as the Black Church, spots such as Tampa or Rope street make Brasov a must-visit place in Transylvania. Read more about Brasov here.
Sibiu and Astra Museum
Sibiu, one of the most famous cities in Transylvania and former Cultural Capital of Europe, a 3 star Michelin destination and one of the top destinations in 2021. Sibiu and the surrounding area have a lot to offer: from amazing Germanic architecture and the legacy for Saxon settlers. One of the absolute must-do and see in Transylvania.
A landmark city for the young and the old. Home to cultural diversity, outstanding architecture, and incredible traditional food. And top-notch, world-known festivals such as Electric Castle, Untold Festival, Jazz in the Park, or TIFF.
Full of students, full of life, imposing cathedrals, and two opera houses. Travel to Cluj-Napoca for an all-in-one experience of a lifetime.
You can experience all these well-known places by taking a 3 days tour to Transylvania.
4. Landmark places
Is Romania’s best-known road and a spectacle altogether and definitely a priority of things to do and see in Transylvania. Imagine over 150 kilometers of road in the mountains, with some incredibly challenging curves and the most spectacular views Mother Nature could give.
It is fully open for a drive between June-October and its highest point is at 2042 meters altitude. Built between 1970-1974 at the command of former communist ruler Nicolae Ceausescu, and some legends say it was built in order for the people to have escape in case USSR troops would invade.
Transfagarasan called enthusiasts from all over the world, and Top Gear said that it might just be the best road in the world. Read the article here.
Turda Salt Mine
Whatever you choose to do, you cannot miss the out-of-this-world (and super healthy) experience in the world’s most spectacular place, dug in the depths of Transylvania. Just so you can get an idea of the magnitude of this place, the salt from Turda Salt Mine could cover the salt need for the entire Planet for 60 years, if necessary.
Read more about Turda Salt Mine here.
5. Transylvanian food and drinks
Traditional food and drinks. Romanian traditional cuisine has been influenced by several cultures it came to contact but kept a lot of recipes from Dacians times too. It’s been mainly influenced by Turkish, Balkan, and Hungarian cuisine, as well as Central and other Eastern European Cuisines.
The first-ever Romanian cookbook belonged to Costache Negruzzi and Mihail Kogalniceanu and it contains over 200 recipes, published in 1841. Nonetheless, you cannot leave Romania without having (at least) a taste of sarmale, mamaliga, toba, piftie, or jumari.
Not to mention the alcoholic drink Tuica or Palinca. How’s over 45 degrees of pure alcohol sound? We can assure you it will help with your digestion before or after eating all of the above-mentioned. Read a more detailed article on Romanian traditional food here.
People love Transylvania for a (very good) reason. For a great trip to Transylvania get in touch with us for an amazing 4-day tour. Click here.
How to travel to Transylvania?
Luckily there are a lot of options, and traveling to Transylvania is quite easy and affordable. So, in case you are considering taking a trip to Transylvania you should know that there are quite a few options, plus trains and by car.
Airports in Transylvania
Should you choose to travel to Transylvania by air, there are 3 airports that you can land on:
Avram Iancu International Airport Cluj-Napoca
The biggest one in Transylvania, located in the northwest. Great choice if you plan to start your Transylvania tour by visiting Cluj-Napoca, Hunedoara, and Corvin Castle, or Maramures.
Amongst the companies that fly to and from Cluj-Napoca, we would like to mention: WizzAir, Blue Air, Tarom, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, HiSky, Air France, Carpatair, EL-AL Israel Airlines, and many more. British Airways also announced they will soon start operating flights London Heathrow-Cluj-Napoca.
Such great news to hear this awesome city has an airport of its own, isn’t it? Sibiu is located in the heart of Transylvania, so it’s quite a great choice wherever you decide to go from there.
Amongst the companies that fly to and from Sibiu: Lufthansa, WizzAir, Blue Air, Air Bucharest, Tarom.
Probably one of the best choices, especially if you want to make your trip to Transylvania all about UNESCO World Heritage Sites, fortified churches, medieval citadels, great people, and amazing food.
There is not a lot of movement at this airport at the moment. It will be rather hard to find a flight to take you there or from there, but things are starting to look up. Amongst the companies that fly to and from Targu Mures Airport: WizzAir, WizzAir UK, Tarom.
Main train stations in Transylvania
If you are interested in a longer trip to Transylvania, you should know there are a few ways to get there by train.
Unless you are coming from Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Thessaloniki, Sofia or Instanbul, but from places farther away you will have to change a few trains.
Let us tell you about the main train stations in Romania, and where you can get therefrom:
- Timisoara North Railway Station: you can choose to stop here when you are coming from Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade. You can also choose to stay in the train should you wish your final destination to be the capital, Bucharest.
- Oradea Railway Station: trains coming from Vienna, Budapest will stop here as well.
- Bucharest North Railway Station: should you come to Romania by train from any of these destinations, they will also put a final stop to their journey in the capital. This includes trips from Sofia, Thessaloniki and Istanbul.
- Sinaia Railway Station: not necessarily a main one, but definitely one full of history for Romanians. the legend of all trains, the Orient Express from Paris-Instabul stops in Sinaia, Romania for a visit at Peles Castle, and in Bucharest.
Main cities of Transylvania
We have already talked in our previous articles about Transylvania, and that’s because we love it. Who could ever blame us, really? So, when discussing a topic such as things to do and see in Transylvania the possibilities and endless.
Transylvania is a beautiful blend of gorgeous sights, Unesco World Heritage Sites, medieval citadels, and fortified churches, welcoming and warm people, but also innovative and cool. To be fair, there is a little something about every single Transylvanian city and town, major or not.
We will talk in detail about a few of them, and here they are Cluj-Napoca, Alba-Iulia, Brasov, Targu-Mures, Sibiu, and Sighisoara.
Brasov is a must-see and visits in Transylvania. It is special by its geographical position, rich Saxon history, picturesque streets, mountains surrounding it, and clean, fresh air all year round. The city and nearby area are full of sights and some of the top things to see in Transylvania are here. Let’s have a closer look:
The Black Church is Brasov’s landmark and without any shadow of a doubt the most visited sight. It is one of the largest churches built in Gothic style in Eastern Europe. Its construction dates back to the 14th century and it stands tall and imposing in the middle of Council Square.
You can visit the Black Church of Brasov daily throughout the year. When around the church listen to the sounds coming from inside: if you hear an organ playing you must enter to enjoy a show of a lifetime.
If ever googles Brasov, you probably saw pictures of a Hollywood-like sign with the name of the city, on the mountain overlooking the city. Don’t let that distract you nor push you away from climbing the mountain. Yes, there are a lot of stairs- about 1 hour of hiking, or just take the cable car for the fast and pain-free way
. Whichever way you choose, we promise it will be worth it. The view over the city is absolutely amazing, the air is fresh and chill, and you can spend an entire afternoon having dinner or drinks.
Piata Sfatului, or The Council Square
The heart of the Old town, the heart of Brasov: that’s what Council Square is to everybody visiting Transylvania‘s jewel, Brasov for the first time. Just like any other main square of medieval times, the Council Square was where fairs were held, where executions were made, where people cat-walked.
Today, and we mean, on any given day the place is packed. Packed with locals, packed with tourists, packed with kids. With joy and laughter and life. Some of the best cafes and restaurants can be found in this area.
Also, if you are lucky enough, you can witness all sorts of fairs that are held throughout the spring, summer, and autumn.
Parc Aventura Brasov
Oh, you are in for a treat. Basically, after you are done with all the sightseeing and history lessons (or, before anything else, if you are traveling to Transylvania with children), you deserve some fun.
Parc Aventura Brasov is the largest of its kind (outdoor leisure and sports park) in Eastern Europe. It has no less than 16 trails of progressive difficulty levels. Feel free to test your skill and adrenaline resilience with obstacle courses, bouldering, rope climbing, rock climbing, zip-lines, or target-oriented activities.
And not just that! The park offers so much more, and you can read all about it on their website, here.
- Children aged 4-11 years old: 50 RON for 3 hours
- Children above 12 years old: 55 RON for 3 hours
- Adults: 60 RON for 3 hours
- Groups: 55 RON for 3 hours
- Visitors: 5 RON
*For every extra hour you will pay 20 RON.
Part of the select club of Top European Destinations in 2021, and a 3 Michelin Star destination, and former capital of Transylvania, Sibiu has long been considered one of the top places to see in Transylvania.
Sibiu is a medieval city with over 900 years of history, being a top attraction today because of the great testimony offered to its glorious past.
The city has served many important positions in Europe ever since 2007: European Capital of Culture, host of the International Theater Festival, European Region of Gastronomy, or EURORANDO, the largest pan-European hiking event.
Located just 4 kilometers away from the city, in Dumbrava forest, Astra Museum is a Folkloric Traditional Museum. The museum spreads on over 96 hectares, with a 10-kilometer long exhibition circuit, and it was opened in 1963. Astra is a great display and testament to Romanian village life, gathered from all over the country, and very well preserved in their original form.
The museum is structured in 5 sectors and between them, there is a 3-hectare wide modern wood exhibition with pieces from a variety of renowned Romanian and foreign artists. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you add Astra Museum on your top things to see in Transylvania.
- Adults: 25 RON
- Students: 7 RON
- Groups: adults 20 RON/>20 people; Students 5 RON/ > 20 people
- Retirees: 12 RON
The Large Square
First mentioned in documents in 1411 as a cereal market, the Large Square of Sibiu, the historic center, has existed since 1366 when the fortification belt was finalized. It was called Der Grosser Platz for hundreds of years, between WWI and WWII it was called King Ferdinand Square.
During the communist times, the name was changed to Republic Square and returned to its original name shortly after the communist regime fell. It is now, as it has been for the longest time, the heart of the old city.
It was home to fairs, exhibitions, and executions during medieval times, among which the beheading of county administrator Johann Zabanius Sachs von Harteneck in 1703. The fountain has been mentioned in documents since 1538. Today, the Large Square is home to festivals, fairs, evening promenades, the Brukental Museum, great cafes, and restaurants.
Located at no.4 Large Square, Brukental Palace is a landmark for Sibiu and the most visited building. Because of the limited space, the Palace was built on two old houses, purchased by Brukental. The owner’s apartment and the guest rooms are located on the first floor, collections, and the library on the second floor. The offices situated on the flanks have Chinese paper wallpapers with oriental motifs. The cadres and the wings of the doors, as well as the casing and shutters of the windows, were made with artistic taste: medallions, pearl wands, and rosettes. So, whenever visiting Sibiu, drop a visit here and you won’t be sorry.
The Council Tower
Situated between the two main squares of the city, in the northern corner, the Council Tower has gotten its name because of the defense purpose it had when it was built in 1324. Its location is near the entrance of what used to be the city’s, Town Hall. One part of the tower collapsed in 1585 during an earthquake. What remained however still is preserved in its original state. It has gone through restoration throughout time, and the form today dates back to 1826. If you want to make it to the last floor, where you can watch the Clock Mechanism, you must climb 141 stairs, but it will be worth it. The Council Tower can be visited daily, and the entrance fee is just 2 RON.
The Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral
Getting to build an Orthodox cathedral in the center of the city didn’t come easy on the people of Sibiu, and the Metropolitan Andrei Saguna. After a long time of trying, the first stone of the foundation was placed on what would be the cathedral on August 5th, 1902- on Emperor Franz Joseph I anniversary, as a gratitude gesture for his support. Legend has it that people from all across the country have come to Sibiu to witness the event. The church was built in byzatine inspired architecture, similar to the great cathedral of Constatinopol, St. Sophia Basilica, and it was finished in 1906. The Cathedral can be visited daily throughout the year.
We could go on for hours talking about Sighisoara. And that’s because, even if it is a very small city, it has so much to offer. If some buildings are landmarks for their cities, Sighisoara is a landmark for Romania.
Wherever your roads take you when visiting Transilvania, do not, under any circumstance, miss Sighisoara.
Here are a few things that you cannot miss during your visit in Sighisoara:
Sighisoara Historic Center
The Historic Center of Sighisoara was built in Gothic-style architecture by Saxon settlers, back in the 12th century. It has been an inhabited citadel (or, the largest inhabited medieval citadel in South-Eastern Europe) ever since.
In 1999 is was put on the Unesco World Heritage Site list- a definite must-see in Transylvania. the Historic Center of Sighisoara is one of the best-preserved medieval sites in Europe and is visited by a large number of tourists, attracting both foreigners and Romanians.
if you google Sighisoara, one of the first photos you will see will be those of a majestic clock tower. A few things you should know about the Clock Tower are that it stands as the citadel’s symbol, the main entrance to the citadel, and one of the 9 defense towers of the medieval citadel.
With a height of 65m, the Master Clock Tower is visible from almost any corner of the city. It hosted the city hall up until 1556 and starting in the 19th century it hosts the Museum of History. An interesting thing about it is that it has symbolic figurines and days of the week are represented by Ancient Gods- really something to pay attention to.
The last floor has an amazing 360-degree balcony and, if not the already obvious outstanding view of the city and even nearby villages on a clear day.
The Covered Stairway
Also known as Scholar’s Stairs- this is the time for you to take a deep breath of air, grab a bottle of water and start climbing the no less than 176 stairs- you should be grateful though because initially there were 300 stairs.
They were built in 1642 and their main purpose was to connect the lower and upper parts of the citadel. Later on and even today it’s mainly used by scholars- there is a high school on the top of the hill.
The Defence Towers
There is a total of 9 defense towers and they are distributed around the citadel to provide a good view of every corner of the city. Each tower belonged to a guild, which was responsible for the administration at any time- either peace or war.
The Church on the Hill
Since you have climbed all the way up, pat yourself on the back, have a sip of water- if any left- and relax while exploring the Church on the Hill- the highest point of the citadel.
It was built in the late 15th Century, with a very simplistic decor on the outside and magnificent paintings of the inside that have defied the passing of time. If you’re lucky, you might even witness an organ performance.
Cluj-Napoca, or simply Cluj is, like most cities of Transylvania, a beautifully drawn puzzle of old and new. The city attracts by being cosmopolitan, clean, full of life, home to great food, to top-notch universities, to IT development and great music festivals.
Also considered the capital of Transylvania, Cluj is definitely a pioneer in technology and development. If you want to read about Cluj-Napoca in detail, we have a great article here.
Central Park is that place in a city where people meet, talk, eat, drink, walk their dogs, and, every year… dance and sing. You got that right. Central Park of Cluj-Napoca is where the Untold Festival is held every year. For about a week, during the summer, forget about the quiet evening walks. Instead, grab a drink and dance until you can’t stand.
There is no denying that the park is a top tourist attraction in Cluj Napoca. It was founded in 1827 and it’s the main green oasis in Cluj-Napoca.
Yet another great thing about Central Park is that it has a lake right in the center. If you feel like exercising, you can rent a boat. Enjoy a virtual walk in the park by clicking here.
The Botanical Garden is located in the south part of Cluj Napoca. It covers an area of 14 hectares, and it is home to over 10000 species from all around the world. Even if you are not necessarily a fan of plants, or simply don’t get them, you should know that a day spent in this area will level up your oxygen levels like crazy!
The Botanical Garden of Cluj is a landmark for the city, and it must be a priority for you when visiting Transylvania.
The Botanical Museum inside the Garden is home to over 635 000 species of plants that can be examined and admired here. You can come here daily throughout the year.
Cetățuia Hill is a top attraction for Cluj-Napoca, mainly for the spectacular views that you get from the very top. Especially during sunset- it is (almost) safe to say it beats a sea sunset, at times.
The perfect view over the city center, a place with some awesome restaurants and food trucks, perfect for a chill summer evening out with friends. Or a great place to make new ones.
King Matthias Corvin Statue and Union Square
The impressive statue of horseback Matthias Corvinus, the Hungarian king stands tall in the middle of Cluj-Napoca famous Union Square. It is impossible to miss it really, because of its impressive size. Also, pay a closer look, and feel free to be mesmerized by the details of the sculpture. So if you are in a group of people and happen to get lost, this could be a successful meeting point.
The Union Square is extremely popular, with both tourists and locals. It has a special kind of vibe that makes you not want to leave it (on a warm day, of course). People walking around like ants, kids playing and running, photoshoots, and once a year, home to TIFF– Transylvania International Film Festival. Well, it’s rather great to grab a pretzel and a coffee, and lay in the sunshine.
Wondering whether you should add on your trip to Transylvania the city of Alba Iulia? We definitely think so. Alba Iulia is the place where, over 100 years ago, the unification of Romania as we know it today, was officialized.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was the capital of Easter Hungarian Kingdom, and then the Principality of Transylvania. Now, starting with the year 2018 Alba Iulia is the capital of The Great Union of Romania. Here are some things that you should not miss while here:
Alba Iulia Fortress or Alba Carolina Citadel
Unique by military structure, beauty, preservation, and history surrounding it. Alba Iulia Fortress was built under the rule of King Carol the 6th, at a time of Austrian ruling of Transylvania. Its main purpose was the protection against Turkish invaders. The fortification system is in the shape of a star- 7 pointing towers.
Should you visit during the tourist season April-October, you should know that every Friday from 7 PM there are parades of Dacian and Roman warriors.
The Coronation Cathedral was the first important religious monument built after the Great Union in 1918. It was named this way to honor the reign of Queen Mary of Romania and Kind Ferdinand as monarchs of United Romania. The construction started on the 28th of March 1921, and it was finished by December.
The architectural style is Neo-Brancovenesc- a national architectural style promoted at the beginning of the 20th century. The marble plates on the porch represent the history of Alba Iulia: the Great Union, and the uprising of Horea, Closca, and Crisan. The coronation in 1922 was held here, under the eyes of royal and imperial families, and officials from all over the world- a testament to Romania’s prestige at the time.
The Coronation Cathedral can be visited daily throughout the year.
St Michael’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
St Michael’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is the oldest one in Transylvania, built over 800 years ago. Also, it has been the tallest building in Alba Iulia and Alba County for a long time, which a dominant 56.7 m high tower. The cathedral was built on the ruins of the Roman camp.
It was built in 4 different architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque- Romanesque being the most prominent one. It has witnessed many important events throughout history such as the entrance of Michael the Brave in Balgrav.
The Cathedral is unique in these parts of Europe by the harmony of integrated architectural elements and by age. St Michael’s Roman Catholic Cathedral can be visited daily throughout the year.
National Museum of the Union
National Museum of the Union is located inside the biggest Romantic-style building in Alba Iulia- built between 1851-1853. It used to be called- by its primary purpose at the time of its uprising- the Babylon Building. It has served the army from its construction up until 1918, after the Great Union of Romania.
The collections inside the account for more than 200,000 heritage objects, starting with the prehistoric times of Romans and Dacians, and moving forward to World Wars. If you are a history geek, you will need to dedicate a bit of time to the National Museum of the Union. If not, at least one hour.
Obelisk of Horea, Closca si Crisan
The impressive Obelisk is 20 meters high, and visible from miles away. It is located under the third gate of the citadel. The monument was to mark 150 years from the execution of Horea, Closca, and Crisan after their uprising. The cell inside the base of the obelisk is a symbol of oppression and suffering of the three important historical figures.
Some people agree that Targu-Mures is one of Transylvania’s most underrated cities. Its heritage, the almost 50-50 split between Romanians and Hungarians, the blend of cultures makes it extremely special.
If you are interested in visiting Zsekler’s heritage land, Targu Mures is a good place to start. The city is located in the heart of Transylvania, close to Sighisoara and Cluj-Napoca. Let’s have a look at what you can see and do in Transylvania‘s Targu Mures.
Palace of Culture
The Palace of Culture houses the Mures County Library, the Mures County Museum, and the State Philharmonic of Targu Mures. The construction of the building lasted from 1911-1913, and it was made at the request of the then Hungarian mayor. It is an Art-nouveau-style edifice, consisting of 3 buildings.
If you decide to visit, make sure you visit the Mirror Hall, just above the Entrance Hall, on the 1st floor. The Concert Hall consists of a little over 700 seats, and many concerts and opera shows are held here. The illustrations on the windows represent Hungarian legends and portraits of important Hungarian figures.
Targu Mures Fortress
The fortress is located very close to the city center, and it has been preserved impeccably. You can visit it for free every day, and see traces of the brick factory in the country, the 7 defense towers, a bronze workshop, and after, relax for a drink and a nice meal at one of the restaurants there. The place is always filled with people walking around, and kids playing.
Synagogue of Targu Mures or Status Quo Ante Synagogue
Status Quo Ante Synagogue is home to the small Jewish community of the city, and to all go those around. The electric architectural style edifice was built during the Austro-Hungarian rule, between 1898-1900.
As part of the Schism in Hungarian Jewry in the 19th century, a big part of the community left the orthodox Judaism, and adopted the Status Quo Ante monicker – a monicker specifically used by some Jewish communities in Transylvania.
Targu Mures Zoo
197 meters above the city, on what is known as Cornesti Plateau lies Targu Mures Zoo, in the middle of the oak tree forest. It was opened for the very first time in 1960 and it only had 10 animals: wolves, bears, pheasants, wild boars, and deers. The Zoo is now annually visited by over 180,000 tourists, both Romanians and foreigners.
It expanded on an area of over 40 hectares, plus 5 hectares of semi-reservation for wolves and bears, and a 10 hectare semi-reservation for European herbivorous species. You can visit the Targu Mures Zoo daily, from 8 AM to 6 PM.
- Children 2-12 and retirees: 5 RON
- Children groups (over 10): 2.5 RON/child
- Adults: 20 RON
- People suffering from impairments: FREE
Taste local food in Transylvania | traditional drinks, food, and desserts
Tasting Transylvanian food must be on your list when visiting Transylvania. What makes it special is the many influences that the cuisine has there: from the Turkish influence (that has put a serious fingerprint on Romanian cuisine in general), there is a very strong Hungarian, German, Saxon, and Serbian influence.
What more interesting is that while some recipes might have the same name, they can be totally different from one city to another, or from one village to another. For instance, the same Easter dish called Pasca is made with fresh, sweet cheese in Sighisoara, while in Targu-Mures, just 50 kilometers away, is made with salted cheese.
Most traditional Transylvanian foods consist of beans, potato, pork, season veggies, and greens. So, yes. Variety at its finest.
Traditional food in Transylvania
Soups are highly appreciated and eaten by most Transylvanian for every lunch, as a first course. Either they are sweet or sour, soups or ciorba is like pasta to Italians: indispensable. Some of the most common soups:
- Stop de galuste (Dumpling chicken soup) and Supa de taitei (Chicken noodle soup)
- Ciorba de perisoare (Meatball soup)
- Ciorba ardeleneasca de catrofi (Transilvanian potato soup)
- Ciorba de lobed (French spinach soup)
Other traditional Transylvanian dishes, mostly stews, below:
- Tocanita ardeleasca de cartofi (Transylvanian potato stew)
- Brasovene (Brasov-style sour pancakes)
- Fasole cu ciolan afumat (Baked beans with smoked pork’s meat)
- Varza a la Cluj (Cluj-Style cabbage)
- Balmus and Bulz (polenta balls filled with cheese and baked until the cheese melts)
Interested in learning more about Romanian food, in general? You wanna be a total pro food-wise on your next trip to Transylvania and Romania? Read this article.
Traditional desserts in Transylvania
This is where the Hungarian and Saxon influence is more present: desserts. Most sweet recipes in Transylvania consist of some similar type of sweet dough. What differentiates them is the filling, sauces, and spices. But let’s have a look at the most famous ones:
- Kürtőskalács- a Hungarian thin sweet dough place on a round stick, and baked in an open fire. It is that sprinkled with either sugar, walnuts and sugar, coconut flakes, and others.
- Rhubarb pie– a German-Saxon sweet and sour pie, with whipped cream on top
- Gomboti or Galuste cu prune– plums in sweet dough, boiled and sprinkled with a mix of sweet bread crumbs and cinnamon.
All about the Romanian desserts you can find in this article.
Traditional drinks in Transylvania
Transylvanian drinks are mostly… very strong liquors. Yes, they are natural and good, but if you are not a big drinker, or if you are drinking them for the first time you must be mindful. They could send you to sleep in no time.
- Tunica or Palinca– a plum, or apple, or pear clear liquor, similar to the Bulgarian rakia. And it’s anywhere between 25-57 pure alcohol. It is usually served upon arrival and is great to accompany fatty appetizers.
- Socata– not an alcoholic drink, but a natural juice made of elderflower, water, lemons, and sugar. The mixture is usually placed in a 5 or 10 later tank and kept in the sun for about a week. The taste is divine!
Wineries and Wine Tasting in Transylvania
Transylvania is one of the first Romanian regions to have grown grapes for the sole purpose of producing wine. Although Romanian wine might not be as famous as the French or Italian, specialists argue that more recognition has to be given to them.
We agree as we have tried and tested quite a few of them, and we must say: AMAZING. Now, Transylvania generally has great soil, perfect height for hills, and perfect altitudes. So keep this in mind on your next trip to Transylvania! Let us have a look at the biggest wineries in Transylvania:
- Jidvei Winery: situated in Alba county, you should know you are in for a treat. The winery is inside the Bethlen Castle which was built in the 16th century in the French Renaissance style. The Reformed Church, situated next to the Castle, is a 13th-century structure. Jidvei, one of Romania’s premier white wines wineries is a five-minute drive from Cetatea de Balta. Some of their exquisite wines are Ana Sauvignon Blanc, Eiswein Jidvei, Nec Plus Ultra Roze.
- Liliac Winery: Lechința wine region was brought back to life by the uprising of Liliac in the region. A history of winemaking that has roots with the vines first planted by the Roman Empire and continued by German colonists, who cultivated the first vineyards at the foot of the Carpathians. Some of their exquisite wines are Neuburger, Ice Wine, Sauvignon Blanc.
- Villa Vinea Winery: Perhaps, they are lucky ones when it comes to geography. The south-western exposure, 300 m. altitude gives enough light and warmth and protection against spring and winter winds. Some of their exquisite wines are Gewurztraminer, Kerner, Zweigelt.
- La Salina Winery: as the name proudly suggests, the winery is located in the close vicinity of Turda Salt Mine, in an area with secular history in winemaking. the wines’ name is Issa, as a tribute to the history of when the area was called Potaissa. Some of their exquisite wines are Chardonnay Barrique, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir rose.
How to explore the Transylvanian countryside?
Don’t even try to deny it, we know this is what you were waiting for. And we get it. Visiting Transylvania is at its finest when in the countryside. There are so many things to do and see in the Transylvania area countryside! From UNESCO World Heritage Sites to breathtaking views and sights, great food and wines, to warm and welcoming people.
Villages of Transylvania, the authentic local life will make you fall in love with this place. Let’s have a look at some trademark Transylvanian places:
This real-life emblem of Transylvania, a jewel, a Unesco World Heritage Site, Prince Charles’ special nest. Initially inhabited by Szecklers and later on colonized by Saxons of Transylvania, it long remained untouched and slightly forgotten. The Viscri Fortified Church and Fortress is a part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1999 and it is the most visited spot in Viscri.
Prince Charles was an advocate for the Romanian countryside heritage long before he first visited. He has fought to stop the communists from destroying old edifices and churches. And in the end, he succeeded.
Read a detailed article about Viscri here.
One of the most important Saxon heritage villages inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Transylvania. The fortress was built in the 13th century mainly for good soil (especially for vineyards).
Biertan developed fast in the Middle Ages it became a reference town in the area. You could really enjoy the village during summertime when many fairs and open-air sales are going on.
Built by the Saxons and first documented in the 14th century, Saschiz is broadly known for its medieval fortress and church. The remains of the fortress can be seen on the top of a hill, and the majestic church built in Gothic-style architecture wows visitors with its huge clock tower lying in the center of the village.
Saschiz is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.
Another village in Transylvania, of Saxon heritage. Prejmer fortress was built by Teutonic Knights, and it was later on developed and prospered under the Transylvanian Saxons. The fortress was built in the 15th century and the surrounding wall is 3-4 meters thick, and 10-12 meters high. Inside there are 275 rooms where people used to take shelter in times of war.
What is amazing is that there are also 2 classrooms inside the citadel, which means the learning process of the children wasn’t interrupted even in times of war. Prejmer Fortress is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. You can visit the fortress daily throughout the year.
First documented in 1305, Malancrav has today the biggest population of Saxons in all the villages of Transylvania. Because most houses were made of clay and wood, a great fire in the 1800s destroyed 2/3 of the village. The villagers were that forced to rebuild their houses with bricks.
People of Malancrav have a tradition of gathering every week to chat, socialize and keep active. Also, this village in Transylvania is known for the delicious apples growing in the area. The Hungarian name of the village is Almakerek, meaning Round Apple.
Located between the Piatra Secuiului (Zseklers Stone) Mountains, Rimetea is the quiet oasis that we all long for (at least every now and then). Rimetea is of Zsekler heritage with a very important significance their descendants and it hosts today the Zsekler Museum.
The village in Transylvania has today a population accounting for 94,1 Hungarians. Should you ever decide you need some peace and quiet, is very easy to find hotels, hostels, and guest houses in Rimetea.
If you want to read more about exploring Transylvanian countryside, click here and you are in for a treat.
Unesco World Heritage Sites in Transylvania
As we have already mentioned above in this article, there are plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Transylvania. Because of their uniqueness and heritage diversity, medieval fortresses, medieval churches, Hungarian and Saxon heritage, historical centers, and natural sites have made the list over 2 decades ago.
So, when you decide to make your itinerary, try to include as many as you can from the list of things to do and see in Transylvania:
- Biertan Fortified Church
- Prejmer fortified church
- Calnic fortified church
- Darjiu fortified church
- Valea Viilor
- Viscri fortified church
- Historic center of Sighisoara
We have a complex and super interesting article on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, read more here.
Or, if you don’t feel like making your own itinerary, we have got your back like we always do. We have a tour that included the best sites in Transylvania. See more and book fast and easy here.
Subject to nightmares, movies, daydreaming and everything in between, Transylvanian Castles have long amazed, impressed, and scared people. Old but lasting masterpieces, unique architectures, paintings, and history, Transylvanian Castles are a definite must when you go visit Transylvania.
We have a list of the most important ones below:
You probably know about Dracula’s Castle by now. It is, beyond any shadow of a doubt the most famous castle in Romania. The edifice, which was nothing but a fortress at the beginning only became the palace that we know today when it was offered to Queen Mary of Romania. As per her request, her heart is kept in the castle, in a silver box.
One of the most imposing castles in Transylvania, included on the list of Best European Castles, Corvin is yet another mysterious place, surrounded by legends.
It was built in the 14th century (or 15th- specialists argue about this fact) at the demand of the former voivode Iancu de Hunedoara. The place where Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula) was held captive for 7 years. Read a detailed article here.
The most visited medieval fortress in Transylvania. Located on a rocky hill near Brasov and Bran Castle. The fortress was built by Teutonic Knights in order to protect villages in Transylvania from Turkish and Tatar invasions.
It looks a lot like a village inside a village. With a small square, bedrooms, and a chapel. A place full of legends and myths. Find out more by reading this article.
Built in 1911 at the request of Prince George Grigore Cantacuzino, in Neo-Romanian architecture style. The facade is facing the beautiful view of the Carpathian Mountains. A huge park surrounds the entire castle, making it a perfect way to spend a day. Enjoy lunch or dinner on the terrace- for great food and even greater photos.
Rupea is one of the oldest archeological sites in all of Romania. Archeologists found traces of humans inhabiting the area from the Paleolithic era. The fortress was built in 1324 when the Saxons were trying to escape the Hungarian King Charles I.
It appears that the fortress that we see today was built on the remains of an ancient Dacian defense fort that was conquered by Romans. According to some legends, Dacian King Decebalus took his own life inside the citadel.
Ever since the 14th Century, Rupea Fortress has become a linking point between Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia. Learn more about this masterpiece here.
Convinced to pack your bags and travel to Transylvania yet? We are here to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to let us know if there is any additional information you might need about the things to do and see in Transylvania.
Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +40 735 525 710.