Exploring Romania on a road trip is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful and diverse country.
400+ miles, 3 cities, 2 castles, a fortress, a winery and ‘the best road in the world’… Here’s how to do the ultimate 10 day Romanian road trip!
10 day Romania road trip itinerary:
Day 1 – 2: Bucharest
Any Romanian road trip would be incomplete without visiting the country’s capital and largest city, so be sure to start your road trip from Bucharest.
The city’s mismatching collection of Brancovian, Neo-Romanian, Art Nouveau (which gave it the nickname ‘Little Paris of the East’) and communist-era architectures makes it an interesting place to simply walk around and explore.
It may not be the most beautiful European city, but it is full of interesting historic buildings, such as the amazing Palace of Parliment, and little hidden gems, such as the Stravropoleos Monastery.
There are also many great foodie spots! Check out The 5 Best Places to Eat in Bucharest, Romania.
Day 3: Bucharest – Peles – Azuga – Bran – Rasnov – Brasov
Okay, so this may sound like a lot, but trust me, it’s doable and worth it!
The route from Bucharest to Brasov is not only a scenic drive through the Carpathian Mountains, but it is also home to some of the most beautiful and interesting castles and fortresses in Transylvania.
And to break up a day of sightseeing you can even stop at a gorgeous winery to have a look around, have lunch and pick up a bottle of local produce for when you finally arrive in Brasov.
Here’s a breakdown of the route (I’ve also included a map for this day):
Bucharest – Peles Castle
Drive Time: 2 hours.
Get on the road from Bucharest early and make your way up to Peles Castle in the town of Sinaia.
Commissioned by King Carol I in the late 1800’s, Peles was once the summer residence of the Romania Royal family. Now it can be only be entered via a group tour whilst wearing protective footwear to help maintain the beautiful castle which took over 40 years to build.
Both the fairytale-esque exterior and extravagant and interesting interior make Peles one of the most stunning castles in Europe, and a must visit on any trip to Romania.
Tip: Romania has many beautiful castles dotted all across the country, some others of which could also be incorporated into your trip if castles are your thing. Check out this post ‘Poenari Castle and other Romanian Castles you need to see‘ for more inspiration.
Peles Castle – Rhein Winery
Drive Time: 20 minutes.
Next, head just up the road to the town of Azuga where you will find the lovely Rhein Wine Cellars, which are part of the Halewood group.
Opened in the late 1800’s, Rhein was once Romania’s ‘Royal Court Provider’ and is the oldest Romanian wine cellar which uses the traditional Champenoise method of producing sparkling wines (wine fermented while kept in glass bottles).
You can take a tour of the cellars, learn about the history of the winery, eat lunch in the on-site restaurant and visit their wine shop. They usually only take groups of 8+ for tours, but if you contact them in advance and ask nicely they may be kind enough to let you tag on with another group.
The tour includes 3 tastings, however, if you’re driving (and Romania has a 0.0 drink drive limit) you, unfortunately, won’t be able to participate in this part. When we visited, neither of us did the tastings so instead, we were given a bottle of their sparkling to take away with us and try once we arrived in our next hotel.
Call: +40 244 326 560 // E-mail: [email protected]
Rhein Winery – Bran Castle
Drive Time: 43 minutes.
Perched on a 200-ft rock overlooking Transylvania, Bran Castle became famous due to its resemblance to Dracula’s Castle in Bram Stokers iconic novel. Despite the author never having visited Romania, some believe he was influenced by a picture in the book “Transylvania: Its Product and Its People”. The character of Dracula is also believed to have been based on Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracul, the notorious and blood-thirsty ruler of Walachia.
Bran Castle – Rasnov Fortress
Drive Time: 25 minutes.
Open until 7:30pm and located just outside of Brasov, Rasnov fortress is the perfect final stop of the day. On a hilltop overlooking the city – next to a rather contrasting Hollywood style sign – lies a 14th-century citadel with a long and interesting history.
Take the cable car up 650ft through the thick forest surrounding the fortress, pass through the fortified walls and step back in time to explore the maze of streets and stone buildings, whilst getting amazing panoramic views over Transylvania as the sun sets.
Rasnov Fortress – Brasov
Drive Time: 30 minutes.
Day 4-5: Brasov
Brasov is a city in the Transylvania region of Romania and is the administrative centre of Brașov County. With a colourful Old Town, Gothic churches, and a beautiful view over the entire city from neighbouring Mount Tampa (which can be reached by cable car from the city), there’s plenty to keep you occupied in this interesting little city for at least 2 days.
Read my post ‘How to spend 2 days in Brasov, Romania‘ here for a more in-depth guide to Brasov.
Day 6: Brasov – Sibiu
Drive Time: 2 hours 15 minutes.
A few options for this day. You could stick around in Brasov for another day of exploring, or head to Sibiu for extra time there.
Alternatively, you could take a slight detour and check out the well-preserved medieval town of Sighisoara, the birthplace of Vlad Dracula (or Vlad the Impaler) who inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional character, Count Dracula.
Day 7-8: Sibiu
Sibiu is also located in the Transylvania district of Romania and is the smallest of the three cities on this Romanian road trip route.
The city dates all the way back to the 12th century, and is now an important part of Romania’s cultural scene, with festivals of opera, theatre, film and music throughout the year. It was designated the European Capital of Culture for the year 2007 and voted as “Europe’s 8th-most idyllic place to live” by Forbes in 2008.
Being a medieval city, the town is made up of a succession of squares, with the three main ones in Upper Town being Big Square, Huet Square and Small Square. Most of the historic sights can be visited in the vicinity of these squares.
Climb to the top of Council Tower for a view across the city, cross the Bridge of Lies, wander through the Stairs Passage, trail the old city walls, admire the many historic churches and visit the cities several museums. There’s plenty to see and do in the beautiful city of Sibiu (a separate post will come soon I promise)!
An important thing to look out for in Sibiu is the ‘houses with eyes’!
Walking around the city, it’s easy to get an uneasy paranoid feeling that someone is watching you. And it turns out something always is… the houses! The oddly shaped windows in many of the roofs look unnervingly like little peeping eyes, following you wherever you go.
During our visit in September, we stumbled across CibinFEST, a lively celebration of Bavarian food and beer (think Oktoberfest) which takes place in a giant tent in the centre of Piața Mare (Big Square) with a themed market and fairground rides filling the rest of the square.
If you can be in Sibiu during CibinFEST I would 100% recommend it – the whole town turns into one big party with locals dancing on tabletops to live music all afternoon and evening.
Day 9: Sibiu – Bucharest | The Transfăgărășan
Drive Time: Up to 7 hours.
The route between Sibiu and Bucharest will take around 7 hours if you go via the iconic Transfagarasan, and you definitely should!
Voted “the best road in the world” by Top Gear, the Transfagarasan is the paved road which passes over the southern section of the Carpathian Mountains (the Fagaras Mountains) with a series of hairpin turns, tunnels, bridges and breathtaking views. No road trip through Romania would be complete without hitting the Transfagarasan!
The road was built in the early 1970’s as a military route connecting the regions of Transylvania and Wallachia. Many years later, the road has become a popular tourist destination.
At 60 miles long and with an altitude of 6,699 ft at it’s highest, driving along the road’s many twists and turns is an adventure in its own right (you do need to drive with caution though), with many beautiful scenic views to take in along the way.
Bâlea Lake makes a great pitstop on the Northern stretch of the Transfagarasan. The glacier lake is located on one of the road’s several peaks and is surrounded by stunning scenery in every direction. The lake is even home to a chalet called Bâlea Lac which has accommodation and a restaurant, whilst in the winter it is home to Europes first ice hotel.
The lake is accessible by car on the Transfagarasan during the summer months (June to November), however, the rest of the year where stretches of the road are shut, the lake is accessible by cable car from Balea waterfall.
When we visited in late September, the lake was covered in fog with a light frosting of snow falling from above (I was not appropriately dressed for the weather so remember a jacket!), however, it still made a beautiful spot to stretch our legs and to grab a hot drink.
Day 10: Bucharest
There is one major reason that you MUST end your Romanian road trip back in Bucharest, and that is Therme!
What better way to end a busy and active holiday than with a day in Europe’s largest wellness, relaxation and entertainment centre with thermal waters.
Split up into 3 main areas, ‘The Palm’, ‘Elysium’ and ‘Galaxy’, there is enough to keep you both entertained and relaxed for an entire day.
Inside ‘The Palm’ and ‘Elysium’ (for those ages 16+) there is 1,200 square meters of heated indoor and outdoor pools, many hot tubs, a swim-up bar serving cocktails (it’s open until 1 am) and health drinks, several themed saunas and steam rooms, water massage beds and relaxation areas. All of this is also surrounded by the largest botanical garden in Romania.
Next door in the more family friendly ‘Galaxy’, you will find 16 water slides and a large wave pool. You can choose to pay for entry to the individual areas or all 3.
3 hours in all areas is £15, 4.5 hours is £16 and 1-day passes are £18.50. My advice would be to get the full day pass, as once you enter you will never want to leave! Therme is located on the outskirts of the city close to the airport and has free onsite parking.