Brasov, Romania is well worth a visit.
Nestled in Transylvania, the city of Brasov has everything from medieval walls to a wannabe Hollywood sign.
We visited Brasov on our backpacking trip through the Balkans, starting in Bucharest and looping north to the small, mountain town of Sinaia (and the incredible Peles Castle) before arriving in Brasov.
Here are the can’t miss sights and best things to do in Brasov, Romania.
1) Hike to the Brasov Sign at Sunset
One of the best beer with a view pictures I’ve ever taken was from the “Brasov Sign” above Brasov.
Brasov, like Hollywood, has massive letters spelling the name of the city. It takes about an hour to hike to the sign from the old town, and the trailhead is within easy walking distance of most tourist spots.
We hiked up for sunset and had a dark walk down. It may be better to visit earlier in the day. However, the sunset was fantastic from here, and there were a small number of others taking in the views.
If you don’t feel like taking a hike, then you can also take the adjacent cable car either both ways or one way.
2) Take the Cable Car to the Top of Tampa Hill Above Brasov
Don’t want to take the hike? Not feeling up to walking a dozen switchbacks up a steep hill? Take the cable car.
The Statia de top – Telecabina Tampa (that’s what it’s called on Google Maps, anyway) is a cable car that takes you to the top of the hill above Brasov. You get on in the middle of town, and you’re up to the top within minutes.
Whether you hike to the top of the hill or take the cable car, this hill is a must-see thing to do in Brasov: it’s the best view in town, and it’s very accessible whether you’re looking for a hike or taking the easy way up.
Oh, and there’s a bar (albeit a poorly-rated one) at the top of the cable car. I brought my own beer to the Brasov sign and had a better time.
If you visit Brasov in the summer, expect lines for the cable car. Brasov may be off-the-radar for most western tourists, but it’s a popular spot for Romanians.
The Brasov cable car costs 10 lei ($2 USD) to go up and 10 lei ($2 USD) to go back down. You can take the cable car up and walk down or vice versa to mix it up.
3) Grab an Ice Cream or a Drink and Soak Up History at Council Square / Brasov Centru
Council Square is the heart of Brasov. Home to a historic town hall (Casa Sfatului) and a remarkably large fountain (Fântâna arteziană din Piața Sfatului), Council Square is a great place to hang out and soak up the Brasov vibes.
There are ice cream vendors, dessert vendors, cafes, bars, and restaurants easily accessible from the square. There’s even a KFC.
Grab a drink or an ice cream. Find a seat, and watch the world go by in the historic center of Brasov. On a warm fall day, it was magical during our visit.
4) Explore The Black Church
The Black Church (Biserica Neagra in Romanian) is one of Brasov’s best-known sights.
It’s a Gothic church from the 1600s that even has its own Wikipedia page. It’s a big deal. You’ll see it from Council Square, and it’s in the heart of old town.
People don’t know for sure why it’s called the Black Church, but there are two theories:
- For decades, people assumed the church got its black color from a fire that burned down most of the city in 1689; the church, made of stone, survived the fire while the surrounding city did not
- Today, we know it wasn’t called the Black Church until the 1800s, long after the fire, and that the color of the church is from pollution – not fire
Regardless, the Black Church is a working church and museum. It recently underwent restoration, and it’s worth walking through (or attending a service, if you’re into it).
5) Check Out a Museum
Brasov punches above its weight class for museums. We didn’t have time to visit a museum, but plenty around town are well-rated and popular.
Here are some of the museums worth visiting in Brasov:
Muzeul Civilizației Urbane: A new museum located at Council Square, this museum explores the history of the city within a renovated palace from the 1500s. It’s a good overview of Brasov’s history, and there are plenty of historic artifacts.
First Romanian School Museum: There’s only one place in the world where you can see the oldest Bible in Romania, and that’s at the First Romanian School Museum in Brasov (it was printed on goat skins). The small museum is filled with other historic firsts, including a centuries-old printing press and the oldest letter written in Romanian. If you’re Romanian or into Romania, then visit the First Romanian School Museum
Art Museum (Muzeul de Artă Brașov): One of Romania’s best art museums is in Brasov. You’ll find paintings from Romania’s biggest painting rockstars, including everyone from Nicolae Grigorescu to Horia Bernea. Admission: 5 lei ($1 USD).
Brasov History Museum (Casa Sfatului): Casa Sfatului is the watchtower-looking thing at the central square of Brasov. It’s been a city hall since the 1500s, and it’s also a local history museum. Admission is 7 lei ($1.50 USD).
House of Mureșenilor: What was life for a ruling class family in Brasov over the centuries? Visit the House of Mureșenilor to get an answer to that question. This small museum, located just across from the city center, explains the cultural and political history of a prominent local family.
6) Take a Day Trip Outside the City
Brasov is cool, but there’s plenty of cool stuff outside of the city. A day is more than enough to see the main sights of Brasov, so mix a day trip into your journey.
Tour Bran Castle and Rasnov Fotress: Bran Castle (i.e. Dracula’s castle) and Rasnov Fortress are both worth visiting. You can find bus tours that take you to the castles. Or, you can talk to a local cab driver and arrange a deal, which is what we did (it was something like $60 for an entire day’s worth of exploring in our own private cab, which was very cool). Rasnov Fortress was built by the Teutonic Knights in the 1300s on a rocky outcrop above the valley, and you get amazing views of the surrounding valley.
Take a Trip to Sinaia and Peles Castle: We stayed overnight in Sinaia and it was incredible. It’s a little mountain town dominated by a palace. They film movies here. Presidents and royalty have stayed here. It’s been featured in every Romanian travel video. Peles Castle is a huge deal – and it lives up to the hype. It’s a beautifully maintained castle that gets packed with tour bus crowds from Bucharest all summer long. Even in offseason, it was crowded. You can take a train from Brasov or arrange a bus tour or cab, but give yourself a few hours to explore Peles Castle and take the interior tour.
Go Bear Watching: Being from Canada, I don’t need to see more bears. However, if you’re from some wildlife-deprived country like the United Kingdom or Germany, then you’ll find bear watching tours around Brasov in the Carpathian Mountains.
Other Things to Do in and Around Brasov
There are plenty of day trips and other things to do in and around the city of Brasov.
Take a Photo of Catherine’s Gate: Catherine’s Gate is the original medieval gate to the city of Brasov. Built in 1559, the gate looks like something out of a fairy tale kingdom. It’s worth a walk and a picture
Check Out One of Europe’s Narrowest Streets: This tip comes from The Globetrotting Teacher’s guide to Brasov. Brasov is home to a very narrow street called Strada Sforii (String Street). Just 44 inches wide, Strada Sforii made it easier for firefighters to geta round the city.
Eat Kurtoskalacs: You’ve seen the crappy knock-off versions in Prague and other touristy places. But Romanian Kurtoskalacs are legit. They’re much better – and much different – from the horrible street food treats you get in other parts of Europe. You can find several street vendors selling them across Brasov.
Where to Stay in Brasov
We stayed at an Airbnb in Brasov, staying a few minute walk away from the heart of the city center in a traditional family home, which we had to ourselves. It was the perfect spot. Like all good Airbnbs, it felt like we were living like locals.
Brasov also has plenty of hotels, hostels, and other places to stay.
Downtown Hostel, Jugendstube Hostel Brasov, Central House Hostel, and Secret Boutique Hostel are all well-rated hostels in and around Brasov.
Where to Eat and Drink in Brasov
You can eat like royalty in Brasov for very cheap.
We ate at a local restaurant close to the city center, sitting in a cozy cellar eating mountains of traditional Romanian food and drinking a bottle of wine, and it was something like $30. I think it was called Bistro de l’Arte (or at least that’s what it’s called now).
However, like anywhere in Eastern Europe, the well-rated options on Reddit and Google with lots of top reviews are the safest places to eat.
Another perk about Brasov? You can find great food in the center of town without worrying about tourist traps. Sure, they may seem like tourist traps to locals, but we never had an issue.
There are also a couple nice cocktail bars in Brasov, including Home Cocktail Bar.
Brasov has decent nightlife, including bars, pubs, and clubs with cheap drinks, good music, and great vibes.
Final Word: Spend Two or Three Nights in Brasov (And Take a Day Trip or Two)
Brasov is a great hub for exploring Transylvania.
It’s a modern but historic city with plenty of things to do whether you’re looking for museums, nightlife, hikes, or day trips.
Being a digital nomad, I almost relocated to Brasov at one point because I had such a good time there. It was the perfect blend of fast internet, cheap prices, hills, hiking, good vibes, and history. Alas, life got in the way – but Brasov is still a special place I want to visit again.