Romania gets a BAD rap. Plagued by years of unfair pop-culture references that stem from a rich, albeit tumultuous, history Romania has become a less than desirable destination for world travellers. Well… Stereotypes be damned! Thanks to its undeserved rap, Romania is one of the last untouched gems of Europe! You won’t find hoards of selfie stick-clad tourists clawing at each others throats for the ‘gram. NOPE… just hoards of sheep… & also lots of history.
Romania: Where We Visited
Timisoara, Romania was the very first stop on our marathon three week of a honeymoon. Why? Because it just so happens to be my handsome hubby’s hometown! Andrei & his family moved here from Romania when he was just 10 years old so pretty much ALL of his extended family still live oversees. We wanted to celebrate our marriage with them so we actually had a SECOND wedding in Timisoara to kick things off!
Image Via: Casa del Sole
Image Via: Casa del Sole
We stayed at Casa del Sole in Timisoara. The grounds are beyond stunning & it feels like you’re taking a step back in history when you walk into accomodations… literally… Each piece of furniture is actually a restored Romanian antique!
Our wedding was held at Restaurant Flora & I don’t think I’ve ever received better service in my twenty-nine years of life. Their staff are IMPECCABLE & were always one step ahead of Andrei & I. They informed us when new guests arrived, they didn’t have cranberry juice so when a guest requested vodka cran a staff member literally ran across the street to purchase a bottle (!!!!!!) & they created a wedding experience that was truly, truly seemless.
This sad, blurry excuse of a photo is pretty much the only tangible memory I have of our wedding. I was too busy consuming six courses of food, downing shots of Pálinka (at an alcohol content of 86% mind you) & dancing ’til 5am. Weddings are done much differently in Europe.
Once we managed to pick ourselves off the floor & pull ourselves together our families hopped on a chartered bus to explore the Transylvanian region of Romania… because Dracula.
Pretty pastel-coloured buildings line the main square of Brasov; a charming ski city surrounded by rolling green hills & chalk full of rich history.
The Black Church is at the heart of Brasov, it’s a Gothic style monument & is one of the largest places of worship in Romania. It. Is. B-e-a-utiful. A must-see if you ever happen to find yourself in Brasov.
Bran Castle, Bran, Romania
Bran Castle – AKA the Dracula Castle – is in the immediate vicinity of Brasov so it’s completely feasible for you to see both in one day.
This monument is infamous for its connection to Dracula. Author Bram Stoker drew inspiration for Dracula from Bran Castle & Romanian Ruler Vlad “The Impaler” Dracula. I’m sure you can guess where he got his nickname from…
You can purchase tickets for Bran Castle HERE. If I’m being completely honest I WAS let down by Bran Castle – I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting… I think I was just expecting “more”. Furniture in the castle is not original & it’s a bit sparse… plus when I found out that Vlad The Impaler never actually LIVED at Bran I was very much less invested.
My advice would be to still SEE Bran Castle just to tick it off the bucket list… but if you’re in Transylvania & only have time for ONE castle you absolutely need to visit Peleș Castle in Sinaia… which I’ll discuss below!
Many people will actually stay in Brasov when they visit Transylvania, however WE stayed in Sinaia & then made day trips. Sinaia is a bit less “city”, more quaint & more mountainous -both cities are SUPER pretty & are within an hour of each other – so it’s really whatever you’re more drawn to!
We stayed at Vila Retezat; designed & built by Czech Architect Karel Liman – he also designed the Pelisor Castel & the Honour Hall of the Peleş Castle. Nestled into the hillside, with beautiful views of Sinaia & the Bucegi Mountains, Vila Retezat is wonderfully charming.
Sinaia is truly beautiful & incredibly unqiue. A ski town with century old monasteries, WW1 Military Cemetaries & home to the first King of Romania at Peleș Castle.
Peleș Castle is an absolute masterpiece! From a Turkish Salon, to a Swiss Council Room & an Italian Great Salon, each of the 160 rooms of Peleș Castle is decorated in a different style or theme. This modern castle was also the first European castle to have electricity, hot & cold running water, central heat & central vacuum system. Not to mention, the stain glass roof of the foyer opens mechanically & there is a small elevator for the royal family. I can’t even believe that I’m saying this but I was MORE impressed by Peleș Castle than Versailles.
What I LOVE about Sinaia are all of the hiking trails! We spent a day hiking the Bucegi Mountains & the views were so breathtaking.
Can you spot the old woman in the above photo?! There’s lots of really interesting lore & mystery surrounding this stone… of which I am FAR too lazy to paraphrase here, so if you’re at all interested – click HERE!
Okay… that’s all for Romania! Next week – the Greek leg of our honeymoon!