Transylvania Travel Guide: a region full of legends and mysteries
Transylvania Travel Guide: a region full of legends and mysteries
Get to know Vlad the Impaler, visit Sibiu, Targu Mures, Sighisoara and Dracula's Castle
28 Feb 2022

A world of fairy tales dotted with valleys of pine trees, gothic forts and timeless villages, Transylvania is an eastern European region steeped in legend and mystery.

Located in the middle of verdant Romania and surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania has been in a dark corner of the human imagination for a long time.

Architecture of buildings in Transylvania, Romania / Expedia
Architecture of buildings in Transylvania, Romania / Expedia

Vlad the Impaler

Photo of Vlad the Impaler / Wikipedia
Photo of Vlad the Impaler / Wikipedia

This isolated destination is best known for being the residence of Vlad the Impaler, ruler of the state of Wallachia in the 15th century. He earned his nickname because of the gruesome means he used to get rid of his enemies, some considering the prince a national hero, others a ruthless despot.

But for Bram Stoker, a gothic novelist, he was the inspiration for one of the most famous and enduring characters in literature, Count Dracula. Dark folklore has permeated the region, but before you wear a garlic necklace around your neck, know that visitors to Transylvania discover more than just dark legends.

Sibiu Council Tower

From the Romans to the Saxons, Transylvania's many rulers left their cultural heritage behind. And the beauty of a tapestry is clearly visible on the picturesque streets of Sibiu. Standing high in the heart of the city is the Council Tower, a symbol of medieval Sibiu pride that was first built in the 13th century.

Sibiu Tower in Sibiu city, Romania / Expedia
Sibiu Tower in Sibiu city, Romania / Expedia

Piata Mare

Downstairs, you can stroll around the main square, Piata Mare, where you find the skylight known as the city's eye that seems to follow you wherever you go.

Piata Mare, the main square of the city of Sibiu, Romania / Expedia
Piata Mare, the main square of the city of Sibiu, Romania / Expedia

Where to stay?

Kastil Corvin

Follow the hills that run west, past remote hamlets and flocks, to the town of Hunedoara, where the towers and spire of Corvin Castle rise high.

Corvin Castle, the pride and wonder of Transylvania, Romania / Expedia
Corvin Castle, the pride and wonder of Transylvania, Romania / Expedia

This 15th-century Gothic-Renaissance relic is one of the wonders of Romania. However, beneath its beautiful faade, you'll discover dark secrets and hateful spirits that haunt its alleys and fortresses. Enter the room, where it is said that Vlad Tepes went mad during his seven years in prison, before appearing to spread his terror.

Corvin Castle, where Vlad Tepes is said to have been imprisoned / Expedia
Corvin Castle, where Vlad Tepes is said to have been imprisoned / Expedia

Travel north to Cluj Napoca a bustling 21st century city. Built from rocks dating back to a 2000 year old Roman fort, over the centuries, the city has grown into the elegant center of Transylvania.

Hoia Baciu Forest: haunted forest

Once you've had enough rest, drive 20 minutes west to Hoia Forest, but don't go too far off the trail.

Hoia Baciu Forest haunted forest / Expedia
Hoia Baciu Forest haunted forest / Expedia

This forest is full of stories of disappearances, UFO sightings, and strange paranormal occurrences, which has earned Hoia the nickname, the most haunted forest in the world. Once you're done ghost hunting in the forbidden forest, you can drive for two hours to the beautiful Târgu Mures.

Targu Mures Cultural Center

After experiencing war, black plague, fire, and revolution. the city has finally emerged, as a tribute to Romanian and Hungarian culture and pride.

Targu Mares cultural center in Transylvania, Romania / Expedia
Targu Mares cultural center in Transylvania, Romania / Expedia
Targu Mares cultural center in Transylvania, Romania / Expedia
Targu Mares cultural center in Transylvania, Romania / Expedia

Where to stay?

Sighisoara, hometown of Vlad the Impaler

South of Târgu Mureş, feel like stepping back in the walled city of Sighisoara, the birthplace and childhood home of Vlad the Impaler.

The atmosphere of Sighisoara, the hometown of Vlad the Impaler / Expedia
The atmosphere of Sighisoara, the hometown of Vlad the Impaler / Expedia

Stroll down the cobbled streets where future despots play, but fear not, the bright pastel colors of this beautiful city take away that eerie feeling. Discover another medieval attraction, just a two-hour drive southeast of Sighisoara. Surrounded by pine treetops in the East Carpathian Mountains, Brasov, discovered by the Teutonic Knights.

Visit the Black Church, renamed after it was burned to the ground by the Great Fire of 1689. Stroll through the square where legend says The Flute and the Hamelin Children regrouped after disappearing from Saxony, more than 1000 miles away.

The Black Church, scorched by the Great Fire of 1689 / Expedia
The Black Church, scorched by the Great Fire of 1689 / Expedia

Where to stay?

Rasnov Fortress

Continue your journey back in time on the city streets of Rasnov. Towering over the city is Rasnov Fort, a sprawling medieval fortress built to deter invading Turkic and Tatar mobs.

Rasnov Fortress / Expedia
Rasnov Fortress / Expedia
Gardens at Rasnov Fortress
Gardens at Rasnov Fortress

More than just a fort, it had gardens, homes, schools, and chapels, providing protection and entertainment during a prolonged siege.

Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle)

Seven miles from here stands Transylvania's most famous landmark, Bran Castle.

Bran Castle or Dracula Castle, the most famous landmark in Transylvania
Bran Castle or Dracula Castle, the most famous landmark in Transylvania

While it's not known for certain whether Vlad the Impaler actually lived here, the towering tower of this cliff-top tower inspired Bram Stoker as he searched for the perfect nest for his famous vampire.

And now, the relationship attracts thousands of travelers every year, who come to enjoy the views from the fort at “Dracula's Castle”.

Bran castle architecture or Dracula castle in Transylvania
Bran castle architecture or Dracula castle in Transylvania

Transylvania is one of those rare places that blurs the lines between reality, folklore and fantasy. Whether you visit to see ancient forts or remote villages in fairy tales, stunning landscapes or dark legends, Transylvania is a destination that is hard to define, and impossible to forget. Transylvania is truly immortal.

Where to stay?

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