Romania – Our 7-day road trip in Transylvania (with children)

 We had a family adventure to arrange…after last years’ trip to Iceland and Slovenia choosing a location was proving very tricky. We wanted somewhere off the beaten track, with fewer tourists, a short haul flight, and somewhere that wouldn’t cost the earth.

 We considered Norway, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Croatia but finally settled on Romania. If you too are looking to plan a holiday to this beautiful country, please see below our 7-day itinerary with children.

Day 1 - London to Bucharest - Premium Car Rentals -Predeal

We were looking for somewhere away from the crowds so rather than head to Bucharest, the capital city, we decided to head 2 hours north to the town of Predeal. Predeal is centrally located and as the highest town in Romania offers some great views. We booked an apartment that was a short walk from the town centre with its selection of restaurants, but not alot else.

Predeal, the view from our apartment

Day 2 - Dinoparc Rasnov - Rasnov Fortress (Cetatea Rasnov)

Rasnov is a town in Brasov County and is famous for the fortress that dominates the skyline, it’s also the location of Dinoparc Rasnov. We headed here first and the children had a great morning playing on the high ropes and seeing the dinosaurs. We were amazed at how inexpensive it was, you could easily spend 4-5hrs here.

 Rasnov Fortress is a short walk away, up a steep hill. A land train is available for a small fee. By this time the children were flagging so we had a few temper tantrums during our walk around the grounds. The view from the top is amazing so remember your camera.

Rasnov Fortress / Dinoparc Rasnov
 Day 3 - Bran Castle - Valea Cetatii Cave

 No trip to Transylvania is complete without a visit to Dracula’s Castle, so we headed back up the winding 73A road, past Rasnov to the city of Bran. We had been pre-warned that it would be busy, so we were not surprised to see a queue already forming at the castle gates. As the castle was not opening until 11am we decided to head off for a spot of brunch and go back a little later. By the time we returned the queue had subsided and we paid our entrance fee.

 Bran Castle is said to be the inspiration for the Bram Stoker story, but the truth is that it is the only castle in Transylvania that fits the description in the book. Vlad Dracul (the Impaler) may never have set foot in the castle but this doesn’t stop the tourists from visiting.

 The castle takes a few hours to walk around and there are some great views to be had but the crowds of people meant we were soon itching to leave

 A few miles away from Rasnov, on the same road as the DinoParc is a cave, Valea Cetatii and we figured, as we were in the area, we may as well check it out. It’s a quick tour and the guide kindly translated as best she could, it made a nice end to the day.

Bran Castle - no vampires in sight
Day 4 - Libeary Bear Sanctuary – Viscri – Sighisoara

 We had read about the bears of Romania and had originally planned to try and see them in the wild. Bear watching trips are available to book from Brasov but with M being only 6 she was too young. Instead, we contacted the Libearty Bear Sanctuary and arranged a visit. The bear sanctuary is open 6 mornings a week and tickets need to be booked in advance from the website (see below). It is home to 99 bears, some wolves, and deer. All animals have been rescued and brought to the sanctuary for a better life. The tour starts with a short video that details the work of the sanctuary, most bears are rescued from private owners or zoos in Romania and around the world. The tour guide told us about the horrific situations the bears had come from, some were rescued from the tourist industry where they were made to perform and beaten and mutilated to ensure conformity. This truly was an emotional experience, but it was great to see the bears living in the freedom they so deserve.

 After the sanctuary, we headed north to our next accommodation in Sighisoara. On route, we stopped off at the traditional Saxon village of Viscri.  Whilst Viscri was mentioned in some of the tourist guides it was not a place set up for tourism and we felt a little out of place walking amongst the traditional villagers. After a short visit to the Viscri fortified church, we headed off to Sighisoara and our apartment for the next 2 nights.
Libearty Bear Sanctuary
Day 5 -Sighisoara - The Clocktower - Scare Acorperita

 Today was our only full day in Sighisoara so we set off on foot to explore the city. Our apartment was a short walk away from the old town with cobbled streets and colourful buildings it’s an easy place to fall in love with. We, however, had children.” Is this it?” “it’s just some stairs” and “another building” were just a few of the phrases we heard more than once during our day. Cities such as Sighisoara do not really cater to computer game-obsessed tweens however we made the most of it by climbing the clock tower and exploring the quaint little stores.

Sighisoara - A beautiful city

Day 6 – Brasov - Tampa Cable Car - Rope Street (Strada Sforii)

 This was the part of the trip that we hadn’t planned, back home in the UK we had looked at possibly heading southwest from Sighisoara to the mountains and Balea Glacier Lake. Whilst I was up for taking the winding Transfagarasan Highway we had heard that it may be closed until June and we still had Brasov to visit.

 Brasov is one of the most visited places in Romania, framed by the Carpathian Mountains and filled with Gothic architecture it isn’t difficult to see why it is so popular.

 Unfortunately, we arrived quite late in the day, so our tour was a little rushed. We had found an apartment the night before that was a short walk from the city square but due to the one-way system, it took us a little longer to locate. We dropped off the car and set off on foot to explore the city. This is when the children spotted a park. Having been exposed to so much architecture the day before we figured they deserved to unwind a little, we spent our first hour in Brasov chasing the children around the various play equipment until it was time for lunch.

 The city square has a great variety of restaurants with vendors selling snacks, hot dogs and hand made ice cream. Much like Rasnov, the skyline is dominated by a Hollywood style sign, but Brasov has the advantage of a cable car to take you there.

 After a short walk to the base of Tampa mountain, we took the cable car to the top. Apparently, bears can be spotted in the woodland but we were not so lucky. At the top is a small café and just a short walk away is a viewing platform behind the BRASOV sign.

 Another apparent tourist attraction that we felt the need to check out is Strada Sforii / Rope street. I will allow you to make up your own mind on this, but I will leave you with our children’s opinion “It’s an alleyway”

Brasov and Tampa Mountain
Day 7 - 7 Ladders Canyon (Canionul Sapte Scari) – Bucharest

 It was our last full day and whilst we needed to start heading toward Bucharest we wanted to see some more of this beautiful countryside. I had heard about a gorge that was close to Brasov with ladders to climb and a gushing waterfall. The only problem was it may not be suitable for younger children, we decided to check it out anyway. The walk starts in a very rocky carpark with a flowing stream. Emily kindly agreed to allow us boys to explore alone so we set off in the rain to the start of the canyon. This 45 min walk takes you past a stream, waterfalls and some amazing picnic areas. There is a small fee to enter the canyon, but it is well worth it. We joined a small queue of 10 or so people but these soon spread out and we had the canyon to ourselves. Each part of the canyon is separated by a set of vertical ladders and a platform, there is no safety harness and we really had to watch our step in some places. This is definately not suitable for young children, or the faint-hearted, but so worth it.

 In total, the walk took around 3-hours, and this included a 30 mins stop off on the way back to play on the zip line that follows the path back to the car park

 We met up with the girls, who had spent their morning exploring the lowlands and drinking coffee and headed off to our final hotel in Bucharest.

7 Ladders Canyon
Day 8 -Therme Bucheresti - Flight home

 It was our last morning in Romania and we had some fun planned. Therme is a swimming complex where the water is heated by thermal water from deep underground. It is divided up into 3 areas with palm trees, hot tubs, steam rooms, and waterslides. The children were not excited by the palm trees.

 With a 4pm flight we had around 3 hours to spend here and this was plenty of time for a couple of goes on each slide. M loved the smaller slides and with at least 6 that were suitable for younger children. C was in his element with the inflatable tube slides and with very little queues we fitted a lot into our allocated time. With its various cafes and outdoor bars it reminded us alot of Iceland.

Our time in Romania was over and the hire car returned. We had just enough time for a last-minute lunch at the airport before we said our goodbyes and headed back to reality.

Therme Bucharesti

Costs (May 2019)

* Conversions based on 1 Lei = £0.189

The fortified church at Viscri

Viscri and some goods for sale

The view from Rasnov Fortress

The drive to the Libearty Bear Sanctuary


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