Five things... to do in Brasov, Romania
Thinking of a trip to Transylvania in Romania? Brasov, the gateway to the Carpathians, is the perfect place to base yourself if you plan to explore this glorious region, and the city is itself a fantastic and fascinating place to spend time. Here are five things you shouldn’t miss:
The Brasov Visit Ticket
There are so many small museums in Brasov that it’s almost impossible to choose which might be the most interesting to you: which are worth the ticket price? Luckily in Brasov it’s possible to buy a multiple use ticket that lasts for 90 days – the Brasov Visit Ticket. Available online, the ticket includes one entry to 11 attractions in the area for around 50 lei – less than £10! At that price, you can visit everything and not worry about how much each ticket costs! The ticket gets you:
The Black Church
Museum of Ethnography Brasov
The Museum of Urban Civilization
Brasov County Museum of History (Casa Sfatului)
Bastion of the Weavers
Muresenilor House Museum Brasov
Stefan Baciu House Museum Brasov
The First Romanian School Museum
Brasov Art Museum
Ethnographic Museum Sacele
Museum of Ethnography Gheorghe Cernea Rupea
The last two are out of town, but the nine city sites are more than worth the cost. We particularly recommend the Black Church, the Museum of Ethnography, and the Bastion of the Weavers (Bastionul Tesatorilor), but they all have something interesting to show.
Ride the Cable Car to Tampa
I love a city with a cable car for those days you want a view and some nature, but you really can’t be bothered with slogging up a steep path. The cable car in Brasov runs from the park ‘Sub Tampa’ to nearly the top of the hill – the actual top is up beyond the Brasov sign, a short walk away. For 15 lei one way it’s a good way to access all the hikes from the top of Tampa, including the popular path back to town under the cable car route. Or you can pay 25 lei and take it both ways, maybe with a short walk to see the views and a drink at the café at the top. The views from the platform by the Brasov sign are absolutely worth it, out over the city and across the plain to the mountains beyond. It's also a good way to see 16th century Brasov Citadel on a hill opposite Tampa – the complex is currently closed though it is expected to open in 2023, so seeing it from afar, dominating the Medieval townscape is the way to go.
Brasov, also historically know as Kronstadt or Corona (the town of the crown), was founded by the Transylvanian Saxons who were invited to settle by the Hungarian kings in the 13th century. The cuisine therefore mixes German, Hungarian and also Ottoman influences in a Romanian way, and in Brasov you can eat your way through history. For a German feast, head to Am Rosenanger for a pork knuckle with sauerkraut or an enormous schnitzel (they are bigger than my head!). Try a goulash in Sergiana for a Hungarian taste, or the Sarmale (cabbage wrapped mince) which have an Ottoman influence. At La Ceaun try a soup with smoked pork, a traditional Romanian dish. Finish with Papanasi, cheese doughnuts covered in sour cream and blueberries which are completely delicious but hard on the arteries. Wash it all down with Romanian wines. A nice walk around the city will be required after this gastronomic tour!
Walk the towers and explore the historic town
In pretty much every museum in Brasov, you’re going to hear about the Guilds which once ran the city and upon which the wealth of the area was built. Following your visit to the Bastion of the Weavers, which has a cool 3D map showing the medieval form of the city, take a walk and discover the remaining bastions and fortifications that protected the old town. The most prominent and unique is the 15th century White Tower (Turnul Alb) on the northern slopes which was once maintained by the Guild of Copper and Tin Workers. Just be careful how you choose to get to it – the quick way is up some brutally steep steps which are not for the faint hearted!
After you have checked out the fortifications, delve into the city where the age and history of Brasov is displayed through the architecture and old streets. Walk along the Rope Street (Strada Sforii), allegedly one of the narrowest streets in Europe, which was built as a fire access in the 17th century. Take in the beautiful historic buildings on Piata George Enescu, named for the famous Romanian composer. Finish with a drink in the Council Square (Piata Sfatului). It’s not difficult to step back in time and imagine how it would have been in Medieval times.
Tales of Communism
Don’t rush your visit to the brilliant Tales of Communism, as you’ll want to spend time reading the many stories pinned to the walls throughout this interactive exhibition. You make your way through a typical house occupied by a middle-class family during the Communist rule. You can open doors, play the piano, and generally get interactive, whilst reading the tales of how people lived, suffered and survived. Some are funny, some are uplifting, many are absolutely harrowing; this place will really make you think. This is very recent history compared to the Medieval focus of other museums – Ceaușescu was executed, and Communism in Romania collapsed in 1989 – and it is sobering to know that some of these things happened within my lifetime.
Not just a museum, the site also houses a café in which you can try typical Communist-era snacks and a shop where amongst other things you can buy a Communist era postcard to send to your nearest and dearest. Well curated and creative, this place is a must see.
Bastion of the Weavers
View from the Tampa Cable Car
Schnitzel at Am Rosenanger
Piata Sfatului - the main town square
Tales of Communism