The city of Brasov, Romania surprised me in so many different ways. We only planned on staying for a few weeks but we ended up staying for over a month and a half! I said repeatedly my first week there, I can’t believe this is Romania! The city is gorgeous, people are friendly, everyone speaks a high level of English and to top it all of it is one of the cheapest cities we have traveled too! These are not the adjectives I would have thought to describe Romania before traveling there.
If you are looking for an Eastern European get-away I cannot recommend Brasov enough. Of all the places I have visited in Romania, this is my favorite. It is a small enough city that you can easily “do” it in a weekend, but it is an exciting enough city that if you want to stay longer you won’t get bored!
Getting to Brasov
There is no airport in or near Brasov so you will have to fly into either Bucharest or Sibiu and take a train/bus/private transfer. Trains are cheap but on the slow side! The train station is about a 15 minute drive from the train center. Don’t be ripped off by taxi drivers! They say there is a “flat fee” to the city and will try and charge you twice the amount. Brasov does have Uber, which won’t cost you more than 2-3 dollars anywhere you want to go in the city.
Where to Eat
I eat out very little, this is one of the best ways to save money while traveling! There is a big grocery store, Billa right outside of Old Town if you want to make your own food though dining out is inexpensive here. These were our favorites in town.
The only authentic Romanian food we have and it was great! There are two locations very close together, the original on Strada Michael Weiss and one right in the old town square. I ordered the polenta which was amazing and COVERED in cheese, just the way I like it. Sam got a meat pie. Both were great and so filling!
Vegetarians and vegans! This is your restaurant. Romania isn’t exactly a vegetarian paradise but Simone offers really nice veggie (and non veggie!) meals and pleasant atmosphere.
This was our last meal in Brasov and it had me wishing we had tried it much earlier! The staff is so kind and helpful, and they speak perfect English! We ordered a blue cheese and chili jam burger, a brie and blueberry jam burger and a peanut butter chocolate milkshake. I have only good things to say, it was a very solid burger. All burgers come with homemade crispy chips!
Just an amazing selection of donuts. They come in many different flavors and the colors are so pretty! My favorite was a white chocolate raspberry filled one. The decor looks like a vintage American donut shop.
Cafes are plentiful, every one we went to at least had decent to very good coffee and great wifi. The menus are extensive and usually include specialty drinks, hot chocolates and cocktails.
There is a lot of buzz about Cafeteca having the best coffee in town, and it is pretty damn good. We ended up spending a lot of time there, the best part is you could order large drinks! I go through a small cappuccino too quickly, so this was perfect when I wanted to stay and relax for a while! There specialty drinks are very good too, but beware, they are sugary!
This is on one of the coolest cafes I’ve been too, anywhere! The interior is set up like an old pharmacy, you can see mortar and pestles and old lab equipment all over the shelves. They have medical remedy drinks for all of your ailments, only problem is that they don’t have an English menu! I saw the word “anxietate” on the menu and could only assumed it helped with anxiety. I must say, I did feel pretty good after drinking it! The coffee is amazing and like most places in Brasov they have a huge selection of drinks!
Croitoria De Cafea
This cafe is about a 10 minute walk from old town but don’t let that discourage you! We only made it to this cafe once but our barista was so knowledgeable about coffee and you could feel her passion. She told us about all of the beans she had and made us a killer flat white! It’s high on my list of best coffees in Brasov. If you are spending more time in the city, this cafe is not to be missed.
Hof tastes and feels like home to me! The interior is minimalist and very bright. They have a big selection of drinks and I personally think they had my favorite cappuccino in town. The coffee reminds me of Stumptown coffee roasters, it has a strong and more bitter flavor. Hof also hosts theatre and music performances.
Do yourself a favor and get the macadamia nut latte. I have been craving it everyday still! The cafe itself is really small but they have to go coffee which is still a rare thing in this part of the world. The staff is very kind, as we started going often and the drinks started getting cheaper 😉
The Tea Lounge
Huge selection of tea, but no English Menu. The menu is categorized by type of tea, which is in English. so deciding what you want isn’t too difficult. I went for the Yoga Chai and the Bombay Chai, both were fantastic. Sam got a Moroccan Dream tea once which was aggressively minty and amazing. Every tea pot comes with a massive shortbread cookie on the side!
The only thing we ordered here were there Madness Shakes, which is ice cream/chocolate/various toppings over a big mug of either coffee or a milkshake. My favorite one was a million toppings thrown over a strawberry milkshake. They are expensive for Brasov standards at about 5 dollars each.I have an insatiable sweet tooth but these still gave me a sugar high!
Where to Drink
Like many places in Romania, stepping into Festival is like stepping back in time. The interior is gorgeous, dripping with art nouveau style design. The menu is on a newspaper! I ordered a boozy hot chocolate and it was beyond great! We tried to order dirty martinis here and they had no idea what we were talking about! So they let Sam go behind the bar and show them how its done. Drinks are very well priced, a few rounds of cocktails came to about 15 dollars.
We only visited this place in our last weeks in Brasov because they open up the entire front of their building to the old town square so you can drink al fresco on a beautiful day. The interior is SO over the top! Purple and gold under lighting, naked baby frescos, giant lion door knockers on all of the chairs, roman columns…they threw it all in one restaurant! But it’s in an amazing location and is a great stop to get some drinks. The beer selection is very standard but the location and outdoor seating cannot be beat.
This restaurant immediately caught my eye. Again, it has many different design influences, bordering over the top, but the interior is filled with gorgeous plants and greenery! I felt like I was back in the jungle! It is pretty expensive for Brasov standards but the wine and food are both excellent.
Wonderful date night spot! The interior is cozy and intimate, with dim lighting and vaulted ceilings you feel like you are in a vintage wine cellar! Albert has a nice wine selection and drinks selection. It makes for a romantic evening! We never tried the food but I’ve heard very good things.
Bibliotech was the first place in Brasov we accidentally got drunk. You know one of those nights with good intentions, we were on our way to go get some food shopping done and we stoped in for an innocent drink. Next thing you know we are trying to dance on tables and get McDonalds to deliver fried cheese bites. Anyway.. BIbliotech has a massive drinks and food menu. I recommend drinking on the third floor, it is covered in a huge skylight with a lovely view of the mountain and red roofs that are all throughout old town.
Ok this was my favorite of all place in Brasov in general, I have only good things to say! It is open early and it stays open late. It was able to accommodate my 8 am coffee and my 2 am beers, both with an amazingly friendly staff! They have an english menu and a great selection of delicious beers/cocktails and coffee. I never tried the food but whenever I saw a sandwich being run to a table I was tempted. Also Tipograf plays the best music in town!
What to do
Walk Around the City Walls
Brasov is a beautiful walled city – however, you lose that perspective when you spend all of your time inside the walls themselves. Get yourself out there and walk along the Tampa promenade. Not only is it a gorgeous walk filled with dog walkers but you really get an appreciation of the city.
Walk Up the Hill to Brasov Sign
You can’t miss the Hollywood style Brasov sign that looms over the city – and while admittedly we thought it was a bit cheesy when we first arrived – it’s a fixture of the city and does grow on you! It stands on the top of Tampa mountain and there are some great hikes all the way to the top – bring some water though, it’s a steep incline – or just take the cable car.
People flock to Transylvania from far and wide because of the legend that is attached to the area. Unfortunately – because the real life ‘Dracula’, Vlad Tepes, is still considered a national hero, there isn’t a lot of vampire tourism. However, Bran Castle is fantastic – generally agreed to be the inspiration for Bram Stokers Dracula’s castle – it’s an incredible place that has to be on your list. It is easy to get to from Brasov, the bus station is about a 15 minute taxi ride or 30 minute walk away from the city and for less than 2 dollars you can buy a bus ticket to the castle. The bus ride is about 45 minutes.
Walk Up to the Fortress
On the other side of the city across form the Brasov sign, is the Brasov Citadel – from the city centre it’s only a short, pleasant walk up a hill which conveniently takes you past Galleria, one of Brasov’s good cafes. The opening times are extremely sporadic and not listed online but the views from the top and the walk around the fortress make the climb worth it.
Brasov and Bran may steal the headlines but a short half day trip to nearby Rasnov is also worth doing! You can take a funicular up to the top or a strange ‘pumpkin patch’ style tractor ride. Although the insides of the fortress aren’t as well preserved as other castles nearby there is a real sense of history to the place. Try your hand an axe throwing and archery as well, it’s only a dollar!
This cinema plays old movies or cult classics, completely for free! The screen is fairly small but it is a fun and free way to spend the evening. They play all movies in their original language with Romanian subtitles. It is about a 10 minute walk outside of old town.
Romania is an unheralded place in Europe for skiing, and while there is nothing like the alps, the slopes that lie just a 20-minute bus ride from Brasov are fantastic! Poina Brasov has a variety of Blue, Red and Black runs all set in some breath-taking surroundings. However the best part of Poina may be the price. With a day ski pass costing just $15 And rental being $10 you can enjoy the day and not worry about the pricetag.