Cheapest way to get to Bran and Dracula’s Castle from Brasov
Most people that go to Bran town and Dracula’s Castle are usually coming in from Brasov. You can of course get a taxi and pay through the roof, or you can opt to take the more folkloric route which is how the locals would, by bus.
The buses that will take you from Brasov to Bran leave from Auto Gara 2. There are 2 ways to get there:
1. Walk to Autogara 2
You can walk from Brasov’s old town to Autogara 2, which will take you around 30 minutes. I would recommend to either go walk at least on your way to, or on the way back so you can get a feel for the “real” Brasov. Most tourists/visitors only see the old center and have no idea that Brasov is quite a big city, with a life of its own.
2. Accept the challenge of using Romanian public transportation and take the local bus to Autogara 2
Romanian public transportation explained
In order to get local Brasov bus tickets you will first need to master this machine:
And yes, it’s as unfriendly as it looks. On top of that, it uses a version of English that will leave your head scratching a few times in terms of word usage and its many misspelled words (I personally find that a bit cute to be honest).
This machine does not sell one way tickets (for reasons unbeknownst to anyone) so you will need to get the minimum of 2 rides to play. This will cost around 5 lei for two segments. Once you get your ticket (a flimsy rice paper thin piece of printed paper) you are set! You will immediately notice it has 2 blank sections on both ends. You will need to “validate” your ticket once you enter the bus by inserting one end into the machine, and it will look like this:
The buses that will take you to Autogara 2 are buses #22, #41, and #16. Bus #5 will also take you close but you will have to walk around 800 meters. Once there it will look like this (there is no flashy neon sign displaying “Autogara 2”):
Buses depart every hour on the hour:
The bus takes a little under an hour and it will make stops along the way.
Even though there will be no question as to what the main attraction of Bran Village is, this is a very quaint little village with a surprisingly pleasant ambiance. Many use Bran as a base to exploring the Transylvanian Alps. You can set off of on countless hikes up the many mountains and forests in thew area as well as some pretty cool ATV tours (quad bikes).
Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle)
And now for the main dish, Dracula’s Castle! OK, ok, ok, there is no “proof” this is actually Dracula’s castle or any evidence this was the castle featured in Bram Stoker’s Dracula…but…there has been a “universal agreement” we will go with the story that this is as close as we are going to get to Dracula’s Castle in real life…so let’s go with that 🙂
When I first arrived, I have to admit I cringed as to how touristy this place was and my first reaction was “Oh no….”. It had all the markings of a tourist trap and then some. But as soon as you are past the admission gate (45 Lei) you very quickly get submerged into the very genuine atmosphere provided by Bran Castle.
For starters, it’s a really beautiful castle with gorgeous gardens that are truly worth a walk around.
Once you’ve had a good look at the gardens, and the beautiful view of the castle on top of the hill, make your way up. As you enter you will see a series of portraits including the man himself Vlad Tepes. The whole route is very well laid out so you don’t miss a thing. I have to say I really appreciated how they maintained the delicate balance between the reality of Bran Castle and the legends surrounding it.
You will initially be walked though the actual history of Queen Maria, King Ferdinand, and the rest of the royal family, including all the major historical highlights associated with the time period. You will certainly get a true feel of how it would have been to live there during that time as you walk through all the private rooms (including their sleeping chambers, music rooms, etc.) which gives the visit a very intimate and personal feel.
As you wind through the many many many rooms, the visit gets more interesting as you venture along. You will be “invited” to witness an exchange between Vlad Tepes and some poor merchants who dared go against his wishes; it’s a pretty compelling scene. We are not told exactly what happens to them, but the nickname “Vlad the Impaler” should help you fill in the blanks. In this same room you also have a wonderfully detailed family tree of all of Vlad Tepes’ descendants.
Once you are past the Vlad Tepes themed chambers, you get to what became my favorite part of the whole visit. Turns out, Dracula is not the only worldwide famous myth this castle serves up, as you get acquainted with Werewolves, The Grim Reaper, Moartea, and my (now) all time favorites, the Santoaderi and the Iele.
The final segment of the visit is an optional one, the Time Tunnel. At the end of the walking tour you have the option of taking a lift down to a dungeon like tunnel with a pretty cool digital representation (with moving images) of the history of the castle.
Certainly worth the trip, I would totally recommend this experience! I have been to so many European castles that leave me with a feeling of….”what was the point of this?” But I left this castle feeling I had been rewarded with a ton of new knowledge and history about a character and a series of myths and legends that (I know now) I didn’t know much about.
Getting back to Brasov
The same spot where you got off on the way in (green circle), will be the same spot -but on the other side of the street- that will have your pick up spot for your return trip (red circle). It’s not very clearly marked, but it will be here:
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