Ever since Dick Smith composed the lyrics of the famous Winter Wonderland song in 1934, when he admired the sparkling snow that covered the trees in a park, since then the frenzy began to look for places that represent winter magic, especially in a natural setting. In terms of beautiful landscapes, during winter more than ever, Transylvania becomes a real winter wonderland for tourists from all over the world.
But no matter how beautiful the scenery is, the real charm of this region lies in the diversity of activities that can be carried out in winter, from winter sports, to visiting beautiful castles, hiking on mountain roads and much more. So, if you want to discover the winter magic in Transylvania, here are some suggestions that might help you.
Experience royal life at Peles Castle
It may be a bit of exaggerating, but the Peles Castle does impress through its sumptuous interiors and exquisite art collections, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because it used to be a residence of the former Romanian royal family. Many events and exhibitions are dedicated to royal family life, so it’s a good way to find out more about this piece of Romanian history.
Not only the interior is impressive, but also the gardens. The Royal Park and Gardens contain many species of trees, shrubs and unique floral plants in Romania, some planted more than 120 years ago. Here you can see remarkable specimens of red beech, Turkish hazel, Japanese maple, Nootka cypress or Japanese pendant cherry. In addition, the beautiful statues seem to watch impassive the people visiting the castle, with their cold stone eyes, that have seen so much. Imagine all that, but covered in snow!
During the winter season, the visiting schedule for the Peles Castle is the following:
- Monday as Tuesdays the castle is closed
- Wednesdays the castle is open between 11 – 16.15
- From Thursdays until Sundays the castle is open between 9.15 – 16.15
If you want to also visit the nearby Pelisor Castle, the schedule is the same.
Entrance fees are 30 LEI for the base exhibit and 60 LEI for an optional tour. Special rates are available for students, children and seniors. Additional fees are in order for photos and videos.
Go sightseeing in Brasov’s Old Town
On cold winter evenings and nights the city is quieter and friendlier with those who appreciate to take a walk. The sparkling snow highlights the facades of the buildings, the roofs of the houses, better said the entire architecture of Brasov. You just have to dress properly and enjoy the city atmosphere.
The medieval fortifications, which surround the Old Town, were built during the 13th and 19th centuries to protect the inhabitants of Brasov from invaders. The fortifications are guarded by two forested hills, the Warthe hill in the north and the Tampa hill in the southeastern part. At the base of each hill there are promenade areas and recreational facilities along the walls of the fortress – Dupa Ziduri Alley in the Warthe area, respectively the alley under Tampa in the south-eastern part.
In the heart of the medieval fortress of Brasov there is the Council Square, probably the best known and most visited place in the city, a meeting point for friends, a pedestrian zone for relaxation and recreation. Here you will find everything you need to spend a cold winter day: terraces, cafes, restaurants and shops. Typically, there are various artistic cultural events, outdoor concerts and thematic fairs held in the city’s main square.
Find out more about the legends of the Bran Castle
Probably the most notorious figure connected with Bran’s history is Vlad Tepes, the inspiration behind Dracula’s character from Bram Stoker’s novel with the same name. Although there is no written evidence that Vlad Tepes ever lived at Bran, it is very possible that the Romanian ruler had passed through this place in his wanderings through Transylvania. In the fifteenth century the Bran passage was a crossing point from Wallachia to Transylvania. This was the place where Saxon merchants from Brasov came to Targoviste.
There is also a lesser known legend about the Bran Castle, but it’s not supported by historic documents, just passed as a tale from elders. According to the legend, centuries ago, an outlaw named Bucur, would have fallen in love with the girl of the castle’s keeper. The later was not delighted when he learned that Marta, his daughter and the bandit had fled together and hid in the mountains, at a sheepfold in the Valley of Zbarcioara. So, he mobilized mercenaries who went to recover the fugitives. A merchant whom Bucur had robbed in the past, revealed the place where he was hiding. The castle’s men have reached the sheepfold. There was a big fight, but Bucur became the winner. He was merciful and didn’t kill them, so the people sent by Bran’s castle keeper became his henchmen. Along with them, the outlaw assaulted the castle and conquered it, at least for a short period of time.
If the legends are not enough to keep you interested, you can also venture on a hiking tour which will bring you to some of the most charming mountain villages near Bran.
Visit the medieval town of Sighisoara
This medieval city in Transylvania certainly has a special charm during winter. It’s also worth mentioning that the historical center of Sighisoara was included in the UNESCO World Heritage.
The fortress is built on two “floors”, the upper one being the Church on the Hill and the School, and at the base are the buildings of the fortress. The wall was built in the fourteenth century, with a height between 4 and 14 meters, having in place defensive towers belonging to various handcraft guilds. Of the 14 towers originally built today, only 9, most importantly the symbol of Sighisoara, are still standing today. The town’s symbol is the Clock Tower with 7 figurines representing the days of the week.
Spend the night at freezing temperatures at the Ice Hotel
The Balea Ice Hotel is built every year during the cold season and has only a limited number of rooms. Tourists staying here have special beds to keep them warm during the nights spent inside a building made of ice. However, only the most courageous ones risk sleeping in such a hotel. The hotel also features a restaurant with a bar where everything is served on tables and chairs made from ice. For those who don’t find experiencing a frosty night too appealing, there are other ways to spend time at Balea, especially for winter sports fans.
Winter magic as its best in Sibiu
Finally, Sibiu, is another destination that you shouldn’t miss during winter in Transylvania. British journalists from The Guardian included Sibiu in a top of European winter destinations for 2016, along with other cities in Croatia, Norway or Poland.
Sibiu was created for romantic winter escapades: full of snow, with cobbled streets, medieval buildings and a tradition of embellishing the city with festive lights. It’s a great city for walking and discovering medieval buildings where food and drinks are served.
British journalists recommend tourists a winter break in Sibiu, where they can taste some delicious traditional dishes and make a trip in time among the medieval buildings of the Transylvanian city.
The publication also recommends the most beautiful sights in Sibiu, including the Big Square, the Liar’s Bridge and St. Mary’s Evangelical Cathedral.
If the suggestions above sounding tempting, you should know that you can visit and experience them all during our special Winter tour of Transylvania. And if you need other ideas for a winter tour in Romania, don’t hesitate to contact us regarding our Romania guided tours.