The ultimate budget travel guide for Transylvania, Romania – A gorgeous area of Eastern Europe!
Transylvania sounds like a fictional place. Like Madagascar or Tasmania, it sounds like the name of a fairy-tale land from a book or a movie.
Believe it or not, Transylvania is a real place that you can travel to! (As are Madagascar and Tasmania!)
Transylvania is a region in central Romania full of medieval towns, castles, and fortresses.
It does actually look like a place from a fairy tale, with brightly colored houses, magnificent palaces, and layers of mountains, hills, and forests in the distance.
The region of Transylvania is bordered by the Carpathian Mountains and the Apuseni Mountains, and it is sometimes called the Heart of Romania.
What To Expect in this Budget Travel Guide to Transylvania Romania
I’m here to answer any potential questions you may have before traveling to Transylvania Romania.
How do you get to Transylvania? How do you explore Transylvania on a budget?
In this ultimate Transylvania budget travel guide, I’ll list some tips for how to travel around Transylvania, and include all the best places to visit.
Hopefully, this article inspires more people to travel to Romania!
It is an extremely charming, beautiful, and affordable country to visit in Europe, and I’d love to go back.
Check out my list of Travel Hacks For Europe for packing, planning, and money-saving tips!
The Ultimate Transylvania Romania Budget Travel Guide
Here is everything I learned about visiting Transylvania on a budget. I spent about two weeks here traveling with my boyfriend and we honestly had the best time.
So what is Transylvania known for?
It’s most known for inspiring Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel and all the vampire films that followed.
Though there are no vampires in Transylvania (that we know of), the area is currently known for its charming villages, lush forests, and historic castles and landmarks.
Check out my complete list of 50 budget travel tips for more ways to save money!
How to get to Transylvania, Romania
Getting to Transylvania is very easy. All you have to do is book a cheap flight to Romania. Most flights go to either Bucharest, the capital, or Timisoara, a lovely city in the west of the country.
I recommend flying RyanAir. Sure, you’ll have to pay a lot for extra bags, food, drinks, and printing your boarding pass at the airport. But if you’re a budget traveler with just a backpack, you’ll find insanely cheap flights.
I’m about to blow your mind: My RyanAir flight from London to Timisoara cost me 6 USD. This is the cheapest flight I have ever bought in my life! I flew over 1,000 miles for less money than a glass of wine in a bar.
Granted, I visited Romania in February, which is the dead of winter so flight prices were very cheap.
But if you’re really looking to travel Transylvania on a budget, winter is the best time to go.
Which brings me to my next point.
The Best Time to Visit Transylvania Romania
There are basically two main seasons for travel in Transylvania.
Peak season: April to October
This is when you’ll have the nicest weather. Picture bright green grass, sunny days, and an overall pleasant atmosphere in Transylvania. Attractions may be a bit more crowded.
Flight prices may go up a little during peak season, but they’ll never be too expensive. Budget airlines in Europe make it so affordable to travel to Romania.
Check Skyscanner for the cheapest flight prices around Europe! (That’s where I found my $6 flight to Timisoara)
Off Season: November to March
Winter in Romania is cold and snowy, so exploring outside isn’t as pleasant as the summertime.
Because fewer people want to travel to Romania in the winter, flight prices drop and the streets are basically empty.
For visiting Transylvania on a budget, winter will be the cheapest time to visit. There will be barely any crowds, and honestly, I think the snow makes the villages and castles look even more magical.
How to Get Around Transylvania On A Budget
Getting around Transylvania on a budget is so straightforward and easy. Europe has an amazing public transport system that, as an American, I’m constantly jealous of.
Here is a summary of how we traveled around Romania for two weeks.
Public Transport in Romania
The local train network in Romania connects every major town and city in the country. Trains in Romania are reliable, consistent, and cheap.
Check Rome2Rio for each journey you take in Romania. You can put in the two cities you want to travel between, and they’ll list all the methods of public transport and the prices. But 99% of the time, the train will be the easiest and cheapest.
To buy your train tickets in Romania, just head to the local train station and buy them from the ticket window.
During peak season, you may want to buy your tickets 1 day in advance in case the journey sells out. But during the winter, you can just buy your ticket before you board the train.
Communicating with locals
If you don’t speak Romanian, which many people in the world probably don’t, you can still get by in Transylvania. Some of the towns are quite small, so lots of the locals might not speak English.
Romanians are incredibly nice and friendly. I could never speak to them but I did my best and the locals were always helpful.
At the train stations, you can try writing down the names of the towns and the times you want to travel, or pointing to them on a map.
At restaurants and bakeries, just point to what you want on the menu or in the shop window. The locals will do their best to help you out.
Getting To Transylvania
Because the villages of Transylvania are small, you probably won’t get a cheap flight directly to the Transylvania region. As I mentioned, most flights go into either Bucharest or Timisoara.
- From Bucharest, you can take the train to Brașov and the journey is just under 4 hours.
- From Timisoara, you can take the train to Alba Iulia and the journey is just under 5 hours.
Your tickets will most likely cost under 10 Euros. Because all the train journeys are so cheap, it is so easy to travel through Transylvania on a budget.
Read next: How To Save Money For Travel
Where To Stay in Transylvania on a Budget
If you’re a solo budget traveler in Transylvania, stay in hostels. Most dorm beds cost between 10 and 20 USD per night, so they’re a little pricy for easter Europe.
If you’re traveling as a couple, I recommend Airbnb. You can get adorable homes and apartments to rent for around 20-30 USD per night, and that’s for two people.
Because this is a budget travel guide, I’ll mainly be listing hostels for each location. You can browse on Hostelworld on your own for more hostel options, or have a look on Airbnb if you’d prefer a more cozy, private stay.
The Best Places To Go In Transylvania Romania
Now that we’ve covered when to visit Transylvania and how to get around, it’s time for the best part of this Transylvania budget travel guide.
This region of central Romania is full of historic villages and majestic castles.
So for any future travelers to Romania, here are all the best places to visit in Transylvania, as well as the best things to do in each place.
Find more nearby destinations with my list of the best places to visit in Romania!
1. Alba Iulia
This town in western Transylvania will most likely be the first stop for travelers coming from Timisoara.
This isn’t a very popular town to visit in Transylvania, so you won’t find many other tourists. You only need 1 day here to explore the Old Town, the Citadel, and the stunning Orthodox Cathedral.
Best Thing To Do In Alba Iulia: Visit the Alba Carolina Citadel
This massive fortress was built in the 18th Century during the Hapsburg rule in Romania.
Its star-shaped walls are incredible and it is the largest citadel in Romania. It’s also free to enter, though you have to pay 2 Euros for the museum inside.
Best budget accommodation: There are no hostels, but Crema Residence offers private apartments and rooms for around 35 USD per night and gets amazing reviews.
Only about 2-3 hours away from Alba Iulia by train is Sibiu, one of the most gorgeous towns in Transylvania.
I actually loved Sibiu so much that I wrote an entire article about it.
Best Thing To Do In Sibiu: Explore the Old Town
Sibiu’s Old Town is incredibly picturesque, with brightly colored buildings, ornate churches, heartwarming shops, and cute cafes.
This is also where you’ll find the houses with narrow slits for windows on the roofs, so they look like eyes. That might sound creepy, but it’s actually very cool.
There are lots of old medieval walls surrounding the town center, and the main square is where you’ll find the best architecture.
Also, it is completely free to explore the Old Town, so save some money and get some exercise by just walking around as much as possible.
Best budget accommodation: Smart Hostel Sibiu
My favorite restaurant in Sibiu: Atrium Restaurant, puts a modern twist on traditional Romanian cuisine
3. Brașov & Bran Castle
Only about 3 hours from Sibiu by train is Brașov, one of the most popular towns in Transylvania.
The town center is full of captivating Gothic architecture, charming alleyways, and medieval Saxon walls from the 16th Century.
Wandering through the town is captivating, but the main reason why people visit Brașov is to take day trips to the surrounding castles and nature.
Best Things To Do in Brașov:
1. Visit Dracula’s Castle
Is there a real Dracula’s Castle? Yes! Dracula’s Castle, more formally known as Bran Castle, is only 24 km away from Brașov.
Bran Castle was used as inspiration in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, “Dracula”, but no vampires actually lived here. The Dracula story is all fictional, but Bran Castle, built in 1378, is still a fascinating landmark in Romania to visit.
You can take a cheap local bus from Brașov to Bran Castle (find more info on the Bran Castle website). The entrance fee is 60 lei for adults.
Or you can book a skip-the-line guided tour if you want to learn all the facts and history from a local guide.
2. Book a Brown Bear Watching Tour
Though this has nothing to do with medieval castles, this is one of the most popular things to do from Brașov.
Get picked up in Brașov by a local guide and head out to the Carpathian Mountains. From there, your experienced guide will help you explore the wilderness and see some wildlife, including massive brown bears, lynxes, wolves, and foxes.
This is a great way to get out in the wilderness of Romania.
For this activity, you should definitely book a tour. A guide will help keep you safe and use their knowledge to give you the best chance of seeing some bears. You can book a bear sightseeing tour here for 60 USD.
Best budget accommodation in Brașov: Centrum House Hostel
Food recommendation for Brașov: Shop at the local bakeries! They have so many delicious treats that are ridiculously cheap. I bought an entire bag of poppy seed cookies for less than 1 USD.
4. Sinaia & Peles Castle
Sinaia is a small and cozy resort town in the mountains, only about 1 hour away from Brașov.
You could visit this town as a day trip from Brașov, or spend the night.
Either way, there is one main reason travelers visit this town in Transylvania, and it’s to see Peles Castle.
Best Thing To Do In Sinaia: Tour Peles Castle
This extravagant Neo-renaissance palace built in 1873 is surrounded by lush green forest, making it look like a real Disney castle.
On the inside of Peles Castle, you’ll find rich red carpets, spacious ballrooms, glittering chandeliers, and everything you’d expect to see in a luxurious palace.
We actually had to put plastic bags on our shoes before touring the castle so we wouldn’t ruin the rugs with our muddy, common-people shoes.
The entrance fee to Peles Castle is 50 lei. If you want to tour the castle with a local guide, you can book your ticket here.
Best budget accommodation in Sinaia: Vila Sinaia 1929
Sighisoara is one of the best places to visit in Transylvania.
It is one of the region’s oldest villages, dating back to the 12th Century. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s not hard to see why.
Walking around Sighisoara is like walking through a folk tale. There are winding cobblestone streets, buildings of bright pink, green, orange and purple, towering churches and fortress walls, and an overall whimsical atmosphere.
It is easy to explore the whole town on foot, and it is a very pedestrian-friendly city. You’ll barely see any cars in the Old Town.
Best Thing To Do In Sighisoara: Climb the Clock Tower
The 13th Century Baroque-style clock tower is the main landmark in the Old Town.
There is a little museum in the tower as you climb, and you get the most amazing view of the colorful buildings and their red-tiled roofs from the top.
The entrance fee is about 3 Euros.
Best budget accommodation in Sighisoara: Burg Hostel
This is the fourth largest city in Romania, and some consider it the capital city of the Transylvania region.
Though Cluj-Napoca is a big city, it still feels small and welcoming. There are plenty of beautiful churches and cathedrals as well as some adorable shops and cafes.
Best Things To Do in Cluj-Napoca:
1. Visit Unirii Square
This is the main square of the city, and it is full of gorgeous architecture and impressive buildings. The Matthias Corvinus Statue and St. Michael’s Church are the main landmarks of the square.
2. Relax in Cetățuia Park
This lovely green space near the city center makes a great place to stroll around or have a picnic.
You can also climb the nearby Fortness Hill for a nice view over the city. I recommend coming here at sunset or sunrise for the best lighting.
Best budget accommodation in Cluj-Napoca: Transylvania Hostel
Food recommendations in Cluj-Napoca: Zama for traditional Romania food, and Samsara Teahouse for drinking loose leaf tea on comfy floor cushions surrounded by psychedelic paintings.
Additional Travel Tips for Transylvania Romania:
Most visitors to Romania don’t need a visa for a stay of fewer than 30 days.
But it’s worth visiting iVisa.com to check if your nationality requires a visa.
I always recommend trying a work exchange when you travel! You get to work for free accommodation, meaning you save money, have cool work experiences, and get to make friends.
Check out my guide to work exchange for more info.
If you decide to try it out, my promo code GABBY saves you $10 on a Worldpackers membership!
You should probably get travel insurance before traveling to Romania. Transylvania is an incredibly safe place to visit, but you never know what could happen.
I recommend Squaremouth Insurance. You can find affordable travel insurance plans that suit your needs, and they have a great live chat for asking questions online.
I like to travel with only emergency medical coverage, and they have cheap plans that do exactly that.
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Budget Travel Guide for Transylvania Romania: Wrap Up
I feel incredibly lucky to have walked the charismatic streets of these gorgeous Transylvanian towns, and I think more people should consider Romania when touring Europe.
The colorful Old Towns and magnificent architecture rival that of western Europe yet the cheap prices make this country extremely affordable.
I enjoyed every moment of this journey. From taking scenic train rides to browsing through foreign grocery stores. From getting lost while searching for our Airbnbs, to embracing the occasional snow flurries.
I was wise for putting Transylvania Romania on my bucket list, and I am thrilled to have finally made it to this magical destination.
For other travel articles about Eastern Europe, check out these links:
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