Total distance (approximate): 1,580 km (982 miles)
Total driving time (approximate): 27 hours
Recommended number of days travelling: 7
Day One: Bucharest – Sibiu
Distance: 280 kilometres (173 miles)
Travel time: 4h 30min
Sibiu is Romania’s most charming and romantic city. The wonderful baroque architecture, the marvellous squares and the picturesque coloured houses are just fascinating. Take a walk in its old centre and visit the Romanian Art Gallery, located in the stunning baroque Blue House. While wandering around Sibiu’s Little Square and Huet Square, take your time to admire the majestic Gothic Evangelical Church and be careful while crossing the Lies Bridge. The bridge allegedly shudders every time someone tells a lie while traversing it. Capture the views of Sibiu from the Council Tower’s upper terrace and enjoy the splendid panorama that reveals before your eyes.
Day Two: Sibiu – Alba Iulia – Turda – Cluj
Distance: 175 kilometres (109 miles)
Travel time: 2h 40min
From Sibiu, take the road that goes north towards Cluj Napoca. But before getting to Cluj, stop in Alba Iulia. The city where the 1918 union of Transylvania with Romania was declared, Alba Iulia is considered the spiritual capital of Romania. The National Union Museum and Union Hall can be found inside the outstanding Alba Iulia citadel, the largest in the country. The star-shaped citadel was erected in the 18th century by the Austrians and boasts some strikingly beautiful sculpted gates. If you get there before noon, you can take watch the amazing show of the guard change.
Last stop before Cluj, the Turda Salt Mine, considered the ‘Coolest Underground Place on Earth‘. The salt mine is a unique attraction at 120 metres (400 feet) underground, featuring an amphitheatre that hosts concerts, a Ferris wheel and several playgrounds.
European Youth Capital in 2015, Cluj Napoca is a dynamic city and the art capital of the country, brimming with art galleries. A walk in the city centre will reveal a quirky mix of architectural styles, from the monumental Gothic church of Saint Michael to the impressive oriental-style of the Orthodox Cathedral to the Art Nouveau building of the theatre and opera. If you like laying on the grass, don’t miss the Central Park, the green heart of the city. For a panoramic view over the city, go up on the Cetățuia Hill and let yourself be surprised by the city’s charm.
Day Three: Cluj – Săpânța – Bârsana
Distance: 235 kilometres (146 miles)
Travel time: 4h 30min
Day three is dedicated to Maramureș, the region where traditions have won over technology. First stop, the village of Săpânța and its out-of-the-ordinary Merry Cemetery. A creation of the local folk artist Stan Ioan Pătraș, the unusual cemetery displays unrivalled painted crosses featuring satirical epitaphs that reveal messages from the deceased to the living.
In Bârsana, the wooden heritage of the region is shown off at the Bârsana Monastery, built following the traditional architecture of the tall wooden churches of Maramureș and exhibiting a particular beauty. Bârsana is also home to the artisan Teodor Bârsan, who carves exceptional wooden gates and objects, carrying on the local heritage.
Day Four: Bârsana – Voroneț
Distance: 265 kilometres (165 miles)
Travel time: 4h 30min
From Maramureș, head east towards Bucovina and the village of Voroneț. While the region is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage, painted churches, the one in Voroneț is truly spectacular. Called the ‘Sistine Chapel of the East’, the Voroneț church is covered in magnificent frescoes depicting religious themes inspired by Byzantine art and local beliefs. Similar churches can be found in the villages of Humor, Sucevița, and Moldovița. Moldovița village also houses the Painted Eggs Museum, where the exquisite work of Lucia Condrea is exhibited.
Day Five: Voroneț – Piatra Neamț – Bicaz Gorges – Sighișoara
Distance: 306 kilometres (190 miles)
Travel time: 5h 40min
On your way to Sighișoara, you can stop in the city of Piatra Neamț, one of the most impressive cities of the Moldova region. In the city, you can discover the most important Neolithic collection of southeastern Europe in the Cucuteni Culture Museum, visit the Princely Church and Court, and enjoy some breathtaking views of the city and the Bistrita Valley from the belfry.
The road to Sighișoara will take you through the Bicaz Gorges, where you will be surrounded by monumental stone walls in one of Romania’s most spectacular gorges. Once arrived in Sighișoara, visit Europe’s best-preserved medieval citadel. Its cobbled streets, coloured houses, still-standing walls and towers exert a particular charm. Don’t miss a visit to the Clock Tower, where you can visit the History Museum and enjoy some eye-catching views over the city. If you visit by the end of June, re-live the Medieval times during the Sighișoara Medieval Festival.
Day Six: Sighișoara – Brașov – Bran
Distance: 146 kilometres (90 miles)
Travel time: 2h 15min
From Sighișoara, head to Brașov, a wonderful city tucked away at the feet of the Carpathians. Brașov features some iconic landmarks, like the Black Church, the biggest Gothic church between Istanbul and Vienna, the narrowest street in Europe, the Rope Street, and a Hollywood-like sign on top of the Tâmpa Hill. To get up there, you can take the cable car. Once on top, awe-inspiring vistas will be the subject of your trip’s greatest photos.
In Bran, you can visit what is known as the ‘Dracula Castle’. Perched on a cliff, the Bran Castle used to be a custom stronghold between Transylvania and Wallachia, today’s south of Romania, having a strategic role. While it was never really home to the blood-thirsty vampire, a tour of the castle will reveal the story of Queen Marie of Romania, former owner of the castle, who let its imprint on the castle’s actual look.
Day Seven: Bran – Sinaia – Bucharest
Distance: 173 kilometres (107 miles)
Travel Time: 2h 50min
Your last day is dedicated to the mountain resort of Sinaia and to Romania’s capital. Sinaia houses one of the architectural pearls of Romania, the Peleș Castle. Erected by the former Romanian king Carol I as a summer residence, the palace is today a fascinating museum exhibiting a stunning Neo-Renaissance architecture and no less than 170 rooms that take visitors through the world’s decorative styles.
Bucharest is surely a must-see. The capital offers a wide variety of places to visit, from the monumental Palace of Parliament and its Contemporary Art Museum to the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum, for a walk between traditional houses, to beautiful parks like the Cișmigiu Park. Its Old Centre is brimming with lively bars, cafés and restaurants, as well as plenty of shops. End your trip with a walk in the city centre and a dinner at Caru cu Bere, a traditional restaurant and historic landmark of the city.