My parents came to visit me once again! This time they came to see me in Bucharest. We decided to take a trip to Brasov and visit the renown Bran Castle, otherwise known as Dracula’s castle.
The Journey to Bran Castle
I actually never knew Romania/Transylvania was home to the legends of Dracula and vampires. So I thought, what better time to explore this than with family! After researching tour prices and train tickets, we decided to attempt a day trip ourselves. I used to hate tours because of how restricted and forced it would feel, but now I’m neutral. If I can make the trip myself, however, I usually prefer the challenge.
The Train to Brasov
Tour prices were $83 USD a person, and train tickets were around $20 USD roundtrip. We found directions on their site to take the Bucharest train to the bus in Brasov, which would take you to the castle. Seemed simple enough (kidding). I warned my parents we were going to embark on a journey that could be disastrous because I had no idea about train times, bus stop location, and bus times. And to top it all off the castle closed at 6 PM. With train rides lasting 2 hours and 30 minutes from Bucharest to Brasov, I knew this was going to be rushed.
We arrived at the station 10 minutes prior to the 10 AM train. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let us buy those tickets, so we had to book tickets for the 12:15 PM train.
The ride was quite nice, mainly towards the latter half of the trip. There were lots to look at – steep cliffs, colorful houses, and overall natural beauty.
When we arrived to Brasov at 2:55 PM we realized we weren’t at the right bus stop terminal. The language barrier became a huge issue as it was difficult to find English speakers. After some misunderstandings, a nice man taught us that we had to taxi over to “Stadium Tineretului” (terminal 2) and warned us not to pay over 10 lei ($2.50). A few taxi drivers tried to jip us, but a legit driver who had his meter on took us to our destination for 8 lei ($2).
The Taxi to Bran
After arriving at terminal 2, we discovered the bus to Bran was coming late, around 4 PM, and we didn’t want to get to the castle too late so we took ANOTHER taxi to Bran castle for 80 lei ($20).
Bran was wonderful! From my Google Images research, I was hoping for a cute little village feel, and Bran was just that.
We went to the castle ticket office and paid 35 lei/person ($8.75). Bring your student ID if you have one, to pay 20 lei ($5) instead!
It takes 1 quick minute to hike to the castle front.
When I went inside I reacted with a “What is this, a school for ants?!” (Zoolander jokes). The castle was extremely small height-wise, so those over 6-feet tall should watch their heads. Luckily I’m small, so no issue there.
Dracula’s castle took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get through if you’re taking pictures and looking through the rooms. As a quick lesson: “Dracula” was actually based off of the historical (real-life) figure – Vlad the Impaler. The legends of Dracula was inspired by him and his name because of his blood-thirst and the amount of people he killed. But the castle itself actually doesn’t have much association to Vlad the Impaler.
It was a unique and historic building, but I think I expected a bit more. Perhaps because it’s hyped up as “Dracula’s castle”, I envisioned a much larger, grandiose structure.
After the castle, we went to dinner which was around 100 lei for 3 people ($25) and picked up some fruit smoothies (it was blazing hot). We planned to taxi back to the station in case we couldn’t find a bus. Fortunately we came across the bus station, about 100 meters down from the town center, to the left. There weren’t really signs which made it hard to find, but we saw a group waiting and thought it must be it.
The Crazy Bus Ride Back
The bus was 5 lei per person (about $1.25/person). I fell asleep and woke up to a loud noise and screams. My parents tend to worry like crazy, so when this “bang” occurred my mom was yelling and trying to get me off the bus ASAP to safety. With all the tragedies and attacks currently happening around the world, especially in Europe, I couldn’t blame them. Turns out something happened with the tire. We got back on, though I could feel my mom’s anxiety from a mile away.
After the bus ride, we taxied back to the train station from the terminal, though it took a few tries due to language barriers and lack of taxis. My mom was (naturally) panicking about getting back in time for the last train.
The last train scheduled for 8:42 ended up leaving at 9:25, and we ended up getting back to Bucharest after midnight. Kind of annoying, but apparently delays are normal for trains in Romania.
Cost of the Journey for 3 People
The total cost ended up being:
Train: $60 USD
TOTAL: $114.25 ($38.08/person) Not bad!
Tips for Your Trip
Want to visit Bran Castle from Bucharest? Here are my tips:
- If you want to save money, go a bit earlier and take the bus instead of the taxi from Brasov to Bran.
- If you have a student ID, bring it!
- Language barriers are inevitable out there. Ask people for help and use Google Translate to communicate with others.
- If you’re looking for the train station, “gara” is its Romanian translation
- Bring your phone chargers if you worry about battery life as the trains have outlets