9 Beautiful Castles in Romania
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There are so many draws to visiting Romania. It’s a place with spectacular nature, delicious food and wine, and the entire country is absolutely awash with a spectacular history.
Plenty of this Ancient history can be discovered in Romania’s many castles. Romania’s borders have been fluid and ever-changing throughout its past, so plenty of historical defences have been built throughout.
And it’s easy to visit most of these castles, to enjoy a unique side of Romanian culture and history.
I only spent one week in Romania during my Bali to London trip, so only made it to Bran Castle and Peles Castle. So, I enlisted some of my fellow travel bloggers to help create this list of the best castles in Romania!
The Best Romanian Castles
Bran Castle was one of the day trips that I took from Brasov in Transylvania. The castle dates back from the 1300s and is one of the most popular castles in Romania. It was a castle of the Saxons of Kronstadt, and was then used to defend the Ottoman Empire. More recently, it was used as a royal residence.
Nowadays, it’s famed for being Transylvania’s Dracula castle. While it certainly does look very vampirish, Bram Stoker wasn’t basing his fictional castle on Bran – in fact, Bram Stoker didn’t go to Transylvania at all!
Stoker instead based Dracula on Vlad the Impaler. Vlad was the ruler of Wallachia, a historic region of Romania, three times between 1448 – 1477. He wasn’t a guy who wanted to get on the wrong side of – as you can probably guess from the name, his enemies often made a bloody end.
However, most historians conclude that Vlad never stepped foot in Bran Castle. So, why the connection? It’s actually just due to tourism. Bran Castle looks like the house of Dracula, so it was promoted as Dracula’s castle by the Romanian tourism board!
To reach Bran Castle, take a bus from Brasov. It’s an easy journey, just a 40 minute drive.
The Fairytale-esque Peles Castle is another great day trip from Brasov. Located walking distance from Sinaia, Peles Castle’s construction began in 1883, with its Ball of Inaguaration in that year. It was built for the Royal Family, initially constructed on the order of King Carol I. In 1893, his son, King Carol II, was born in the castle.
King Michael, Carol II’s son, was forced to abdicate the throne by Communist uprisers in 1947 and subsequently left the country. It was seized by the Communist estate, and was used as a tourist attraction, then a resting place for some famous Romanians, and was eventually closed under Ceaușescu.
After the Communist regime, it was re-instated as a tourist attraction, and has been so since. Visitors can admire the gardens and exterior of this beautiful palace, and see the regal furniture and decoration inside.
Peles is an excellent day trip from Brasov – just take a train (about an hour) from the station, which is a half hour walk or taxi drive from the centre.
If you’re interested in Romania’s communist history, check out my communist Bucharest blog post.
If you want to see Dracula’s real castle, check out Poenari Castle. This castle, built in the beginning of the 13th century, was the home of Vlad the Impaler himself.
I didn’t get a chance to visit this castle while in Romania due to time, but if you want to learn about eerie Medieval Romanian history and love ruins, it’s definitely worth checking out!
It’s quite difficult to get to without a car or a tour, but there are various tours from Brasov which will also help you to learn about the wonderful history of the region!
Banffy Castle is one of the most impressive castles we visited during our trip to Romania. It’s located in Bontida Village, around 30km (18 miles) northeast from Cluj – right in the heart of Transylvania.
It used to be the historical residence of the aristocratic Banffy family from the 1300s to 1944 – a high ranking family which included the first governor of Transylvania and a former Hungarian prime minister. Sadly, the castle was burnt by the Germans in WW2 as punishment to the Banffy family for supporting the Allies.
Post WW2, during Romania’s Communist era, the castle fell into disrepair and was looted for building materials. Thankfully in 2000, interest in the castle increased, and a large restoration project began, which is expected to complete in 2026 with the castle being restored to its former glory.
Today Banffy Castle is most famous the annual 5-day “Electric Castle” music festival every July. It began in 2012 as an initiative to help raise funds for the castle’s restoration. Each year it has grown in popularity (2020 excluded of course!), attracting crowds of over 200,000. It’s billed as “One of Europe’s few truly 24-hour festivals”!
The castle is easiest to access from Cluj. From here, it’s around 30 minutes by taxi. There are trains every 4 hours, which take approximately 40 minutes.
By Stefan from Nomadic Boys
Fairytale Clay Castle
The Fairytale Clay Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Romania. Nestled at the foot of the Carpathian mountains, the Porumbacu de Sus, which translates to Fairy Valley Clay Castle, is a unique destination that somehow balances the dark image of the castle of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
The brilliant concept of co-owners, Razvan, and Gabriela Vasile, this marvellous creation came to life through the expertise of a specialist architect and a local craftsman who built it with the use of only natural materials. Truly a must-see, the Fairytale Clay Castle draws you into a land of fantasy and make-believe with its lines of hobbit houses.
Soon to be completed, the castle is currently open as a tourist attraction and a set for photoshoots. Once it is finished, it will be opened as a retreat from city life. Surrounded by the wonders of nature in a village that is 40 kilometres west of Sibiu, one can rent it as accommodation and enjoy the dining experience at its organic restaurant.
An area frequented by hikers and nature-lovers, this venue will be a great home base for those wanting to explore more of this magical region.
By Karolina from Karolina Patry K
Located in the Hunedoara county, Corvin Castle is one of the largest castles in Romania and all of Europe! It is also known as Hunyadi Castle and a must-visit place in Romania for people who are interested in medieval history.
The castle has a unique charm due to its various construction styles, and the presence of military and civilian innovations for over 400 years. The construction of the castle started in 1440 and it was built, with double walls for extra fortification, as a defence fortress and a prison.
It is said that a 30 meter deep well was dug by three Turkish prisoners who were promised by John Hunyadi that after they saw the water, they would regain their freedom. But John died before the prisoners finished the digging and his widowed wife Erzsebet instead rewarded their hard work with a death sentence!
Corvin Castle is a fairytale-like castle with an imposing entrance bridge, a menacing gargoyle, circular and rectangular towers, a Chapel, and Council Chambers. The castle is seperated into three areas – Knight’s Hall, Diet Hall, and the circular stairway. The interior of the castle has many halls, passages and the exterior offers you amazing views. Besides the historical value and its architectural importance, the castle also offers exhibitions of various artists.
By Trijit Mallick from Budget Travel Buff
Alba Carolina Citadel
Though one of the lesser-known attractions in Romania, the Alba Carolina Citadel is the biggest medieval citadel in the county.
Constructed early in the 18th century by Prince Eugene of Savoy, this star-shaped fortress was used to fortify the defences of the newly conquered Habsburg Empire.
Though no longer used for defensive purposes, visitors can stroll through the immense citadel, learning about the historical significance of this place through a new QR code system. Though visitors usually expect rubbles and old, dilapidated fortifications, Alba Carolina is truly elegant after its costly restoration. Stepping inside this fortification feels like you are stepping into a palace.
The citadel is free to enter, but there are museums inside that require an admission fee. Besides historical points of interest, visitors will find bars, cafes and restaurants within its lengthy 12-kilometre-long walls. To alleviate the excessive amount of walking, visitors can also rent out bikes to explore Alba Carolina Citadel.
Because it is located off-the-beaten-path, the best way to visit Alba Carolina is through a day trip from Sibiu. But don’t worry if you happen to run out of time when exploring this top Romania attraction. Located inside Alba Carolina is the famous Hotel Medieval, a place full of charm and to provide you with a great night’s sleep.
By Sean from Living Out Lau
One of the best castles in Romania is Sturdza Castle. It is built in the neo-gothic architectural style. The current building that you can visit was constructed at the end of the 19th century, but during the Second World War large parts of the collection of the castle were destroyed and stolen.
Sturdza Castle was used for a lot of different functions, such as an orphanage, and the site where you can find the castle today used to be occupied by another building. This older building is still part of the castle, as it has been incorporated in the design. A tour around the castle will enable you to see the beautiful architecture and learn about its compelling history.
There is a restaurant in the castle serving up local products. Also, you can stay in one of the rooms in the castle for a couple of nights! If you want to spend more time in the area, there are many themed events at the castle. Especially in winter, the castle is a great place to go, with many winter activities. The castle is located in Miclăuşeni, which is just a short trip by car from the city of Roman. You can be there within 30 minutes.
By Dymphe from Dymabroad
Perched on a rugged hilltop, Rasnov Castle is a 13th century castle that boasts enchanting views of the surrounding mountain ranges. It overlooks the beautiful dense forests and valleys of Transylvania.
Rasnov castle was built as a refuge for the people of Transylvanian villages during the times of invasion and wars. Enemies tried to besiege the castle for centuries, and always failed – except one time, when they found its secret water spring and the residents of the castle were left with no water! In the preceding years to strengthen security, the occupiers dug a deep well was dug in the castle which helped people with water access.
The castle served as a strong refuge and defence for centuries while undergoing various reconstructions. The castle has two courts that are protected by high walls and towers. You can see stone-built shelter homes, a school, a chapel and an ancient well amidst the ruins of the castle.
Rasnov Castle is located in Romania’s Brasov County, a popular region for its picturesque landscape. It’s also a nature lover’s paradise, and you will find many incredible photography opportunities from the towers of the castle.
The most convenient way to reach the Rasnov Castle from is to take a train from Brasov to Rasnov station. You will have to take a short walk from the station to Rasnov Castle. For ease, you can also rent a taxi that can take you till the entrance of the castle.
By Anjali from Cheerful Trails
Cantacuzino Castle, finished in 1911 by order of Grigore Cantacuzino, sits on a plateau overlooking the mountains in Busteni. Cantacuzino was a wealthy man from an old noble Byzantine family. He built three castles in his lifetime, one in Bucharest – which now hosts Enescu Museum, one in Floresti – now in ruins, and the one in Busteni.
Around Cantacuzino Castle in Busteni is a beautiful park with a chapel, a swing, an adventure park for the kids, and a collection of sculptures. But the most striking feature is the view from the terrace to the Bucegi Mountains, part of the Carpathians.
The inside of the caste is a bit bare, with the original furniture having been removed, but you can still admire the rich decorations, Italian Marble, and wood-carved doors and ceilings. Also, the stained glass windows and the grand chandelier can’t go unnoticed.
At the ground level, there is also a gourmet restaurant, CantaCuisine, where you can have lunch.
The castle is open every day, and it’s easy to reach on a 15 minutes walk from the train station in Busteni. You can also drive from either Bucharest or Brasov, and maybe combine Peles Castle and Cantacuzino Castle for a day trip.
By Anda from Travel for A While
Nine Amazing Castles in Romania…
So, there you have it! Some spectacular castles in Romania. These are all unique, so it’s worth visiting as many as possible while in the country. Visiting them will help you learn some more about Eastern European history and its architecture, and add another dimension to your exploration of the country!