We miss travel, so it’s time to start exploring Romania, we planned for it since we got home 6 months ago. It was one long weekend in November, a month when you never know what to expect, it can be either cold and foggy, with rain or even snow, but on the other hand it can be sunny and nice. So we decided for a place where we could spend time outside, but with indoor activities to visit in case the weather turns bad. Plus we limit the travel time at just a few hours to avoid spending more time on the road than at the destination. So, in the end, we picked Bran, a place where we also spend Eric’s second birthday and we felt like in a winter fairytale.
I doubt the 600 years old Brand Castle needs any introduction, it’s one of the most popular Romanian touristic sights. We’ve been here more than 10 years ago, but the area wasn’t as developed and crowded as it is now.
We’re happy to see it is that popular among tourists, especially that we’ve heard several foreign languages spoken there by groups of young people. But, as always, good things bring disadvantages too. The area is packed with souvenir shops and various vendors selling all kind of weird, kitsch stuff. Good that there is a section dedicated to the village museum, where you can walk and breath freely, without the crowds and noise. It’s not a big deal, if you’ve visited similar museums in Romania, and it felt strange to be charged a new ticket here (it’s probably another case of state institutions that cannot cooperate for the benefit of the people…). But we enjoyed our time here and Eric could walk around freely, without us being worried he would got lost among other people.
Eric was fascinated by the Castle and loved to explore the narrow hallways, even though he was a bit disturbed by the noise. As it was the weekend after Halloween, Bran Castle was still decorated in this theme. Every year there are special events organised for this holiday, with night tours, Dracula and other scary creatures. Personally, I don’t like this approach and it seems to me that it diminished the medieval charm for the castle, but it must be pretty popular among tourists.
Bran Castle can be visited daily from 9 to 16 in winter time and until 18 on summer, except for Mondays when the schedule starts only at 12. The entrance fee is 40 ron and there are several discounts for children, students and so on. We didn’t have to pay for Eric, as the entrance is free up to 7 years of age. There are audio guides available in several languages and the tickets can be purchased online, from a really nice and modern website.
Where to stay – Green Resort Bran
Usually when we travel with our little one, we look for child friendly accommodation, so he doesn’t get bored. This time we chose Green Resort Bran, which turned out to be a great option.
Check here for more details about Green Resort Bran.
Pretty close to the main road, as you exit Tohanu Nou going to Bran, Green Resort is isolated from the noise and bustle, but still near by anything you might need. It’s 5 minutes drive from the castle and 10 minutes from the nearest grocery store, where we could buy snacks and food for breakfast.
We spent our time in a spacious and comfortable villa, with a fully equipped kitchen, terrace and barbecue in the garden. The villas can host up to 8 guests, organised on two levels: ground floor for living area and kitchen, plus the sleeping rooms upstairs.
We were lucky enough to have one of the last warm sunny weekends for 2019, so we spend plenty of time outside. In front of the villas there is a large playground, where Eric burned all his energy, together with other little guests.
From the Green Resort Bran you can also reach the Libearty Bear Sanctuary (access is not permitted up to 5 years of age), Rasnov Fortress and the Dino Park, situated around 10 km away. These two were also on our list, but free play outside was more important, so we left them for a future visit.
Where to eat around Bran
Unfortunately, the popularity among tourists didn’t raised the quality level for services and most of the restaurants around the castle are pretty poor, with high prices for what they offer. Actually, this happens in lots of crowded touristic places. Luckily we were recommended a new restaurant in Tohanu Nou, a few minutes drive from the castle, right in our way to Green Resort.
DOR – Delicious, Organic, Romanian impressed us from the entrance with its modern and welcoming design, based on wood and plants, with a few industrial accents. The word DOR is the Romanian equivalent for miss (like in “I miss you”), very-very good choice for this place! The food was awesome and exceeded our expectations. The menu is a modern reinterpretation with ingredients typical for this area, not too many options but more than enough to cover all the tastes. Service level and attention to the details were over what we often see in fancy places in Cluj or other big cities! DOR, hope you’ll grow nicely and have lots and lots of happy customers. We promise to be back each time we are in the area!
Lunch break in Sibiu
From Cluj to Bran there are about 5 hours, so it was impossible not to take a longer break. I know we said it before, but we realised again how easy it is to travel with an infant or toddler, compared with an active young child, almost 4 years old. Two years ago he was sleeping on any roadtrip longer than 1 hour, but now we had to play various games, answer 1,001 questions and explain every 5 minutes that “we’re not there yet!”. Plus that we changed our road trip soundtrack from Rock FM to Itsy Bitsy FM.
So a lunch break in Sibiu was really needed! We didn’t spend too much time there. We just walked around and the old, narrow streets, chasing pigeons in the main square and witnessed the preparations for the Christmas Market. We must go back to Sibiu for a weekend, probably in the spring, to fully explore it with Eric. It is one of our favourite cities in Romania!
In the meantime, we still can make a great recommendation in Sibiu: La Cuptor restaurant. We stop to eat here each time we are in Sibiu! Andrei found it on Trip Advisor a few years ago and fell in love immediately. I don’t even know what to recommend choosing for La Cuptor’s menu, as everything we’ve tasted was delicious. This time, Eric was fascinated by the pumpkin soup, which he declared to be “the best ever!”. You should believe him; pumpkin soup is his favourite dish and he tried it in various forms and tastes in most of the countries we visited!
Disclosure: We were hosted by Green Resort Bran, in exchange for an honest review. As always, all the opinions expressed here are our own. This article contains affiliate links.