Brasov; the second most famous city of Romania after its capital but a much different place in spirit and presence. Brasov is a popular place for visitors because of its proximity to Bran castle but this beautiful Transylvanian town was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.
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We decided to stay in Brasov because I wasn’t too keen on seeing the castles in a day and returning to Bucharest at the end. Brasov was much closer to them and we decided to head there after our Transylvanian castle adventure.
Brasov is quite different from Bucharest in terms of people and also in terms of its heritage. Since it wasn’t the centre of communist government’s agenda they mostly ignored it which preserved the heritage of this beautiful town with its multi-coloured houses and German population. It is located in a valley with absolutely stunning views from the top of the Tampa mountain and that Hollywood like BRASOV sign…
Generally, it is a town with a few surprises, a booming younger population, skiing resorts and a pleasant time. The food scene is great and it is generally a cheap and affordable place.
All Things Brasov
Getting to Brasov
The drive from Bran to Brasov is not very long, especially with no traffic. It took us roughly 40-50 minutes. You can also come here by bus or train and the links to Bucharest and other towns in Transylvanian towns like Sibiu and Sighisoara.
Tip: If you are coming from Bran, you can also see the Rasnov Castle which apparently has great views on the top. We didn’t get around to it sadly but it is on the way..
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City centre is Brasov is quite beautiful and small with views of Tampa Mountain on one side and the views of the castle and black tower on the other. Some of the former fortification is gone but some are still very much there. I would prefer to stay in the city centre but there is a general lack of parking because it is quite a pedestrian place so we stayed a little outside. The city is generally small and it doesn’t take long to get from one place to the other.
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Free Walking Tour
I was surprised to know there’s a free walking tour in Brasov because of its size but it makes sense when you think of the number of tourists who visit. It happens every day at 3pm in the main square near the fountain. It was quite an amazing 2 and a half hours we spent together ad the guide told us a lot of fun stories, history and those fun historical facts that just make you love this well-kept city even more.
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Despite a lot of tourist influx, there are no dedicated gay bars or clubs here and the only way to socialise is through apps like Grindr, Scruff and Hornet. There are a few guys around and most of them seemed friendly, I just didn’t have the time unfortunately to meet anyone.
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The food scene here is much better than I had thought. Brasov was a much better city than I had expected, I must admit! The main square in the city centre has a few very nice and fashionable coffee shops as well as restaurants. The younger generation here is not unfamiliar with any coffee flavours I get to see in the hip cafes of East London so bravo to Brasov!
The first restaurant that came with high recommendation was Sergiana. Located at the edge of the City centre next to the bus station, it is quite a beautiful place with traditional décor and the staff wears traditional dresses as well. The menu is traditional and mainly pork-based so we had little choice but the food was good and the environment was awesome. The only slight negative was the Romanian music that was somehow very annoying ina repetitive way umm (I am not sure how to express that honestly..)
The second accidental discovery was strictly not Romanian but it was our last night in Romania so we decided to have a good dinner. I saw this interesting restaurant on the way back from Tampa Mountain and loved it because of its interior. The back of the restaurant is a traditional Romanian building but the front is converted into a beautiful glass dining area. We headed there in the evening and it turned out to be a great choice (My friend patted me on the shoulder for excellent job) which I accepted with a small burp digesting the duck leg I had eaten 😉
The name of this beautiful restaurant is Casa Hirscher and I’d recommend getting a reservation at this beautiful place to try some modern continental food with great surroundings.
Brasov is quite famous with people looking for skiing adventures and with quite a few resorts around, it is not the cheapest place but having seen what the city has to offer from the top of the mountain I would head there for sure if I didn’t mind a few broken bones and torn limbs (honestly I don’t know anyone who has gone skiing without getting injured).
The bus station in Brasov has a sign outside showing the capacity and the status of each area so you don’t get disappointed when you reach the top and the buses are quite frequent.
When it is sub-zero outside the whole time and you are jumping around seeing places, there is nothing more you’d love than a good spa (or maybe that’s just me). I saw the website of Spa d’Or and booked a 75 minutes deep tissue massage (honestly it was so cheap I could get 2 massages a day every day for the rest of the year, damn it’s so far from London). The staff at the spa was amazing and I loved this little treat that was very welcomed. I love being pampered ahhhh!
P.S My masseur told me they are moving location but I guess you can get that info from their website.
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Things to do
Brasov can be generally seen in a day and to make it solid you can attend the walking tour at 3pm to make sure you’re not missing anything.
This beautiful Gothic church in the middle of the city centre seems like a big anomaly. Having seen so many Orthodox churches in Bucharest I was expecting something similar here but then again Transylvania has a different history.
It was built as a Roman Catholic Church but later converted to Lutheran Protestant church when the German population converted to Protestant faith and you can see the statue of Luther outside pointing to the first German school here. The church was mainly used by the German population.
I bought the ticket and walked into this mammoth building which has a simple but elegant interior with rather simple walls. The most impressive thing in the whole church is the beautiful collection of carpets and rugs that Turks either gifted or sold to people here that came from all around the Middle East and Central Asia.
You are not allowed to take photos inside but I took some anyway (and felt bad later when I was told it was to prevent the damage of rugs any further.) Please don’t be a douche like me and don’t take any photos inside.
Fun Fact: A single rug could take up to a year of restoration work to be on display because the silk weaving is extremely delicate.
The narrowest street in Europe apparently and also known as the most Romantic street in Europe. It is indeed very narrow but I am not so sure about the Romantic side of it considering it was quite dirty and there is no credible story to prove the romance relationship but there is a veryyyy creepy story which goes something like this..
The daughter of the most wealthy man in the town was coming back from her lessons (apparently she was THE beauty with blonde hair and blue eyes..) when she was groped and kissed by a middle-aged man in Rope street. She didn’t tell anyone and then this happened again and again and again until she started liking it and went on to become the mistress of this middle-aged creepy dude (very 50-shades-of-Grey of them). This creepy guy was none other than Vlad Tepes, our famous Dracula (aka Vlad the Impaler) but apparently, he loved her enough to not have taken another mistress after he molested her into liking him.
p.s There is a small slightly tacky looking museum in front which has a nice coffee shop and some beautiful photos and it is free, do pop in..
Brasov is a very scenic town and with the main city admin tower and Black church, the views from any higher point are amazing but to get a really good idea you need to come here. Our guide brought us here and I was every so glad not to have missed the tour. This tower was part of the fortification system but oh dear, what a view!
You can see the city walls, the river (honestly I have seen sewers 10 times bigger than that ‘river’), the panorama of the city and the frozen mist in the air just made me forget how cold it was and I felt that single moment of bliss that makes me forget about the negative side of travelling and the weather and cold and people and issues, a true Carpe Diem moment.
Tampa Cable Car
The most amazing thing you will do it to go up the cable car to the top of Tampa Mountain. The way to the cable car is a bit of a mysterious one and we asked a few people before we got there. Romanians hate putting up signs which makes things awkward at the time.
The cable car runs every 10 minutes so we bought the tickets and then our turn came to go up. The ride is short and sweet and once you get there, the view is absolutely exhilarating. So much beauty that it took me a few minutes to absorb it in. The mountains on the other side, the castle on top of the hill in the city, black church and rows of houses, all covered in frozen mist.
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The walk-behind and the trail was cold and slippery and I wasn’t really in the mood to walk around instead of enjoying the view so we stayed for a bit and then headed back down to enjoy the rest of this gorgeous city. I took a hyper-lapse of the journey down, enjoy!
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Fun Fact: The BRASOV sign on top of the mountain is actually bigger than the Hollywood sign but because of its height seems smaller.
Brasov is a perfectly beautiful little break if you don’t like big cities and with good connections to the rest of the cities and countries around, I am ever so glad I got to know this little townsmen if it was for a day and a half.
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