On a rocky bluff rising from wolf-prowled forests perches a gaunt castle, its mass of turrets a sinister refrain...right? Sort of, but Bran Castle, despite its tenuous link to Vlad Ţepeş, is anything but gloomy. Inside it's positively sunny, with a geranium-festooned courtyard, bright white rooms, hidden stairways and a palpable effort on the part of its blue-blooded owner to distance the place from any mention of garlic.
Guarded from the east by the Bucegi Mountains and from the west by the Piatra Craiului massif, its setting is indisputably stunning. If you've a determined taste for the Gothic you'll find the castle is best seen from a distance, its grey facade often shrouded in mist. Creep a little closer and Bran town itself is a carnivalesque gauntlet of stalls hawking vampiric T-shirts, and myriad day trippers who take away from the atmosphere. There's even a 'haunted castle' funhouse next to the entrance, complete with staff dressed as werewolves and vamps who chase you around. Embrace the tack!
The entrance to Bran Castle, signposted ‘Muzeul Bran’, is on the left as you enter the town. By far the bulk of visitors see Bran as a half-day trip, along with a stop at Râşnov Castle. Daring hiking trails down from the Bucegi wind up here too.
Bran destination guides
Budapest to Istanbul
From pastoral countryside to forbidding forests and magnificent mountain ranges, experience the romance of the east on your way from Budapest to Istanbul. In two well-paced weeks, explore the weathered architecture of Budapest, grand Ottoman palaces and mosques in Istanbul for an introduction to the artistic and cultural heights of two very different empires.
Halloween in Transylvania
Transylvania. The name itself is enough to send an icy chill down the spine of even the most fearless adventurer.