Introduction

Illuminated by the light of a pale moon, the vampire’s lair glares down from its rocky bluff… but regrettably, Bran Castle’s blood-drinking credentials don’t withstand scrutiny. Claims that Vlad Ţepeş – either ‘the Impaler’ or ‘protector of Wallachia’, depending on who you ask – passed through here are unproven. Nor did the castle inspire Bram Stoker, much as souvenir-sellers attempt to link Bran to the iconic Gothic novel Dracula.

These seem minor quibbles when you gaze up at the turreted fortress, guarded from the east by the Bucegi Mountains and from the west by the Piatra Craiului massif. Meanwhile, the castle’s museum pays greater homage to Romanian royals than immortal counts. Ignoring this, a gauntlet of souvenir sellers hawk fang-adorned mugs and Vlad-the-Impaler compact mirrors (really).

The bulk of visitors see Bran as a half-day trip, with a stop at Râşnov Castle. Daring hiking trails down from the Bucegi wind up here too.