Our guide to the top things to do in Brasov sums up the must-see attractions, the best sights and local celebrations that make this city one of the most popular destinations in Romania. From medieval monuments and centuries-old churches to its multicultural architecture and nearby castles and fortresses, Brasov has all it takes to make it to the top of your list for your next trip to Romania.
Check our guide to the top 10 things you should do in Brasov.
Brasov is famous for its medieval sites, from fortifications walls and towers that enclosed the city hundreds of years ago to old bastions that survived almost intact for centuries. One of the most fortified cities in medieval Transylvania – due to its key commercial function in the Middle Ages – Brasov still preserves today some of the original constructions that defended the city.
The initial fortification system included several walls, 27 towers and eight bastions, water ditches and ponds. The best-preserved sites are the fortifications from the Lower Walls – the Black Tower, the White Tower, Graft Bastion – and Upper Walls – the Weavers’ Bastion, the Drapers’ Bastion, the Red Tanners’ Bastion – all easy to reach on foot from the old city center.
Located on opposite sides, both the Lower and Upper Walls offer great views of the Black Church, the Council Square and the more remote Cetatuia. Most of the towers and bastions are open for visiting.
Close to the Upper Walls, the 16th century Ecaterina’s Gate is the only one of three original entrances that connected the fortified city to the suburbs that still exists.
Brasov is often associated with the image of the Black Church, one of the most impressive Gothic churches in Eastern Europe. Over 600 years old, this large Evangelical church can receive up to 5,000 people, has one of the biggest organs in Europe and the largest collection of Oriental carpets in Europe outside Turkey.
But, the Black Church is not the only medieval church in Brasov you should see. The 13th-century fortified church of Bartolomeu is equally impressive and it’s, in fact, the oldest monument in the city.
The list is completed by the Orthodox Church Saint Nicolae. Initially built in the 14th century, the church went through many architectural interventions that resulted in its current look. The church had a fundamental cultural role for the Romanian community from Brasov and the surrounding Barsei Country in the time when Transylvania was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Close to this church, you’ll also find the museum of the first Romanian School.
Walking on old streets bordered by splendid examples of Saxon architecture is one of the great things to do in Brasov, and is free.
Among the highlights are Lunga Street that dates from the Middle Ages, preserving numerous houses and monuments from the past centuries, including the Bartolomeu Church; Baritiu Street that takes you close to the Upper and Lower Walls and Apollonia Hirscher Street, very close to the Council Square. On your way to the Upper Walls, you can also take a shortcut on Sforii Street – one of the narrowest in the country – with a varying width between 111 and 135 centimeters.
You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to take a short hike on Tampa Mountain. Overseeing the city from its 960 meters altitude, Tampa is a protected area and a huge local park that connects the city to more challenging hiking trails from the nearby mountains.
Offering panoramic views of the city, including the neighborhoods outside the historical center, this hill fortress is only a short walk from the central park Nicolae Titulescu. Dating from 1625, the fortress – located outside the fortified city – had a strategic defensive role throughout the centuries. It served for more than two centuries as a prison, until 1954.
Impossible to miss, the Council Square is the heart of the old city center, luring visitors with its 15th century Council Tower and the nearby Black Church. Popular with locals and tourists, the square has many cafes and restaurants open all year long. It’s clearly not an off the beaten track location, but it’s a great place to have lunch after visiting the historical attractions from the center.
If you happen to be in Brasov on the first Sunday after the Orthodox Easter, you’ll enjoy one of the oldest local traditions: ‘Parada Junilor’ or the parade of young men. Combining Christian and pagan elements, the tradition of this parade marks the celebration of spring with groups of men horseback riding on the streets of Brasov, from Scheii Brasovului that was once the Romanian neighborhood to the Old Town that was in the medieval time reserved only for the German community.
Take a morning to visit the Bears’ Sanctuary from Zarnesti, one of the largest and most important in Europe. Over 70 bears rescued from cruel treatments were given a second chance in this 70 hectares sanctuary from the foothills of Piatra Craiului Mountains. The sanctuary is open for visits only in the mornings and it’s just 20 km outside Brasov.
Brasov is an excellent starting point for exploring more of Transylvania. The city is only a few kilometers away from the fortified churches of Harman and Prejmer and the large medieval fortress of Rasnov. From the city, you can also easily reach the royal castles Peles and Bran, the fortress of Rupea, the villages of Racos and Viscri.
If you have enough time to spend in Brasov, take one or more days to hike in Piatra Craiului National Park. You can take one of the easy walks through the villages Magura and Pestera or go up on the mountain, departing from Zarnesti or Plaiul Foii.
Brasov is more than a weekend destination. You can easily spend one week, taking your time to discover the city and the many nearby attractions. A great starting point for one-day trips to Transylvania and only a short drive from Bucharest, Brasov has all it takes to be the perfect destination for your next vacation.