Transylvania is Romania’s most famous and fascinating destination. Millennium-old ruins, centuries-old fortresses, traditional villages, and the unparalleled beauty of the Carpathians transform it into a world-unique attraction that you should visit at least once in a lifetime.
If you plan to do so in search of that authentic experience, we prepared a few suggestions that will help you plan a perfect getaway in one of the most beautiful places in Europe whether you are the active kind or prefer more cultural discoveries.
Here’s our list of the top things to do in Transylvania for curious travelers.
We wrote a lot on Uncover Romania on the breathtaking nature of the Carpathians, the mountainous chain that occupies about one-third of the country’s surface and encloses Transylvania behind its abrupt slopes and peaks.
Easily reached from anywhere in Transylvania, the Carpathians are the ultimate destination for hikers and nature lovers. From easy tours for beginners in Apuseni to exhausting, but thrilling multi-day hikes in Fagaras or Retezat, there are more choices than you can imagine.
Just be sure to opt for a route fit for your level of experience and endurance, and always plan your route in advance.
The past years brought many cyclists to Transylvania who wish to uncover the region in their favorite way. You can find several cycling maps in the bookshops and enough options for a summer of adventure.
An extensive network of well-marked cycling routes links the old Saxon villages from Brasov, Mures, and Sibiu counties, the areas of Tarnavelor Plateau and Hartibaciului Valley.
You can rent bikes from cities like Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara and even some of the villages along the way, but it’s maybe best to bring your own if you’re planning to start and finish the tour in different locations.
You can read about some of our suggested itineraries here.
This is one of the best things to do in Transylvania if you enjoy exploring small villages, abandoned hamlets, and isolated communities where life finds a slower and more natural rhythm. You will be amazed by just how simple everything is once you realize how few things you actually need to be happy.
From famous villages that became travel destinations like Viscri and Rimetea to the patriarchal communities of Apuseni and Trascaului Mountains – Cheia, Garda de Sus, Subpiatra, Rimet, Sagagea, Casa de Piatra, Patrahaitesti, Posaga – you can easily plan a rural vacation for a few days or a few weeks.
Discover our Rural Transylvania Tour.
If hiking is too much, and cycling is not your thing, then walking is the best alternative. You can use the bike routes that usually follow secondary village roads or forest paths. Or you can simply try the old shortcuts locals used when walking to another village or taking the animals to a neighboring meadow. A map and a compass are recommended especially if you’re planning for a day-long walk.
We believe that hunting has no place in a civilized world, and we hope one day soon it will disappear for good. In the end, wild animals have enough challenges ahead – deforestation and loss of habitat – to make survival difficult.
Wildlife watching, done in a sustainable way, is by far the best alternative if you want to observe directly the iconic species that live in the wilderness, in this case, in the Carpathians. As Romania still has significant populations of large carnivores, watching even the biggest of them, the brown bear, is possible in a safe and non-intrusive manner.
Photo source: Foundation Conservation Carpathia
While you’ll find several wildlife tour options online, double-check all the details before you book one. Ask where the observation takes place, what kind of food is used to attract the bears and if sustainability principles are respected. After all, you don’t want to be an extra source of stress for the wildlife you want to observe.
This is why we recommend the wildlife tours organized by the Foundation Conservation Carpathia in Fagaras Mountains. Profits are used to finance the organization’s conservation work and observation is done only for small groups with respect for the animals and the environment.
If you enjoy horseback riding, then this will be one of your favorite things to do in Transylvania. It’s an authentic and responsible way of exploring the fascinating rural and natural landscapes of the region, traveling as locals did until one century ago.
Photo source: Equus Silvania
There are several horseback riding retreats in Transylvania you can choose from, most of them also offering good accommodation and meal options. To make your planning easier, we’ll go ahead and recommend Equus Silvania from Sinca Noua, a village less than 50 km from Brasov. You can choose what option suits you the best, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider who wants to go on a seven days long tour.
The fortified churches and the ancient Dacian sites from Orastie Mountains are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Unique and must-see, visiting these attractions should be high on your list of things to do in Transylvania.
You can easily combine a trip to the ancient Dacian sites with a hiking itinerary from Sureanu Mountains as well as cycling with visiting fortified churches like those from Biertan, Saschiz, and Viscri.
Discover our Transylvania Heritage Tour.
Heritage conservation has been more visible in Transylvania than anywhere else in Romania even if there’s a lot to be done still. Intrinsically connected to this phenomenon, the local artisans carry on old skills that were once part of daily life: blacksmiths, charcoal making, burning hand-made tiles and bricks, weaving and knitting, or making delicious home-made jams.
You can find local artisans especially in the villages with fortified churches like Alma Vii, Crit, Malancrav, and Viscri.
If you’re a foodie, you’re in the right place for a culinary adventure that combines multicultural heritage with organic food. For the best experience, reserve your stay at a guest house that offers meals from local ingredients or book a place at one of the many tempting brunches that take place in the villages of Transylvania. My Transylvania Association is a good place to start your search for this ultimate culinary experience.
Photo source: My Transylvania Association
Everyone heard of Bran Castle, but this isn’t exactly our top suggestion for you because of the Dracula nonsense and mass tourism it attracts. Instead, we recommend visits to the medieval fortresses of Coltesti, Deva, Fagaras, Rasnov, Rupea, Saschiz plus the castles Banffy, Corvin, Kalnoky, Kornis, Teleki, and, of course, the citadel of Alba Iulia.
Discover our Medieval Transylvania Tour.
These are our top 10 things to do in Transylvania suggestions. We’re sure you would enjoy experiencing most if not all of them during your vacation here. If you have other recommendations, drop us a line or more in the comments section below. We’re curious to find out what you like the most.