Top Things to Do in Transylvania for the Curious Travelers

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer. You can find Diana on LinkedIn

Discover our Transylvania tours

Transylvania is Romania’s most famous and fascinating region. Its millennium-old ruins, medieval fortresses, traditional villages, and the wild Carpathians make it one of the best destinations in Europe.

Even better, Transylvania is still pretty much an under-the-radar travel attraction. It offers genuine experiences and countless attractions, whether you prefer major sites like Bran Castle or the rural calm. But be sure to plan all the details in advance to make the most of your time.

If you don’t know where to start, check our guide to the top things to do in Transylvania.

1. Hike in the wild Carpathians

We wrote a lot on Uncover Romania on the Carpathians, the ultimate destination for hikers and nature lovers. The mountains occupy close to one-third of the country, guarding Transylvania behind its abrupt slopes and peaks. From easy tours for beginners and families to thrilling multi-day hikes in Fagaras or Retezat, there are more choices than you can imagine.

Remember to choose a route fit for your level of experience and endurance. Check Muntii Nostrii for a complete list of hiking trails.

Read also Trekking in Romania: Get Ready for a Real Adventure.

Piatra Craiului National Park

Piatra Craiului Mountains

2. Observe brown bears in the wild

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, like deforestation and poaching, to make survival difficult.

Wildlife watching, done sustainably, is by far the best alternative if you want to observe the wildlife of the Carpathians. As Romania still has a big population of large carnivores, watching even the brown bear is possible in a safe and non-intrusive manner.

Conservation Carpathia

Brown bear in the wild

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 what’s your impact. After all, you don’t want to be an extra source of stress for the wildlife you want to observe.

For a sustainable experience, we recommend the wildlife Transylvania tours done by the Foundation Conservation Carpathia in Fagaras Mountains. Profits finance conservation work and the tours respect the environment and the wildlife.

3. Visit the UNESCO Heritage Sites

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are among Transylvania’s most impressive landmarks and a great start for a cultural tour. The fortified churches and the ancient Dacian sites from Orastie Mountains are the main attractions.

If you plan to see most of them, you’ll need at least 4-5 days. You can combine a trip to the ancient Dacian sites with a visit to Corvin Castle or Alba Iulia if you depart from Sibiu, while the fortified churches are great day tours from Brasov and Sighisoara.

Biertan Fortified Church

Biertan Fortified Church

Discover our Transylvania Heritage Tour.

4. Step inside old castles and fortresses

Everyone heard of Bran Castle, but this isn’t exactly our top choice because of the Dracula nonsense and mass tourism it attracts. Instead, we recommend you visit the medieval fortresses of Coltesti, Deva, Fagaras, Rasnov, Rupea, and Saschiz. Don’t forget the Gothic Corvin Castle and definitely make time for the citadel of Alba Iulia during your Transylvania tours.

Read more about the fortresses of Transylvania.

Coltesti Fortress Transylvania tours

Coltesti Fortress

Discover our Medieval Transylvania Tour.

5. Explore rural life

This is one of the best things to do in Transylvania if you enjoy the slow life of small villages and abandoned hamlets. You will be amazed by how simple everything is once you realize how few things you actually need to be happy.

From villages that became famous destinations like Viscri and Rimetea to the patriarchal communities of Apuseni and Trascaului Mountains – Cheia, Dupa Deal, Subpiatra, Sagagea, Casa de Piatra, Patrahaitesti – you can easily plan a rural vacation for a few days or a few weeks.


Old house, Trascaului Mountains

Discover our Rural Transylvania Tour.

6. Meet the local artisans

Heritage conservation has been more visible in Transylvania than anywhere else in Romania even if there’s a lot to be done still. The local artisans are a big part of this process as they carry on old skills that were once part of daily life.  Meet real blacksmiths, learn first-hand about traditional ways of making charcoal, burning hand-made tiles and bricks, weaving and knitting, or making delicious jams.

You can find local artisans especially in the villages with fortified churches like Alma Vii, Crit, Malancrav, and Viscri.


Hand-made textile from Viscri

7. Taste the local specialties

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, choose a guest house that offers home-cooked meals or enjoy one of the many brunches organized weekly. My Transylvania Association is a good place to start your search for this ultimate culinary experience.


Transylvania Brunch meal

Photo source: My Transylvania Association

8. Cycle from village to village

Many cycling enthusiasts come to Transylvania looking to uncover the region in their favorite way. A well-marked network of cycling routes links the old Saxon villages from Brasov, Mures, and Sibiu counties, the areas of Tarnavelor Plateau and Hartibaciului Valley. Plus, you can easily find cycling maps in the bookshops and enough options for a summer of adventure.

You can rent bikes from cities like Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara, and even in some of the villages along the way. Still, it’s maybe best to bring your own if you’re planning to start and finish the tour in different locations.

Discover a few of our favorite cycling itineraries here.

Cycling in Transylvania

9. Discover Transylvania on horseback

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, traveling as locals did until one century ago. There are several horseback riding retreats in Transylvania you can choose from, and most also offer good accommodation and meal options.

You have plenty of options, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider who wants to go on a seven days long tour.


Photo source: Equus Silvania

10. Choose walking Transylvania tours

If hiking is too much, and cycling is not your thing, then walking is the best alternative. You can take the cycling routes that follow secondary village roads or forest paths. Or you can try the old shortcuts used by shepherds, usually to the higher pastures, outside the villages. Still, be careful not to go too close to the herd. Shepherd dogs aren’t anything like the typical friendly dogs looking to play fetch.


View from Pestera village

These are some of our favorite things to do in Transylvania, and we’re sure you’d enjoy experiencing one or more during your vacation. If you have other recommendations, drop us a line in the comments section below. We’re curious to find out what you like the most.


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