Day trips from Bucharest, Romania – a full guide to the best castles and places to visit near Bucharest (including how to get there and the most popular tours).
A trip to Romania is not complete without a visit to the iconic Transylvania. This is the most picturesque region in the country. It’s a land of rural landscapes, charming villages, medieval castles and bloodthirsty vampires. So even if you’re short on time, don’t miss to explore the beautiful countryside on a day trip from Bucharest.
As a huge castle fan, I had two choices – Peleș or Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle). Peleș is closer to Bucharest than Bran Castle and it’s a lot easier to get there using public transport. That’s why I decided to visit it instead of Dracula’s Castle.
If you look for a self-organized day tour from Bucharest, the royal palace in Sinaia (Peleș Castle) is the best option. It’s a stunningly beautiful mansion in the middle of a forest.
Hotel Concorde – Best for families
Charming hotel with a perfect location right in the Old Town.
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Hilton Garden Inn – Best for couples
4-star elegant hotel in the heart of the city centre.
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Comfy and spacious apartments in the Old Town and close to public transport.
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Check out what is the best area to stay in Bucharest if you don’t know which district to choose.
The best one-day trips from Bucharest
A trip to Bran and Peleș Castles is the most popular excursion from Bucharest. And while you can easily get to Peleș using public transport, for Bran the best option is to take an organized tour.
You can plan your journey using the Romanian Railways website.
Eastern Europe is the home of vampires and this especially applies to Transylvania, a central region in Romania. And it’s not only because of Bram Stoker’s novel. Vampires exist in the European folklore for centuries.
Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, is the most famous site in Romania. However, it doesn’t have much to do with Dracula. The fortress was simply an inspiration to Bram Stoker to write his world-known novel. And this is where the connection ends.
The castle was built in the 14th century. It served as a fortress to guard the Eastern border of Transylvania from the Ottoman Empire. One of the most famous rulers of Transylvania at that time was Vlad the Impaler (knows also as Vlad Dracula). And the only connection that he has to the Bram Stoker’s character, Count Dracula, is the name. Although Vlad the Impaler was a tyrant notorious for his extreme ruthlessness, he wasn’t a vampire. His nickname Dracula means in fact “Son of the Devil”, as his father was called Dracul (Devil).
The best way to visit the Dracula’s Castle is by organized tour or rent a car. If you decide to use public transport, it’s almost a 3 hours train ride to Brasov from Bucharest. From there you need to take a local bus to Bran (a 40min journey).
This is the most popular excursion from Bucharest. You’ll explore the most important castle in Romania and learn about the legends that shroud Vlad the Impaler. The tour also includes a visit to the medieval city of Brasov, a professional guide and entrance tickets.
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Peleș and Pelișor Castles
Peleș Castle is one of the most breathtaking castles in Europe. Surrounded by a forest, it’s like taken out of a fairytale. The interior is truly impressive thanks to the architectural style and stunning decorations. There are more than 160 lavishly furnished rooms and 30 bathrooms.
King Carol I commissioned the construction of the palace in the late 19th century. The mansion served as a summer residence of the first royal couple of Romania.
Access is only by guided tour and prepared yourself for long queues. There is a fee for photography inside the palace.
I took the 8 AM train from Bucharest to Sinaia and when I arrived there were already crowds (mostly organized groups). And this was only 50min after the opening time (not in the high season). What was worse is that the organized tour groups were let in with priority. I had to wait for 2 groups to pass, although I was there before them. If I visit Peleș again, it will be definitely with an organized tour.
This is the perfect tour from Bucharest if you want to see both Peleș and Bran Castles. You’ll also have the chance to see the beautiful town of Brasov. The tour includes the entrance fees for both sites.
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Pelișor Castle is located only 300m away from Peleș. It served as a residence of the nephew of King Carol I, the future King Ferdinand and his wife Queen Marie. With its 99 rooms, it’s a lot smaller than Peleș. The most remarkable is the Golden Room, that was designed by Queen Marie herself.
You can tour the site on your own. There is no audio guide, but English leaflets are provided.
How to get to Peleș Castle from Bucharest
Take a train from Bucuresti Nord to Sinaia train station. From there it’s a 1.5km uphill walk to the palace.
The length of the journey depends on whether you take the InterRegional or Regional train (from 1:30h to 2:30h). There is no seat reservation for the regional trains and it’s even possible not to find an empty seat. So plan your journey ahead and take the InterRegional train. It’s twice more expensive, but it’s worth it. I tried both types of trains and the Regional one was a real nightmare.
More castles near Bucharest
It was built in 1911 for Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, a rich descendant of an old family. He also had a successful political career being a Prime Minister of Romania and mayor of Bucharest.
The castle is built in Neo-Romanian style, surrounded by a beautiful park with artisanal fountains.
Access is only with guided tours in Romanian. However, the gardens are free to roam. Cantacuzino Castle is only 6km away from Sinaia, so you can combine the two sites in a single day trip.
How to get to Cantacuzino Castle from Bucharest
Take a train from Bucuresti Nord to Busteni train station (1:40h/2:40h journey). From there it’s about 500m walk to the site.
Constantin Brâncoveanu, Prince of Wallachia, commissioned the construction of the palace in 1702. The architecture is a unique combination of Venetian and Ottoman style and decorative elements.
The palace had to be a residence for his second son, Stefan. Unfortunately, several years later in 1714, the rule of Constantin Brâncoveanu ended tragically. He and his entire family were executed by the Ottoman sultan, Ahmed III.
Situated right on a lake, surrounded by beautiful gardens, Mogoșoaia Palace is a great place to spend a few hours in a relaxed atmosphere.
Although located only 15km away from the city centre of Bucharest, it’s not easy to get there. You’d better rent a car or book an organized tour.
Combine a day trip to Mogosoaia Palace with a visit to Snagov Monastery, a medieval place of worship on an island in Lake Snagov. It’s also the final resting place of Vlad Dracula. The tour includes the entrance fees, a guide and a hotel pick-up.
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More places to visit near Bucharest
Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest cities in Bulgaria and was its medieval capital. The city was a cosmopolitan centre between the 12th and 14th century. Nowadays, Veliko Tarnovo is a picturesque city with an old-time atmosphere. Cobblestone streets, an impressive fortress and unique architecture, the city has it all.
See the best of Veliko Tarnovo in this one day trip from Bucharest. Visit the rock monastery St. Dimitrie Basarabov, the medieval Arbanasi village and the Tsarevets Fortress. Hotel pick-up is included in the tour.
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Looking for a beach day trip from Bucharest? Then Constanța is the perfect choice for you. Golden soft sand, beautiful beaches, it’s all you need on a hot summer day.
Constanța is not only the largest port in Romania, but it’s the oldest city in the country. Founded around 600 BC, the city has a lot to offer for every history lover, too.
Discover the beautiful seaside of Romania in this day tour to Constanța. See the most important sites in a walking tour of the city. Then enjoy an afternoon at the famous Mamaia Beach Resort.
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Take a Communism walking tour and see the most famous Communist monuments in the city.
Join a dark history walking tour that reveals the city’s deeply kept secrets.
Take a night bar crawl tour and dive in the city’s vibrant nightlife.
Find out more interesting places to see near Bucharest in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Eastern and Central Europe.
Visitors often combine Bucharest with:
- Brasov – it’s a lovely medieval city in central Romania. Check out the best hotels to stay in Brasov.
- Sofia – the charming capital city of Bulgaria. It’s a beautiful cheap destination similar to Bucharest. The cheapest way to get there from Romania is by FlixBus.
If you’re planning to rent a car, compare the car rental prices in Europe.