On the trail of Dracula: exploring Romania’s Transylvanian Alps

In the heart of the Transylvanian Alps lies Dracula's castle ... do you dare enter?

Romania – and more specifically Transylvania – has long been associated with the Dracula legend. Stories of vampires inhabiting isolated castles tucked away in the mountains won’t be far from your mind – and there are even places you can visit that are very reminiscent of the setting for the spooky tale.

However, you’ll find the hospitality you receive while you’re in Romania will be warm and welcoming, while the scenery will be totally breathtaking. There are many great hikes you can go on in the region, so it’s the ideal place for a walking trip – if you want to see a sample itinerary, click here.

We’re going to take a look at some of the sites you can visit and trails you can follow while you’re in Romania.

Peles Castle

There are several fairytale-like castles nestled in the Transylvanian Alps, of which Peles Castle is just one. Construction on the enclave began in the late 19th century and the building is in a Neo-Renaissance style. Its turrets with their pointy roofs are its most distinctive feature, and in the inner courtyard is a series of murals.

The castle has a strong connection with the Romanian royal family and has now been turned into a museum, so you can see some of the main rooms in all their splendour.

Hiking in the Bran Valley

The Bran Valley is a beautiful place to go hiking, with towering mountains on either side, meadows full of wildflowers and large sections of forest that cover the slopes. This is a picture-perfect alpine landscape and it’s a real delight to explore on foot.

You’ll feel as though you’re a million miles from the nearest town or city and can take your time as you follow the trail, soaking up all the amazing views that surround you.

However, it’s not just the wonderful scenery that makes the Bran Valley worth a visit, but also Bran Castle, which is one of the most spectacular in Romania. Perched on a rocky outcrop, a fortress of some kind has been on this spot since the 13th century and it’s one of the places most strongly associated with the Dracula legend.

This is because the castle most closely fits the description in Bram Stoker’s novel, although the author himself never visited Romania. While Dracula is a fictional character who’s linked to the region, there are plenty of local myths that you can uncover, too.

In the local villages, there is a belief in ghosts known as steregoi. These are evil spirits and there was even a story that some of these ghosts inhabited living bodies during daylight hours, only for the souls to leave their bodies at night and torment the villagers.

Piatra Craiului ridge

The walk along the Piatra Craiului ridge is one of the most stunning in the Carpathian Mountains. The ridge itself is around 25 miles long and the views from this vantage point are breathtaking – you can see the southern Carpathians in all their glory from here, as well as the valleys that lie to either side.

It’s worth pointing out that one section of the ridge that you’ll walk along is just 2 m wide and that you’re required to hold on to a chain as you cross this part – if you suffer from vertigo you may prefer to go on an alternative route, rather than tackling the ridge.