As Romania’s capital city, it makes sense that Bucharest is where most people head to when traveling to the country. Bucharest is a fun place to spend several days exploring as it’s a city with loads going on. But it’s important to know that there are many other great destinations to be found throughout Romania. What’s nice is that many of these places can be comfortably visited as a day trip while you’re based in the capital. To show you the great potential that comes with the best day trips from Bucharest, here are some of the best places to visit from Bucharest.
1. Bran Castle
Easily one of the most well known attractions in Romania, Bran Castle has its own history and charms but still is best known for its connection to the famous fictional character Dracula. The connection between Dracula and Bran Castle has made this one of the most popular day tours from Bucharest, even though the connection is only that this Transylvanian castle most closely matches the description of Dracula’s castle in the novel. It’s hard to deny though that Bran Castle is a beautiful sight and an entertaining attraction to explore. There’s the main courtyard, several beautiful balcony walkways, and the former royal residence rooms to visit, not to mention a rather fitting secret passageway which links the first and third floors.
Getting there: Getting from Bucharest to Bran Castle by train or bus takes at least 4 ½ hours which is not really worth it. A much better use of your time is to go with a guided tour which will show you other attractions in the area as well.
At the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, Brasov is one of the best side trips from Bucharest because it’s one of Transylvania’s most interesting and atmospheric cities. Begin your visit in the city’s main square of Piaţa Sfatului, home to some really pretty baroque buildings, including the city’s former town hall. From there, walk over to the imposing and Gothic Black Church, exactly the kind of landmark you’d imagine is in Transylvania. Continue to explore the historic center of the city, taking in the medieval walls and various towers which once protected Brasov. Be sure not to miss out on a trip up on the cable car to the top of Mt. Tâmpa where you’ll be treated to stunning views of the city and the surrounding forest-covered mountains.
Getting there: There are regular trains that travel from Bucharest to Brasov, with the trip taking around 3 hours, plus or minus 20 minutes. To combine Brasov with other Transylvanian destinations, you should look at taking a guided tour.
3. Peles Castle
One of the best places to visit in Romania, a visit to Peles Castle should not be missed. Found in the small village of Sinaia, below the Bucegi mountains, this castle looks like something taken straight out of a fairytale. The castle was built by 1883 for King Carol I of Romania as a royal summer residence, and is now a museum. Visitors will get the classic view of the castle as they walk up through the castle grounds and admire the terrace gardens. Inside you can tour both floors of the castle or just the first floor and see the interior which is just as exquisite as the exterior. Rooms in the castle are generally themed, from the Indian-inspired Music Room to the Turkish Salon, and there’s even a historic movie theater.
Getting there: Hourly trains run from Bucharest to the village of Sinaia. The journey takes 2 ½ hours and you must then walk up to the castle. Alternatively, visit Peles Castle on a guided tour to see it along with several other Transylvanian highlights.
When it comes to things to see in Romania outside of Bucharest, the charming city of Sibiu is one not to be missed. Sibiu is an important city in Transylvania, with a Saxon heritage that lends it an appealing old-fashioned atmosphere perfect for sightseeing. Start by finding the city’s Great Square at the heart of the old town which is surrounded by notable landmarks like the City Hall and Brukenthal Palace. A short walk away is the Little Square where you can find the picture-perfect Bridge of Lies. Definitely take the time to climb up the tower of the Lutheran Cathedral as you’ll not only get to see its gorgeous tiled roof but also the Sibiu cityscape. Last but not least, you’ll want to take a walk down the Passage of Steps, a scenic staircase which runs between the two halves of the Old Town.
Getting there: Possibly the furthest place you’d want to visit for the day, getting to Sibiu by public transport will take too long, so your best option is to drive.
5. Piatra Craiului National Park
For a day out in the glorious nature of Transylvania, it’s hard to beat Piatra Craiului National Park. On a visit to this stunning protected outdoor area in the southern Carpathian Mountains you’ll have plenty to see. Hiking is probably the most straightforward activity you can do during your day trip, but it is also possible to go horseback riding and rock climbing in certain areas. The national park boasts all sorts of landscapes, from forests and canyons to high mountain ridges and glacial lakes. One of the easiest hiking trails takes you through a canyon blanketed in forest, while longer hikes will take you higher and you can even visit some of the traditional villages found around the park.
Getting there: Taking public transport to reach Piatra Craiului National Park from Bucharest is too long and complicated to really be a viable option. That means your best option is to drive there.
6. Transfagarasan Highway
It may seem strange, but the Transfagarasan Highway is one of the most popular spots to see in Romania. Once you see photos of the views from there you’ll understand why all the fuss is being made over a road. Carving through, and over, the Fagaras Mountains, the Transfagarasan Highway is only fully open during the summer but it makes for one heck of a scenic drive. The classic view of the highway is found once you reach Lake Balea; this is where the road endlessly snakes down the valley and dramatic mountains surround you. But it’s not all about just one viewpoint, the drive provides a great range of scenery, with several lakes and plenty of forest to stop at and enjoy.
Getting there: Since it’s all about the drive, you’ll likely want to do the 3 ½ hour trip to the most scenic parts of the highway with your own car. However, it is actually possible to visit with an organized tour if you can’t or don’t want to rent a car and drive.
7. Rasnov Citadel
Another of the classic Bucharest day trips that further showcases Transylvania, is the town of Rasnov and the citadel there. Above what is a fairly typical town for this part of Romania you’ll find the imposing sight of the hilltop Rasnov Citadel. Unlike the castles of Transylvania, this fortress built by the Teutonic Knights was intended as a refuge for the town’s people during times of war. Roaming the grounds of the citadel you’ll see houses and other important buildings which show this wasn’t just a place for the local elite. It’s hard not to appreciate the impressive walls which surround the citadel, and the museum here does a good job of adding context to all you’re seeing. Plus the views of the forests over the Carpathian Mountains aren’t half bad.
Getting there: While manageable, reaching Rasnov from Bucharest will take a long time, roughly 4 hours 40 minutes by train and bus. Rather than focusing on just one place, you’ll probably be better off with a guided tour as they’ll also show you other big regional attractions, like Bran Castle.
8. Slanic Prahova Salt Mine
If you have a fascination with underground attractions, the Slanic Prahova Salt Mine is the place for you. Delving 208 meters down into this historic mine you’ll be able to see some surprising sights inside Europe’s largest salt mine. One of the most impressive rooms is known as the Genesis Hall, inside of which are salt sculptures of famous Romanian cultural and historical personalities. Oddly enough, the mine is also home to things like playgrounds, ping pong tables, and an underground soccer field. Because the air in the mine is said to have therapeutic qualities, there’s even a health resort there. To fully understand the significance of the mine, it’s best to visit the on-site Salt Museum and learn more about its history.
Getting there: It’s possible to reach the town of Slanic from Bucharest by train, the trip takes around 2 ½ hours with limited connections. Alternatively, go with a guided tour and you’ll have everything handled for you.
9. Poenari Castle
Often overlooked for the many preserved castles throughout Romania, the ruins of Poenari Castle are still well worth the day trip. The ruins of this castle from the 15th century are found on Mount Cetatea and are another site in Romania connected with the infamous figure Vlad the Impaler, who actually had it built. Left abandoned for centuries, the castle naturally fell into ruin, but there are parts of the castle walls and towers still standing. The hard part about visiting Poenari Castle is the 1,462 step stairway which visitors need to climb to reach it. That being said, there are plans to introduce a rack railway to make the trip up easier. Positioned up by the Carpathian Mountains and overlooking the Arges River, expect great views at the top.
Getting there: Visiting the castle with public transport is awkward because of its remote location, so your best bet is to combine this spot with the Transfagarasan Highway in a single guided tour.
10. Comana Nature Park
Just a short trip from Bucharest, Comana Nature Park is a great idea for a day out in nature. Located due south of the capital, this nature reserve is particularly known for its wetland environments. Visitors can spend their time walking through the surrounding forest or along the shore of the lake. Bird watchers will definitely want to visit the nature park due to its biodiversity, with over 140 different species of birds calling Comana home. Close to the nature park you’ll find Comana Adventure Park, with outdoor activities like zip-lining and kayaking out on the Neajlov Delta. Over in town there’s also the Comana Monastery which, despite its appearance, has been around since the 16th century.
Getting there: At one time there were minibuses that connected CFR Progresu at the southern end of Bucharest with Comana, but they no longer run. It is possible to get regular buses to Gostinari or Mihai Bravu from either side of the park and then get a taxi the rest of the way. The trip should take no longer than 1 ½ hours.
11. Veliko Tarnovo
Since Bulgaria isn’t very far from Bucharest, you may want to consider jumping over the border and visiting the stunning city of Veliko Tarnovo. Once the medieval capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo is a city that lives and breathes history. It’s best to begin here with a walk through the Old Town. As you go, find a viewpoint that lets you look out at the rows of Ottoman houses which cling to the hillside above the Yantra River. Gradually meander down the hillside through the houses and visit the Monument to the Asen Dynasty by the river. Next, head over to Tsarevets fortress, a huge medieval stronghold with walls that run a circle around its hilltop. Don’t miss the Patriarchal Cathedral and the highly unusual murals which cover its walls.
Getting there: Again, a destination that is too far to get to by public transport, your choices are either to drive to Veliko Tarnovo or visit with a guided tour.
Sitting down on the Black Sea coast, the city of Constanța offers travelers yet another type of day trip getaway. There’s no sense wasting anytime, so jump straight to the city’s most iconic landmark, Constanța Casino. It may be an abandoned relic of a previous era, but the sight of this worn art nouveau building by the waterfront is still quite moving. Having seen that, head over to the Old Town for the rest of the city’s sights. Start with the St. Peter & Paul Orthodox Cathedral and the Great Mahmudiye Mosque to get different sides of the city’s religious history, before absorbing the broader picture with the National History and Archaeology Museum and the extensive Roman Mosaics complex.
Getting there: One of the easy train trips from Bucharest, it takes just 2 hours to reach Constanta by train and 3 hours by bus. However, a more stress-free option is to have a guided tour take you and handle all the transportation.
13. Danube Delta
The Danube River may be more closely associated with Vienna and Budapest, but Romania is home to the river’s incredible delta. Just shy of where the Danube meets the Black Sea, the Danube Delta is a place of incredible natural beauty, important wildlife diversity and a UNESCO world heritage site to boot. Being a wetland environment, it’s understandable that much of the delta’s wildlife is made up of birds, but it’s also home to other critters, from foxes to deer and even wolves. One way travelers can explore the delta is to take a boat ride through the vast reed marshes which fill the habitat. If you’re after a relaxing time in a truly special environment, the Danube Delta couldn’t be more perfect.
Getting there: The gateway to the Danube Delta is the city of Tulcea, which can be reached from Bucharest with a 3 ½ hour drive. It’s from there that you can arrange boat excursions. However, a better alternative is to book a guided day tour from Bucharest directly.
14. Snagov Monastery & Mogosoaia Palace
A great combination of attractions to visit in one day is the pairing of Snagov Monastery and Mogosoaia Palace. Neither are far from Bucharest and together they create quite a pleasant, balanced day trip. Start with the village of Snagov, where you’ll find Snagov Monastery alone on an island in the lake there. The monastery, while beautiful in its own right, is fabled to be where Vlad the Impaler was laid to rest. Then it’s across to the 17th-century mansion that is Mogosoaia Palace. Admire the complex design of the palace and take a stroll through the enchanting grounds that envelop it, home to greenhouses and St. George’s Church.
Getting there: Difficult to reach from Bucharest by public transport and harder to get between, you’re probably going to want to take the easy way out and hop aboard a guided tour for these ones.
15. Prahova Valley
In order to reach many of the places listed in this article, you first need to travel through the scenic Prahova Valley. Rather than simply passing through, it’s possible to spend a day in the Prahova Valley seeing what it and the nearby Bucegi Mountains have in store for you. Now, Peles Castle is the most popular attraction in the valley, but we’ve already said plenty about it. But there are also towns like Bușteni with its beautiful monastery and Cantacuzino Castle. The big draw of the valley though is the chance to take a cable car ride up into the mountains to see the incredible scenery and maybe go for a hike. One sight worth the climb is the Sfinx, a huge rock formation that looks like the mythical creature.
Getting there: Many organized tours will take you through the Prahova Valley from Bucharest, but few really feature it. Alternatively, your best approach is to take the train to somewhere like Bușteni, or to simply drive.
Those are many of the places around Bucharest you’ll want to consider when thinking about making a day trip. With that kind of variety and quality, the hard part will be deciding how many days you want to set aside for day trips and which you’ll prioritize.