Enveloped within the Carpathian Mountains, you’ll find Romania’s mysterious region of Transylvania. Far more than the site of Dracula’s Castle, Transylvania is home to amazing architecture, charming villages, and must-see festivals and events that beautifully showcase the area.

Transylvania’s Iconic Castles

Let’s start with a tour of Transylvania’s iconic castles—there are more than 50 of them! Here are just a few that you can’t miss:

Bran Castle

We can’t speak of Transylvania without mentioning Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s Castle. Enveloped in myth and legend, the castle’s fame stems from its alleged ties to the bloodthirsty character immortalized in Bram Stoker’s novel.

Originally built as a fortress in the 14th century to defend against the Ottoman Empire, Bran Castle served as a royal residence and a museum—and was never actually visited by Bram Stoker! It is open to the public today, and is an incredibly popular tourist destination in Transylvania, with tours that will teach you about the castle’s legacy within the region.

Corvin Castle

Continuing our exploration, we arrive at the imposing Corvin Castle, celebrated for its intricate Gothic architecture and links to Romanian nobility. Constructed in the 14th century by John Hunyadi—a Hungarian military leader and governor of Transylvania—this castle gives a fascinating glimpse into medieval life. Here, you can see ornately decorated rooms, a medieval courtyard, and even a torture chamber. It’s one of the largest castles in all of Europe, and an absolute must-see on any visit to Romania.

Peleș Castle

A comparatively newer castle, Peleș Castle was built in the 19th century as a summer residence for King Carol I, and is of German Neo-Renaissance design. Once the summer retreat of Romanian royalty, the castle’s opulent interior showcases intricate woodcarvings, stained-glass windows, and gorgeous paintings. On a visit to this castle, you can see the grand reception hall, the royal armory, the music room, many gardens and terraces, and an enormous collection of art and artifacts.

Transylvania’s Enchanting Villages

Venture off the beaten path and travel to the lovely villages of Transylvania, where you’ll be see traditional Romanian, Hungarian, and Saxon architecture, cuisine, and craftsmanship. Three that you absolutely should visit include:


Begin your journey in the beautiful medieval citadel of Sighișoara, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, you can walk in the footsteps of the infamous Vlad the Impaler (who lived in exile here), exploring the city’s citadel and the clock tower that dominates the skyline.


Next, venture to the remote village of Viscri, where the centuries-old fortified church—also a UNESCO World Heritage Site—showcases the region’s Saxon heritage. Travel here and enjoy its well-preserved medieval architecture surrounded by rolling hills, fields, and forests. Many of the buildings here have been restored and are now used as guesthouses, restaurants, and shops.


Complete your odyssey in the charming village of Biertan, home to one of Transylvania’s best-preserved fortified churches—and, as you may have guessed, also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. This 15th-century church is a fantastic example of Saxon architecture and has defensive walls, towers, and gates, plus a gorgeous interior with Gothic and Renaissance elements throughout. Further afield from the church, you’ll love the narrow streets, old stone walls, and beautiful central square.

Festivals and Events Celebrating Transylvanian Heritage

Exploring Transylvania's Iconic Castles, Quaint Villages & Heritage Festivals - Frayed Passport - Jazz Festival

Photo by Chris Bair on Unsplash

Should you have the wonderful opportunity to visit Transylvania, there is no shortage of festivals and events celebrating the region’s heritage! A few to consider:

Sighișoara Medieval Festival

Step back in time during this summer event in the town of Sighișoara, where the medieval era comes alive through costumed reenactments, parades, and traditional music and dance performances.

Bran Castle Halloween Party

Embrace the spooky atmosphere of Dracula’s Castle during its famous Halloween party! Revel in the creepy decorations, live music, and costume contests that will make for an unforgettable experience.

Transilvania International Film Festival

Held annually in the city of Cluj-Napoca, this festival showcases independent films from around the world, featuring screenings, workshops, and other engaging events for film enthusiasts.

Transilvania Blues Festival

Unwind to the soulful sounds of blues music at this annual event, held in different locations across Transylvania. Local and international artists come together to perform for this exciting festival!

Cluj-Napoca Jazz in the Park

Spend a relaxing summer day in the city of Cluj-Napoca, as the soothing melodies of jazz music fill the air during this annual event. Set against a picturesque backdrop, the festival features both established and emerging artists.

The Sibiu International Theater Festival

Witness the transformative power of theater at this prestigious event, which showcases an array of performances from around the world. Ranging from experimental plays to classical productions, the festival provides a platform for artistic expression and creative collaboration.

A Quick Culinary Tour of Transylvania

We can’t close out this article without mentioning some of the foods you’ll find on a tour of Transylvania. A few favorites:

  1. Sarmale: Savor the delicious sarmale—cabbage rolls stuffed with a blend of rice and meat—a festive dish that graces tables during holidays and special occasions.
  2. Mici: Relish the smoky aroma of mici, a popular street food comprising grilled minced meat rolls found throughout the region.
  3. Cozonac: Sweeten your adventure with a slice of cozonac, a festive bread with nuts and dried fruit, traditionally enjoyed during the Christmas season.
  4. Ciorbă de burtă: Warm up with a bowl of ciorbă de burtă, a comforting and flavorful tripe soup that is a staple in Romanian cuisine.
  5. Papanasi: Indulge in papanasi, scrumptious doughnuts filled with soft cheese and topped with sour cream and fruit preserves.

Ready to Travel to Transylvania?

With its beautiful landscapes, historic castles, quaint villages, and bright cultural heritage, Transylvania offers an unforgettable experience for every traveler! Whether you’re a bookworm checking off your bucket list, a history nerd exploring Transylvania’s past, or whether you’re looking for an adventure beyond the traditional, this is absolutely the place to be.

Have you had the opportunity to explore Transylvania? Share your stories and advice with the Frayed Passport community!

About the Author

Heather is a freelance writer who loves exploring the intersection of travel and history. Read her other articles on Frayed Passport here.

Featured image by danieldudu from Pixabay

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