For the curious traveler, experiencing Romania’s Transylvania region firsthand is an unforgettable experience. If you are arriving in Romania by air, then your journey to this enchanted region will likely begin in Bucharest, Romania’s capital city. In this guide, I will detail how to access some of the most popular destinations in the Transylvania region from Bucharest.
Generally, the fastest and most convenient way to get to Transylvania from Bucharest is by Train, leaving from Gara de Nord. In the following sections, I will detail how to get to Brasov, Sinaia (home to Peles Castle), and Sibiu by train or bus.
Where/What is Transylvania?
Transylvania is a mountainous region located in present-day central Romania and bound by the Carpathian Mountains on three sides. The region has a rich and intriguing history and has passed through periods of Roman, Bulgarian, Turkic, Hungarian, and autonomous rule. Today, the region is mostly known for its breathtaking landscapes and traditional Saxon and Romanian villages, which dot the landscape.
Each time I visit this region, I am refreshed by the virgin forests and rural lifestyles which persist in this reclusive part of the world. It is still common to spot shepherds, complete with shepherding staffs and caps, tending to their flocks on the lush hillsides. It is one of the last places in all of Europe in which “Old Europe” has yet to give way the new European model of globalization.
But, before you get to relaxing in charming Sibiu or lounging around quaint Sinaia, you’ll have to navigate your way through Bucharest’s chaotic transportation system. In this guide, I will give you all of the information you need to reach your Transylvanian destination with ease.
Bucharest to Brasov
Cost: A one-way train ticket to Brasov costs 48 RON, or $12.
Trains leave from Bucharest to Brasov nearly every hour from Gara de Nord, Bucharest’s primary train station. To ride the train, you’ll need to purchase a ticket from the ticket counters located on the far north-east side of Gara de Nord. If the ticket lady asks you if you prefer “regio,” or “inter-regio,” be sure to specify that you would like an inter-regio ticket. The inter-regio trains make the trip in about 2.5 hours while the regio trains can take nearly 4 hours to get to Brasov (how’s that for a hot tip).
You can check time tables for your trip by looking up your itinerary on this website. Your departure point should be set to “Bucuresti Nord,” and your destination should be “Brasov.” The trains with an IR prefix are inter-regio trains, so make sure your train number starts with “IR.”
Unfortunately, the train station in Brasov is located nearly 4km from the city’s historical center, so you should plan on taking a bus into town once you arrive. There is a bus station located directly in front of the Brasov train station (it’s literally the first thing you see when you walk outside the doors). To get to the city center, you’ll need to ride Bus 4 to Livada Poștei or Bus 51 to Rat Brasov – Biserica Neagra. In either case, the ride should be around 20 minutes and cost 2 RON, or $0.50.
Bucharest to Sinaia
Cost: A one-way train ticket to Sinaia costs 40 RON, or $10.
Getting to Sinaia from Bucharest is really simple. Starting from Gara de Nord, purchase a ticket at one of the ticket windows at the far north-east corner of the train station. If the teller asks if you would like an “inter-regio” or “regio” ticket, make sure you choose “inter-regio.” Inter-regio trains stop less frequently and so you’ll make the trip in 1.5 hours instead of the 2.5 hours it would take on a “regio” train. Your train number should begin with the prefix IR if it is inter-regio.
To look up timetables for your trip, you can use this website. Your point of departure should be set to “Bucuresti Nord” and your destination should be “Sinaia.”
Transportation to Peles Castle from Sinaia Train Station
Luckily, Peles Castle is only 2km away from the train station in Sinaia, so you can definitely walk to the castle. If you are too tired or unable to walk this distance, there are typically taxis lined up outside of the train station who will gladly take you up to the castle. Be prepared to pay about 10 RON, or $2.50 for the trip.
Bucharest to Sibiu
Cost: A train ticket or maxi-taxi fare will set you back around 50 RON, or $12.
Getting to Sibiu from Bucharest can be a bit complicated because there are only four trains per day that have a direct route to Sibiu, they are: IR1623, IR346, IR1529, and IR472. I actually recommend taking a maxi-taxi to Sibiu instead of a train because they run frequently and are much faster.
Getting to Sibiu by Maxi-Taxi
I spoke at length about maxi-taxi’s in my Romania transportation guide. In brief, a maxi-taxi is an independently-operated micro bus that makes trips between large Romanian cities. They are very common in Romania and also a nice way to get around if you are unable to secure a train ticket.
To take a maxi-taxi from Bucharest to Sibiu, you’ll need to begin your journey at “Auto Gara Militari.” This is a bus station (kind of like a Greyhound station) located on the west side of Bucharest. You can get there by taking the metro’s red line to Pacii station. The bus station is essentially a large gated parking lot located on the south side of Iuliu Maniu Boulevard.
Once inside the bus station, start scanning the buses for a bus that has a “Sibiu” placard behind its windshield. Climb aboard, state your destination, and hand your fare to the driver. The trip to Sibiu on a maxi-taxi should take about five hours. You can view maxi-taxi timetables and fares here.
Getting to Sibiu by Train
To purchase a train ticket for Sibiu, visit one of the ticket counters at the far north-east corner of Gara de Nord Station. Be sure to tell the ticket lady that you would like a ticket for one of the direct trains (cursa directa). If you end up with a ticket for an indirect route, your trip may take over 8 hours, including transfers, so be certain you are purchasing a direct ticket. Keep in mind that these tickets go fast, so it’s not a bad idea to buy your tickets a day or two before your trip, if possible.
The earliest direct train leaves to Sibiu at 10:00am, so you may be tempted to try and take a route that involves a transfer at Caracal, Copsa Mica, or Brasov. Not only is this a much slower option, it can also be confusing if you don’t speak Romanian since it involves transfers at rural train stations. If you are looking for an alternative to a direct train to Sibiu, I would recommend taking a maxi-taxi.
Arriving in Sibiu
Both trains and maxi-taxi’s from Bucharest to Sibiu finish their journey at the Sibiu train station. From the train station, it is a short walk into the city center.
Transylvania is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Interestingly, though, some of my fondest and most vivid memories of this region are of riding the train from Bucharest and through the mountains, into the heart of the Carpathians. Depending on your route, your journey will take you through dense forest, old tunnels, and steep valleys. Grab a window seat and enjoy the ride!
Cheers and safe travels.