Romania is probably one of the least visited countries in Eastern Europe despite having a rich culture, breathtaking natural scenery and friendly locals. From medieval cities with a lively nightlife to traditional cuisine with home-grown produce and a quiet life in the countryside, a holiday in Romania is a great choice for those looking for off-the-beaten path destinations.
And Romania is the perfect place to visit with kids thanks to its many castles and fortresses that will keep them entertained and curious about history. For starters, Dracula’s Castle is in Romania so a vampire fact-finding mission may be just the thing to get your kids excited about this holiday!
So let’s see some of Romania’s most beautiful medieval castles to visit with your kids and see what this underrated destination has to offer.
1. Bran Castle aka Dracula Castle
Bran Castle is Romania’s most famous tourist attraction for obvious reasons! It became famous as the home of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula who was inspired by the notorious Vlad the Impaler, a medieval Romanian ruler known for his ruthless punishments and fairness. Just read his name again and you can guess his preferred punishment method!
The castle’s history takes us back to the 14th century when the site was first built as a fortress to guard the crossing of the Carpathian mountains from Transylvania into Wallachia. So obviously the castle’s menacing looks and thick fortress walls made it the perfect home for Dracula!
But it fell out of favor towards the end of the Middle Ages and was gradually abandoned. And, surprisingly, in 1922 it became the favorite residence of Romania’s Queen Maria who restored it into an elegant and culturally significant attraction.
So Bran Castle is a great family destination not just for its vampire reputation but also for what you’re really going to see inside. Tickets start from $11 and kids get discounts, but it’s best to buy them online as the queues tend to get very long.
A day trip to Bran Castle is one of the best things to do in Brasov since it’s only 35 minutes away by car or bus. Another great stop nearby the Horror House Bran, a theme park that combines terror and entertainment in a fun way
2. The Royal Peles Castle
Speaking of the Romanian royal family, let’s talk about Peles Castle in Sinaia, their Summer residence. King Carol of Romania wanted a palace that would appeal to his German descent, so he accepted the ideas of three German architects who combined different features of classic European styles into this magnificent palace. That’s why this castle has a luxurious and extravagant design that will immediately fascinate visitors!
The 19th-century Peles Castle was the first European castle to have electricity and many other state-of-the art features. The castle has three magnificent floors with all its magnificent, royal-worthy decorations, objects and furniture well-preserved in their original state. Why? Because after kicking out the Royal Family in 1944 the communist regime basically ignored the castle and didn’t know what to do with it!
That’s why visiting this sight will be like a time bubble experience for your kids! Touring the entire building will take about two to three hours – but it’s worth seeing where royals lived. The price for visiting only the ground floor is $10 but if you want to also see the first and second floors the full ticket will be $32.
Peles Castle is located in the mountain resort of Sinaia which is around a two hours drive or train ride from Bucharest, Romania’s capital.
3. The Medieval Citadel of Sighișoara
In the heart of the famous region of Transylvanian you’ll find Sighisoara Citadel, the last remaining citadels in Europe where people still live! It’s so well preserved it’s also a UNESCO heritage site.
The impressive medieval citadel will take you back in time the moment you step beyond its fortified walls. The houses are beautiful, colorful and well kept despite being 500 years old! In Citadel Square you’ll see the most important houses and get to relax at one of the restaurants while savoring the medieval atmosphere.
Take your kids up to the Clock Tower, the main attraction in the citadel, and let them imagine what it was to defend it against invaders. Or go up to the fortified Church on the Hill where the locals would take refuge during an attack.
Along with its rich history, Sighisoara is a great place for your kids if they’re a fan of Dracula because there’s another themed museum here called The Dracula Investigation. The gallery is full of animations, sculptures and impressive effects through which your family will learn a lot more about Romania’s medieval history, including the spectacular Corvin Castle. The Sighisoara Citadel is actually the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler and his home can be visited.
Sighisoara Citadel is easily accessible by train from Brasov and Cluj-Napoca or by car from either of these cities and there’s no entry fee.
4. Cantacuzino Castle of the Richest Romanian Family
Cantacuzino Castle in Busteni was the residence of the Cantacuzino family, a major influential political dynasty in Romania’s history. The castle was commissioned by Prince Grigore Cantacuzino who was the richest Romanian in the early 1900s. And that should already give you an idea of what to expect when you visit this castle!
The castle has four bodies made of the central, service and administrative pavilion, as well as the chapel. So there are different ways to visit the castle, which is why pricing depends on what you want to see. The general admission ticket costs $10 and for kids it’s $7. Children under five can enter the castle freely.
The castle’s interior is impressive with its roman mosaics, mural paintings, Italian glazed pottery and many more refined and extravagant designs. As you’d expect from Romania’s richest family. And don’t ignore the terrace with gorgeous views of the Carpathian Mountains!
And did you know that Cantacuzino Castle was the place where the mini-Netflix series Wednesday was shot? If your kids want to see the real-life Nevermore Academy – this is the spot!
Busteni is just next to Sinaia so it’s going to be easy to get here by car or train.
5. Sibiu Old Town
The last item on our list will keep everyone in the family happy. Sibiu is a medieval town mostly known for its lively culture and amazing fine dining restaurants serving reinterpreted Transylvanian dishes.
In 2007 the city was named European Capital of Culture as a recognition for its cultural heritage spanning over a 500 year history. Since then the city has been one of Romania’s top attractions
Even today during Summer months, which is the best time to visit, there’s always some kind of cultural event going on: an international theater or jazz festival with urban performances or artisan and folk exhibitions. And if you visit Sibiu in December, you’ll see one of the most beautiful European Christmas markets and certainly the best in Romania. So kids will love these!
There are two famous museums in Sibu. The Brukenthal National Museum holds art galleries, old libraries and a history museum. The owner, Samuel Brukenthal was an influential figure in the 18th century and a high ranking freemason.
The open-air ASTRA Traditional Folk Museum has original houses and ‘rural technology’ from villages all over Romania creating a vivid image for visitors of what life in the countryside is like. And for kids it’s a fascinating experience to be able to visit these houses and see how people live!
Nearby is also Dumbrava Sibiului Natural Park which also includes the Zoological Garden.
Something else kids – and adults – enjoy is the Steam Locomotives Museum which holds around 40 old locomotives, two of which are still functional. There’s no fee for entrance since the museum is out in the open.
Finally, when you head out in the city’s beautiful Old Town area in search for a nice place to have dinner, make sure you and your kids pay attention if someone’s watching you from the roof of the medieval houses you’ll pass. There are many urban legends about the ‘eyes of Sibiu’ that a local guide can tell you.
Getting to Sibiu from Bucharest will take about 4 hours by car but the city also has an airport served with good connections to major European cities.
I hope you see how Romania’s castles and medieval attractions are a great place to visit if you’re traveling with kids. They’ll be entertained and get a live history lesson! But, as you’ll soon see, this lesser known country has much more to offer. And the best part? It’s much more affordable compared to other European Destinations! So, ready to go visit the land of Dracula?
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