You arrive in Bucharest for a short period of time, either for business or pleasure. Then, you realize that you have time just for a day trip in and around the city, and you want to see as much as possible. Well, you’re in luck – there are plenty of options for day-tours from Bucharest. And for all these tours, you will need a car – or even better, a tour guide with a car.
One-day tour from Bucharest to Bran Castle
There is no doubt that this is the star of all one-day trips from Bucharest. It might be long and tiring, but at the end of the day, you’ll be more than happy that you went. It begins early in the morning, no later than 8:00 am. Then, in just two hours, you’ll reach the impressive Carpathian Mountains. In Sinaia, one of Romania's most famous mountain resorts, you’ll visit the local Orthodox monastery, which boasts fine Byzantine architecture and superb frescoes. Just five minutes by car from the monastery is one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. The French newspaper Le Figaro claims it’s the best in Europe. Built-in the 19th century at the foot of the Carpathians and in a gorgeous setting, Peles castle looks like something out of a fairy tale. Don’t miss its lavish halls and bedrooms.
Furthermore, you’ll admire the stunning, craggy cliffs of the Carpathian Mountains as you cross into Transylvania, the land of magic and mythology. Of course, Bran Castle – commonly referred to as “Dracula’s Castle” – is the first stop. Many tourists might be put off by the kitschy bazaar surrounding the castle, but the reality is quite different once you step into the courtyard. You will feel the medieval atmosphere and the real history of this place very quickly. Although the connection between Bran Castle and Dracula is shrouded in mystery, don’t let yourself get depressed by the negative reaction of Romanians to the Dracula story and continue to dream that you are about to meet Bram Stoker’s infamous literary creation.
Just a half-hour from Bran, you’ll reach the medieval town of Brasov. Located in a beautiful setting and surrounded by mountains, the old town of Brasov is a fine example of the legacy left by former German colonists from Transylvania. If time permits, visit the impressive Black Church – or at least enjoy a walking tour along the picturesque cobblestone streets.
From Brasov, you’ll be back in Bucharest in about three hours. So, in total, you’ll be on the road for 10-12 hours. In case you are interested in this one-day tour, you can find more details here.
One-day tour from Bucharest to Poenari
The real fortress of Dracula
It’s clear to many foreigners that when you say Romania, you say Dracula. Whether Romanians like it or not, this is reality. Therefore, a day trip to Poenari, the real fortress built by Vlad the Impaler, sounds particularly appealing.
This one-day trip from Bucharest begins at 8:00 am. In about two hours, you’ll be in the Carpathian Mountains in front of the Poenari Fortress. Built at the top of the mountain, the fortress reminds us even today of the Dracula legends, people impaled on stakes, and battles between the Ottoman Empire and the little province of Wallachia. There are 1480 steps to be climbed all the way to the fortress, but the incline is not so steep, and many people can do it in about a half-hour. (Actually, our slowest tourist made it in one hour while the fastest needed just fifteen minutes). Once at the top, you’ll be thrilled by the view over the Carpathian Mountains and by the fact that you can actually touch the fortress built by Dracula himself, even if today it is just a ruin.
You shouldn’t leave the area without making a detour to the Vidraru Dam, one of the largest in the country. It is here the famous Transfagarasan Highway starts to cross the mountains into Transylvania.
On the way back to Bucharest, stop in Curtea de Arges and visit one of the most beautiful and interesting monasteries in Romania. Besides the fact that Romania’s royal necropolis, the monastic complex has one of the most interesting legends in the country.
Since this tour traces the history of Vlad the Impaler, you should make a detour to the Princely Court of Targoviste, the former capital of Wallachia. You’ll be able to climb the Sunset Tower (just 27m/89ft), visit the ruins of the former palace and the Princely Church, which has preserved its old frescoes.
This one-day tour takes about ten hours. For more details, you can visit this page.
One-day tour from Bucharest to Bulgaria
Bucharest lies just 55km/35mi from the Bulgarian border, so it’s easy to visit some of the country’s most famous tourist destinations in one day.
This one-day trip from Bucharest should start no later than 8:00 am. In about an hour, you’ll reach the border and cross the Danube River into Bulgaria. You will need a valid ID/passport as an EU citizen and a passport if you’re not an EU citizen. Also, be sure to have a Bulgarian/Schengen visa if you need one. Passing through the city of Ruse, you’ll arrive, after a short detour, at the UNESCO site of the Ivanovo rock-hewn churches. The entire former monastic complex, founded in the 13th century, consisted of dozens of churches, monk cells, and chapels. Some of them still boast exquisite frescoes even today. One of them, the Church of the Holy Virgin, is open to the public. It can be reached after a short and easy hike. From here, you’ll have a great view of the entire natural park of Rusenski Lom, a tourist destination in itself.
The one-day tour continues with Veliko Tarnovo, one of the most famous tourist landmarks in Bulgaria. As the capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom, Veliko Tarnovo preserves even today some of its medieval glory. By far, the most important tourist attraction is the impressive Tsarevets fortress. Construction started in the 12th century, and the fortress had three important entrances. Although it is just a ruin today with several parts having been entirely rebuilt, the site impresses with its size and with its history. At the top of the hill lies the former church of the Bulgarian Patriarchy. It was completely rebuilt in the 1980s, and the interior frescoes are very different from those in a regular Byzantine church. The Tsarevets fortress, conquered by the Ottomans in 1393, marks the end of Bulgarian independence. Spend some time on the lovely cobblestone streets of the old town, and soak up the local atmosphere.
Before the return trip to Bucharest, a final stop should be made in the village of Arbanasi. You can enjoy a short stroll on the alleys of this picturesque village while admiring the classic Bulgarian architecture. In about three hours, you’ll be back in Bucharest. This day-tour lasts 10-11 hours. For more details, you can have a look here.
One-day hiking tours from Bucharest to the Carpathian Mountains
Bucharest lies just two hours from the Carpathian Mountains. You can easily enjoy a short hike in these mountains no matter how trained you are for this kind of activity. There are hundreds of well-marked mountain trails of different difficulties. We shall mention just a few of them.
In Busteni, the town known for its longest cable car in Romania, you can enjoy a short hike for no more than 2 hours. The hike starts from the cable car building and continues along the river until it reaches the forest. The first 20 minutes might seem a little bit too steep for somebody with no training, but after this part, the whole hike is, in fact, just a nice stroll in the park. In the end, you’ll reach a beautiful waterfall, known in Romanian as Urlatoarea, because of its loud noise.
Another option would be to take the cable car all the way to the top of the Bucegi Mountains. Then, just 20 minutes from the cable car, you can stop in front of the Sphinx, a natural-shaped rock. From the Sphinx, you can reach about 1 hour of the Heroes’ Cross built in the memory of the soldiers who died in the First World War. The view from the cross is with no doubt one of the best views in the entire country. Mountains, valleys, and cities will be laid down at your feet for miles and miles.
The last suggestion for a day tour from Bucharest would be the 7 Stairs Canyon located in Piatra Mare (Big Rock) Mountain, not far away from Brasov. From the main national road between Predeal and Brasov, turn to the right once you see the Dambul Morii Chalet and continue your hike for one hour to the Canyon. Once you are in the narrow gorge, you have to climb 7 metal staircases, some of them 4-floor high—more than that, the staircases go up just inches from the waterfalls. Once you are done with the canyon, you can go back to the main road using the longest zip-line in Romania. E real joy to go down while flying from tree to tree. Here you can book some of our hiking tours.
If you have comments or suggestions, please let us know. Which were your favorite day-tours around Bucharest?