After flying from Kigali, Rwanda and having an Istanbul layover self tour, I was now off to Romania. My goal in Romania is to travel from Bucharest to Bran Castle and see the famous “Dracula’s Castle”. However, because Karen and myself only had two nights in Romania and one full day, we didn’t have the option of staying close to Bran Castle and staying there overnight. Our only option would have to be a full day trip to Bran Castle.
Here are the three options that we looked into on how to get from Bucharest to Bran Castle
- Join a tour
- Take public transportation
- Rent a car
We didn’t want to join a tour because it cost $100 USD each person for a private tour. And we also hate tours in general, we prefer travelling there ourselves.
If we took public transportation, it would take 4.5 hours just to go from Bucharest to Bran Castle. This was doable but it would be a very long day. Karen and myself were still exhausted from flying from Rwanda to Romania with a long layover in Istanbul and barely any sleep. We would basically have to take the train from Bucharest Gara de Nord to Brasov. From the city of Brasov, we would take a 1 hour bus to Bran Castle.
The three bus companies you can take from Brasov to Bran are:
- Transbus Codreanu
- Montana Transport
- Antares Transport
This was definitely the cheapest option and would cost about $25-$30 USD to travel round trip between Bran Castle and Bucharest.
But, factoring in fatigue from flying, Karen and myself didn’t have the willpower or energy to go on another long public transportation ride.
The last option would have to be to rent a car.
Renting a car in Bucharest
It seems that the best and most affordable place to rent a car in Bucharest is from the airport. However, because we were renting a car last minute, the airport was sold out on automatic transmission cars.
Karen and myself don’t know how to drive manual transmission because in Canada, I can’t even rent one to learn how to drive one!
We finally turned to the front desk staff at the Ibis hotel we were staying at in Bucharest and asked if they can help us find a car rental dealer.
The front desk staff started making calls and finally found someone that would rent us a car and we were quoted 358 Lei ($110 CAD) for a full day rental including insurance.
Meeting the unpleasant car rental owner
We agreed to rent the car rental owner’s vehicle and within one hour, he was in the hotel to sign the agreement with us. This man was definitely unpleasant, grumpy, and not a likable person.
But whatever, we’re not here to make friends with him, we just need to rent his car. 358 Lei ($110 CAD) is quite expensive for a car rental in Eastern Europe but we didn’t really have a choice because he was our only option at this point. This is still cheaper than joining a tour and we get to see the country side with complete freedom to explore.
We signed the agreement and off we go to Bran Castle!
Filling up gas and buying a SIM card
Oh dear god, gas is so expensive in Bucharest. We spent 174.16 Lei for a 3/4 tank of gas which is $57.49 CAD. I’ll never complain about gas being expensive in Vancouver, Canada ever again.
After getting some expensive gas, we went to the mall and got a simcard. Karen paid for the simcard which cost her about $10 CAD. We mainly needed the SIM card so we can use google maps to navigate our way to Bran Castle and also for Karen to surf the net during the long 3+ hour car ride.
Driving from Bucharest to Bran Castle
The drive from Bucharest to Bran Castle was definitely very interesting. Driving in Bucharest is crazy. It’s definitely very chaotic, especially on roundabouts. People are coming from all directions without any rhyme or reason. But, I made it work, I’m quick to adapt.
After getting out the city, driving became much easier except for the random torrential downpour that happened in small towns we passed by. The Romania country side is definitely very beautiful and I enjoyed glancing out of the window during my drive there.
It wasn’t long before we finally arrived at Bran Castle to see the famous Dracula’s Castle!
Bran Castle sight seeing
After parking our car in the city of Bran, Karen and myself were ready to see Bran Castle. We bought our tickets which cost 40 Lei ($13.20 CAD) per person.
Then we went in and started snapping tons of pictures!
We noticed that there is a massive amount of Asian tourist here. Lots of them seems to be from Singapore which I found quite fascinating. And of course, there is lots of Americans and other European tourists as well.
Bran Castle was definitely impressive and learning about its history was enjoyable.
We learned about Vlad the Impaler, the Ottoman Empire (Bran Castle was built to help defend against the Ottoman Empire), and the various ruler of this castle.
When we finished our sight seeing, a huge horde of tourists came in. I think we got lucky we went in when there was only a fair number of tourist inside.
Driving back to Bucharest
The drive back to Bucharest was kind of scary. About halfway through our drive, we saw giant clouds forming behind us. When we were about 3/4 in before reaching Bucharest, massive torrential downpour started happening again. However, this time, it was also getting really windy.
We stopped by a local McDonald’s to grab a bite to eat and to let the storm pass by a bit. When it calmed down, we started driving again. But, as we drove, it started raining really hard again and by the time we got to Bucharest, visibility was extremely low.
The wind was so strong it felt like our car can get easily tipped over. We finally arrived back to our hotel after a grueling drive back and asked the front desk staff if this sort of weather was normal. He then replied that because of global warming, they now have tornadoes in Bucharest. Great…
Returning the car back to the unpleasant car rental owner
Soon after, the unpleasant car rental owner returns to pick up his car. I returned the keys to him and he demanded I pay for the parking fees. I said no because I filled up tons of extra gas already so he got that for free. He grumpily agreed and said he’d like to do business again one day.
I’m definitely not doing anymore business with this grumpy, unpleasant man.
The next day, Karen and myself headed for the airport. I’ve got to say that the Bucharest Airport is quite terrible. It’s super hot inside which makes you feel extremely dehydrated. When we left Bucharest, I felt that I will never go back to Romania ever again. Bran Castle was really cool but that’s it.
I felt that many Romanians are very grumpy and is living in despair. The vibe is definitely depressing.
I don’t regret travelling to Romania. Doing the road trip from Bucharest to Bran Castle was fun and adventurous. But, that’s more than enough of Romania for me. There are other countries in Eastern Europe that is having a hard time with their economy as well such as Serbia but the people stay friendly. I think I’ll go back to those friendlier European countries instead (such as Poland and Scotland). Being grumpy is definitely not going to help your economy.