Brașov

Brașov is a mountain resort city in Transylvania, Romania.

Understand

Council Square (Piaţa Sfatului)

Brașov (pronounced Bra-shov), known as Kronstadt in German or Brassó in Hungarian has a population of 283,901 and is the 7th largest city in Romania. It is located almost in the centre of the country and surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. The city provides a mix of wonderful mountain scenery in the nearby Poiana Braşov and medieval history with German influences in the old town. The city is 176 km from Bucharest.

Braşov is up there with Sinaia and the surrounding mountain resorts as the most visited city in Transylvania, Romania, and this is something that's not in vain. Braşov boasts everything from dynamic modern city life to old world charm and fascinating scenery. Also, it's pleasant to have some of the extras as well, including some of the best cleanliness records in the country, great transport and great food. Even though it's a bit overpriced for Romanian standards, especially in the high season, Braşov is definitely worth it. As some people say, "Why bother coming to Romania if you're not going to see Braşov?"

The Braşov county is one of the most visited by tourists. Other than Braşov city and its immediate attractions, the resorts of Poiana Braşov (12 km west) and Predeal (27 km south), are also well worth visiting. Other places and tourist attractions of the county: Bran, Moeciu, Râşnov, Făgăraş, Prejmer, Zărneşti, Sâmbăta (at the foot of the Făgăraş mountains).

Braşov has relatively cold and wet weather, especially at night. This region of Romania enjoys four seasons (i.e. spring and autumn as well as winter and summer). The average temperature is 7.6°C only, even though in summer temperatures may reach up to 35°C.

Due to fairly large minority populations, Hungarian and German are also spoken in addition to Romanian. Many locals also speak English.

Get in

By plane

Currently Braşov has no civilian airport, but works have started for an airport to be operational by 2015-2016. Otopeni airport near Bucharest is three hours away by car south, the same as the Sibiu airport west.

By train

Getting to Braşov is very easy, because it is a major Romanian railway hub. From the capital city Bucharest there are 18 trains daily and there are also frequent trains from other cities, as well as daily connections to Budapest, Hungary (via Oradea) and a EuroNight (fast night train) connection to Budapest via Arad. Another international overnight train arrives daily from Vienna. Also due to its affordability and comfort, train is the best way of reaching Braşov. Even though all Romanian trains are increasingly comfortable, try to take the InterCity (IC) trains, of which there are three per day. These are very modern and comfortable, as they are an initiative of the state railways to reinvigorate Romania's transport sector. Rapid trains are also comfortable and almost as fast as the InterCity trains. Accelerat trains are a fast alternative, lacking the kind of comfort an InterCity or Rapid train would provide. (As of December 2011, Rapid and Accelerat categories were both merged to InterRegio.) The cheapest way is the local-train, labeled as Regio (abbreviated R before their route number, previously called Personal). There are three of these per day, and they take nearly twice the time to get there, since they stop at every minor station, but nevertheless they're a good way to know better about the local people. Train tickets for the Regio trains are very cheap, while for the InterCity are the most expensive. Trains also arrive in Braşov from Iaşi, Suceava, Baia Mare, Satu Mare or Constanţa Check the trains timetable.

By car

Aside from the train, car is one of the most popular ways of reaching Braşov, due to its fairly good road connections. Road E60 will be the main road to use in and out or Braşov, because this European Road links Braşov to Bucharest in the south, as well as Cluj-Napoca, Oradea and Budapest, Hungary in the west. Road E68 will take you to Sibiu and further onwards to Arad and Timişoara. Road E574 takes you into the north, to the Moldavia region and the Painted Monasteries and Iaşi. The nearest airport to Braşov is Otopeni near Bucharest, which is 166 km away and accessible directly by the E60 road.

Parking can be difficult in Braşov, specially because coins are scarce after the new lei has been introduced. Do as the braşovians, park where you find a free spot. The police don't seem to bother much with such a small crime.

Winter tires are now mandatory in Romania when driving on snowy and icy roads. If you're coming in the winter season make sure that your car is completely equipped with tires bearing the M+S designation. Fines for non-compliance can go from €570 up to €920.

By bus

There are quite a few intercity bus operators CDI (departures in front of the railway station), but these aren't as comfortable and reliable as the train. Braşov does not have an airport yet (one is being built), due to its proximity to Bucharest and Sibiu, which both do. Consequently, you will need to take land transport if you're flying in to Bucharest.

Get around

Public transportation

Transport in Braşov is very extensive, around 40 lines that run within the whole city in a convenient way.

- For those whose accommodation is located on Str. Lungă or Str. De Mijloc, a handful of lines are available to get to the Centre:

For those who want to travel to Bran, Moeciu, Râşnov and other directions, by bus, you can take them from either Autogara 2, Bartolomeu area or Stadionul Municipal bus terminal; there are lines that take you from the train station/centre to these particular places.

For those who want to reach the beautiful and fancy Poiana Braşov ski resort/spa:

Taxis

Taxis are a faster and more comfortable way to get around town than public transportation. Taxis are also relatively cheap. Most taxis have meters and drivers are usually friendly. There's never a shortage of cabs within city limits at any given hour, but it is a good idea to have one called, rather than going looking for one. By law, all the taxis must have the price/km put in a visible place (usually outside, on the side doors). Anyway, you should ask the approximate fare in advance and always make sure the driver uses the meter from the start, or agree on a fixed amount for the ride. Though rare, there have been cases when foreign tourists have been asked to pay enormous amounts. It is OK and always a good idea to ask for an estimate in advance, even when the cab is using a meter. Taxis are usually parked in designated areas along the curb, which are in the proximity of bus stations or other busy spots. When traveling outside city limits you may be asked to pay double fare per kilometer (it is considered acceptable), or you could agree on a fixed amount in advance. Tipping taxi drivers is not very common, but it's always appreciated. If you find a reliable and trustworthy driver that you feel comfortable with, you could ask if he is willing to serve you for the remainder of your stay in Braşov. Most likely, he will be happy to give you his cell number or car number so you can call dispatch and ask for him. This way you will avoid having to continually switch drivers. Never get into a taxi that doesn't have a sign with the company name on top of it, you may get ripped off. Such taxis are waiting in the first row at the train station stand.

See

The Tourist Information Centers are in the Town history museum, i.e. in the Council House (Piaţa Sfatului), opened daily between 9.00 and 17.00 and in front of the railway station, opened daily between 10.00 and 22.00.

For an independent walking tour of the centre of Braşov see the Brasov cultural itinerary. You can also find free guided walking tours of the city centre Guided-Brasov.com, this being an option for budget travellers, youth and backpackers, but not only. Usually, you have to book the tours, but in the high season there are tours organized every day, rain or sun.

Șchei district

Just outside the citadel, it is the first original Romanian site, surrounding the fortress. You can find and many religious monuments along the narrow and very beautiful streets of the Șchei district.

Museums

Around Braşov

Do

Around Braşov

Learn

If you wish you can learn Romanian in Braşov with Educational Centre at 2 Mihai Viteazul St. They provide high quality language services, including Romanian courses.

Buy

For fancy shopping there are a lot of opportunities, some of them located in the Centre (more precisely in the Citadel part) and others in several malls, e.g. Unirea Shopping Center, My Place, Eliana Mall, Macromall. However they are highly expensive. Still, Eliana Mall contains a Go Multiplex cinema which is quite comfortable. For food and regular shopping the hypermarkets (Carrefour, Metro, Selgros, Kaufland) are a good solution. Most of them are concentrated on the entrance/exit from/to Bucharest. To get there from the city centre (Livada Poştei) use the RAT line 17 (8–12 minutes) and from the train station the RAT line 35 (10–15 minutes). For natural, Romanian typical and healthy (ecological) food, the markets are a great option. A highly recommended place is Astra Market (Piaţa Astra). There are 2 types of food sold here: imported and produced by peasants from the countryside. The latter is a bit more expensive than tha former, but it is of great quality. To get there use the RAT Line 6 from the Centre (Livada Poştei). It is a 7-8 minute ride. Since you are here, you can also visit the Orizont 3000 commercial centre. It consists of small shops with all kinds of goods of different needs and quality.

Eat

Since there are lots of tourists, the city is full of good quality but expensive restaurants (compared to the other Romanian cities). You have to look around very carefully to find something cheap.

Budget

Tip: Right in the city centre there is a food supermarket named STAR. Cheap and good food can be found there. Also, nearby and around the corner is Kebab House, serving doner kebap non-stop. Ask locals for other non-stop food stores.

Mid-range

Fornetti is a Hungarian pastry chain that you can find everywhere in Romania. They sell small pastry pieces stuffed with cheese or jam. Prices are fair and the quality is very high. You can find Fornetti in the train station, main streets and especially in Brașov downtown.

Splurge

Drink

Sleep

As soon as you arrive at the train station a lot of people will come to you offering an accommodation; better to plan your stay before. If you accept, they might offer you to plan a trip in the surroundings. When you look for a room, don't forget to ask whether they provide hot running water: it's not something obvious in Braşov.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Braşov is very safe for tourists. Few cities anywhere in the world feel safer, and tourist police presence is also noticeable, especially in places frequented by tourists. Usually the main risk is getting pick pocketed (such as at the train station) or scammed through various "techniques", all of which can be easily avoided. Don't change money in the Change Bureaus for example, use Banks. For more safety tips see Romania and Transylvania, and especially read about the "maradona" technique.

Be very careful when taking a taxi from the train station as many drivers will try to rip you off. There were several accounts of taxi drivers demanding a price 5 - 10 times more than what would be normal, and even beating up clients. If you MUST take a taxi from the train station, look for one with company name and price displayed on the car, and ask an estimate in advance.

In the past few years, bears have been known to come to feed from the dumpsters of outlying areas. Needless to mention the forests at night are a not ideal places to walk alone. Don't do anything stupid like trying to feed them or getting too close or carrying Pizza in your pocket. Also, if you're taking a hike through the forests, make noise. Chat with your friends, swish passing branches, step on twigs etc. Most wild animals try to keep away from humans and only attack them when they're cornered, so letting them know you're there will keep you safe.

Exchanging money

Exchanging money can be a demanding process. If it must be done, try to do it at a major bank, such as the BCR, BNR, BT, or Raiffeisen Bank. These banks accept major currencies (Euro, American Dollars, Canadian Dollars, British Pounds, etc.) and are very friendly. You will need to bring a passport with you when exchanging money at banks so that there is a paper trail for them.

If you cannot make it to a bank, use an exchange office, but be very careful about everything that goes on. Make sure you double-check with the teller about the rate, and confirm it by looking at the sheet of paper which must be posted at a visible distance. This sheet of paper contains the rates for major currencies. If you are not using USD, GBP, or EUR, make sure you double check the currency with other exchange offices or banks, and ensure the buy and sell rates are not drastically different. Usually, for less used currencies such as the Canadian Dollar, most Exchange Offices will freeze the buy rate at a very low amount, while having a normal Sell rate. Note, a common scam in these booths is to publish a great rate, bUt in Romanian language, inform you the rate only applies to Travellers checks. You see a good rate, sign a form, hand your cash over, and they hand you back 80% of what you should get, but you. Have by now signed a binding agreement. If in doubt, ask clearly, 'if I hand you 100 dollars/ euros etc., how many ron will you hand me?'. This is usually a fool proof way to uncover scams.

Furthermore, you should shop around when exchanging money, and check for things like Commission. Usually, most rates will fluctuate between places, and you could earn up to 20-30 RON (€7-10) when you shop around.

Tip: At the BCR headquarters on the 15 Noiembrie Street, you can find a cash exchange machine that converts EUR, USD, GBP and CHF into RON at the bank's official rates and is available non-stop.

ATMs

ATMs can be found almost everywhere in Braşov, however, some scrutiny must be completed before using an ATM. First of all, try to use an ATM that is by a bank, and use it during the bank's regular business hours. If something goes wrong, like it swallows your card, or doesn't produce cash, you can easily go inside and get it fixed. Secondly, before entering a PIN, a message will show, usually in Romanian and English. This message will have a phone number on it, which corresponds to an ATM Support/Fraud line for the bank in question. It's important to note this number down, just in case something happens.

US travelers may want to use a Credit Card to withdraw cash in foreign countries in general. Visa has a Plus network, and MasterCard has the Cirrus and Maestro networks, both in use around the world. These networks allow you to withdraw cash for nominal ($2) fees. Using a credit card means that if your card is stolen, a worldwide support line is available to help you dispute charges, and, under certain circumstances, get a new card to you within a business week. A debit card doesn't have any of these features, and disputing charges can be much harder.

Cope

Getting out with the family or friends means a lot, since the average Braşov family only gets out 3-5 times per 1–2 months. In the summer, friends or family would go to a water park or a swimming pool (Such as Aqua Magic). Also hiking on nearby mountains is very popular. Biking is a new trend among young people and there are a lot of places to go for a cycling trip. In Winter,the family might ski on the slopes of Poiana Braşov and Predeal or skating on one of the skating rings within Braşov and Poiana Braşov. Around the year, there are festivals in Braşov, very popular for local people and not only. No matter the season, there is always something to do or visit in Braşov and nearby.

Go next

Râşnov fortress
Sighişoara
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