There are many castles to visit in Romania. By far the most famous one is Bran Castle, where “Dracula” supposed to have lived. On my stay in an Airbnb in Brașov on a road trip with friends, my host told me that visiting Bran castle was overrated and that the Peleș castle in Sinaia was a much better choice. We decided to visit them both to see for ourselves, and in this article, I will share more information about my favorite: Peleș castle.
The complete Peleș castle guide
- The Dracula hype
- Peleș Castle
- Peleș Castle floor plan
- How to get to Peleș Castle?
- Where to stay?
- Best time to visit Peleș Castle
- Peleș Castle hours
- Peleș Castle entrance fee
- Should you do the Peleș Castle tour?
- Bonus tip: go on a hike behind the castle
The Dracula hype
Bran Castle, or “Dracula’s castle” as some call it, is where a fictional character named Dracula supposedly lived. As the castle’s official website reads:
“This character is often confused with Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), sometimes known as Vlad Dracul, who was a Walachian Prince with a castle, now in ruins, located in the Principality of Wallachia. Because Bran Castle is the only castle in all of Transylvania that actually fits Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle, it is known throughout the world as Dracula’s Castle. [..] Bram Stoker never visited Romania. He depicted the imaginary Dracula’s castle based upon a description of Bran Castle that was available to him in turn-of-the-century Britain.”
As you can see, there are a lot of assumptions and loose ends, as with any myth or folktale. The castle itself, although smaller than I had imagined, blends in seamlessly into the rock it is built on. We decided to drive past the castle (we came from the direction of Brașov) and park just past the small bridges over the creek on the right side at what seemed to be an empty bus terminal. We had read that the best views were when you walk back to the castle from this side, and this turned out to be correct.
We walked back to the touristy town of Bran, taking a few snapshots on the way, and found ourselves surrounded by Dracula-themed souvenir shops with t-shirts saying “From Romania with love” with a picture of a half-naked lady in front and a black-caped Dracula in the background. We decided not to go in, got a corn on the cob (for 5 Lei/1 Euro) and headed back to the car.
If you want to visit Bran anyway, might as well skip the queues on your visit.
After spending the night in Busteni, we set out to visit Peleș castle the next day. It was a lovely sunny day and it only took 15 minutes by car to reach the castle. We parked our car at the entrance of the path leading to the castle (this cost us 10 lei or 2 eur. There was an old man collecting the fee).
Before we headed in, we looked for a place to eat. After a quick search, we found a Greek place called Casa Cu Farfurii in a beautiful mansion. The owner was super friendly and the fried halloumi, olives, pita bread and tzatziki was a very welcome snack on the hot spring day.
The cobblestoned path to Peleș castle is shaded by tall trees. We passed a few souvenir shops selling Romanian stuff and plush panda bears for some reason, after which the main attraction unfolded. A wide patch of grass surrounds the castle, giving it even more grandeur than the building already has.
The castle is built in German new-Renaissance-style architecture and is considered as one of the most stunning castles in Europe. It was finished in 1883 and was used as the residence of the royal family until 1947. It has a stunning 170 rooms in different interior styles from all over Europe. A few fun facts:
- Peleș Castle was the first European castle that was entirely lit by electrical current, which was produced by the castle’s own plant
- The name of the castle comes from the nearby Peleș Creek, which passes through the courtyard
- The first movie projection in Romania took place in 1906 in the castle’s Theater Room
Peleș Castle floor plan
The castle consists of 170 rooms spread over 6 floors. The total floor plan is 3,200-square-meter (34,000 square-feet). The tours are limited to the ground floor and the first floor. Below you can see the Peleș castle floor plan of the ground floor and first floor.
How to get to Peleș castle
The Peleș Castle is located almost exactly in the center of Romania. The closest big city is Brașov, which is the 7th biggest city in Romania and worth visiting with its variety of restaurants, cafes, bakeries, historic sights and nearby hikes.
It is a 1-hour drive from Brașov to Peleș Castle, and it’s pretty straightforward once you get on highway 1. See directions.
From Bucharest, it is a 2-hour drive, again using the highway 1. See directions.
Romanian roads and traffic aren’t the best, and you will encounter many potholes, lanes ending suddenly, people pulling out into the highway and dogs chasing your car. Getting a full insurance coverage with no damage excess isn’t a luxury here!
From Bucharest, you can take the train R from the Northern railway station, which takes you to Sinaia. From there, is is a 30-minute walk to get to the castle. See directions. This train continues to Brașov. If you want to take the train from Brașov to Peleș Castle, take the IR train from Brașov train station.
Where to stay
Accommodation in Romania is not that expensive, and you will have plenty of options to choose from. Keep in mind that the country has two popular seasons (the winter ski season and the summer holidays), so booking ahead could be necessary if this is when you are planning your visit. On my stay at the end of March to early April, most hotels we booked were practically empty.
Our accommodation in Busteni: Villa Ermitage
Coming from the city of Sibiu, our first stop was the little town of Busteni. There wasn’t too much going on here, but it was a nice gateway to the mountains. We stayed at a hostel that wasn’t in the center, but a short drive up the hill near a monastery (which we hoped was super old but was actually built in 1995). The view was amazing, with the sun illuminating the grey mountain range from different sides during the day.
The hotel we stayed at, Villa Ermitage, was pleasant. The lady at the reception only spoke French or Spanish (something we saw quite often in Romania), but with some hand gestures and body language, we managed to get answers on all of our questions. The rooms were clean, but the wifi wasn’t really working inside the room. Unfortunately, the spa was out of order when we arrived as well (this was one of the reasons for us to stay here).
All in all, I would recommend staying in Villa Ermitage, even if it is for the view alone. Peleș Castle is about a 15-minute drive or 1h 15m train ride from the hotel.
Our accommodation in Sinaia: pension Marina
We spent only a day in Sinaia, but we noticed the city was much more tourist-ready than Busteni. It had a main street with stores selling ski gear, clothes, souvenirs, and some places to eat like bakeries and restaurants. There was a pleasant park named “Parcul Dimitrie Ghica” with a beautiful old hotel and casino to admire.
The place we stayed at in Sinaia was at walking distance from the center, but far enough outside to not be in the midst of what I can imagine is a touristy strip in the high seasons. There were parking spaces behind a locked gate. The lady at the reception was friendly and her English was good. On the way to our room, we noticed the plant-rich hallway which matched nicely with the wooden interior. The room was a bit funny-shaped (because of the roof) but decent nonetheless. There was a ping-pong table in the building as well, but we were so tired that we didn’t manage to try it out. Pension Marina is a great base for a night’s stay, or maybe even a couple 😉
Our accommodation in Brașov, Sighișoara, and Sibiu
We booked our accommodations in Brașov, Sighișoara, and Sibiu through Airbnb.
Best time to visit Peleș Castle
Like many places in Europe, the summer season is the busiest of the year. We planned our trip in April, which is a great time to visit Peleș Castle and Romania in general. The weather was lovely, with only a bit of rain and average temperatures of 20+ Celsius (68 Fahrenheit). It also was really quiet everywhere we went, as the skiing season was over but the summer holiday season hasn’t started yet. There were no queues at the Peleș Castle either, which was great. Therefore I can recommend visiting the castle in April, May, June, September, or October.
Peleș Castle hours
Summer: 15 May – 16 September
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – 9:15 – 16:15
Wednesday – 11:00 – 16:15
Thursday – 09:15 – 16:15
Friday – 09:15 – 16:15
Saturday – 09:15 – 16:15
Sunday – 09:15 – 16:15
Winter: 17 September – 13 May
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday – 11:00 – 16:15
Thursday – 09:15 – 16:15
Friday – 09:15 – 16:15
Saturday – 09:15 – 16:15
Sunday – 09:15 – 16:15
- On Tuesdays, only the ground floor can be visited.
- The last group entry for the optional tour is at 15:30.
- The last entry to the castle is at 16:15.
- The Ticket Office closes at 16:00.
- The terraces/garden of Peleş and Pelişor castles can be visited until 17:00.
- During the summer program, access to the castle is crowded. To avoid the inconvenience, please get to the museum in advance.
Peleș Castle entrance fee
Getting tickets for the Peleș and nearby Pelisor castles is easy. You just rock up to the Peleș Castle and buy it from the ticket booth. There are a few different options: you can buy a ticket just for the ground floor, or a ticket for both the ground floor and the first floor. If you want to take pictures or videos inside the castle, you will have to pay a fee for this as well. Please note: Tickets can only be purchased cash, in Romanian lei.
Ground floor only
Adults – 30 lei (7 usd / 6 eur)
Pensioners – 15 lei (3 usd / 3 eur)
Students – 7,5 lei (1.6 usd / 1.5 eur)
Euro Card <26 – 7,5 lei (1.6 usd / 1.5 eur)
The last entry to the castle is at 16:15.
Ground floor and first floor
Adults – 60 lei (13 usd / 12 eur)
Pensioners – 30 lei (7 usd / 6 eur)
Students, students – 15 lei (3 usd / 3 eur)
Euro Card <26 – 15 lei (3 usd / 3 eur)
Length: 1h 15min
The last group entry for the optional tour is at 15:30.
- Extra fee for personal photography: 35 lei per appliance (8 USD / 7 EUR)
- Extra fee for personal filming: 60 lei per appliance (13 USD / 12 EUR)
Should you do the Peleș Castle tour?
Some prefer to take tours, some don’t. I’m one of those people that leans towards not taking a tour unless I have been specifically recommended it by a friend or someone with a similar taste in traveling. The Peles caste tour, which takes either 45 minutes or 1 hour and 15 minutes (depending on if you choose to see just the ground floor or both floors). The tours aren’t overly expensive, so that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. So should you do the Peleș Castle tour? Below is an overview of the pros and cons of seeing the Peleș Castle on the inside (on a tour or individually):
- You get to see the inside of the castle, which is really quite beautiful
- Every room is interesting and has a different architectural style, so there is plenty to see
- You will have to stay with the group at all times, you can’t look around on your own
- The tour guide we were assigned wasn’t particularly enthusiastic and was mostly monotonously sharing facts that we could read on the signs ourselves
- You have to wear plastic covers on your feet
- You are not allowed to take photos or film unless you buy a special pass at the ticket booth
Bonus tips: go on a hike behind the castle and find a Geocache in the garden
When you have some time to spare, for instance when you have to wait for your friends or family doing the tour (like I did), there are a few things you can do to keep yourself occupied. When you walk from the Peleș Castle to the nearby Pelisor castle, you will pass a little building on your right with a wooden and stone exterior. On the right side of this building, you can find a flight of stairs. Take these and turn right to find a cobbled hiking path.
The path takes you uphill for a little bit after which it forks; the right side takes you behind the Peleș Castle, and the left side takes you up towards the mountain nearby. I don’t actually know where the path leads to, as I only had an hour to spare, but it’s a nice and quiet pathway in the shade that could provide a contrast from the hot, busy summer season.
The second tip needs a little introduction. There is a game called Geocaching, where you find little containers hidden by other people all around the world. You can find these containers (called caches) by their GPS coordinates or by using an app.
You can find one of these Geocaches right in front of the Peleș Castle, in the gardens. Find more information about the cache on the Geocaching website.
Almost at the beginning of the hiking path is a weird, small hill with a few entrances at the top. While peeking in, I couldn’t quite make out what this structure was used for. I had read that Peleș Castle was the first castle to have electricity which was generated by its own plant, so perhaps this was the (underground) electricity plant? Then again, Romania was occupied during the Second World War, so perhaps this was a bunker? Who knows… If you think you know the answer, do let me know in the comments below!