Get to Know Dracula's Romania from Bucharest

Lauren Hill

Senior Contributor

It was Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel, in which the protagonist is said to have been based on the 15th-century ruler Vlad the Impaler, that made the Transylvania region of this country synonymous with Dracula. A stay in the country's capital Bucharest allows you to experience this side to the country's identity while getting to know what else this city and its surroundings have to offer.

Dracula sites to visit from Bucharest

Undoubtedly the most popular site linked with this fictional story is the former medieval stronghold, Bran Castle, which is recognised across the world as Dracula’s Castle for fitting the site this book described as being ‘on the very edge of a terrific precipice” in Transylvania. A three-hour journey from Bucharest, Bran Castle can be factored into your time in the Romanian capital by hiring a car, taking a train or booking a tour for a day trip to the site. The Castle lies amid dramatic landscape on a clifftop in the Transylvanian Alps.

Full-day Dracula tours from Bucharest will often also take in other historic sites such as Peles Castle and the city of Brasov. Another site within easy reach of Bucharest, at around an hour’s drive, Snagov Monastery is a popular site for tourists seeking out sites linked to Bram Stoker’s famous character as the alleged burial site of Vlad the Impaler who built a prison, the ruins of which can still be seen today, on the island owing to its isolation.

What else to see in Bucharest

Back in Bucharest, spend some time in the Old Town to see Curtea Veche – the ruins of the Old Princely Court looked over by a bust of Vlad the Impaler – and visit the National Museum of Romanian History, which is located inside the former Postal Services Palace, exhibiting Romanian artefacts going back to prehistoric times. Nearby, visit one of the city’s top attractions, the vast Palace of the Parliament, for a guided tour.

Explore The National Art Museum of Romania, which is located in the former royal palace on Calea Victoriei, for its permanent galleries along with temporary exhibitions made in partnership with prestigious cultural institutions. Bucharest also has a thriving café culture with popular choices, some in architecturally impressive settings, including the art-filled Grand Café Van Gogh and Artichoke Social House.

Where to eat and drink

For a contemporary take on Romanian cuisine, book a table at Bistro Ateneu where the kitchen comes up with farm-to-table menus designed to elevate traditional Romanian cuisine and the country’s heirloom ingredients – dishes might include a slow-cooked Mangalitsa pork belly with polenta and truffle. Restaurant Kaiamo, meanwhile, strives to combine modernity and tradition in classic dishes with regional ingredients and international influence, such as wild-caught turbot with a lobster bisque, local brandy and cognac.

The Artist is another culinary highlight with menus inspired by world cuisine, influenced by Romanian seasons and driven by innovation. Dishes include spinach ravioli with local camembert, mushroom ciulama, hazelnuts and cauliflower. Highlights on the city’s vibrant bar scene that are garnering particular attention include the creative Fix Me A Drink botanical bar focusing on Eastern European nostalgia ingredients and The Urbanist contemporary living store with café and cocktail bar.

Where to stay

The JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel is well located across from the Palace of Parliament in an area recognised for its historical significance. Guests are greeted in the hotel’s grand lobby, distinguished by its spiral marble staircases and columns. Dine at the sophisticated JW Steakhouse and tuck into classic Italian dishes at Cucina – The Italian Kitchen. Pair cocktails with small plates at Pavilion Lounge and try indulgent desserts with speciality teas and fresh-roasted coffee at Vienna Lounge. A heated indoor pool, spa and fitness centre complete the hotel experience. Book your room here!

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