Some people may believe that Transylvania is a mysterious, fictional place filled with bloodthirsty vampires, but it's actually part of central Romania— and a popular tourist destination. The captivating, historic region sits just west of the Carpathian Mountains. It's a place where scenic views, remote villages, and gothic architecture contrast nicely with small resort towns where visitors indulge in treatments such as mineral mud baths. It isn't difficult to see why so many tourist venture to Transylvania each year. After all, it's a beautiful place. However, if touring Transylvania tops your travel bucket list, there are a few things that you should know before book your tour.
The Difference Between Dracula and Vlad the Impaler
Many tourists take Transylvania tours to learn more about the story of Dracula. However, don't expect your Transylvanian tour to teach you about vampires that lived in medieval times. Many Transylvanian tours are designed to teach you about the life of Vlad Dracul—also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Tepes—who inspired the character in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Now, this doesn't mean that your tour won't include vampire-related stops. It just means that you need to make sure the tour you book includes the sights that you want to visit.
If you're interested in seeing "Dracula's Castle," make sure your tour includes a trip to Bran Castle—the only castle in Transylvania that fits Stoker's description of Dracula's Castle. WHile Stoker never actually visited Romania, it is believed that he used a description and illustration of Bran Castle to create his imaginary Dracula's Castle. If you want to tour Transylvania to see how Vlad the Impaler's life relates to the fictional character Dracula, choose a tour that includes both Bran Castle and the ruins of Poienari Castle—where Vlad Dracul actually lived.
A Hungarian Phrasebook Might Come in Handy
While Romanian is the official language in Transylvania, the region was associated with Hungary up until World War I. So, there are still many Hungarian speakers in Transylvania. If you're taking a guided tour of Transylvania, the language barrier probably won't be much of an issue, because your tour guide will most likely speak English. However, a Hungarian phrasebook could come in handy, especially if your tour includes exploring cities, such as Cluj-Napoca, Miercurea-Ciuc, and Targu Mures.
Transylvania Has More to Offer Than Dracula
While several Transylvanian tours revolve around the legend of Dracula and Vlad Dracul, Transylvania has so much more to offer tourists. Consider taking a tour of Transylvania that includes:
- A tour of the underground Turda Salt Mine in historic Turda
- A hike through Turda Gorge
- Listening to Magyar folk music Szek village
- Cross country skiing along a rugged mountain plateaux
- Touring Saxon villages, such as Biertan or Viscri
Traveling outside of the country can be both exciting and scary at the same time, especially if you're traveling to a country that you've never visited. Fortunately, Transylvania is a beautiful place to visit with plenty of things to see and do. So, if you're interested in exploring Romania, consider taking a tour of Transylvania.