Last Updated on: 4th February 2024, 07:46 am
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Bucharest, Romania, you will have much to explore and enjoy. Among the many things to see in Bucharest, you can tour the Palace of Parliament, one of the largest buildings in the world, peruse the stunningly beautiful Carturesti Carusel bookstore, and get pampered at Therme Bucuresti, an over-the-top relaxation center.
After you’ve seen what this amazing city has to offer, you may want to explore more of Romania.
Sinaia, Romania is a great choice. This town in the Bucegi Mountains is just 86 miles (140 km) north of Bucharest. It is most famous for being the home of Peles Castle, but it has so much more to offer.
You can see some of the highlights of Sinaia during a day trip, but I believe it deserves a longer stay.
Read on to discover all the things to do in and near Sinaia.
All money is in U.S. dollars.
A Little Background
Steve and I spent four weeks in Bucharest in the summer of 2018. While there, we took a group tour to Peles Castle and Bran Castle. During the bus ride, we drove through the center of Sinaia. We were both impressed with how picturesque it was, so when we found ourselves back in Bucharest in the summer of 2023, we took the opportunity to spend some time in Sinaia.
We spent five nights at the Hotel Boutique Vila LaKastel in Sinaia. It was pleasant enough, but we were disappointed with the breakfast. Not only didn’t we like the food, but they appeared to be rationing coffee. Our cups were only half filled, and we repeatedly had to ask for more. Because of this, we ate four breakfasts across the street at the Hotel Marami. They had a simple buffet and all the coffee we could drink for $9 per person.
Getting There and Getting Around
Getting to Sinaia from Bucharest
Sinaia is less than a two-hour drive from Bucharest. If you prefer public transportation, a train trip from Bucuresti Nord to Sinaia on CFR Calatori takes as little as 1.5 hours.
The train station is very close to the center of town. You can walk to your accommodations if you’re staying in town and don’t mind some stairs. You can also get a taxi or Uber.
We stayed near Peles Castle. You can walk to this area from the town center in about 20 minutes, and we did so several times. However, I wouldn’t recommend you do so with luggage. Sinaia is a mountain town, so there are a lot of inclines.
Getting Around Sinaia
A lot of Sinaia is walkable. One exception is the Telegondola station (more on that below), which is a 50-minute uphill walk from the town center. It is easy to get there by bus.
You can buy bus tickets at machines at the bus stops in town. If you’re boarding a bus elsewhere, you can get a ticket from the driver. Uber is available, and taxis are plentiful.
Things To Do in Sinaia
Peles Castle is the main attraction in Sinaia. The castle was commissioned by Romania’s first king, Carol I, and inaugurated in 1883. The royal family used it as a hunting preserve and summer retreat until 1947, when King Michael I was forced to abdicate, and the royal properties were seized by the Communist government.
Carol I was of German heritage, which is reflected in the architecture. To call the castle ornate would be an understatement.
Fun Fact – Peles Castle was the first European castle to have electricity. There is a retractable glass ceiling and many other modern conveniences. You can learn more about them here.
You can choose to see the first floor, the first and second floors, or all three floors. As of this writing, the cost is $11, $22, and $33, respectively. Expect to spend a few hours there.
The castle is closed on Monday and Tuesday, so those are great days to get photos on the patio without the crowds.
Click here for information on visiting Peles Castle and Pelisor Castle.
I think of Pelisor Castle as Peles Castle’s little brother. It is just a four-minute walk between the two.
This castle was commissioned by King Carol I as the home for his nephew, Ferdinand I, and his wife, Marie. It was completed in 1902.
The exterior is in the German Neo-Renaissance style, like Peles Castle. However, the interior is filled with Art Nouveau elements. Most of the rooms are bland compared to the opulence of Peles Castle, but the Golden Room is a beautiful exception. The walls and ceiling have an intricate thistle design and are covered in 24-carat gold leaf.
Ferdinand I became king upon Carol I’s death in 1914, as King Carol I did not have a male heir. He and his wife, Elisabeth, only had one child, a girl named Maria, who died from scarlet fever at the age of four.
Since this castle is much smaller than Peles, you only need about an hour here.
Stirbey Castle is another 19th-century castle in Sinaia. It differs from the above two in that it is in the center of town and is much smaller. The castle was built by Princess Alina Stirbey, a Romanian noble, and her husband, General Emanuel Florescu, as a summer home.
The home is now a museum and a hotel with a cafe. In January 2024, the hotel rooms started at $60 per night. Get more information here.
It cost us $3.50 each to tour the museum. While not a must-see, it was interesting.
Dimitrie Ghica Park and the Town Center
The Dimitrie Ghica Park is in the center of town and was the area that made Steve and I want to see more of Sinaia when we drove through it in 2018.
The park has a large fountain and a pavilion. There are paved walkways and plenty of benches. The park is surrounded by impressive 19th and 20th-century buildings such as the Sinaia Casino (currently a conference center) and the Caraiman Hotel.
Bulevardul Carol I runs along one side of the park, then continues to the south. There are many restaurants, shops, and hotels on the stretch south of the park, including our favorite restaurant, Restaurant Wood, at Bulevardul Carol I 8.
The Sinaia Monastery is a ten-minute walk from Dimitrie Ghica Park. It includes two churches, the Old Church and the New Church.
The Old Church is over 300 years old. It is small, but the 17th-century Byzantine paintings are worth seeing. The New Church dates back to the mid-1800s.
The monastery served as a royal summer residence for King Carol I from his coronation in 1866 until the inauguration of Peles Castle 17 years later.
It is free to explore the grounds and the two churches. There may be a small fee to enter the museum. Learn more about it here.
If you want some time in nature, the Telegondola is your ticket. We took the gondola to the top (6,560 feet or 2,000 meters). Even though it was pricy at $21 each round trip, it was worth it for the views.
Don’t forget a sweater or jacket (like I did). It was cool at 2,000 meters, even in the summer.
Hike and Ski
Sinaia and the land around it is so beautiful, you’ll want to spend every moment possible outside. One great way to do this is to hike some of the Sinaia trails. Here are some of the best trails to try from Wikiloc.
There is also a ski resort in Sinaia, but it doesn’t have a very good rating. A word of warning: if you get hurt, the health care may not be the best. I don’t have experience with health care in Romania, but Steve’s experience with health care in Bulgaria was abysmal.
Things To Do Near Sinaia
In less than one hour, you can drive from Sinaia to Bran Castle. You can also take a bus or train from Sinaia to Brasov and then get a bus to the castle.
Although it is known as Dracula’s Castle, this is a myth. Even so, it has undoubtedly brought many visitors to the castle. Learn the truth here.
We’ve been to the castle twice, both times in the summer, and it was packed. Since our first visit was part of a tour, we didn’t get to explore the grounds or the town. We had hoped to remedy that on our second visit, but that was not to be.
As we ended our tour of the inside of the castle and were ready to walk the grounds, heavy rains came down. We waited it out in the restaurant, hoping it would stop. It did lighten up a little, but not enough for us to walk around outdoors, so we returned to our hotel.
Getting directions to the castle was challenging. The desk clerk directed us to the central bus station (which is connected to the train station where we had arrived in Brasov). Once there, we couldn’t find any information on buses to Bran. We asked around, to no avail, although one man offered to drive us but wanted too much money.
Then I saw a line of people boarding a bus, so I asked them if they were going to Bran Castle. They weren’t, but the driver told us to get on, free of charge, as the bus was going to Autogara 2, where we could get a bus to the castle.
See the castle’s website to plan your visit and learn more about this fabled place.
We spent two nights at the Hotel Belvedere in Brasov. It was a nice hotel, but the best part was the restaurant, Restaurant Belvedere. We had two fabulous dinners there and highly recommend it.
If you’re a fan of the delightfully quirky television show Wednesday, here’s your chance to see Nevermore Academy (or at least the building that was used for the exterior shots).
Don’t be surprised if the building looks different than on the show. Special effects and computer-generated imagery were used to make adjustments, especially to the roof line.
Cantacuzino Castle was the summer home of aristocrat and politician Prince Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino. It took ten years to build and was completed in 1911. Sadly, the prince died there two years later.
The castle is in the nearby town of Busteni. It is a short drive from Sinaia. You can also go by train. The trip will take about 30 minutes, with the last 18 minutes walking from the Busteni train station to the castle.
At the castle, you can tour the inside, check out the art gallery, stroll the grounds, or a combination of these. Expect to spend one to two hours there. Learn more at the castle’s website.
We didn’t get to Cantacuzino Castle. We’d planned to go on our last day in Sinaia, but it was raining. Since we weren’t staying near the train station, we would have had to take a bus there and then get on the train. This wouldn’t usually stop us, but that day, the bus and train schedules weren’t coordinated, so we gave it a pass.
You can read more about the castle and how it was used in the TV show in this Architectural Digest article.
Ialomita Cave and Monastery
If you want to venture a little further from Sinaia, you can take the hour-long drive to Ialomita Cave and Monastery in Moroeni. It may be challenging to get there using public transportation.
Once there, you can explore a large cave with a monastery at its entrance. We didn’t do this, but it is highly rated on Trip Advisor and Google Reviews.
You can learn more about Ialomita in the article from Calling For The Wild.
Dates: July 27, 2023 – August 1, 2023
Number of nights: 5
Total cost for two people: $923
Cost per night: $184
Biggest costs: Accommodations: $482
Dates: August 1, 2023 – August 3, 2023
Number of nights: 2
Total cost for two people: $428
Cost per night: $214
Biggest costs: Accommodations: $235
Sinaia was as magical as we had expected. It didn’t hurt that our 2023 trip gave us a break from the heat of Bucharest, either.
You can read about our month in Bucharest and Sinaia in our July 2023 update.
I would recommend Sinaia and the surrounding area to anyone who loves nature and history.
Until Next Time
I hope you enjoyed this article about Sinaia. Steve and I would love to hear your thoughts. If you’ve been lucky enough to see Sinaia, please share your experiences and impressions with us.