The pandemic is not over yet and tourism has a lot to suffer from it. However, people miss traveling, they miss escaping their hometown and if traveling abroad is still risky or even not allowed to some destinations, the safer option is to visit places in your own country. Of course, it would be recommended not to rush to the most famous destinations because most likely they are overcrowded.
As we were longing to leave Bucharest even just for one day, we decided to have a day trip to Transylvania. Yes, I know, it’s one of the most beautiful areas in Romania and you would say we went straight to the middle of the tourists crowd, but it’s not like that.
Club Vila Bran
The first stop was Club Vila Bran (about 174 km away from Bucharest, via DN1). This is a leisure base offering accommodation, meal services, as well as a wide variety of activities that unfortunately these days are quite limited due to COVID19. It is located in Bran, about 1 km away from the famous Bran Castle, but upon a hill, so it offers a stunning view of the castle and the surrounding nature.
As we had already visited Bran Castle before, we went to Club Vila Bran only to enjoy the view, their gardens and have lunch at their traditional restaurant, on the terrace – a well-deserved break from the polluted air and concrete buildings of Bucharest. The gardens are decorated with fountains and all kinds of interesting ornaments and there is even a human-size chessboard where you can play chess.
The Clay Castle of the Fairies’ Valley
After a 2-3-hour stay at Club Vila Bran, we headed towards our next stop: The Clay Castle of the Fairies’ Valley (in Romanian: Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor). It is located in Porumbacu de Sus village, 42 km away from Sibiu and about 112 km away from Bran. It is a fairytale-style castle built from clay and sand, with charming towers and undulating roof.
The entrance fee is 5 RON and during the pandemic, it’s not allowed to visit the inside of the castle, except for the towers where you can get by climbing a very narrow staircase. I’ve heard that inside the castle it’s empty anyway, but they plan to design it so it becomes an accommodation structure. The castle looks really nice and out of this world, you will feel like a pixie.
In the garden, there is a playground for children (inaccessible now due to the coronavirus), wooden tables and chairs, a snack bar which sells souvenirs as well and there is also a stream nearby.
Kids would be delighted to see this castle and if you are a dreamy adult with a child’s heart, you would like it too. Some people say it’s not worth going to the Clay Castle because it’s not finished and it takes about 10-15 min to visit. I think it’s worth going and spending at least 1 hour there. When it can accommodate guests, it will be a unique experience to try.
For the way back to Bucharest, we chose Valea Oltului: The Clay Castle – Calimanesti – Ramnicu Valcea – Pitesti – Bucharest. This route is longer (about 288 km), but if you have enough time and don’t want to return to Bucharest via DN1, then you can choose it and on the way to Ramnicu Valcea you can stop at Cozia Monastery, erected by Mircea the Elder in 1388 and housing his tomb. It’s one of the most valuable monuments of national medieval art and architecture in Romania.
By nightfall, you will be back to Bucharest.
The total length of this itinerary: 590 km
Driving time: 8 h 30 min
Visiting and leisure: 4 h
Good luck in planning your next trip!