Instagram Guide to Transylvania-38 Top Photo Spots


Transylvania has to be one of the most underrated travel destinations in the world.  We did a road trip through Transylvania nearly a decade ago and it remains one of our favorite vacations we have ever been on, and even though it has taken us a decade, we finally got around to creating the best compilation of photo spots in Transylvania you will find anywhere.

Transylvania is, of course, famous for its connection to Dracula and Count Vlad Dracul.  However, this mountainous region in central Romania has so much more to offer.  We were completely blown away when we visited.

In talking about Transylvania, we are being generous with what is included.  As this is a photo guide for travelers, we wanted to hit all the best spots that anyone visiting Transylvania would want to see, regardless of whether it might be a half hour outside the borders of the region.  Forgive us and enjoy what we have created.

We have used many of our own photographs, but it was impossible for us to visit everywhere we wanted during our road trip, plus the image quality from our camera a decade ago leaves something to be desired.

Because of that, we recruited help from a ton of awesome people.  We have images and advice from several top-notch photographers, bloggers, instagrammers, travelers and locals.

These 38 spots are the best spots we believe in all of Transylvania.  If you disagree, jump to our Facebook Group and let us know where we missed.

We have done our best to group photo spots that are within the same cities, but with so many lying in small villages outside of bigger cities, it may get a little clustered!

 

Cluj-Napoca

Cluj-Napoca, or just Cluj, is the second largest city in Romania and is often at the center of visiting Transylvania because it is an easy jumping off point to visiting the rest of Transylvania.

It is also considered the the capitol of Transylvania and is home universities, bars and nightlife and some really impressive landmarks and photo spots.  We picked out our favorites below.

St. Michael’s Church

The gothic architecture at St. Michael’s church in Cluj is impressive by any standards.  It is the second largest church in Transylvania as well.  You can see the beautiful church in the image below from David Vasquez Zermeno.

I am a sucker for old churches, but many can be hard to get a good photograph at. The image above and the one below from Raisa Alves. show that you have plenty of room to work with when shooting St. Michael’s and a nice statue in the foreground.

Central Park

The Central Park of Cluj is a large urban park in central Cluj, located along the Somesul Mic River.  The beautiful park dates back to the 18th century and shows a great combination of history and natural beauty. 

You can see the beautiful green trees at Central park in the image below from Szabo Edina.

Tailor’s Tower

The Tailor’s Tower is part of the midieval citadel of Cluj-Napoca.  It dates back to the 15th century, however the current tower was rebuilt in the early 17th century. 

While the Tower isn’t that striking on its own, you can see the history in the building, especially when the sun hits it, like in the below image from Outdoor Photographer Csollany Zsolt.

The Bridge (Podul Elisabeta)

Often just called the Bridge, the Elizabeth Bridge in Cluj is Romania’s own version of the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris as lovers flock to the bridge to seal their love with a lock.

The locks on the bridge make for a great image, as you can see in the work below from Nuriye.

Brasov

Brasov is such a fun city in Transylvania. We spent an evening walking through the old town on our road trip and it packs a lot in a really small area.  The slogan below was hysterical to us and made for a great Instagram shot.

Brasov is located in central Romania, in the mountains, and is much more in the thick of the Dracula history, with many of the historical sites related to Vlad Dracul nearby.

Some of our favorite photo spots in Brasov, other than the city center above, are the following locations.

St. Nicholas Church

The St. Nicholas Church is a beautiful church on the hillside of Brasov.  It was just down the street from our hostel so it was the first place we stopped. 

The small cemetery on the church grounds is very picturesque, as you can see in the image below from Crystal Fambrini

There is also a large bell that was open for anyone to ring when we visited, or at least we went ahead and rang it because nobody was looking.

Black Church

The Black Church is an imposing hulk of a church standing in the center of Brasov, looming over the rest of the town.  The gothic church was built by the Catholic Church and the city’s German population in the 14th and  15th centuries.

It converted to a Lutheran church during the Protestant Reformation.  Lutheran services continue in the Black Church to this time.

The church suffered a fire in 1689, which is where it got its name as the Black Church.

I love this shot from @meesterhendra that shows a more aerial view of Black Church above the city that really shows off the immensity of the church.

In the image below from Instagrammers Gulsah & Kaan, you can see the more typical tourist shot that is easy to capture from the main square.  While it doesn’t show the immensity of the building as much, it is a great contrast to see the Black Church against the public square.

Another image from the Public Square, the shot below from Instagrammer @lifeside.travel beautifully captures the Black Church between buildings making up the public square. 

It is well worth taking the walk down the street between the Black Church and the square as the massive walls of the church loom over you in an almost ominous manner.

Rope Street (Strada Sforii)

Rope Street, known officially as Strada Sforii, is one of those quirky tourist sites you just have to visit and capture an Instagram shot at.  At 44 inches or 110 cm, Rope Street is considered the narrowest street in Europe.

Rope Street was originally built as a fireman’s corridor and dates back to at least the 17th century.

You can see the fun attraction in the image below from Lorand Szotyori.

Catherine’s Gate

Catherine’s Gate, known locally as Poarta Ecaterinei, was built in 1559 and is the only remaining city gate from the ancient citadel of Brasov.

With fairy tale towers and all that history, it is a must-shoot location, as you can see in the image below from Morgan Bartel.

The Synagogue

The picturesque synagogue in Brasov is the Beth Israel Synagogue.  You can see the impressive Neo-Gothic structure in the image below from @meesterhendra.

Tampa Hill

Tampa hill is a 965 meter hill of limestone that towers above the center of Brasov.  As you would expect, the views from the top are fantastic, and you can reach the summit on one of 25 walking paths or via cable car.

Most of the hill is a nature reserve due to the rare liverleaf plant and rare species of bears, birds and butterflies that live on Tampa Hill.  Indeed, an amazing 35 % of Romanian butterfly species call Tampa Hill home, so there is a lot more to see other than the view.

You can see the view from the cable cars in the image below from photographer Paola Brigneti.

Bran Castle

Although it is 25 km south of Brasov in the village of Bran, the famed castle of Dracula is the reason most people visit Brasov.  It is a beautiful castle and well worth the visit.

The Bran Castle is considered by many to be the home of the fictional Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel, although there is no historical evidence to support this.  The castle does have a historical link to Vlad the Impaler, but only that he may have stayed here for a short time.

You can see the castle atop its hill in the image below from Laura Blanco.

The interior of the castle was surprising to us as it looked much warmer than the dark castle on the top of the hill.  The interior is an interesting museum that we really enjoyed.  This spot on the tour provided a beautiful view of the interior courtyard.

Rasnov Castle

Rasnov is a small town that you pass on your way from Brasov.  It is easily seen from the highway due to the big Rasnov sign atop the hill underneat the old citadel.

You can see the beautiful little town beneath the fortress in the stunning image below from Instagrammer @raduc_.

Hunedoara

Hunedoara is a small city between Timisoara and Sibiu.  It is most famous for its impressive castle, known as Corvin’s Castle.

Corvin’s Castle, which is also known as the Hunedoara Castle or Hunyadi Castle, is a famous Gothic-Renaissance building which ranks as one of the largest castles in Europe.  Surpisingly, when we visited entry was only a couple Euro and we had free reign to explore wherever and however we wanted.  I would be surprised if it is still that way for such an impressive tourist site.

This 1446 castle also has some ties to Vlad the Impaler as it is believed he served as a prisoner in the castle for several years.  Part of what we were able to explore included the dungeons, which would have held Vlad the Impaler if the legends are true.

You can see the amazing exterior of the castle in the image below from vlogger Dana Bacinschi.

And here is a shot of us at the castle 10 years ago when some repair work was occurring.

Sinaia

Sinaia is a smaller mountain town just south of Brasov. It is actually just outside of Transylvania, but it is so close, I would definitely make the trip to enjoy the beautiful drive through the mountains and explore the sites.  During the fall, it was one of the most beautiful drives we have ever been on!

Peles Castle

The Peles Castle is the jewel of Sinaia.  It is a German neo-Renaissance castle featuring beautiful architecture, frescoes and stained glass windows.

Unfortunately, when we visited, there was a visiting delegate and we weren’t allowed to get close to the castle, which is beautiful up close as you can see in the image below from Instagrammer @k_mendez.

The Castle isn’t as old as many of the others we have discussed, built in the late 19th century for King Carol I.   You can see more of the beautiful architecture (and some crowds, which were non-existent a decade ago) in the stunning image below from Ana Burduja.

Pelisor Castle

The Pelisor Castle is another impressive, more-modern castle that is actually part of the same complex as the Peles Castle so you definitely don’t want to skip it when you visit Peles Castle, which somehow we did during our visit.

The Pelisor Castle was build at the turn of the 20th Century to be the residence of the heir and future King Ferdinand.  You can see the beautiful residence in the image below from Abdzelika Soliwoda.

Sinaia Monastery

The Sinaia Monastery, which is not far from the Peles and Pelisor Castles, is much older and is quite different in architecture styles.

The monastery was originally built in 1695 at the direction of Prince  Mihail Cantacuzino after his pilgrimage to Mt. Sinai in Egypt. It remains the home to orthodox monks under the direction of the Bucharest Archdiocese.

You can see the beautiful monastery in the image below from Mario Hurtado.

Sibiu

Sibiu is a cultural gemstone as the former center of Transylvanian culture.  Indeed, it has been designated as a European Capital of Culture.  It is located about halfway between Hunedoara and Brasov, so it is a convenient stop as well.

Sibiu is known for its Germanic Archituecture that dates back to its 12th century Saxon settlers. You can see some of the beautiful architecture of Sibiu in the image below from Teodora C.

Council Tower

Council Tower is a medieval tower dating back to the 13th Century that makes up part of the old walls and fortifications of the city that remain today.

Council Tower is one of the buildings in Sibiu that is famous for its views of the red rooftops that make up the town.  You can see part of that view in the image below from Monica Liana.

Apart from the views, Council Tower is impressive from the ground as well, as you can see in the below image from Laly.

Lutheran Cathedral of St. Mary

The Lutheran Cathedral of St. Mary is a massive church that dominates the old town of Sibiu with its massive steeple.

The Cathedral dates to the 14th Century, although a church has stood on the spot since at least the 12th Century.  For at least 3 centuries, all the notables from Sibiu were buried at this significant location.  

The four turrets on the steeple, which you can see in the image below from Bianca, were a sign to foreign visitors that the town head had the right to sentence lawbreakers to death.

Like the Council Tower, the Lutheran Church is also famous for its views of Sibiu.  In the image below, you can see Linda Maselune enjoying the views in this interesting settling.

Bridge of Lies

Beyond being a quaint little picturesque bridge, the Bridge of Lies is full of history.  

The bridge connects the old town of Sibiu to the new town.  There used to be a wooden bridge in the location until the new bridge was erected in 1859. It was the first cast-iron bridge built in Romania.

Capturing a good shot of the Bridge of Lies is a must for any visitor.  I love the image below captured by Cecilie Nybøen Berg.

The view from the bridge is also capture worthy as you can see in the image below from Jo.

Rasinari

Rasinari is a small beautiful historic village south of Sibiu.  Exploring these old villages in the country sides of Transylvania is one of the best ways you can spend a day. 

While they may not have as many landmarks, the cobblestone streets and old buildings make for a great photography, like the image below from Crystal Fambrini.

Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor

A bit southeast of Sibiu is the famous Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor.  The name translates to “Clay castle of the valley of the fairies.”

The eco-friendly hotel is built of all natural materials and is reminiscent of the popular hobbit hotels of New Zealand.

You can see the whimsical hotel in the image below from Saloni Duggal.

Poenari Castle

Further to the southeast of Sibiu are the ruins of the Poenari Castle.  The Poenari Castle has a rich history with a pretty strong claim to being the home of Vlad Dracul.

You can see the homage paid to Vlad the Impaler in the image below from Photographer Wilk z Nielasu.

The other famous part of Poenari Castle are the 1480 steps to reach the castle.

You can see the beautiful ruins in the mountains and some of path in the image below from Connor Reese.

The views from Poenari Castle are also quite stunning, as you can see in the below image from Lana Kutuzova.

Balea Lake

 Balea Lake is a glacial lake high in the mountains on your drive to Poenari Castle.  There are two chalets on the lake that are open year round.

You can see a small portion of the lake in the image below from Shay Zecharia Gilshtrom.

Balea Waterfall

Not far from the lake is the waterfall that makes for a good scenic shot.  It’s not the most impressive waterfall I have ever seen, but it is worth a stop if you are driving to Poenari Castle.

You can see a decent chunk of the waterfall in the image below from Beasain.

You can also see what the waterfall looks like with a bit more green and water flow in the image below from Lydia Wagner.

The Transfăgărășan Highway

Also on your way to the Poenari Castle, the Transfagarasan Highway is another must-stop photo location.  This highway winds through the Carpathian Mountains and makes for some great views.

You can see one of the famous views in the image below from Lydia Wagner.

Sighisoara

Sighisoara is a popular tourist destination in Transylvania.  It is a small town that retains a well preserved walled old town, that is perfect for capturing great images.

Sighisoara is also famous for being the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler Dracul, who many believe the book Dracula was based upon.  If you visit, you might as well get a shot with the bust of Vlad.

There is a lot more to see in Sighisoara other than Vlad Dracul’s birthplace.  The old city is still a citadel with medieval fortifications encompassing the borders.

Within the old city, you will find beautiful cobblestone streets with colorful old buildings that make for a great picture.

A final unique thing to find in Sighisoara is the old covered staircase.

Biertan

Between Sibiu and Sighisoara, you can turn off and visit Biertan, which is famous for its fortified church.  Transylvania’s fortified churches make up another UNESCO Heritage Site, and the one in Biertan is one of the most impressive.

The beautiful image below from talented photographer @ionut_petrea captures the whole setting of Beirtan with the majestic church in golden light.  If this doesn’t inspire you to visit, I don’t know what will.

You can get a closer view of the church in the image below from Instagrammer @the.wandering.key.

I absolutely love this unique view, captured by Lauren Bedard, of the Biertan Church that really captures its fortification.  You can see more of Lauren’s great photography at laurenbedardphoto.com.

Viscri

Viscri is a tiny village south of Sighsoara.  Unless things have changed since we went there in 2010, it is not easy to get to as it requires a long drive on a barely-there dirt road.

The village itself is interesting as it was all horse-drawn transportation while we visited with lots of little kids begging for candy. 

You can see the whole village below in the beautiful photograph from popular Instagrammer Anna Kloots.

The main attraction in Viscri is the old fortified church.  Somehow we visited when the church was closed, but the grounds were open and we enjoyed exploring the grounds and seeing this truly unique historical building.

Turda

Turda is an industrial town in Transylvania, located just south of Cluj-Napoca.  While the town itself doesn’t offer many photographic gems, there are two big attractions worth the visit: the salt mine and the gorge.

Salina Turda

The salt mines in Turda can be traced back to at least 1075 so the history for a mine is incredible.  Operations at the mine were halted in 1932, but they not operate as a tourist destination.

Salina Turda has been ranked as one of the top hidden gems in the world and is well worth the visit with features including an underground lake, large echo chambers, an old winch system and more.

You can see some of the fun construction on the lake in the image below from Jennifer Six.

Turda Gorge

Turda Gorge is a place to take in incredible scenery just 6 km from Turda or 15 km from Cluj-Napoca. 

You can see one amazing view in the image below from Laurien Meijer.

Alba lulia

Alba Lulia is an important historical city in Transylvania.  The citadel dates back to ancient times and has played an important role in the history of Romania, the Romans, the Saxons, the Germans and more.

Since the middle ages, it has been the seat of Transylvania’s Roman Catholic diocese.  It was also  a center of Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan of Transylvania.

The main attraction in Alba Lulia, is the Roman Orthodox Cathedral, which can be seen in the below  image from Anastasiia Lazareva.

Although we only drove through Alba Lulia on our way to Hunedoara in 2010, I was impressed enough by seeing the building, I snapped a couple terrible photos out the window of our moving car.  You can see between the two images that the cathedral has gone through quite a bit of updating in the past decade.

Timisoara

Timisoara is the third most populous city of Romania and lies west of Transylvania, but it is well worth the visit for any photographer. 

The city is packed with beautiful photo compositions, although most are not famous landmarks, as you can see in the fun image below from popular Instagrammer Marko Momirov.

The most popular sites in Timisoara revolve around the beautiful Orthodox Cathedral and its accompanying Victory Square.

You can see the unique and beautiful cathedral in the fantastic image below from Mizq Artz.

You can see all the surroundings and the beautiful square in the image below from Romanian Photographer Alex Bucevschi.

Finally, I wanted to share another amazing image from Victory Square made by Ivana Lukić.

Oradea

Oradea is another beautiful city west of Transylvania, but easily visited if you are in Transylvania.  Once again, it doesn’t offer famous landmarks, but Oradea is knows for its beautiful baroque and art nouveau architecture you will see wandering the city.

You can see some of the beautiful city in the image below from photographer Bogdan Podar.

Some more of the beautiful architecture is on display in the beautifully-captured winter scene below from Instagrammer @imagined_journey.

Black Eagle Passage

The Black Eagle Passage is an interesting scene you will want to take in if you visit Oradea.

The beautiful passage, with its stained glass, is part of the Black Eagle Complex, an early 20th century building considered a major accomplishment in the Secession building style.

You can see part of the passage in the great image below from the family behind the travel blog The Happy Kid.  You can also find them on Instagram.

Arad

Another city west of Transylvania, Arad is worth the stop if you are driving between Oradea and Timisoara.   While there isn’t much in Arad that would be considered a landmark, you can glimpse some of the beauty you will find in the image below from Anya.

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