Count Dracula, the world’s most famous vampire, has captivated horror fans since Bram Stoker published his novel in 1897. Since then, the book has never gone out-of-print and it’s inspired an endless stream of visitors to what’s known as Dracula’s Castle in Romania.
Although it’s not possible to stay in the castle, you can explore it alone or as part of a tour group. And while you cannot spend the night, the remote village of Bran has an abundance of lavish accommodation available for fans of the fanged legend.
Despite the spooky nickname, Bran Castle has little to no historical association with Vlad Tepes. The Wallachian voivode (military commander) better known as Vlad the Impaler may have attacked the castle or been imprisoned there for a couple of nights.
Does that mean travelers hoping to catch sight of the count should scratch Dracula’s Castle off the itinerary and stick to watch reruns of Francis Ford Coppola’s film and the Groovie Goolies? Certainly not, because Bran Castle has plenty to offer visitors – even those hoping for some high camp gothic fun.
A Home For A Queen
Perched on a hill in Transylvania’s Carpathian Mountains and ringed by twisting roads that beg to be explored, the huge stone walls and turrets of Dracula’s Castle are surrounded by forest and backdropped by mountains. This creates a suitably gothic atmosphere, especially on a misty morning or evening. Entering its buildings, however, brings an altogether different mood.
Instead of torture chambers, colonies of bats, and three writhing brides of Dracula waiting to seduce and snack on unsuspecting victims, visitors will find surprisingly comfortable rooms. The 57-room castle was, after all, the home of one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters. In its earlier years, the fortress played a role in defending the country against the advances of the Ottoman Empire. It was also the site of a customs point.
Queen Marie of Romania lived in the castle between 1920 and 1938, and she’s recorded as having described her love of the solitude it offered. Visitors can explore cozy apartments, an armory, a wood-paneled library with a secret stairway, and a courtyard with a well.
After Queen Marie’s death, Bran Castle was inherited by her daughter, Princess Ileana. The princess allowed the castle to be used as a hospital during the Second World War, but was expelled in 1948 after the communist regime took control of the country and seized the castle.
The son and heir of the princess, Dominic von Habsburg took ownership of the castle in 2006. The archduke and his sisters opened the castle as a private museum and tourist attraction in 2009.
Where Is The Vampire Stuff?
Even though the museum at Dracula’s Castle focuses mainly on Marie of Romania, tourists never need to look far for vampire-related paraphernalia and activities. There is no shortage of souvenirs that celebrate the associations with Vlad and his incarnation as the infamous Count. There are bottles of ‘Blood Wine,’ beer steins with fangs, and a variety of t-shirts all on sale at numerous locations.
No one has any intentions of letting travelers know that Bran Castle has tenuous links to Vlad and, thereby, Dracula. Links that, according to Nicolae Pepene, a local historian quoted in National Geographic magazine, have more to do with the communist regime than history.
Pepene explained that, in the 1960s, the government wanted to exploit a location associated with Vlad. They chose gothic-looking Bran Castle because of its location on a mountain pass between Walachia and Transylvania.
Thankfully, although many of the souvenirs may be suitably gory, much of the accommodation near the castle is wonderfully comfortable, if not thoroughly luxurious.
Best Accommodation Near Dracula’s Castle
Visitors to Bran can choose from boutique hotels, B&Bs, and other accommodation options. A popular option is Conacul Törzburg, which is literally across the road from Dracula’s Castle. The comfortable rooms offer flat-screen TV with satellite channels, private bathrooms, and a kettle. Guests can enjoy meals in the restaurant, have drinks at the bar, or enjoy the fresh air of the garden or terrace.
Brătescu Mansion, which was the top choice of B&Bs among travelers on TripAdvisor in 2018, is a 10-minute walk from the castle. The building is an authentic Romanian mansion, which may offer an idea of what life was like for Queen Marie. The luxurious rooms boast traditional furnishings, and the restaurant offers home-style Romanian dishes and a selection of wines.
The family-owned Transylvanian Inn Hotel opened in 2006, and it bills itself as an excellent location for retreats. Located in Predelut Village near Bran, it offers magnificent views of Dracula’s Castle and the mountains. The hotel’s tower offers guests the chance to take full advantage of those views, while the restaurant offers a fresh, contemporary take on Romanian cuisine.
Hanul Simon, located 2km from Bran Castle, is another spot that’s perfect for a relaxing break. The inn has double and triple rooms, as well as apartments, a chalet, and a restaurant that serves traditional dishes. Its countryside location makes it perfect for those who, like Queen Marie, appreciate a bit of peace and quiet.
Zara Chalet is a four-minute walk from the castle in Bran. The guesthouse has a stylish wood-and-stone interior, and well-appointed rooms with tea/coffee makers, flatscreen TVs, and private bathrooms. A spa center with a sauna and hot tub, as well as a bar, a shared lounge, and a garden are also available. Guests can enjoy an à la carte breakfast before heading off to explore the village and surrounding countryside.
It might not be what the majority of tourists expect, but they don’t leave disappointed. They won’t find Dracula’s crypt in a haunted castle, but if they’re in the right place at the right time, they can join a tour group led by a costumed guide who will happily point them in the direction of vampire blood vodka shots.
Be the first to leave a review.