Quick and comprehensive tutorial on how to get to Transylvania.
First you need to understand that Transylvania is not a village or a city. It is a big historical region, right in the middle of Romania and according to Wikipedia is about 55000 sq km. So finding out how long it takes to get here or how far is Transylvania from somewhere it kinda depends on where you are or where you are trying to go.
So here you go:
- On foot to Transylvania. It has been tried and tested over the millennia but everybody found it really difficult. Our ancestors the Dacians and the Romans, and later the Hungarians that were famous for being great horse riders, have all tried to cross these ancient forests and rugged mountains but must have found it really difficult. Nowadays we obviously have good roads and connections with the rest of Europe and some people still go on walking tours but coming here on foot might not be the greatest idea for your holiday. Although in the last year or so there is a great initiative launched by Tasuleasa Social (locan non profit), called Via Transilvanica. They aim (and mostly succeeded) in marking a trail from the south to the north that would be of great help if you decide to walk and it would blow your mind with its trails and scenery. You cand find them at https://www.viatransilvanica.com/en/
- On horseback or horse-drawn cart to Transylvania🙂 Obviously still difficult but you could make it if you really wanted to.. Just be aware of the traffic and the wild animals on your way here. You might even see a surprised border officer but chances are you'll make it. You can get to Transylvania by crossing in from Hungary or across the mountains from the rest of Romania.
- By car to Transylvania. More and more roads open up these days and Transylvania has increasingly good motorway connections from Hungary on the west side, and from there on to the rest of Europe. If you are driving up from the south of the country, you would have to cross from Bulgaria or Serbia and cross the Carpathian mountains. Coming from the east or north, first you have to cross into Romania from Moldova or Ukraina and then follow the road crossings through the mountains. Entering the country by car, you will be stopped at the Romanian border crossing where besides you passport or national ID, you have to present your car registration papers and your car insurance voucher (normally the green European section that your insurance company provides). Once you pass the border you have to purchase a mandatory road tax that you can easily find at special huts by the border or at virtually any major fuel station on the side of the road. For a normal car, van, minibus or camper van up to 3,5 tons that you can drive with a normal driving license, this tax is quite cheap and at the moment it stands at 3 euros for seven days, 7 euros for 30 days, 13 euros for 90 days and 28 euros for 12 months. You can also buy the road tax online at www.e-rovinieta.ro, a government owned website with sections in about nine or ten foreign languages.
- By train to Transylvania. It can turn out to be slower than on horse back… Romanian railways have a poor record when it comes to maintenance, so although you can jump on a nice looking train in Budapest, it would still take you more than 10 hours to get to Cluj-Napoca, in the middle of Transylvania. From the other neighboring countries you would normally have to take a train to Bucharest first and then change to get cross the mountains and get to Brasov, the biggest city in southern Transylvania. Once in the country, train tickets are not that expensive but some of the Romanian trains themselves have seen much better days and you would have to do some research at the train stations to figure out which train goes where. You can buy your tickets online at https://www.cfrcalatori.ro/en/ or at the train stations but beware of the ladies at the kiosk as most of them (especially in smaller stations) have been with the company for a long time and do not speak foreign languages.
- By air to Transylvania. You are spoiled for choice on this one, so read all about it in our next post.