Peleș Castle: A Day Trip from Bucharest
January 1, 1970
by Salo Szymanowska
You are probably thinking of Dracula, Transylvania and/or Communist-era architecture right now.
You’re not entirely wrong, but there is a lot more to Romania than just vampire lore and cheap alcohol! This not-so-small country is actually home to many beautiful landscapes and buildings that don’t get the attention they deserve. That is quickly changing, so book a ticket and head to Romania’s capital Bucharest (Bucharest, not Budapest! As the Romanian government so kindly reminds us). And while you’re at it why not take an easy day trip to one of the most beautiful castles in the world: Peleș Castle.
Bran Castle or Peleș Castle?
Bran Castle (or Dracula’s Castle) is situated farther up north from Peleș Castle. Whilst you can visit both castles in a day by yourself, I would suggest otherwise. A tour will set you back at least 80 euros just on transportation, and taking into consideration how cheap Romania is I was surprised we could not find a better deal. You can, of course, plan on going to both castles by yourself. But, unless you want to be worrying about train schedules, language barrier and hurrying from one place to another then I would also advise against this method.
We chose to go to Peleș instead of Bran since we’d read much of it being quite touristy and hyped up. Besides, while Bran looked quite nice and modest, Peleș simply looked a bit more majestic. Next time, Bran Castle!
Getting to Peleș Castle from Bucharest
Easiest way: train to Sinaia
Remember the beautiful castle the Prince lived in A Christmas Prince? Hey, no shame I loved that movie, too. I remember being awed at the gorgeous castle with its twinkling lights and fairy-tale demure. Unlike the movie tells us, this castle is actually situated in Sinaia, just a few hours away from Bucharest by train.
First things first: Make sure to check the Castle’s website for opening times since they close on certain days depending on the season! It is really not necessary to leave at the break of dawn. We left by 11 am and still got to enjoy and make the most of our day. Arrive at Gara de Nord in the morning (easily reached by metro) and buy a one-way ticket to Sinaia. Do not buy your return ticket yet since you might not want to catch the last train to Bucarest. There are around 15 trains departing every day to Sinaia, take about 1 and a half hour and cost around 10 Euro one way.
Have a coffee and breakfast in one of the many coffee shops of the departure/arrival hall while you wait for the train. Make sure you don’t lose your ticket! Or you’ll have to run back to the ticket booth 3 minutes before the train leaves and purchase another full ticket. Like it happened to us.
Getting to Peleș Castle from the train station
Now sit back and enjoy the scenery from your window. Peleș (pronounced Peh-lesh) Castle is nested up in Sinaia which provides for breathtaking views of the Carpathian mountains all around it. We visited during Winter in January which is why I was afraid of gray skies and dead trees surrounding the castle. I was happily mistaken and the scenery turned out to be green nonetheless, with snow-capped mountains in the background making for a picturesque contrast. It’s safe to say the views are amazing year-round!
Taxis are ready to take you to the Castle from outside the train station for low prices (around 11 lei one way).
We found the walk to be quite easy and fast. Just take comfy shoes and water for some light-walking uphill. As soon as you exit the train station “Sinaia” you will see some stairs going up a small hill. Follow the stairs until you reach the street above and turn left. Follow the upwards path and you should reach the Sinaia Monastery in no time. Signs appear from here guiding your way to “Castelul Peleș”. The way is easy, just follow the signs and enjoy the views.
You’ll reach a cobblestone street lined with local vendors selling souvenirs and snacks. I bought a pretty fridge magnet of the castle for 7 lei. Not a bad haul! Make sure to try a Covrigi while you’re at it, these are similar to pretzels and make for a nice after-walk snack.
Peleș Castle and surroundings
Walk further along the road until you reach a courtyard. Congratulations! You have reached your destination! You should be able to see the castle straight ahead. Take in the beauty of the Castle and views around you, but why stop there? You can also marvel at the inner beauty of the palace. Bear in mind you need to go in with a tour and have to pay to be able to take pictures inside. The last tour is at 4:15 pm and make sure the tour is in English! Or you will be stuck in a tour in Romanian for 45 minutes and miss the entire history of the palace. Like it happened to us. Either way going inside the luxurious rooms and halls was well worth every lei.
This is another castle right next to Peleș. It is around 20 lei for entering and another 20 for taking pictures. While we did not go in, reviews were pretty good and recommended to enter first then go to the main castle, as its grandeur is on a smaller scale.
Lunch around the castle
After you’ve done enough marveling (does such a thing even exist?) make your way to the restaurant next to the courtyard you came in and treat yourself to some reasonably priced lunch in one of the restaurants. We headed to La Tunuri where I had a sandwich, a Romanian cream pastry and a coffee which were all delicious and warmed me up in the cold January weather. We waited until it was dark enough to see the castle all lit up, then made our way back to the train station.
The last train to Bucharest leaves around 9:37 pm, but as you will find out you’ll probably be done long before that. There’s not a lot more to do in Sinaia besides the castle. The town is quite commercial and tourist-oriented, not what you’d hope if you’re after the small Romanian town image. On our way up the castle, we could see a gondola car making its way up in the mountains. I can only imagine the views they must’ve had! Maybe next time I am in Sinaia I will save some time for that.
I really enjoyed my time in Sinaia, which was only a day out of my 4-day-trip to Romania! I really recommend making this day trip and experiencing the Romanian scenery and architecture by yourself. I hope this article was of use to you and have fun in Romania!