A Spooktacular Guide to Dracula's Bran Castle in Transylvania

We have all heard tales of the undead; the most infamous of them all being Count Dracula himself. Man, myth and literary legend, his name is enough to inspire nightmares. Monsters are rumoured to reside in delightfully Gothic Transylvania, and Bran Castle is no exception. The primary inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, this looming setting more than lives up to its reputation. It’s just pretend, right? Enter at your own will.

Bats are often depicted as shapeshifting vampires, an idea that became definite in Stoker’s Dracula.

A haunted history

The real question is, who was Dracula?

Aside from being influenced by Victorian England’s societal issues and other Vampire literature at the time, a major inspiration for Stoker’s novel was the bloody history of a 15th century prince. Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler and Vlad Dracula, was a notoriously vicious leader. With over 80,000 deaths to his name, there are several historical accounts documenting Vlad III’s reputation for cruelty (viewer discretion is advised).

Despite imagined connections, it is believed that Vlad III never stepped a foot into Bran Castle due to hostile relations between him and the Bran Lords. Instead, on a visit here you will learn more about Marie of Romania: the last Queen of this country. One of her favourite residences, she transformed the 14th century Saxon fortress into a lively summer house. Today, much of the castle is a museum dedicated to her memory.

Blood moon, believed to be caused by ancient vampires according to Romanian folklore.

Blood is the life

Historical ties may not be absolute, but a trip to Bran Castle can still feel sinister. Having embraced its infamy, Bran Castle offers blood-curdling expeditions to those who dare.

Ready to face your fears? On the fourth floor, visitors are welcome to try the live-action History of Dreads exhibition. Folklore legends and Hollywood horrification, you will learn everything you ever wanted to know about the supernatural here. Who knows what hides in the dark…

Or maybe this Halloween you want to raise the stakes. From a Transylvanian dinner in celebration of this holiday, to dancing the night away, Bran Castle is one of the best places to spend this time of year. Put on your most horrifying costume and brace yourself: the party doesn’t stop until the sun rises!

Terrifying tours

Bran castle has a secret passage connecting the first and third floors.

It is hardly a surprise that Bran Castle is best seen in the dark. As part of the Dracula experience, you can be escorted on a night-time tour through the castle as you learn more about its old legends. Capes and lanterns are provided as you wander through narrow passageways and staircases that spiral.

After a close encounter with a creature of the night, your evening ends with a traditional Romanian feast followed by local wine tasting. What started off as a spine-chilling trip ends on quite the leisurely note!

(This night tour is temporarily unavailable for bookings, but there are multiple day-time tours that can be booked through Bran Castle Tours).

Spoiler: It’s not all doom and despair

Want to be one of Dracula’s Brides? You can get married at Bran Castle!

Remember when we said Queen Maria converted Bran Castle into her summer residence? Horror haters need not be afraid of visiting. Between the peaceful gardens and the museum rooms that are more occupied with Romanian history than an Irish author, it is easy to come across from this place scare-and-care-free. In the daytime, that is.

Split across a high and low tourism season, Bran Castle is typically open from 10am to 4pm — with closing hours being extended to 6pm in April to September. Tickets cost around 60Lei (12€) for adults.

With souvenir stalls just outside the castle and a nearby pizzeria, there are plenty of activities here to take your mind off of any terrors, and enough garlic to keep the vampires at bay…

Starting from Skratch? Here are some links to help you get started:
For more travel articles with twists and turns, check out our Dark Tourism series.

Romania — Facts Before You Go


🇷🇴 Romanian (Official); English widely spoken.


💰Romanian Leu (lei)


👍Customary. 5–10% for general service, and 15% if service was exemplary.

Famous for

🏰Historical architecture

🏞️Gorgeous landscapes


Bonus: Vampire Trivia

⚰️The main types of vampires found in Romanian folklore are moroi and strigoi. A moroi is a mortal vampire ghost who was turned whilst they were deceased. A strigoi is an immortal living vampire, who was turned whilst they were alive.

🦇Bram Stoker never actually visited Transylvania, but his descriptions of Dracula’s dwellings bear a strong resemblance to Bram Castle.

🎥There have been over 200 films made which feature Count Dracula. Nosferatu (1922, remake released in 1979), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), and Hotel Transylvania (2012) are some of the most recognisable examples.

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Hannah Douch
August 30, 2023

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