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Transylvania—could there be a more iconic place to visit for Halloween? What makes this a particularly spine chilling place to visit, is its correlation with Dracula. A real “dracula” once lived here and was famed for his heartless killing methods. Then Bram Stoker based the fictional Dracula’s castle off of a prominent building from Transylvania. The past has made the Romanian region a beloved place for a spooky celebration. Otherwise, Transylvania offers breathtaking landscape and architecture. But we are here to tell you why you should visit during Halloween.
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For ages, Transylvania, according to old tales, has been often visited by Strigoi, or roaming spirits. Strikingly similar to a vampire, they rise from their graves at night to haunt and drink blood, while villagers use garlic as a defense. Hoia-Baciu Forest near Cluj-Napoca might be touted for its great biking trails and recreational offerings, but it’s also known for being haunted. So if you are hoping to see Strigoi roaming Transylvania, you could come here for a walk.
The Liar’s Bridge in Sibiu still stands and can be seen and traversed today. But once upon a time in the Middle Ages, it was rumored that this walkway would come crashing down if those with a lying tongue crossed. So take the daring steps if you will, but be sure you clear the air before doing so.
A top destination in Romania, Sighisoara is an enriching old town in Transylvania and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at historic structures like the old clock tower, and then let it soak in that this was the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, aka, the real Dracula.
Another Halloween party is held at the town’s Medieval Citadel, in an actual dungeon. Dinner, drinks, themed dessert and a magic show are part of the festivities. While here, stop by The Dracula Investigation for some clarifying history on ole Vlad.
Speaking of Sighisoara, there’s a Dracula themed restaurant in town, named none other than Vlad Dracul Restaurant—this is truly a must. The environment is very Medieval, with portraits of castles and, of course, Vlad adorning the walls. The establishment’s name is printed in bloody lettering, yet is a subtle touch. Foodies can dine on stews and other meaty dishes which are praised for their fine culinary preparation. Be sure to finish up with a bottle of Dracula wine.
Bran Castle was the inspiration for Dracula’s castle in Bram Stokers fictitious book reminiscent of the very real Vlad the Impaler, who ruled centuries ago. While his actual castle lies in ruins in a nearby area, he was imprisoned at Bran for a short time period. Today, guests can visit and tour the castle. Wind through the old fortress tunnels, peer out to the gorgeous surrounding landscape and marvel at the age-old architecture.
All evil things must come to an end…maybe. It’s believed that the grave of Vlad resides in a church after a group of monks stole his body for proper burial. Snagov Monastery is on an island, in the middle of a lake, near Bucharest. Guests can take a tour for a glimpse of the possible resting place, but the island can be reached by crossing a bridge connected to the mainland. The site has a surprisingly peaceful feel but is nonetheless an appropriate stop on your spooky trip.
Poenari Castle was another temporary dwelling of Vlad and is thought to be haunted by his wife, who took her life here during an invasion in the 1400s. Although the castle is considered to be in ruins after landslides and the general abuse of time, some renovations have kept some vital structures relatively in place. Visitors must climb well over 1,000 steps to reach the ruins, but the views make the trek worth it.
Corvin Castle is another stunning, centuries-old structure, and some say, while many discount, that Vlad was held captive here, and eventually went mad. Elaborate Gothic style, a drawbridge, and informative interior exhibits make the fully intact medieval structure one of the most immersive in all of Transylvania. Corvin Castle also puts on a Halloween party with food, music, moody lighting and talented performances.
While Transylvania houses modern accommodations, the coolest ones for a Halloween trip have an antique ambiance or unique allure. Casa Rozelor in Brasov was built in the 15th century, Casa Wagner is one of the oldest buildings in its area, and Kalnoky Manor allows guests to dive into past heritage in oak beamed cottages. Any of these hotels would be an appropriately exciting place to rest your head during an October visit.
G Adventures offers the ultimate seven day Halloween tour through various parts of Transylvania. Travelers will get to explore many of the major sites associated with Vlad the Impaler, like Poenari Castle, Snagov Monastery, and the birthplace of the killer ruler, Sighisoara. On day 5, guests get to party at Bran Castle for the most outrageously spooky, authentic Halloween party. You absolutely should dress up, because everyone does and it’s praised as being one of the best Halloween events in the world.
On November 2nd, Bran Castle hosts their own official Halloween shindig, a classic party with spooky decor, music and food—kids get candy, adults get wine! A gourmet Halloween dinner or a tunnel walk complete with a black vodka shot is available as add ons. Regardless of which festivities you decide to participate in, there isn’t a more fitting place to celebrate the frightful holiday, than at the silver screen version of Dracula’s castle.