Fire, garlic, and sunlight scares off vampires, right? Coffins instead of beds and never-ending life. That’s at least what we’ve learned from ‘Hotel Transylvania’ and other vampire movies/books. Castle Bran is seen as Dracula’s Castle, but guess what: That’s actually not true. We took a Castle Bran Tour with Transylvanian Wonders that cleared up the myths – in a disappointing way somehow.
Expectations vs. reality at Castle Bran
When we were driving towards Bran, we were joking about becoming vampires. “We have to go in the woods at night or walk down dark alleys!”, my boyfriend said. “Well, don’t you wanna be a vampire and live forever??!!”
As we were joking around what we could do, we didn’t know that Bran is not as crazy in their marketing and merchandise methods, compared to, well, let’s say the U.S. Where things get extreme once they’ve found a unique selling point – Las Vegas itself is a good example.
To be honest, I was a little happy that Romanians don’t get extremely crazy with their merchandising, restaurants, and hotels. They offer all kinds of Dracula things, but I don’t find it overwhelming.
Transylvanian Wonders – Castle Bran Tour
We actually did not do any research beforehand or booked anything, because I am not a good planner for vacations. We just walked up towards the Castle Bran after breakfast and a woman asked us if we would like to take a guided tour. That’s it! This is how easy it can be.
The woman brought us to their office, we paid 100 Lei each (~$26) for the Castle Bran Tour, got a little red sticker, and we were ready to go.
The price is not really cheap, but it includes the entrance fee to the castle which is 30 Lei, a 1-hour tour (which was definitely longer) and you don’t have to wait in lines.
We also had a pretty small group – only another couple was with us this morning. The rain probably scared people away, although it wasn’t really bad (especially not for taking photos). But good for us! A smaller group is better for asking questions and there were fewer people inside Castle Bran.
At the beginning of the tour, it was a little fast and a lot of information. It was rather a historical entry about the owners of the castle and the Romanian history of the region.
Then we started the tour through Castle Bran. She told us about every room that we passed through. The focus was on Queen Marie, not Dracula. I don’t want to spoil, but this castle has so much history. So basically, the Dracula myth only covers a fraction of this castle’s history.
On the upper level of the castle, we learned more about Dracula, or should I say: Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula? At that point, our imagination got crushed. No vampires. No never-ending life. Just kidding, we knew that vampires weren’t real before.
Bram Stoker made bank out of the Dracula story, although he never even visited Romania. Bran Castle is very similar to the one described in Stoker’s book. That’s why it’s now known as Dracula’s Castle. However, Vlad’s favorite castle was the Cetatea Poenari on the Transfagarasan road, which is 90 miles (130km) away.
So, what’s my final opinion?
Although we were sort of disappointed because we had the expectation to hear more vampire stories than history, we liked the tour. ‘Disappointed’ is probably the wrong choice of words because it’s way too negative. The tour really clears up the myths & legends and provides a lot of background information. It even serves as a little history lesson about Romania itself.
That’s why I can recommend taking a Castle Bran Tour with Transylvanian Wonders.
Booking a Castle Bran Tour
In case you are the spontaneous type, you can catch them on the streets in front of the castle or at their office.
If you rather have things booked and organized (for sunny days and high season), you can book the Castle Bran Tour online through their website or through TripAdvisor.
Good to know: You can even book the castle for private events as it is privately owned now. Check it out…