There are quite a bit of castles in Transylvania but probably the one that everyone thinks of Dracula’s Castle even though its real name is Bran Castle. Most people think of Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle) as a haunted place but it’s not even close. Even the area of Transylvania that was designated as the home location for vampires and Dracula are all entirely false. To me, it’s just purely a marketing ploy to sell the vampire stereotype. It’s all due to the myths and stories created to help design Transylvania as a mythical and strange place out to the rest of the world which is somewhat working. Film producers even filmed a movie (Brad Stoker’s Dracula) at so-called Dracula’s Castle despite the castle’s incredible small size. Luckily the magic of Hollywood was able to make it bigger than it seems.
If you still want to go to Dracula’s Castle, by all means, take a trip but note that it’s not called that. The actual name is Bran Castle. Despite the name, there’s no connection to Brad Stoker’s Dracula. The book was more connected with Vlad the Impaler, even though the man probably never set foot in Bran Castle. I think the character and Bran Castle were great inspirations for the book and eventual movie as colloquial references to each other in addition to Romania’s attempt to open up the tourist marketing to the rest of the world. The castle is more of a museum than actual castle.
If you want to go to an actual castle, then the better selection would be Peles Castle. This castle was intended to be the summer estate for the Romanian royal family so there was a lot of elaborate construction to make it lavish and grand. I’m assuming that the royals also used it to entertain guests who would visit them there so they also created to impress visitors. Now it’s a popular tourist attraction as the castle is now a museum as the Romanian royal family has been banished by the Romanian Communist Party and after the communist era’s end, there was no big push to bring back the royal family so that was that.
And right nearby Peles Castle is Pelisor Castle. Some even consider the two castles to be part of the same area complex. The castle was intended to be a private residence for the Romanian royal family so it’s not readily accessible for the general public to make visits although you never know…
If you want to go a real castle, a fortress, then it would be best to go to Rasnov Citadel. This fortress was built on top of mountain which oversaw the valley so it could maintain defense against invading armies en-route to Brasov. I could see that the locals were concerned that the Ottoman Empire could send troops without warning so this place was a way to observe and stop any intrusions farther inland.
Another interesting fortress is the one in Fagaras, about a 40-50 minute drive from Brasov. It’s very close to the impressive Fagaras Cathedral which is an Orthodox church.
This fortress, called Fagaras Citadel, is how most people would imagine a castle, actually has a moat around it! There are no alligators in it despite that some people might imagine a moat having them. Instead, the water is meant to be a barrier so troops cannot just run up with ladders and overrun the fortress. Water in this case is utilized as another form of protection, making it harder for enemies to overcome.
Tip: Be wary of all those Dracula’s items that the restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and street peddlers try to sell you such as Dracula’s lemonade, Dracula’s soup, Dracula’s candy, Dracula this, Dracula that, Dracula etc…. It’s all just a marketing ploy. A few Dracula items for purchase shouldn’t kill you in the wallet department but remember it’s all just marketing in making you the sale where your hard-earned money flows from your pockets and into theirs.