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Written by Jessica from Books and Bao.
The town of Sighisoara is a gorgeous piece of medieval Romanian history and a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its ‘outstanding testimony to the culture of the Transylvanian Saxons.’ Today, the town is bigger than it once was, with modern suburbs, a bus station, and a few supermarkets surrounding the town center.
But it’s in this center that every wonderful sight and experience can be found. Sighisoara was once a hilltop fortress town, and that fortress town remains perfectly intact and populated to this day.
It’s here that you’ll find the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, the real man behind the myth, as well as historic sites like the Sighisoara Clock Tower and the Church on the Hill. It’s also a city with wonderful cuisine and some excellent restaurants. You only need a day or two to see it all, but there are really are some amazing things to do in Sighisoara. If you’d like to learn more about Sighisoara’s history, then here are some great books to read before you visit Romania.
Sighisoara Clock Tower & Sighisoara History Museum
One of the main attractions in Sighisoara can be seen from almost any point within the old fortress town and from the modern streets below. Painted in a vibrant yellow, the clock tower itself dates back to the fourteenth century, and it once controlled the main gate into the city. Not only can you admire it from below, but you can also head inside to enjoy the Sighisoara History Museum, which is spread over several floors as you make your way to the top.
One of the most impressive items in the museum is a detailed old model of Sighisoara, which really shows how the old town towers above everything below. You can even see the mechanism of the old clock inside. Keep climbing, and you’ll eventually reach a narrow staircase that will take you to the top of the tower, which offers a fantastic view over the city and beyond. It’s well worth the 15 lei entry fee, considering you get access to a museum loaded with medieval artifacts and the aforementioned model, as well as one of the best views in the city.
The clock tower is one of the nine (out of fourteen) remaining guild towers and one of the only ones you can enter, so this a great place to start your Sigisoara visit. Other notable towers in the city square include the Tailors’ Tower and the Cobblers’ Tower.
Walk To The Church On The Hill Via The Scholar’s Stairway
When walking the colorful cobbled streets of Sighisoara, you won’t be able to miss the medieval covered wooden stairs leading from the town center up towards the church. Initially built for teachers and students to make their way up to class, hence the name, it’s very worth taking the 175 steps up to the magnificent Church on the Hill, the Evangelical Cemetery, and the Rope Tower. Inside the church itself, you’ll find fifteenth-century frescoes and the only crypt in Transylvania where notable Sighisoaran citizens have been buried.
This is also the best route to visit the atmospheric Sighisoara Saxon Cemetry nearby, where you can find the graves of the Saxons who built the church.
As a bonus, the church is at the highest point in all of Sighisoara, and standing in front or behind the church offers visitors an incredible view that is a free alternative to the view from the clock tower, which you have to pay for. It’s worth experiencing both views; however, since a view from the clock tower includes the church, and a view from the church includes the clock tower. Visiting The Church on the Hill is easily one of our favorite things to do in Sighisoara.
Visit Casa Vlad Dracul
Sighisoara being Dracula’s birthplace, is undoubtedly one of the big draws to the city, and there’s no shortage of related things you can get up to in Sighisoara as a result. Casa Vlad Dracul is the perfect place to start your Dracula adventure since you can actually visit the room he was supposedly born in and then head downstairs for a meal in the restaurant, which comprises the bulk of the house.
The menu isn’t Dracula-themed, but the food is local and delicious, plus standardly and affordably priced. Have some delicious ciorba (soup) followed by some mici (sausage with mustard) or sarmale (cabbage rolls). Once you’ve enjoyed a meal at Casa Vlad Dracul, you can head down to the ground floor, where you’ll find a shop that sells hand-made original local arts and crafts that make for some unique, one-of-a-kind Sighisoara souvenirs. These crafts beautifully showcase the traditional arts of this region of Transylvania.
The reason the building is called Casa Vlad Dracul is that it was literally owned by Vlad Dracul, father of the famous Dracula (Dracul meaning “The Dragon” and Dracula meaning “Son of the Dragon”). If you’d like to learn more about the man who inspired the Dracula legend, you can stop at the nearby ‘Dracula Investigation,’ which takes you through the story of Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) and separates the facts from the myths.
Find The Statue Of Vlad The Impaler
Why not carry on the Dracula theme? It’s easy to miss the statue of the man himself if you’re not looking for it, but you’ll find it marked on Google maps as ‘State of Vlad Tepes. It’s within the Old Town and worth finding as there’s also a great view over the newer part of Sighisoara right behind the statue!
Admire The Holy Trinity Church
You can find this Russian Orthodox Church outside of the Old Town (to the north), but it’s well worth paying a visit! Chances are you’ll walk past it on your way to the old fortress town anyway as it’s on the walking route from the bus station.
Set on the Tarnava Mare River, in an imposing Neo-Byzantine style, it looks very much like a cathedral but is, in fact, a church and was built in the twentieth-century. It’s just as impressive inside as out, so make sure you pop in to see the domed ceiling and frescoes.
While you’re there, visit Sighisoara’s New Town, it’s not as pretty as wandering inside the citadel walls, but the new town is still surprisingly colorful, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to seek out.
Wander The Colourful Streets
For people who love colorful facades, Sighisoara is a dream. Well-maintained pastel-colored buildings line cobbled streets; it’s honestly hard to believe that most of these buildings date back to the twelfth century.
Many of these are souvenir shops, and it’s good fun ducking in to see what you’ll find; of course, there are a lot of Dracula-themed items, but you’ll also find painted eggs, religious paintings, stunning ceramics, and hand-carved items.
Have A Drink In Teo’s Cellar
If you enjoy visiting breweries and love sampling local alcohols, then a stop at the 500-year-old Teo’s Cellar is a must. Using ancient Saxon recipes, their brandy and liqueurs are brewed in the barrel for over three-years; this is a perfect place to pick up some souvenirs, do a tasting tour, or simply see the beautiful interior and impressive cellar itself.
You can even rent a room there! The hosts are kind, welcoming, and incredibly knowledgeable about their craft. Stop by for a free sample, at least.
Sit Outside For Lunch With A View
If you’re looking for a perfect place to stop for lunch or dinner, then try the Medieval Cafe Restaurant; they serve traditional Romania food and also serve coffee and drinks. The interior lives up to its name and feels like taking a step back in time but, if the weather is nice, ask to eat in the courtyard where you can get a magnificent view of the towers.
How To Get To Sighisoara
Despite being relatively isolated, as most towns in Transylvania are, Sighisoara is still straightforward to get to from the larger cities. Transylvania is a vast landscape of flat valleys and rising mountains, and every town feels so distant from every other. Still, the roads are excellent, and the best way to get to Sighisoara is by bus from either Brasov to the south or Cluj-Napoca to the north.
These are the two biggest cities in Transylvania and the places you’re likely to visit Sighisoara from. There is a bus that travels several times per day from Brasov to Cluj-Napoca, passing through Sighisoara on the way. The bus ride takes less than two hours (usually around an hour and forty-five minutes), which is a reasonable time for a day trip or overnight trip to Sighisoara. A single ticket is only around 25 lei and can be bought either online or on the bus when it pulls up.
Another option is to drive yourself. Renting a car in Brașov or Cluj-Napoca is exceptionally affordable, and driving Transylvania’s open roads is a lot of fun.
Take the road into your own hands and make your own way to Sighisoara in a rental car before returning it a day or two later. While driving in Bucharest can be intimidating, Transylvania’s open roads are a lot of fun to drive and will cause you no stress at all.
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