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Rucar Bran area, top landscapes in a fairy tale location

Need to know

How to get there by car: DN71, DN 72A and DN73 from Bucharest (around 21/2-3 h drive)
County/Area: Brasov and Arges counties/central Romania; Transylvania & Wallachia.

View over Sirnea; photo: @vatavuv

Planning to visit Rucăr-Bran area means dating some of Romania’s best natural landscape. And trust me, we have plenty! The Rucar-Bran pass is in fact a 23 km corridor with beautiful and majestic views at every step. And if you are a true explorer, wander off the beaten path to the east or to the west to experience authentic village life!

Highlighted as one of Romania’s top attractions, Rucar-Bran area  boasts a dramatic mountain scenery along with scattered villages, instagrammable landscapes, proud haystacks and some already-legendary buildings.

My trigger for visiting Rucar-Bran area was some fabulous landscape pictures.

So, this post is for all of you ready to experience true unaltered beauty and nature in a fantastic area surrounded by mountains!

Peaceful nature in Fundata area
On the Rucar Bran corridor


How to get there + position
Rucar-Bran pass, nature’s gem
Villages and places not to be missed
Fundata and Fundățica
Bran Castle, the spooky
Cheile Gradistei and Fundata Resort
Rasnov fortress
Amfiteatrul Transilvania
Outdoor activities
Interactive map

How to get there + position

Rucar-Bran area is situated in the middle of the country.

If you come from Bucharest, the most beautiful road that will take you to Rucar – Bran pass is through Targoviste (Bucuresti – Pitesti – Targoviste – Campulung – Rucar-Bran Corridor). It is also the fastest if you want to visit at the weekend.

If you come from Sibiu (or western Romania), you head towards Brasov, but before getting there, you turn to Codlea, follow Vulcan and find yourself in Bran.

Insider tip!: In some areas, roads are rather narrow. An SUV will do a better job here than a sportscar when it comes to connecting small villages. Of course, a regular car can also be used.

Winter in Rucar Bran area; photo: @vladirav

Rucar-Bran pass, nature’s gem

It is a mountain pass that connects the counties of Brasov and Arges. Or historically, Transylvania to Wallachia. It is said that long time ago, it used to be a commercial road there.

We started the roadtrip from our guesthouse in Moieciu de Sus, passed Fundata village, and headed straight to Rucăr. Although surrounded by mountains, the area does not have high peaks, but this confers a certain type of charm to the region. Personally, I consider Brasov area more appealing to the eye.

Me trying to breathe in all the beauty…

All over the place you’ll see authentic Romanian villages, genuine lifestyle, not to mention the fact that it’s famous for the cheese!

I can guarantee that throughout the DN 73 national road you’ll ask for several stops just to admire the nature and take some pictures that can hardly express what you truly feel!

Insider tip!: Here you have the opportunity to taste pure cheese made of organic milk from the last true farmers!

Perfect colours
Man at work
photo: @perfect_romania

Villages and places not to be missed

If you visit Rucar–Bran pass, you can stray from the national road and explore remote villages: Măgura, Peștera, Șirnea, Ciocanu, Șimon, Fundata or Fundățica. Sometimes, it takes a 4×4 car to be sure you get safe to the guesthouse, but these villages do reward the pickiest and most curious traveller. I can only give you the example of Charlie Ottley, the producer of Wild Carpathia who bought a house and moved for good to Șirnea to enjoy nature at its best. Here you can take some of the most instagrammable pics from the entire country!

Insider tip!: Sirnea is one of the most authentic villages in Romania. Take your time to roam around it as it also very low on guesthouses, that is, still unaltered.

Scattered houses in Sirnea
The village of Sirnea; photo: @daniciuca

Upon return to Moieciu from the Rucar-Bran pass, we were curious enough to try a different route. This time, we bumped into Cheile Dâmbovicioarei (Dâmbovicioarei Gorges), another pristine area where the green of the trees and grey colossal rocks charm the eye in a winding corridor. Here you can also visit the Dâmbovicioarei Cave. As an interesting fact, the road gets to an end, where we saw a sea of blue tents, a summer camp for nature lovers, as the area is a starting point for hikes and trails.

View over Dambovicioarei Gorges

A few km later, we saw some white hats standing proud for Ursa Mica Glamping Resort. I have to admit that I was really jealous for not accommodating there for one night at least. The starry sky must look amazing! What is also fabulous in the area is that next to the glamping (and not only!), we found a sheep barn with lots of organic cheese. So we tasted and bought some from nea Nelu! You can feel the difference!

Ursa Mica Glamping Resort

Despite falling for Rucar-Bran corridor, Șirnea-Ciocanu was one of my very faves in the area. The tiny road that keeps rising and winding looks absolutely spectacular. However, I couldn’t not ask what life is like on such an unexpected road in winter, for the peasants living there! None of the pictures can express the beauty inhaled! Sirnea village is proud to call itself the first touristic village in the country.

Insider tip!: Sirnea-Ciocanu area left me speechless by the spotless beauty of the place. However, here you can find the story of the WWI trenches between the Romanian and Austro-Hungarian armies.

Resting place in Sirnea Ciocanu
Donkey on the road

Fundata and Fundățica

These are two isolated villages with some scattered houses. Fundata means dead end, and Fundatica is nothing else but the smaller sister, which translates in more nature and animals, and more remote houses.

The adventure starts on the road that takes you to Fundata. You follow the serpentines and admire the landscape, and just one curve later your ears are popped. For Fundatica, at some point the road goes left on a narrow dirt road. Considering the number of cars, you think nobody ever gets to visit these places. However, if you are persistent in your approach, the road will reward you with pure nature, dispersed houses, animals and some people. Briefly, Fundatica is the proof testifying for harmony between man and nature.

The essentials – animals and nature; photo: @romaniaascunsa
Typical Fundatica house

Fundatica, situated at 1380 m altitude, is a good starting point for some hikes in nature. On this site, you can find lots of info regarding hiking, running or cycling trails in the area. Anyway, if you continue by car, the road will take you to the isolated Tree Adventure Park Fundatica, where adrenalin and nature go along.

Insider tip!: Find your natural balance by accommodating at the rustic Pensiunea Fundatica. Explore nature, hike and connect with nice and friendly people, like the ones from the guesthouse!

Pensiunea Fundatica, close to heaven

Insider tip!: Have a stop along the way, at Cetatea Carului to taste bulz, a Romanian dish, a sort of polenta in the oven, while enjoying the view from the terrace!

Bran Castle, the spooky

It is basically illegal to talk about the area without mentioning Bran Castle. Famous for the Dracula story, although the well-known character is the result of imagination, today’s legend is based on Bram Stoker’s novel. Although he never visited Transylvania, Stoker described the castle based on an image that fits perfectly Bran Castle. It is placed on top of a cliff and majestically looks over the valley beneath.

Dracula is just a fictional character, a vampire thirsty for blood. His story is pretty similar to Romanian werewolves and mythic creatures. Anyway, if you plan to meet Dracula at Bran, you are mistaken. The castle nowadays pays tribute to Romania’s most important queen, Marie, to whom the castle belonged, but the managers also designed a floor with strange and spooky characters for the adrenalin-lovers.

For more info on Dracula read here.

Bran Castle; photo: @daniciuca

Cheile Gradistei and Fundata Resort

We heard that Cheile Gradistei (Gradistei gorges) is an interesting place to see, so we jumped in the car to see for ourselves. Although the road from Moieciu de Sus seems shorter on the map, there is no direct connection, so a detour is needed (20 km).

The destination is a plateau on top of a hill that hosts what is called Cheile Gradistei Fundata Resort, a complex of hotels surrounded by mountains. This is the hotspot for sportspeople, an area equipped with sports training facilities, such as biathlon arena, sports centre, adventure park or ski slope. But do not worry if you aren’t a player. We ran to the restaurant which I particularly liked for its fabulous view that displays the white peaks of Piatra Craiului mountains in front and Bucegi mountains in the back.

View from Cheile Gradistei restaurant’s terrace

The area is still under construction, so we kind of experimented new roads that weren’t yet completed… to see where they take us. They didn’t take us… anywhere. Instead, we got stuck. Whereas the road proved to be a cul de sac, at least I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of some beautiful sunset.

Insider tip!: Try having dinner at the restaurant terrace at sunset time. It really is something!

Râșnov fortress

One of the largest and best-preserved fortresses in Transylvania, Rasnov fortress dates from the 14th century. Like the fortresses from Harman and Prejmer, Rasnov was also built by Teutonic Knights initially as protection against the Tatars. Later, it was enlarged by the local Saxons.

Placed in an area where fortifications were common, Rasnov managed to be different. This distinction is reflected in the size of the fortress. The spot was designed as a place of refuge over extended periods of time. Thus, it had not only houses, a school and chapel, but also other buildings more commonly associated with a village.

The defensive system was so well-developed that the fortress was obliged to surrender only once.

Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, Rasnov fortress was closed for maintenance and restoration works (summer of 2021).

Winter in Rasnov and view over the fortress; photo: vatavuv

Amfiteatrul Transilvania

If you have the time and will to indulge in nature, Amfiteatrul Transilvania – a restaurant and hotel – is a pleasant choice. You can reach it on foot or by car. If you decide to walk, the hike starts in Moieciu de Sus village, right behind the guesthouses from the main street. Should you take the car, you need to use Google maps or waze as the road is not properly marked. We are talking about a dirt road, so an SUV helps. This being said, let’s talk about the good part.

The remoteness of the place comes with the advantage of a pure and picturesque landscape. It offers a full panoramic view over the pristine forests of Bucegi and Piatra Craiului mountains. To feel on top of the world, the owners of the place redesigned the hotel and restaurant to today’s needs from what used to be a hay deposit. Everything is as close to nature as possible. And not cheap, of course. The food is natural as the complex lies on a huge surface where the staff take care themselves of the crops.

View from Amfiteatrul Transilvania; photo: @moldo.alex

Outdoor activities

The activities vary according to season. Winter is ideal for skiing, best practised in Poiana Brasov, the most famous Romanian ski resort. In the vicinity, there’s also Sinaia, Predeal or Busteni. Getting to Rucar-Bran corridor, you can try Bran-Zanoaga ski slope, or the one from Cheile Gradistei Fundata Resort.

For hike lovers, Fundata and Fundatica villages offer a good starting point for nature lovers. and The Mountain Eco Centre offer several trails for wandering, but also ideal for hiking, running or cycling. If you take the bike, you must know that each trail contains some slopes, so it takes a rather experienced biker. Trails are of easy-medium difficulty and last between 3 to 4 hours; they are child friendly. All in all, they amount to around 100 km and cross villages, forests, and sometimes even people’s gardens.

Organic cheese in progress

If you are more of a serious mountain trekker, you should attempt conquering Piatra Craiului mountains, the most challenging from the Romanian Carpathians. They are on the western and north-western side of Rucar-Bran corridor, with the highest peak, called La Om (2238m).

Cave lovers should visit Pestera Liliecilor (Bats’ cave) from Pestera village, or Pestera Dambovicioarei from the gorges with the same name.

You can also rent an ATV from Moieciu from one of the many centres.

Some hiking trails from Cheile Dambovicioarei


Transylvania Mountain Exclusive from Bran is a few minutes’ walk from the famous castle and looks splendid!  Contele Vladimir is another good option in Bran. Pensiunea Malina from Moieciu de Sus offers decent accommodation for the money, while Casa Muntelui from Fundata is truly welcoming. For a unique starry experience, book Ursa Mica Glamping Resort, or enjoy life as king of the world from the wonderful Amfiteatrul Transilvania. Here, tariffs start over 100 euro/night.

Interactive map

On this map you can find all the above mentioned places. The purple ones indicate the villages, the yellow ones represent departure points for nature lovers/hikes, while the grey ones are some accommodation suggestions.

Recommended by TTF:

  • Some of Romania’s most spectacular natural landscape;
  • Authentic villages and genuine peasant lifestyle; organic produce;
  • True communion man-nature-animal;
  • Good sports, hiking and relaxation opportunities.

4 Responses

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