Romania’s Bran Castle, popularly known as Dracula’s Castle, is not particularly scary. I went there on a day trip from Bucharest when I visited Romania in 2010. Romania is still a relatively cheap destination and there are some hidden gems there, so put it on your radar for European travels.
A wonderful day trip from Bucharest is the town of Brasov and Bran Castle. The countryside around the castle is breathtaking and views of the castle from where I had lunch were surreal.
There is a lot of misinformation about the castle, the most glaring being that it was “Dracula’s Castle”. Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler, the character that author Bram Stoker based Dracula on, did spend a few months locked up in Bran Castle, but that’s where the reality stops. Vlad Tepes’ actual castle lies in ruins and Bram Stoker never even visited Romania. People think he used Bran Castle in his writings because it was the only castle in the area that he had a description of from the area while writing his book in Britain.
What is true is that the castle was home to a royal family whose queen was related to the British royal family. The family was forced to leave when communists took over the country and it was turned into a museum. The castle was given back to the family in 2006. I found several recent articles saying that the castle is up for sale, but preferably to someone that will continue to have it open as a tourist attraction and hopefully install some bathrooms.
The castle was not very formal and was actually very homey and come to think of it, I don’t recall seeing any bathroms. It has several displays of royal artifacts, including photos, clothing, armor and jewels.