If you have a dark side, Transylvania will make the ultimate Christmas vacation.
Transylvania was the home of Vlad the Impaler who served as the main inspiration for the character Dracula. Visitors who are looking to explore the legend of Dracula will have plenty to see during a Transylvania vacation including Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle) and other castles and fortresses.
But amidst all the dark culture, Transylvania has a rich Christmas spirit making it an ideal place to spend the holidays. Here are some things you can do during your visit.
There are many lovely Christmas markets throughout Romania, but Transylvania has some of the loveliest. That is because the artisans selling there are known for creating unique gifts that are holiday treasures. Here are some Transylvania Christmas markets worth exploring.
The Christmas Market in Brasov
This Christmas market is located at the foot of Tampa mountain in the historic town of Brasov making for a fairy tale setting. It kicks off on December 6, the same day the city turns all its lights on. The date is significant as it is St. Nicholas’ Holiday, the day when St. Nick leaves small gifts for children and pieces of coal for bad boys and girls.
Instead of stalls, the market is encompassed in forty different wooden houses that offer food and Christmas themed items. Guests can find unique goods like candles, toys, figurines, wood carvings, bowls, masks, exotic teas, tasty treats and more. There are also culturally themed live performances that take place throughout the market.
While visiting, explore the area to find other fairs worth checking out.
Christmas Market in Sibiu
This market is known as a must-see event. It initially started as a two-week market but it has since extended to last one month because so many people flock to see it.
A different holiday theme is organized weekly according to color. So one week may be blue week, the next week will be green week and the next week will be red week. Lights are lit in the area in accordance with the color theme.
There are workshops for children including candle making, sweet baking, ceramics and more. There are also live performances the whole family can enjoy.
The market includes 70 houses selling goods from across the country and abroad. There are also special attractions like Santa’s Park, the Stories Alley and Santa’s workshop UNIMAT that offers animated movies for children.
The market is a great place for buying food, accessories, wrought iron, fur, tea and organic materials. While there, you can take in the festive decorations, bright lights and hand carved батлейка сцэны.
The Christmas Market in Cluj- Napoca
The Christmas Market in Cluj opens on Dec. 1, a date that marks Romania’s National Day. It features музычны concerts with artists singing carols and folk and pop music. There are also book launchings and wine and chocolate tastings to enjoy.
If you like ice skating, you can take a turn on the rink located in front of the statue of Matie Covin in the Union Square.
The market also hosts a Santa’s house. Children can go there to enjoy a music workshop or puppet theater. They can learn to make toys or take photography or cooking classes. It’s also a great place to pick up holiday items like gifts and handmade accessories.
Explore Dracula’s History
Even though Dracula may seem more closely associated with Halloween than Christmas, visiting the castles and historic landmarks associated with the character will put you in the holiday spirit.
There are many castles and fortresses located in Transylvania that are worth checking out, but Bran Castle is the most iconic because it closely fits the description Bram Stoker used for Dracula’s castle in his book. The author may have even spent a few nights there during his travels. It overlooks the surrounding countryside and has a gothic, creepy vibe.
Today the castle serves as a monument and privately run museum. Although it has a few Vlad related exhibits, it mainly recounts the history of the Romanian royal family as it was a favorite retreat for Queen Marie.
Sighisoara is another location related to Dracula as it is the sight of Vlad Dracula’s former home.
This gem of a city is known for its cobblestone streets and nine towers including burgher houses and majestic churches, the Citadel, the Clock Tower and the Scholars’ Stairs. Built in 1642, the covered staircase was built to protect schoolchildren and residents from slipping on their way to church or school.
The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit its Church on the Hill that has 500-year-old frescoes. The Church of the Dominican Monastery features a renaissance altarpiece, a baroque pulpit and a 17th century organ.
Although the city is a peaceful and uplifting destination, it also has a darker side. It offers a Weapons Collection in Vlad Dracula’s House as well as a Torture Museum. You can also head over to the History Museum to learn more about Transylvanian craftsmanship.
But no matter if you want to explore the city’s dark side or enjoy its peaceful atmosphere, it’s a great place to visit when it’s lit up for the holiday season.
Enjoy a Traditional Romanian Meal
There are several foods that are traditionally eaten during a Romanian Christmas. Seasonal desserts include Cozonac (sponge cake) and Panetone, a type of sweet bread.
Main courses like Salata de boeuf are also enjoyed for the holidays. Inspired by the French, this is a molded chicken and vegetable salad held together with mayonnaise and decorated with olives and boiled eggs.
Other Christmas dishes include piftie, sarmale and pork dishes.
When visiting Transylvania for the holidays, consider buying these items from local shops, enjoying a festive meal in a local restaurant or making your own meals in your hotel room.
If you are looking for a unique, and slightly spooky way, to celebrate Christmas, Transylvania is the place to go. With so much to see and do, you are sure to have an experience you will remember for years to come.