Sinaia – The Carpathian Pearl

Sinaia is a mountain resort in the Bucegi Mountains on the Prahova River Valley known for one of the most famous Romanian castles, Peleș, its ski slopes and an incredible amount of hiking trails.

Known as the Carpathian Pearl, Sinaia is one of the most visited mountain resorts being less than 2 hours drive from Bucharest by car or train. The intense traffic makes it longer, especially during weekend, this is why I always take the train. So please plan accordingly if you decide to go by car.

I have visited Sinaia four times before, never staying overnight until this year. It was my first time seeing it in August as well, and it was insanely busy and quite hot. So let me start with our accommodation that was overbooked. We travelled from the Eastern part of Romania by train (just three hours away) and when we arrived we were told we will spend the one night in a different hotel across the street. Good for us, since we got a room with a balcony on the 6th floor. No complains. But about that a little later.

We went to leave our luggage since it was around midday and as you can imagine, immediately after we had to go for food. We only wanted to snack so we had langos, a deep-fried flat bread usually savoury. It is very common to find this snack in Transylvania, even though it is a Hungarian delicacy – back in the day it was a breakfast treat. Anyway, we had the one with cheese and it was delicious. Depending on the city or region within Transylvania it can look a little different, so you could try it with jam, jelly, or fruits – my favourite is with apple jam.

After we finished eating, it was time to get to the castle. Except, apparently, I am so focused on trying to remember a place that I am making it more difficult to walk around. So instead of taking it through the park, by the casino and then keep going up, I managed to choose the car path. Which was way longer and more uncomfortable even though we did find some awesome shortcuts. The burning sun was not helping.

When we finally arrived at the Peleș Castle, we had to wait in a short line. Except we got to one person in front of us and they closed for cleaning break. So if you plan to go, remember between 12:30 and 1 pm they are closed. The annoying thing was we had to wait in line because the line behind us was bigger and bigger and the surroundings were so crowded with people. Almost nobody would actually keep a distance. Anyway, the break passed and we finally got our tickets.

Prices August 2021:
Basic Exhibition – Ground Floor:
40 RON* – adult ($10/€8)

Optional Tour – Ground Floor + First floor
80 RON* – adult ($20/€16)

Extra fees August 2021
Photography fee (for personal use only**)
35 RON/camera ($8.5/€7)

Video fee (for personal use only**)
60 RON/camera ($14/€12)

* make sure you have cash
** personal footage taken INSIDE the castle FOR PERSONAL USE it is STRICTLY PROHIBITED to be shared on the internet or any social media platforms.

So I hope you got that, you almost pay for an extra ticket if you take pics inside, and even if you do, you are not allowed to publish them online. Anyway, we finally got in, we were asked what language we speak, I said English for my partner, and usually, that means we will get a tour guide that speaks English. Except, this time, we got none. I am confused to the day what the hell happened and why we didn’t get a guide anymore. I started to think that we had to pay extra for it, even though, after the fact I looked again at the prices and I don’t remember seeing a tour guide fee.

Back to the castle, though. Peleș Castle was built between 1873 and 1914 being the summer house of King Carol I of Romania.* It has a very interesting history and I feel so sorry we didn’t spend more time exploring it. But since we didn’t have a guide and the castle was also very packed, we were out in 15 minutes or so. There were a few rooms I remembered since I was there the first time as a kid, like the Turkish Room, the Mirror hallway, the Arms Room and the library with the secret passage. I actually went and found someone working in the castle to ask about that secret passage, but the button wouldn’t work anymore. Somehow, it didn’t feel the same and for the first time visiting this castle, I got very disappointed.

We went out and took a lot of pics outside. I have to mention something, though. My dislike of the crowds was way before the pandemic started and now it only got more intense. We were hot and even thirsty – you are not allowed to have food or drinks in the castle – and so we finally went back to our accommodation to check-in. It was a lovely walk and we actually managed to find the easier way down.

Since we were starving we found a nice restaurant to have lunch. Most of the terraces had very loud music and that I hate. Nobody told these owners that music should not be loud when you want people to enjoy their meal?! Anyway, our place had a more decent volume of the music and the food was amazing, but the serving was soooooooo slow. And we had another Romanian dessert (it’s in my top three favourites) – papanași. It’s Romanian Cheese Doughnuts served with sour cream and sour cherry jam (or a berry jam). And just like that, I was happy again. My goal this whole trip was to share with my boyfriend all of the Romanian food I love. And I think I did quite good. Oh, remember to always ask just a portion and split it for two people because they are huuuuge. And for solo travellers out there, take it for later or the next day.

After lunch, we finally went back to our accommodation, just two minutes away. We checked in, we found out we’re staying on the 6th floor and we have a balcony and so I was happy even more. We went for a nap since we were awake since 5 am and when we woke up, we spent most of the time on the balcony and finally we went for a lovely night stroll. We stopped for a drink and went back to the accommodation.

I woke up just before sunrise and I loved to watch the sun coming behind the mountain, but two seconds later it was sooo hot. Hahaha. We had an improvised breakfast on the balcony (pate for the win!) and we finally went back to the train station: direction Brașov. The whole day was going to be a rough one – that felt way too long for my temper – but more about it next time when I tell you about Dracula Castle and Bran.

* I promise you I don’t intend to take you through the history of my country since to be fair, I still don’t know enough about it. Unless you comment below and tell me otherwise. However, if it’s something to remember for now is that Romania was indeed a monarchy ruled by a German king.

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