Sinaia is one of Romania's finest holiday resorts, located deep into the Carpathian Mountains. In the late 19th century King Charles I of Romania chose Sinaia as his summer residence and built the fabulous Peles Castle, which is today the city's best known landmark.
In 1690 a Wallachian nobleman, Mihail Cantacuzino, built a small monastery on the upper Prahova river and (inspired by his voyage to Mount Sinai) named it Sinaia; a village developed around it. In the 1860s, attracted by the area's wild beauty, Romania's first king, Charles of Hohenzollern, decided to build here a summer residence, which would become Peles Castle (inaugurated in 1883). Soon the place became the favorite resort of the Romania upper class, who started raising their own luxurious holiday villas in the area. Impressive hotels, casinos, modern restaurants and shops followed, which, by the end of the 19th century, turned Sinaia from an obscure village into Romania's unofficial summer capital.
Getting to Sinaia is made easy by train, since it is on the main line between Bucharest and Braşov. All trains that go to Hungary pass Sinaia, as to those that service Oradea, Braşov and Cluj-Napoca. There are also many trains to and from Sighisoara, Timişoara, Iaşi and Arad.
Sinaia is also accessible by intercity coach from Braşov, but train is the better option.
The closest airport to Sinaia is Bucharest.
Sinaia lies on the National road No. 1 and can easily be reached by car from Bucharest or Braşov.
The central area of the town where the main attractions are is walkable, but there are also local bus lines that go along the main street, then up towards Furnica (with stops close to Sinaia Monastery and Peleș Castle), and the lower gondola stations. Route map and more info here. You pay to the driver when you get on (2 lei / person).
- 1 Peleș Castle (Castelul Peleș), strada Pelesului 2, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mid-Sep to mid-May: W 11:00-16:15, Th-Su 09:15-16:15; mid-May to mid-Sep: also on Tu 09:15-16:15. Begun by King Carol I in 1873 as a summer residence, these gothic revival fantasy castles pay homage to nearly every architectural style in Europe, as well as including all the mod-cons, such as lifts, central heating, plumbing and electric sky lights. Peleş contains a large armory collection, secret passages, imperial suit, a hall of mirrors, stone lions and everything a fairytale castle 'should' have. Set in peaceful forests and mountain meadows, away from the bustle of Sinaia, the castles are also a popular wedding venue. During the summer, craft stalls line the entrance drive selling local goods. The English guided tours are excellent. 30 lei per adult, 35 lei camera fee (this is enforced).
- 2 Pelișor Castle (Castelul Pelișor) (right next to Peles castle).
- 3 Sinaia Monastery (Mănăstirea Sinaia), strada Soarelui 3, ☏ . The monastery has two sections: the original area (built 1690 -1695) and the newer one (1842 - 1846). The religious objects museum is not very professional, but has a copy of the first Bible printed in Romania and an interesting collection of icons. Driving from Bucharest north on the National road No. 1 you have to turn left in Sinaia and follow the signs. ~€2.
- 4 Museum of Sinaia (Palatul Florescu-Stirbey) (Close to the lower cable car station).
- 5 Central park (Parcul Dimitrie Ghica). Nice park with beautiful old buildings surrounding it, such as the Casino and old hotels. There is also a small museum in the park.
- Orchids. The Brasov area has almost 40 species of endemic Orchids that can be seen. If you wish to see them contact the Romanian Orchid Lovers Club, based in Rasnov 20 km from Brasov.
- Winter sports. Sinaia is an increasingly popular winter sports destination. As winter turns the hills around town white, Romanians and visitors alike flock to the slopes for down-hill ski and snowboard fun. The season roughly runs from December-April. Ski-passes are sold on site, but can be booked in advance. Keep in mind that lifts don't operate every day, so check in advance. Also, not all ski-passes give access to all lifts, so check the map to see which slopes you're interested in.
- Hiking. As is the case with most hill-stations that aren't snow-covered all year, Sinaia makes a fine hiking destination in summer, combining all resort facilities with excellent hiking routes and vistas.
Most shops are along the main street (Bulevardul Carol I); there are supermarkets (Carrefour, Mega Image), a small mall, and you can also find craftsmen selling handmade objects and local food. If you're looking for souvenirs, there are dozens of souvenir stands (mostly Chinese junk) along the pedestrian walkway leading to Peleș castle (Aleea Carmen Sylva).
You find several restaurants and bars in the town's centre, but they are more expensive than those in other parts of Sinaia. The Pizzeria "Casa Nostra" offers big pizzas for 15 lei. Also in the hotels one can eat.
Being a popular holiday resort, Sinaia has an extensive choice in hotels. Many of them offer great service, with reaonable prices. Last minute discounts are not uncommon.
- Hotel Regal Sinaia, 4A Soimului, ☏ . This hotel is a few minutes drive from the main road, but its spacious, well-maintained apartments with private balconies and beautiful views make this a popular pick. Staff is helpful and friendly. The bar selection is a bit limited and there's no restaurant at the hotel, but breakfast is available on demand (€5). If you prefer, the room kitchenettes are well-equipped. Online rates via booking sites seem a bit better than directly via the hotel. From €68 for a standard apartment.
- Palace Hotel. This hotel dates from 1901 and offers a feeling of grandeur, stepping back in time, that is really fun. And yet this can be done at highly reasonable prices. Go to the restaurant and enjoy the experience of good silver service and lack of pretence - these people know how to look after visitors.
- Hotel Sinaia, Bulevardul Carol I 8. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Hotel and conference room located in the center of the town.
- Hotel International, Str. Avram Iancu 1, ☏ . Fully refurbished in 2011, this large hotel is one of the top end places in town. It offers well-equipped rooms and apartments (the more expensive ones also quite spacious) and also a nice wellness & spa centre in house. The large, top floor restaurant offers great views and there's a cocktail bar. Note that in high-season, the place can get a bit crowded. From €86.
- Hotel Stavilar, Aleea Pelesului 2, ☏ . One of the better picks if you're traveling on a budget. Most of the rooms are fairly small and fairly basic, but they are clean and good value for money. The location close to Peles castle and the train station is also a plus, especially if you don't have your own transportation. From €25.
Head to Bucegi Natural Park for some fabulous views of the Carpathian Mountains. Diham Chalet is a popular base from where to explore the natural surroundings, and also doubles as a winter sports resort. Magura Village, about an hour from Sinaia is another fine base for hiking. It's a quiet, small town and excellent starting point to see the Piatra Craiului Mountains. Brașov is the nearest larger city of interest, and Bran, famous for its castle, is just about 50 minutes from Sinaia. To get further out, Ploiești is less than an hour's drive and an important transportation hub, allowing for easy access to the wider region.