Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids pinMost travelers who actually visit Romania only see the capital, which is a shame because there is so much to see in the rest of the country. For visitors fascinated by legends and folklore, Brasov is the perfect place, since it is where one of the greatest iconic horror characters lived. There are many places and landmarks to discovered around the Romanian countryside, so here are the spots we recommend to first-time travelers.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids street

Peles Castle

The Peles Castle, located in Sinaia (about 44 km from Brasov), is our top choice. The castle is considered one of the most well-preserved in all of Europe, housing over a hundred and sixty rooms. Many of the interior and exterior decorations are wooden, adding both warmth and depth to the building. Though located in a rather unknown country of Europe, Peles is a fantastic structure to behold. It also happens to house one of the most valuable painting collections in Europe, with nearly two thousand pieces of art.But what sets it apart from other castles is the fact that every single room is decorated in an entirely different style than the next -Italian Renaissance, Gothic, German Baroque and French Rococo, Moor, and the list goes on and on.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids hill

Bran Castle

Bran Castle is a Romanian national landmark filled with history. It also was the inspiration for the dwelling of the famous literary character, Count Dracula.

Romanians have taken the legend of the Count under their wing and hold yearlong events honoring Dracula and local myths. These events range from live musical performances, family fairytale fairs, and of course a Halloween event. What parents should know about Bran Castle is that the castle does not include purposefully scary places. As a result, the castle is entirely family friendly to visit. Just recently, the castle held a storyteller’s fair for children where employees dressed in medieval costumes, played games, performed, and retold folkloric stories to visitors.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids castle


If travelers have had their fill of castles, then we recommend taking a lovely day trip to the city of Sibiu. Sibiu is a multicultural city that honors and unifies the different cultures ethnicities living there. Those interested in Romanian myths should visit the Liar’s Bridge. Liar’s Bridge connects the lower and upper parts of the medieval city. The urban legend has it that if someone sits on the bridge and tells a lie, the bridge will collapse.

Another site to see is the Council Tower, one of the most famous monuments in Romania. The tower was used to defend the entrance gate into the second precinct. Those interested in religious history should see the Holy Trinity Cathedral, built in the early 1900s in a Byzantine style. The murals and stained glass work are breathtaking and comparable to those found in the main European capitals.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids gold


Visitors fascinated with the legend of Dracula should take a day trip to the quaint city of Sighisoara. The city claims to maintain the home where Vlad the Impaler (thought to be the original Dracula) was born. Besides Vlad the Impaler’s house, guests can also venture to the Clock Tower. Here, they can see the entire city of Sighisoara from the top, or explore the Torture and Weapons Museum. There are some churches worth checking out in Sighisoara. One is the Monastery Church, significant as the only church in the area without a bell. The Saxon builders thought that one bell (the one in the nearby Church on a Hill) would be enough for the entire small city.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids mural

Rasnov Fortress

For the history buffs, we suggest visiting the Rasnov Fortress. Teutonic Knights built Rasnov Fortress as part of a defense system against the Tartars. As a result of the constant onslaught of attacks, Rasnov became more of a dwelling property than a fortress. The fortress, an integral part of Romanian history, is an interesting structure to explore. One can reach the fort via car or by trekking up the steep hill, which might be somewhat unpleasant on hot days.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids tall

Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary

Bound to please the entire family is a visit to the Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary. Founded by Cristina Lapis, the sanctuary is located in the Carpathian Mountains and covers over seventy hectares (roughly 173 acres) of oak and hazel forest. It is an interesting and inspirational place to visit. Guests can watch Romanian bears in their natural habitat and learn about the illegal and abusive exploitation of native bears. Potential visitors should call the Romanian Bear Sanctuary office based in Brasov and verify hours of operation. The sanctuary offers group visits, but it is best to call ahead to ensure a spot. This is because the sanctuary is a small place and cannot accommodate many people at once.

Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids bear

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Families traveling to Romania, especially to the area around Brasov, should remember that it might not be comparable to a Westernized country or setting. Hence, packing daily necessities that your child with autism needs should be a priority.
  • For Peles castle, be aware that there are lots of stairs and parents need to prepare kids for the fact that they cannot touch many of the exhibits.
  • While visiting Bran Castle, travelers need to be aware that it is a little hike to get to the castle itself, so dining down at the mini-mall restaurant setting and bringing bottled water is a good idea.
  • For Bran Castle, you may want to get an organized tour to hear the stories, depending on your child’s age. Some of the rooms are not that enjoyable for the younger kids.
  • To reach the top of Bran Castle, there is an area that visitors have to climb a narrow staircase in the dark, which might frighten some younger kids.
  • Sighisoara might be a good place for older kids and history buffs, but younger kids might find it less entertaining. Be aware that, since this is the Romanian countryside, some of the roads are unpaved and parents might want to sit and pack an extra set of clothes in case their kids step in mud.Day Trips From Brasov Romania With Kids suspicious
  • We do not recommend Rasnov Fortress for younger children who might not understand its historical and military significance. Getting up to the fortress is quite a hike, and many rooms in the fort are either wholly or partially destroyed, which the younger kid might find boring.
  • Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes because of the rough terrain in Rasnov Fortress.
  • Do prepare your child how to behave safely around bears in Zarnesti. Though not in direct contact, your child with autism needs to respect their space and not throw any food or objects at the bears. They also cannot stray from the path on which the sanctuary guides lead visitors.
  • The tours in Zarnesti are on the hour, so there might be a bit of a wait for which parents need to prepare their kids.


Introducing Your Kids to Romanian Foods


Introducing your kids to Romanian foods pin

Romanian cuisine has a history almost as robust as its flavor. Certainly influenced by the Ottoman meals, Romanian food also has strong influences from other countries it borders. Most of the country’s traditional dishes feature meat as the primary foundation, with other ingredients folded in nicely to give the dish a good appeal. Families in the mood for enjoying a standout culinary adventure should try the following ten Romanian staples that are sure to please.

Icre (Fish Egg Salad)

Straightforward and elegant are two words that describe this dish. One simply mixes carp fish eggs with oil, lemon juice, and chopped onion to make this recipe. Icre is typically served as a spread on crackers or small slices of toasted bread and makes for the perfect tasty snack for fish lovers.

Introducing Your Kids to Romanian Food

Zacusca (Smoked Vegetable Dip)

Mix eggplants (aubergine), red peppers, onions, tomato paste, olive oil salt and pepper to make this delicious vegetable dip that is Russian in origin. Usually made ahead of time and stored to use later, this vegetable mix is a staple in Romanian homes for the winter. Zacusca’s flavor improves with age but must be consumed once the container is opened since it can spoil. Most people eat Zacusca as an appetizer on sliced bread or as a  side dish. Also, one can add Zacusca to rice or polenta to enhance the flavor.

Salata de Vinete (Eggplant Salad)

Originally copied from the Turkish Babaganush, this eggplant salad is subtle and smoky.
Cooks first grill the eggplant until the outer skin is black and crusty. Then the cook peels the skin off and smashes the eggplant, mixing vigorously with oil, chopped onions, and salt until it resembles a rough paste.

Traditionally served over crusted bread slices, Salata de Vinete is part of the salads used by the locals in summer and a great addition to many school sandwiches. For a different flavor or creamier texture, experimental cooks can add yogurt or mayonnaise. For a spicier version adding some cayenne or garlic powder to the mix should help.

Introducing Your Kids to Romanian Food sauce

Muraturu (Pickles)

Muraturu was a prominent historical method of preservation in Romania since refrigerators were scarce in the countryside and vegetables were hard to come by in winter months. The traditional recipe calls for four parts water to one part pickling salt when it comes to pickling the vegetables.

The Romanian versions mix in some bay leaves, red peppers, garlic cloves, and whole peppercorns to bring out the pickling flavor. Traditionally, the vegetables and the add-ons are put outside in the sun for at least two weeks until they ferment and start the pickling process. Once the process is done, the containers are placed in basements for use throughout the year.

Introducing Your Kids to Romanian Food meat

Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage)

Turkish and Romanian people often dispute the origin of Sarmale.
Romania, of course, claims this stuffed cabbaged dish as its own.  Traditionally stuffed with minced meat, rice, and sauerkraut, the dish flavor is robust and tart. The cook rolls pork or beef, sauerkraut, and rice into cabbage leaves then boils the cabbage in a tomato based sauce with bay leaves.

Ardei Umpluti (Stuffed Peppers)

Aredi Umpluti is a traditional Romanian stuffed pepper dish.
One makes Aredi Umpluti by stuffing pork or beef, rice, and onions neatly inside a bell pepper. The stuffed vegetable then cooks in the oven in a hearty tomato sauce for at least two hours.
Some recipes incorporate other vegetables and spices into the mixture to vary the flavor. This traditional dish works well for formal occasions as well as weekly family dinners.

Introducing Your Kids to Romanian Foods plate

Mititei (Grilled Spicy Sausages)

A tasty Romanian dish that is essentially a sausage with no casing.
Traditionally cooked on an open flame, one makes Mititei from a mixture of beef, lamb, and pork. Spices such as garlic, black pepper, and thyme are added to round out the flavor. The sausage like delight is something every traveler to Romania should try.

Mititei originated in Transylvania, created by renowned sausage maker, Lonescu Lordache, who made it when he did not have any skin to use for sausage casing. Mititei is a crowd pleaser for appetizers and pairs well with a nice chopped vegetable salad or as an entree with mashed potatoes and rice.

Mamaliga (Boiled Polenta)

Unchanged throughout history, mamaliga dates back to feudal times when Romanian peasants had to cook with very few ingredients.
Commonly consumed when there was no bread available, mamaliga consists of corn meal derived from maize flour. Classic Mamaliga, served cold or hot, has a creamy texture and a mild flavor. However, many family recipes season it with slices of sausage or other meats for texture. Cooks can add milk and soft farmer’s cheese to give weight and smooth out the grainy mixture.

Introducing Your Kids to Romanian Food dessert

 Papanasi (Fried or Boiled Flour and Semolina Dessert)

Eating fried papanasi is one of those memorable moments that most visitors to Romania recall.

This dessert is a light, yet delicious Romanian delicacy that is an either fried or boiled semolina sphere that can be filled with some soft sweet cream. It is often topped with a creamy, tart jam and sometimes whipped cream. Although it’s rather simple to make, this dish will please anyone with a sweet tooth. Adults can complement it with a sweet dessert wine for the best flavor experience.

Savarina (Cake)

Savarina is essentially rum soaked sponge cake, a delight for adults.
The cake is named after 18th-century lawyer and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. One makes Savarina out of sweet yeast dough and, after baking, soak it in rum overnight. Cooks serve Savarina either with a sweet pastry cream on the side or a dollop of whip cream and fruit on top. The result is a sweet, moist, light and fruity treat more catered to the adult taste buds than the kids taste buds because of the strong, bitter taste of the rum.Introducing Your Kids to Romanian Foods cream

When visiting Romania, parents should try to introduce their kids to all these dishes and see which ones they like. Clearly, the sweet dishes will probably be an easier sell to most kids. However, many of the Romanian dishes are salty and will appeal to some of the kids. Even the pickiest of family members might find a new favorite when visiting Romania.



Dining at Bucharest’s Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant


Caru’ Cu Bere, translated as “the beer wagon”, is a German style beer house restaurant on Stavropoleos Street in the Lipscani district of Bucharest.

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant street seating
The Restaurant

Originally opened in a different location, it moved to this venue in 1899. The Gothic Revival style building is famous for its Art Nouveau dark wood panels, vaulted ceilings and stained glass window interior, and it has been a staple landmark in the Romanian capital for over a century.

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant menu

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant woodworkDuring our last visit to Bucharest, we decided to stop there for an early dinner after touring the city’s  Old Town. The elaborate restaurant menu boasts over 100 dishes, and as it is very popular with tourists and locals, one usually needs reservations. Luckily for us, on that day they weren’t too busy and we scored a table within a few minutes.

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant glasswork

The evening we came in they had musicians and dancers performing folk music and it was quite loud in the main dining area. Also, Romania still allows smoking in restaurants, which is a challenge for our son who suffers from asthma. Luckily but the hostess was very understanding and accommodated our request to get a table in the non-smoking area and away from the noise.

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant musicians
We brought the i-Pad along for our son which was beneficial, as the restaurant had WiFi and it helped occupy him during the relatively long wait for our order.

One of the features my husband and son appreciated since they don’t read Romanian, was the fact that the servers all spoke English, and they even had an English menu describing all the different foods and ingredients, so they didn’t have to keep asking.

Reading through the extensive list was a somewhat lengthy process, and we took our time deciding what dishes to try while munching on the peasant bread and drinking the Romanian Ursus beer (us), and a freshly squeezed glass of apple juice ( our son.)


Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant inside roomThe Food

We finally ordered three salads; the fish-egg Icre, the roasted eggplant Vinete, and roasted pepper Ardei grasi.
The eggplant salad was thick but smooth, and we liked the Icre (fish egg salad) since it wasn’t too oily.


Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant decor

Next we sampled their Ciorba soup which is similar to Serbian bean soup, and we each had a mini kebab mititel with mustard.

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant appetizers


Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant ciorba
We decided to share four main dishes so we can all get a taste of the different cooking styles of the region. We ordered Dovlegi Umpluti, which is stuffed squash, Tocanitza, which is a beef stew, Sarmale, the Romanian version of stuffed grape leaves, and slow roasted pork cutlet. They all were served with a side of Mamaliga, a stove-top boiled polenta. We unanimously found everything delicious but slightly salty.

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant sausage

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant dolmasThough the portions were on the large side and we were full, we felt that we couldn’t leave without trying their famous Papnasi.,The stuffed fried Romanian dessert. These cheese fried donuts were fresh, fluffy and topped with the best black cherry we’ve tasted in years.
Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant stew

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant apple drink

Autism Travel Tips

*Make sure to call ahead and make a reservation for evening dining, especially on weekends.
*Plan to dine early if your child is noise sensitive. The restaurant is famous and hosts large groups at times adding to the decibel level.
*The restaurant offers an extensive variety of Romanian dishes but doesn’t really cater to special needs diets.

Dining at Bucharest's Iconic Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant dessert



Hotel Ambient Brasov,Romania

The Ambient, a family friendly property in Romania’s mountain area city of Brasov, is the perfect hotel to serve as a home base for travelers wishing to explore the Transylvania region.
This hotel is not only on a quiet street but also away from the busy center of town, unlike other properties located in the city’s center square.
However, it is within walking distance to the main attractions; the Black Church, Citadel, Rope Street and pedestrian area.

Our Stay at the Hotel Ambient Brasov,Romania view

We chose this hotel as it offered exclusive duplex rooms, unlike many other neighboring locales that do not accommodate more than two people in the room.
The hotel website didn’t describe the duplex room well, so I had to contact the hotel staff several times to clarify details and ask for a feather-free, quiet and no -smoking room.(In Romania visitors are still permitted to smoke in hotel rooms as well as public areas.)
When we arrived, the multilingual staff warmly welcomed us, and the check-in was efficient and quick.


The hotel décor is an interesting spin on a 70’s disco feel, mixed with ultra modern, almost futuristic vibe, and lavish use of dark reds and metallic.
The hotel’s public areas are on the small side so a bit disproportionate to the hotel size.

They include a bar, breakfast area and a busy restaurant along with the reception area. The hotel’s elevators, like all other public spaces, look funky and unique; made of metal and glass so guests can catch a glimpse of the city as they go to their room.

Our Stay at the Hotel Ambient Brasov,Romania room

Our Room  Duplex Suite

Our duplex suite in the main building was composed of two rooms; a living room area with a standing closet desk and TV on the bottom floor, and a bedroom with a queen bed and an opening sofa,(with a second television ) on the top floor, both more than adequately lit.

The room amenities we found were robes, slippers, safes and electric kettles. Separated by a carpeted staircase, both rooms were spotless, spacious and quite comfortable for a family of four.

Our Stay at the Hotel Ambient Brasov,Romania bathroom

The duplex boasted two bathrooms; one downstairs with a commode, sink and shower enclosure that was slightly elevated to prevent flooding, and the other upstairs with a large Jacuzzi jet tub with a hand-held shower head perfect to use after skiing in the wintertime.
Toiletry kits and towels were generously supplied, so for the first time in many years, we did not need to call the front desk and ask for extras.

There were plenty of areas that had outlets to plug in our devices, and the free Wi-Fi was reliable but only on the bottom floor.

Our Stay at the Hotel Ambient Brasov,Romania single

I had originally called and asked the hotel to arrange for a hypoallergenic, feather-free room but somehow the request fell through the cracks.
It was the perfect opportunity for me to observe the hotel’s housekeeping service first hand, and it was impressive.
Unlike in other hotels where housekeeping puts extra bedding on the floor, the maid politely requested that I remove my bag from a chair so she could place the additional sheets and blankets she had brought there.

Our Stay at the Hotel Ambient Brasov,Romania food

The hotel offers an ample breakfast with an assortment of cheeses including the Telemea (the Romanian version of Bulgarian white cheese,), scrumptious cold cuts, fresh-cut fruits, and vegetables included in the room charge. The breakfast buffet served in the restaurant also offers coffee, hot chocolate, and different juices. We found the Romanian home made  Zagousca eggplant salad noteworthy.

Autism travel tips:

  • Make sure you ask for a non-smoking room at booking and a top floor in the main building to minimize the street noise if your child is sensitive to that.
  • If you are traveling with younger children, I wouldn’t recommend this room at all since the stairs can be dangerous for them.
  • The hotel doesn’t seem to supply its rooms with any Kleenex tissues so head on to the nearby Billa grocery store and get a box of two for your convenience.


Why the J W Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

Initially constructed as a luxury complex for the capitol’s military elite, the five star J W Bucharest Marriott  Grand Hotel features 379 stunning rooms and 22 suites.
The hotel, located at Calea 13 Septembrie 90 in its namesake city, is a short walk from the Romanian parliamentary building known as the People’s Palace, which was finally completed over a decade after the 1989 revolution.


Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families


The hotel is in an excellent location less than a 10-minute cab ride from the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, Calea Victoriei and the old town area of Bucharest with its famous Lipscani dining area.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

 Why We Choose It

As parents to a son with autism, opting for a quiet and less busy location tops our list of requirements when choosing a hotel. The JW Marriott hotels are also well-known for their beautiful and spacious rooms and comfortable bedding. Thus, they are an ideal accommodation choice for a family of four.Furthermore, we have come to know and appreciate the high-quality service provided by the JW Marriott chain on our journeys throughout the world so selecting the JW Marriott Bucharest looked like a perfect combination.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

What Makes It Family Worthy

Many stores and local restaurants can be found near the hotel, and there is a lovely public park across the street from the building.
Families traveling with children will be pleased to learn that there are laser tag and ice skating rinks available at the local Cotroceni Mall, which is only a  five-minute cab ride away.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families


We booked our room online with Marriott points and contacted the hotel a week or so before arrival to ask for a quiet room with feather-free bedding and pillows.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families


The opulent grand stairway in the lobby serves a reminder of a bygone era, and the hotel is elegantly decorated with light colored marble. However, darker wooden furniture pieces are scattered throughout the property to give it an overall modern appearance.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

Fellow Travelers

The hotel’s patrons are mostly business people and large groups from cruise ships, but solo guests and families are welcomed too.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

 Our Welcome

Upon entering the building, we were greeted by a helpful bellman. The check-in procedure was very efficient, but it seems that our request for a feather-free room was “lost in the shuffle”.
This minor problem was speedily remedied by the front desk attendants who immediately sent the housekeeping staff to change the bedding.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families


We were assigned a spacious 8th floor carpeted room that was decorated in shades of brown, green, and burgundy.
The spectacular city’s skyline and the nearby People’s Palace were visible from the windows. Our suite had ample seating and more than adequate storage space.
The room also contained multiple power sockets that we immediately put to use by recharging all of our electronic devices.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

The suite’s mini-bar area featured a fridge filled with specialty drinks as well as snacks and souvenirs for purchase. The customary bottled waters and coffee supplies were also provided, but we ended up not using them because we were upgraded to the Marriott’s wonderful executive lounge that was only a few doors away from our room.
The two queen beds were comfortable, and the room had an additional opening sofa that we liked to lounge about in front of the TV after a long day of sightseeing in the city.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families


The well-lit marble bathroom boasted ample counter space and two mirrors to make getting ready in the morning a breeze.
Guests are also provided with an excellent array of luxury toiletry products as well as beautiful, fluffy towels. We also liked the fact that both the shower and tub areas came with handheld shower heads. This makes it easier to wash small children and persons with disabilities.
The robes and bathroom slippers that were included among the many room amenities were likewise a lovely touch.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

 Safety Features

We liked the fact that the JW Marriott even provides an anti-slip mat for the enclosed shower. While this detail is often overlooked by some hotels, we applaud them for having included it.


Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families


The hotel boasts several high-end stores, a beautifully appointed gym, a swimming pool, and a luxurious spa.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families


There are two restaurants, a coffee shop with noteworthy pastries, and a bar located on site.
Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

The breakfast buffet offered at the hotel restaurant is outstanding, and if you happen to stay over the weekend the Sunday Brunch, at 70$ per person, is one of the best in the city though a bit pricey.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families

The Executive Lounge

As Marriott Gold members we were upgraded to the executive lounge and were pleased to discover that the service and food quality were outstanding.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families
This is an upgrade worth paying extra for especially for families as it is replenished continuously and has food out throughout the day.


Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families


The service at this property was excellent.
From the waiters to the desk attendants, everyone on staff was eager to help us enjoy our stay. Our requests for housekeeping service took less than 10 minutes on average. For a hotel of this size and caliber, that is quite impressive.


Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families breakfast

The ladies that work in the executive lounge deserve a special mention for helping with some different reservations. They even remembered to return the hand wipes box we had left behind when we returned to the property a few days later from our Transylvanian trip! Another outstanding employee, Ovidiu, personally brought tasty breakfast buffet items to our table when he noticed that we weren’t helping ourselves.


Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families meat

Areas That Could Be Improved

At the time we stayed, there were some difficulties with the Wi-Fi, but the staff did all they could to assist us in fixing the problem.
We were told that the hotel is working on changing their internet service provider so the problem will hopefully be resolved in the very near future.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families wines

 Autism Travel Tips

As I previously mentioned, the hotel staff did everything they possibly could to make sure our son was comfortable, and we had an enjoyable stay.

Why the JW Marriott Bucharest is Perfect for Families crepes
Our room faced away from the street and was located on the highest possible floor, which helped eliminate any outdoor noises. Moreover, it was also far away from any noisy interior areas of the hotel such as elevators, restaurants, and the executive lounge, which helped assure it provided a quiet and stress-free environment for our son.


Top Autism Travel Spots in Bucharest

Neatly tucked away in the eastern part of Europe is a worthy, slow-paced but fun, family vacation destination. In Bucharest, one can enjoy and admire the unique architecture, outdoor interactive museums, as well as embark on delightful culinary adventures of traditional Romanian cuisine.


Visiting Bucharest –Our Top Autism Travel Spots violin

Herăstrău Park

On the northern side of the city is an iconic park surrounding a lake.
Estimated to be the largest urban park in Europe, it is a Mecca for outdoor lovers; offering diverse family activities like skating, free biking, boating including paddle boats, and rollerblading.

Tip: Go on a weekday since it tends to be crowded with locals on weekends and don’t forget your bug spray!

Visiting Bucharest –Our Top Autism Travel Spots park
The Village Museum

Muzeul Satului is a unique open-air museum housed in Herăstrău Park.
It showcases farming houses from the different parts of the country.
Its 272 peasant farms and houses created in 1936 by Dimitrie Gusti allow visitors to observe local craftsmen at their work, as well as sample traditional foods like sherbet and homemade jams that are hard to find elsewhere.

Tip – since most of the display areas are not paved, it is best to avoid visiting on rainy days. Make sure to wear non-slip shoes.

Visiting Bucharest –Our Top Autism Travel Spots palace
The Parliament Palace

The World Record Academy lists this architectural masterpiece as the largest civilian administration building in the world, making it the number one tourist attraction in the Romanian capital.
The mammoth complex stands tall on a hill; a reminder of the country’s deceased dictator and communist past. Visitors will be surprised at the enormity of the rooms, the extravagant lighting fixtures along with the sparse, almost nonexistent décor.

Tip: Be advised that you can only visit the building if you partake in an official tour.that is about 2 hours long.
It involves extensive walking and strict safety regulations disallowing separation from the group.
Don’t book if you think your child won’t be able to cope.

Visiting Bucharest –Our Top Autism Travel Spots grand hall
Admire the architecture

Since 1878, following the Romanian War of Independence, Calea Victoriei has been a most exclusive shopping boulevard.
It started off as part of the trade route between Bucharest and the city of Brașov, but in today’s capital, it projects a mélange of old grandeur with palaces like Cantacuzino and Stirbei, elegant hotels like the Athenee Hilton and the former Hotel Bucharest now called Radisson Blu, and exclusive  foreign designer shops like Gucci and Cartier.
There are iconic buildings and memorials too; the column commenting those fallen in the 1989 revolution, the National Museum of Art, the Telephone Palace, Pasajul Macca, and the CEC building as you stroll down towards Piata Unirii.

Tip: On your walk, stop and introduce your child to Covirigi – a Romanian pretzel snack filled with different jams or cheese.

Visiting Bucharest –Our Top Autism Travel Spots street
Arcul de Triumf

Built in 1936 to commemorate the creation of the Greater Romanian state and bravery of the Romanian soldiers in WWI, the Romanian Arch is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe, its more famous French counterpart. Located along Kiseleff Road, the 85-foot tall arch designed by architect Peter Antonescu stands in the place of two preceding arches that celebrated Romania’s independence and the establishment of the monarchy.

Tip: For adventurous tourists and energetic children, I highly recommend the interior staircase leading to the top.

Visiting Bucharest –Our Top Autism Travel Spots restaurant
Strada Lipscani

Lipscani is both a street and a district that has been a Bucharest feature for the past six hundred years
Once a flourishing commercial center it was named for the Lipscan (traders) who brought goods from Western Europe. During the communist era, the suburb became a giant slum and narrowly escaped demolition plans. After the revolution of 1989, Lipscani made a surprising comeback and is now a renovated pedestrian zone with food, retail and entertainment venues.

Tip: Stop by Stavropoleos Church to see a representation of the Romanian Brancovenesc style which blends Ottoman and Western elements.
Built in 1724 with impressive woodcarvings and frescoes, it is an excellent opportunity to introduce your child with autism to typical Romanian religious art.

Visiting Bucharest –Our Top Autism Travel Spots church 
Cismigiu Gardens

Located in the center of Bucharest and considered the city’s oasis by the locals, you will find a park called Cismigiu; the name derived from the Turkish word for fountains.
The garden offers multiple outdoor activities like rowboat rentals, a winter skating rink, a children’s playground and cafes and restaurants.
During the summer months, you can feed swans, geese, ducks and peacocks in large cages, as well as listen to live music in the gazebo area.

Tip: The gardens are a beautiful spot to de-stress in an otherwise noisy, bustling city.
During the holidays, one can attend fairs with craftsmen displaying their traditional products and souvenirs.

Visiting Bucharest –Our Top Autism Travel Spots city center

Have you visited Bucharest with your family?

What are your favorite spots?

Taking the Kids to Dracula’s Castle

During our last summer’s trip to Romania, we decided to take our kids to visit what is known as  Dracula’s  Castle, located in the sleepy village of Bran a few miles outside the town of Brasov.

Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle window


Despite the clever marketing associating this castle with Dracula, we did not encounter any ghouls or blood-sucking vampires during our tour.

Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle cross


But that shouldn’t deter you from visiting.

Far from it!

Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle tower


The old Romanian relic, rich in stories and myths provides a unique perspective of Transylvanian history worth exploring.

Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle inside

Bran’s history

We learned that the site, built by Teutonic Knights back in 1212, was initially intended to be a fortress and only later converted into a
Because of its strategic importance as a prominent tax collection and military base, the Castle became the subject of ongoing feuds that lead to different owners on a continuous basis throughout the centuries.
By the late 1800s after decades of neglect it became the property of the nearby town of Brasov which was by then under Romanian sovereign rule.

The Castle’s luck seemed to change when In 1920 it was bequeathed to the English-born Romanian Queen Marie by the city of Brasov.



Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle bed


She found the place enchanting ( she might have been a Bram Stoker’s fan ), and spent much of her time renovating and restoring the property to its previous glory days.
In fact, the queen loved the place so much; she not only lived there during the last years of her life but asked to be buried there too.Rumor has it the queen ‘s heart is buried in a crypt chapel nearby.

Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle queen room
Nowadays, the Castle that was nationalized by the communists in the late 1940’s and returned to Romania’s Royal Family after the 1990 revolution displays remnants of the fine art and furniture pieces meticulously collected by the late Queen Marie.


Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle living room

Touring the Castle

For the ticket fee of eight US dollars for adults and six for students, (free for anyone with a disability) visitors can tour the castle’s maze-like interior on their own or with a guided tour.

Perched on a high hill with magnificent views of the meadows below, the Castle has none of the fancy or elaborate decorations one might expect to see in a ‘real’ castle.We discovered the landmark’s most striking feature to be the fact that though impressive from the outside; it still manages to look and feel surprisingly ‘homey’ on the inside.Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle jewels


The Castle is perfect for family visits with no scary areas to speak of.
The most ‘frightening’  part of the tour is a set of slippery rickety stairs that lead to the top but even there, visitors will find a rail to hold on to. 


Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle stairs

If the kids still have the energy to burn after climbing the hill to the Castle and wondering about the Castle; parents should head on to the open-air museum park exhibiting traditional Romanian peasant dwellings close by.

Since no visit is complete without the obligatory souvenirs; guests should stop at the stores in front of the Castle that sell Vlad the Impaler snow globes, along with other tchotchkes, to take home.

Taking the Kids to Dracula's Bran Castle souvenirs


Autism travel tips:

  • Visitors are expected to walk up the hill to the Castle on somewhat uneven ground, so sturdy closed toe shoes are strongly recommended.
  • The rooms in the Castle are relatively small so they can get crowded and stuffy on hot summer days. Mke sure you bring a water bottle and a small fan if your kid is temperature sensitive.
  • The Castle is a popular tourist attraction so try to arrive first thing in the morning to beat the crowds.


Taking the Kids to Dracula's Castle mountains


5 Reasons to Visit Romania with Family


In the month since returning from our summer vacation abroad, I’ve been approached by several friends requesting information about our Romanian vacation.

In fact, it seems that people are finally starting to take notice of a beautiful Baltic country that has been off the holiday destination radar for years.
I’m convinced that in the not too distant future, there will be a mad rush to the freshly discovered Romania, so here are my five recommendations as to why you should take your family, and soon!

Visiting Romania – 5 reasons to take your family foodThe food

Romanian cuisine is an excellent blend of borrowed techniques and flavors from its neighbors: Turkey, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Russian.
From the tempting street grub, the savory fish salad (Icre) and unique Zacusca (eggplant mixed with peppers), sour Ciorba soups, meat stews and kebabs to the scrumptious desserts like the Gioffre and Savarina, your family will have plenty to sample and discover.
Our kids still dream of the Papanasi (fried dumplings) topped with berry jam and crème Fraiche they enjoyed.

The myth

We all know Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula may have been pure fiction, but that didn’t stop us fantasizing about meeting the bloodsucking vampire in secret passages or at the top of the wooden staircases of Bran Castle.
In fact, most visitors to Romania enjoy tracing the footsteps of the fictional character through the medieval town of Sighisoara to the castle where he allegedly lived, to his secret tomb in Snagov.
In the process, they learn about the person who supposedly inspired the stories – the ruthless Romanian ruler, Vlad III the Impaler.

The scenery

Many travelers don’t realize just how large and geographically diverse Romania is.
As you drive outside the capital, in places like Maramures and Suceava, there are vast areas of unspoiled wilderness waiting to be experienced. With beaches, mountains, valleys, forests, hot springs and even a river delta, there is a beauty as far as the eye can see.
Even more fascinating is that the country has kept its authentic, centuries-old farming traditions and slow-paced village living.
Our fondest memory is listening to the cow bells crossing the meadows in Zarnesti on our way to the Libear-ty Brown Bear Sanctuary.

Visiting Romania – 5 reasons to take your family scenery
The people

The people are open, warm and very friendly especially with tourists; as they feel a sense of obligation to portray their country in the best light possible.
Surprisingly, many people we met, especially the younger generation, spoke English quite well, so communication was no problem. Furthermore, throughout our trip, our son with autism was treated kindly and made to feel welcome and comfortable by everyone we met even in the most remote locations.


The prices

Compared to other countries in Europe, and globally for that matter, Romania continues to be an excellent choice for budget-oriented travelers.
A family of four can stay in a large, three-star hotel room in the capital for less than 100 dollars a night and enjoy a three-course meal at a sit-down restaurant for under fifty dollars.
Prices for public transportation, including cabs, are small, and entrance fees to museums, churches or other attractions are much more reasonably than in any of its counterpart European destinations.
The bonus for souvenir lovers is that one can haggle with different street vendors and come away with a bagful of trinkets for less than ten bucks, just like our son did!

The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge room

Marriott Gold Members and those staying in the executive suites have complimentary access to the J W Marriott  Grand Hotel Bucharest Hotel Executive Lounge. Other hotel guests who wish to visit the facility can do so after paying a small upgrade fee.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge buffet

Lounge Location & Views

The 8th-floor lounge has excellent views of Bucharest’s skyline and the neighboring People’s Palace. This midsize room also features plenty of seating for guests to use.

First Impression

The incredibly friendly lounge staff is perfectly willing to help with any questions that hotel guests might have. One can’t go wrong with their restaurant and show recommendations.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge cold cuts


This elegant room is decorated in dark red and tan tones. These colors greatly compliment the dark wood furniture and accents that are used abundantly throughout the hotel.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge cakes

Hours of Operation

From 6 am to 10 pm, the staff is on hand to manage requests. However, access to the lounge is not restricted to those times and the facility stays open throughout the night. This makes it easy to obtain both hot and cold beverages whenever one would like them. Guests will notice that the lounge area tends to be especially quiet during the early morning hours and also in the late afternoon. At such times, this spot is a perfect place to unwind with a refreshing beverage.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge salads


As far as we could see, the service at this location was exemplary. The buffet area was kept spotless, and dishes were expediently removed from the tables. On multiple occasions, we left some items behind, yet they were set aside so that they could be returned to us as soon as possible. The staff went out of their way to cater to my autistic son’s wishes. In fact, those working here were gracious enough to let us take food back to our room for him when he felt too tired to get dressed and come to the lounge.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge layout

Breakfast & Brunch Provisions

Partaking of the lounge’s excellent breakfast spread is a perfect way to start the morning. A plethora of cereals, nuts, dried fruits, and delicious yogurts are provided for guests along with the obligatory breakfast fare of scrambled eggs, sausages, and bacon. Beverage choices include fruit juices, sodas, water, and various drinks that can be made using the lounge’s specialty coffee machine.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge cheese

Multiple platters of Romanian cold cuts are also on the breakfast menu, including the world-famous Sibiu salami. A variety of cheeses, bread, and pastries are likewise part of this tasty repast. We especially enjoyed the creamy Romanian cheese called telemea. It is somewhat similar to feta, and it is a must try item.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge drinks

Not many establishments offer such a variety of chopped vegetables for breakfast, and this part of the meal was undoubtedly my favorite. We also appreciated the inclusion of hard boiled eggs on the menu because they’re not considered standard breakfast fare in some places.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge dinner

Snacks provided for lounge patrons during the afternoon hours feature tasty mini-cakes, pastries, and fresh fruit. These items are obtainable until happy hour starts at 5:30 pm.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge cereal

Happy Hour & Evening Fare

An excellent assortment of sandwiches, appetizers, salads, and cold cuts are served during happy hour. However, guests who want a hot meal should check out the fish and meat entrées that are available at this time. Of course, beverages are typically the focus of happy hour, and there is no shortage of beer or wine at this establishment. Most of the libations on hand come from various parts of Romania, and we highly recommend the local Ursus brew. Those that can’t or don’t wish to indulge will be delighted to learn that sodas and fruit juices are still provided to guests at this time.

Review of The JW Marriott Bucharest Executive Lounge wines

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