I mean that! Peles is not only the most beautiful castle in Romania, but it can compete with any other castle in this part of Europe. Let’s look a little into its history before starting a tour of Peles Castle.
About Peles Castle
The first king of Romania, Carol I visited the village that is now Sinaia during his first year in Romania. He fell in love with the landscape and decided to build a summer residence here. It took a few years to acquire the land, find a suitable plan, and organize the estate. In 1875, the first stone was finally laid at the foundation of the future Peles Castle.
At the same time, several other buildings started on the estate, lodging for the guards, a power plant and stables, as well as a hunting lodge called Foisor.
Peles Castle was inaugurated in 1883 and was host to kings and queens as well as to artists and musicians of the time. The interiors reflect the different personalities of the royal couple. King Carol I was an austere and strong-willed man who put his duties above personal convenience. Queen Elisabeth was an artist, she wrote poetry and surrounded herself at Peles Castle with musicians and writers.
At the same time, Peles was a very modern castle for that time. It had electricity from its own hydro plant, heating, more than 30 bathrooms as well as a retractable glass roof.
Later on, the second royal couple of Romania, King Ferdinand I and Queen Mary built their private residence on the same grounds, Pelisor Castle.
Getting to Peles Castle
Sinaia is about 125 km from Bucharest and only 45 km from Brasov, another popular destination in Romania. Though it is relatively close to Bucharest, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend driving. There is a lot of traffic on most days and the parking lot near the Castle gets very crowded especially during weekends and summer months.
If you’re on a road trip, or just prefer driving, there are 2 parking lots, close to Peles Castle, and the fee for one day is 10 to 15 lei (about 3€)
I prefer getting to Sinaia by train from Bucharest. It takes about an hour and a half and I don’t need to worry about traffic or parking. A ticket is 36 lei (that’s roughly 7.5€). From the train station, it takes about half an hour to walk to Peles Castle. However, the hike is uphill and you might prefer to catch a cab from the station and take the walk when you return to the station.
Another option is to take an organized day trip from Bucharest which includes transport and guided visits to both castles on Peles estate.
A Tour of the Castles
Outside Peles Castle
Just outside the castle’s park, the alley is full of cottages selling souvenirs, wood decorations, and traditional snacks. As you browse through them, Peles Castle appears suddenly after a curve of the alley.
The walk from the gates up to the castle is also very pleasant. Everything is green all-around and the castle looks like it’s part of a fairy-tale.
Before entering the castle, enjoy the terraces and gardens, as well as the view in front of the castle. The statue of King Carol I in a military attitude overlooks the grounds in front of the castle.
In the lateral garden, there is a statue of Queen Elisabeth, also known by her pen name, Carmen Sylva.
Wood features and painted walls decorate the interior courtyard. This is also where the tours start.
Inside Peles Castle
There are two types of tours:
-the ground level only tour takes about 45 minutes and costs 30 lei (about 6.5€).
-the longer tour takes 75 minutes and also takes you to the first floor of the castle. It costs 60 lei (about 13€).
If you want to take photos, there is an additional 35 lei fee (roughly 6.5€). The photos are for personal use only, which means they are not to be published anywhere, not even on social media.
Getting back to the tour, you’ll get to see:
- the Grand Hallway, an impressive 3-story high room with exquisite carved wood covering the walls
- the Grand Armory – a huge collection of weaponry with pieces from the 14th to the 19th century
- the Small Armory where mostly Ottoman and Arab arms are displayed
- the Imperial Suite which was ready for the second visit of Emperor Franz Joseph I which never took place
- the Turkish Parlour where gentlemen could retreat to smoke their pipes
You’ll also see a few other rooms, salons, and even private apartments. All decorations were carefully selected. The castle is richly decorated but not overwhelming. Every piece of decoration has a story, be it an Italian artist piece, a carpet brought from Izmir, or the Anatolian copperware.
You can also visit the smaller castle, Pelisor. It was the private residence of the second Romanian King, Ferdinand I and his wife Queen Mary.
The interior of Pelisor Castle reflects much of Queen Mary’s personal taste. It relies on an Art-Nouveau style but influenced by Byzantine art elements, which Queen Mary was fond of.
The entrance ticket for Pelisor Castle costs 20 lei (about 4€).
To visit both castles, plan your visit Wednesday to Sunday from 9:15, except for Wednesday when the complex opens at 11. The last group will enter at 16:15 to any of the castles and at 15:30 for the long tour of Peles Castle.
One thing you should be aware of is that you will need cash to pay the tickets for both castles.
Other Things to See in Sinaia
Besides Peles Complex, the Romanian Royal family left their mark on many other places in Sinaia. On your way to Peles Castle, stop for a few minutes at Sinaia Monastery.
Another place to see in Sinaia is the casino in Dimitrie Ghica Park. The casino was ready in 1913 and became a major attraction in the years between the wars.
There are 6 visiting tours every day from Wednesday to Sunday (at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 15:30, 16:30). The tour tickets cost 15 lei (a little more than 3€) and will get you through the casino salons and well as to the art gallery.
Dimitrie Ghica parc just in front of the casino is the place where locals spend their afternoons. It is host to many outdoor events throughout the year and the surrounding buildings still have a royal retreat feeling.
Another place you shouldn’t miss is the Royal (of course) Station in Sinaia. It’s a small station with a rich history. Also, the cafe there hosts a train exhibit which is very popular with kids (and adults) as they wait for the next train.
Disclosure: Some of the above may be affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. However, I only recommend companies, activities, or products that I use myself.
Did you visit Peles Castle? Are you planning to? Which is your favorite castle in Europe? Tell me all about it in the comments below.