Romania might be an EU member but much of the country remains a bucolic time warp. Here travellers discover a land of densely forested mountains, deep natural gorges, perfectly-preserved medieval towns and a world-class selection of castles, ranging from the fairytale to the imposing, dark Gothic.
Transylvania’s rugged mountains and inviting valleys are home to Saxon churches and idyllic villages, where locals still wear traditional dress as they walk beside horse-drawn carts. Perched on a clifftop in the heart of the region (and at the top of many Romania visitor’s hit list), Bran Castle stokes the imagination as home of the country’s most famous resident, Count Dracula.
Travellers with an interest in Soviet-era history can trade the vampiric legends for evidence of Ceausescu’s communist regime in Bucharest. The capital, Bucharest, is a city of contrast with the colossal Palace of Parliament and glorious belle époque architecture. Tree-lined boulevards, orthodox churches, 18th-century monasteries and well-manicured parks vie for attention.