Romania Travel Guide

Photo by Constantin B.


Down to a well thought out, bloodcurdling infusion of Gothic melodrama and a fusty Dracula folklore, the imagination of readers and the wanderlust of homespun ghost busters have been inflamed. Both Vlad the Impaler (Dracula's infamous prototype) and Bram Stroker (Dr Frankenstein of the vampire's legend) have had a considerable share in promoting the country in the world, but if you have already packed two heads of garlic and a crucifix, take them out to make room for a pair of good trekking shoes. Once you're on the spot, you'll be wondering why a country so abundant in beauty spots has made an imported vampire its major highlight.

Not without reason the capital of Romania used to be dubbed 'The little Paris'. Stroll along the streets and boulevards, under the vaults of the boarding trees to discover impressive designs tributary to the French school, flooded with vegetation and proudly competing with the unattractive box-shaped remnants of the socialist era. French refined perception along the crude monumentality of Ceausescu's edifices is a weird, one-of-a-kind mixture.

And then there are the castle-dotted Transylvanian Alps, with inaccessible walls growing out of crystal lakes, humming meadows and pastoral villages living their own pace. Whether an experienced hiker or an amateur, a trip to the Carpathians is an eye-pleasing treat beyond reckoning. You simply can't miss the painted monasteries of Southern Bukovina and 'The Merry Cemeteries' of Maramures, where death seems to be as sweet as the home brewed plum brandy the place is here and there famous for.

So, the Bran Castle is just a point on the agenda to tick off but not to dwell on for too long. The intact wilderness of the country seems a lot more gratifying to explore because it's uncommercialized, enigmatic... and so rare nowadays.