Translating from Latin as the “land beyond the forest”,
Transylvania has perhaps unsurprisingly remained relatively
shrouded in mystery. Rarely considered a tourist destination, this
Romanian region has inspired artists and creatives for centuries,
thriving on the exaggerated fables that travellers take away with
Beyond myths of bloodthirsty counts and creepy fortresses,
Transylvania is brimming with flower-filled meadows, colourful
baroque buildings and quaint villages, all framed by towering,
snow-capped Carpathian Mountains. Hop between the ancient cities of
Sibiu, Braşov and Cluj-Napoca to get a real feel for the region.
Germanic architecture and medieval walls nod towards 12th-century
Saxon settlers, while cobbled old towns, gothic churches and
Hungarian features hint at the sheer variety of the region’s
Outside of the cities, rolling hills and oak forests make the
perfect destinations for those searching for unspoilt nature.
Transylvania is one of the largest European strongholds for bears,
wolves and bats, so it isn’t hard to understand why ghastly rumours
gained traction. Head to any of the four national parks to hike up
mountains, stroll along rivers or take a dip in Saint Anna Lake –
the only intact volcanic lake in Europe.
Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula, was inspired by the region’s
intriguing history, wildlife and the real-life stories of Vlad the
Impaler. This 15th-century prince fought the Ottoman army and was
notorious for his ruthless treatment of his own countrymen.
Although Dracula’s fictional castle was indeed imaginary, it has
become inextricably linked to 14th-century Bran Castle, just
outside the city of Braşov. Visit the fortress to explore its
twisting turrets and towers, or head to the mountain resort of
Sinaia or Hunedoara for similar fairy-tale-esque forts such as
Peleş Palace and Corvin Castle.
Who to take with you
Someone in need of some natural R&R. The region has several
resort towns famed for their thermal springs. Several areas are
rumoured to have therapeutic waters – head to Sibiu to soak in the
salty pools of Ocna Sibiului, said to heal arthritis and
rheumatism, or take a dip in the mineral mud of Bear Lake, which
allegedly cures infertility. If you have no ailments and just fancy
a dip, try the naturally heated Felix Baths, located on hilltops
just outside the mountains of the Crai Forest. Temperatures can
reach up to 50°C, meaning the baths can be visited year-round.
When to go
While Transylvania is beautifully colourful in spring and
summer, November is the best time to go. Darker evenings make for
excellent castle visits, colder weather makes the hot springs even
more inviting and the snowy hills mean you can spend days skiing
down the mountains.
Where to stay
Hole up in Copsamare Guesthouses for a truly Romanian escape.
Located in the tiny village of Copşa Mare, the guesthouses are near
the Unesco World Heritage Site of Biertan, right in the centre of
the Transylvania Triangle (formed by the historic cities of Braşov,
Sighişoara and Sibiu). Come for organic, locally sourced food
(including honey from the village priest’s bees) and charming
houses in which you can cosy up with a glass of palincă – the local
tipple, a type of fruit brandy.
Most likely to bump into…
Cattle-herding villagers and local palincă brewers.
Essentials to bring with you
Wrap up in this Acne Studios Rives oversized knitted cardigan,
and be sure to pack these Blanche shearling-lined velvet ankle
boots by Moncler for hikes around the countryside. No need to pack
How to get there
Fly into Bucharest’s Henri Coandă International Airport and
transfer to Transylvania. Alternatively, fly into Budapest to
follow a romantic countryside train route to the heart of