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The best places to see in Romania

This country in the southeast of Europe is perhaps best known for the forested region of Transylvania, made famous by its association with Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. But there’s so much more to Romania than vampires and Gothic castles. From its lively, edgy capital Bucharest to traditional rural regions such as Maramures to its nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, it’s a fascinating and underrated country rich in culture and history.

For many visitors, their first introduction to Romania is Bucharest, which sits on the banks of the Dambovita river in the southeast of the country. After a chequered history, in recent years it has become an increasingly popular – and budget-friendly - city break dubbed the ‘new Berlin’ for its gritty nightlife, café culture and art scene.

Head to the Old Town, known locally as Centru Vechi, where Romanian history – from Byzantine architecture to medieval ruins sits side by side with shops selling local produce and restaurants in old buildings. After dark you’ll find the city’s best bars and clubs here.

Obviously, a trip to Romania wouldn’t be complete without a stop in legendary Transylvania. This beautiful region – which is around a four-hour drive from Bucharest and 14km from Tirgu Mures Airport – is most famous for Bram Castle, a fortress and national monument known for spawning the centuries-old legend of vampire Count Dracula. Perched on the edge of a cliff, its turrets and towers are an unmissable Gothic sight.

But Transylvania isn’t just famous for vampires. Dotted among the green hills of the region’s south are dozens of fortified Saxon churches including Prejmer (Tartlau), just outside Harman, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The region is also home to the alpine resort of Poiana Brasov, plus the majestic Piatra Craiului mountain range.

Sunworshippers tend to head to the resorts of the Black Sea coast, which stretch from the Danube Delta in the north to the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast in the south. Boasting white sand beaches, warm water and around ten to twelve hours of sunshine a day between May and October it’s a great spot for a low-budget beach holiday, with watersports including wakeboarding and kayaking and plenty of culture in seaside city Constanta.

In the winter months, Romania offers some of the best-value skiing around. Its most renowned resort is Poiana Brasov, which sits an an altitude of 1000m on Mount Postavaru, near the medieval Transylvanian city of Brasov. Other highly-rated ski resorts include Straja, in the Valcan Mountains in the county of Hunedoara, and Olimpica-Borsa in Maramures County.

Maramures makes a fascinating destination when visiting Romania since it’s widely regarded as Romania’s most traditional region, with wooden churches (eight UNESCO-listed) and a slow-paced way of life that hasn’t changed much over the last few centuries.

Wherever you decide to go during your visit to Romania, a hire car lets you go further. Book yours today for the best deals.