As medieval Saxony, Romania's heartland was guarded by seven citadel towns that are magnificent reminders of a past as colourful as their buildings. Brasov's old quarter jostles Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles. Beautifully-preserved 12th century city gems like Sighisoarra and Sibiu further Romania's love affair with architectural colour, blazed too across the gorgeous painted monasteries of Bucovina. If you're visiting the monasteries, be sure to see the fabulous Popa folk art museum in Tarpesti.
By contrast, the enigmatic UNESCO-listed wooden churches of Maramures are paeans to timeless rustic craftsmanship. Small scale wonder manifests too in Transylvanian villages whose houses are roofed with hay and fronted by ornately carved gates, or pretty hill shepherd communities like Sibiel in the Traseu mountains. And there are castles everywhere. Bran is a fairytale classic – though ignore spurious links to Dracula model Vlad Tepes. The most exquisite is Renaissance-styled Peles, where Romania's King Carol I peered out on the stark beauty of the Carpathian mountains. In the Orastie mountains, visit the stunning stone sanctuaries at Sarmisegetuza, the 2500-year-old capital of the Dacians, Romania's first civilisation.