Above: Bran Castle, inaccurately billed as Dracula's Castle, in Brașov, Romania

Exploring Unspoiled Transylvania

Today the scenic beauty of Transylvania, a vast green province in the heart of Romania, remains as miraculously unblemished as when I first glimpsed it nearly 30 years ago. What has changed, however, is that this fascinating and undiscovered corner of Europe now has a number of charming guesthouses, along with some very good restaurants, which make it a pleasant and comfortable place in which to travel. The roads are also better and so is the signage, although you should come equipped with both a GPS and paper road maps.

Transylvania is a destination for the travel connoisseur. It is a place to spend time amid some of the last preindustrial landscapes in Europe, as well as to discover Romanian culture, history, food and crafts. There are few places like it left, which is doubtless why it has won over such discerning travelers as Britain’s Prince Charles, who loves the region so much he now owns several properties there, including one you can rent.

The prince, who claims distant kinship with Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century Wallachian ruler on whom the Irish novelist Bram Stoker based his 1897 novel, “Dracula,” first visited Transylvania in 1998. Having been “totally overwhelmed by its unique beauty and its extraordinarily rich heritage,” he has since become deeply involved in initiatives to preserve the region’s traditional way of life, one based on small-scale agriculture.

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