Many travelers might not realize that they are landing in the historical region known as Wallachia when they land in Bucharest. Framed in the north by the Carpathian Mountains and in the south by the Danube River, Wallachia is less well-known than Transylvania – but even so, there are plenty of interesting tourist sites to be visited.
We will skip Bucharest since we’ve already written about the city here. However, there is no doubt that Peles Castle is one of Romania’s most important tourist attractions. Located in Sinaia, just 120km from Bucharest and at the Carpathian Mountains, the castle was built by the German prince Carol I, who became the first king of Romania. With its first stage finished in 1883, the castle was the most advanced building in Europe, is fully electrified and heated by a central heating system. To all these, add the luxurious interiors and the stunning landscape. Check out this article here about the history, design, and practical tips to visit Peles castle.
Prahova Valley, where Sinaia is located, is a well-developed tourist destination in Romania. In addition to Peles Castle, one can enjoy a hike in the Carpathian Mountains, where there are hundreds of marked trails. The cable car in Busteni, the longest in Romania, brings you the joy of admiring the landscape from high up. In winter, Prahova Valley is ideal for skiing. The best slops can be found in Sinaia or in Predeal, and the best month for skiing in January.
Curtea de Arges, the former capital of Wallachia and one of the oldest localities in the area, is known for its Orthodox monastery, an exquisite example of Neo-Byzantine architecture. It is here that the first kings and queens of Romania are buried.
Just 30km north of Curtea de Arges lies the fortress of Poenari, built by the real Dracula. Built on top of a mountain, the fortification can be reached by climbing 1480 steps. Not far from Poenari, you’ll find the massive dam of Vidraru, and from here, you’ll be free to drive on the Tranfagarasan Highway, the most beautiful mountain road according to Jeremy Clarkson from television’s Top Gear. For miles and miles, you’ll admire the stunning alpine landscape, the gushing waterfalls, and then you will finally arrive in Transylvania.
Trips to the moon are not yet possible but don’t worry: not far from Buzau, you’ll find a lunar landscape. It’s nothing more than an area with muddy volcanoes, but it is a unique and eerie destination. Also, around Buzau, you might discover the Sculpture Camp in Magura, one of the most underrated tourist attractions in Romania. It is here that during 16 years in the 20th century, 163 sculptors left behind 256 massive works in stone.
Constantine Brancusi, one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, was born in Romania, in the village of Hobita. Here you can visit his memorial house, while in the city of Targu Jiu, you’ll find some of his largest works, including the Gate of the Kiss and the Endless Column. Continue your trip east of Targu Jiu and have an adventure in the caves of Polovragi or Muierii. Legend has it that the first cave was part of an ancient religious complex dedicated to Zalmoxis, the Dacian god. Not far away, you’ll find the monastery of Horezu, the only UNESCO site in Wallachia, and the fortified medieval houses in Maldaresti. Horezu is also known as the most important ceramic center of Romania.
About 40km north of Bucharest, surrounded by a lake and hidden by an old forest, lies the monastery of Snagov, where Dracula is buried. That’s why this little church is visited by thousands of tourists each year.
Finally, the villages located in this part of Romania might be far from the interest of many tourists. Still, real travelers might be very interested in observing the daily life of these simple settlements. These villages, filled with horse-drawn wooden carts, boast an almost medieval way of living. Many of them are like traveling back in time. They might not have castles, medieval fortifications, or ruins, but definitely, the little houses and dirt roads filled with chickens, ducks, and cows might bring back some nostalgic memories from childhood.
These are just the most important tourist attractions in Wallachia. At least some of them should be part of your travels around Romania.