With competition like the rural idyll of Maramureş, the elegant Habsburgs cities of Crişana and Banat and the deluge of tempting offerings just north in Transylvania, Wallachia (Ţara Românească) is shamefully underrated, thus ignored by most travellers. All the better for you.
This geographically flat southern swipe of Romania has a culturally mountainous landscape that offers increasing rewards the further one ventures from Bucharest. Snuggled into the seams of the Carpathians are Horezu, Cozia and Turnul, some of Romania’s most beautiful and peaceful monasteries. Off-the-beaten-track attractions such as Câmpina’s spooky Haşdeu Castle or Târgu Jiu’s open-air museum of sculptor Brâncuşi’s work, are refreshingly free of tour buses. The heart of the Roma community can be found here, tearing through villages on horse-drawn carts and tending to their unusual houses. During summer months, fearless drivers will want to navigate the heart-stopping Transfăgărăşan road – said to be one of the highest roads in Europe – cutting across the Făgăraş Mountains and passing the real ‘Dracula’s castle’.
The Danube River flows along the southern edge of Wallachia and is best seen between Moldova Veche and Drobeta-Turnu Severin in the west where it breaks through the Carpathians at the legendary Iron Gates (Porţile de Fier), a gorge on the Romanian–Yugoslav border. Equally scenic is the drive east along the Danube from Ostrov into northern Dobrogea.
Wallachia has charming treasures and enough elbow room to make it special. Sidle down here for a few days, but don’t tell the others where you’ll be!