Part of the Southern Carpathians, most of the stunning territory is covered by the Retezat National Park, Romania’s oldest (established in 1935) reserve. Covering 381 sq km (including some 80 glacial lakes), the area is considered a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. Carnivores large and small (especially the cute marmot) roam the region, as do black deer and chamois.
One of Romania’s most communist-looking cities, Hunedoara's skeletal steel mills surround one of Eastern Europe’s loveliest medieval endeavours, Corvin Castle. It's a surreal time-travel experience – one second you're in the midst of commie-drab architercture, the next in the Gothic turrets of the 14th century. But visit the castle as a day trip rather than staying overnight.