So pretty it should be arrested; from the moment you enter its fortified walls, wending your way along cobblestones to its centrepiece square, Sighişoara burns itself into your memory. It's like stepping into a kid's fairy tale, the narrow streets aglow with lustrously coloured 16th-century houses, their gingerbread roofs tumbling down to pretty cafes. Horror fans won't be disappointed either, for this Unesco-protected citadel, the best preserved of its kind in Europe, was the birthplace of one of history's great monsters – Vlad Ţepeş (The Impaler).
The area was settled by the Romans, and it wasn't until the 12th century that immigrant Saxons established a thriving trading town here and the citadel you see today. It was later extended and enlarged in the 14th century. Grab a caffeine burst outside Ţepeş' house (opposite the fantastical church with the onion-dome spire); visit the sights of the citadel then wind yourself up for the climb to the church on the hill. Many use Sighişoara as a base from which to explore the enchanting Saxon villages of Viscri and Biertan. If you're here late July, the weeklong Medieval Festival of the Arts is a blast of colour, alcohol and Saxon merriment.
Cartographia publishes the highly detailed Sighişoara fold-out map, covering the city and environs.
Sighişoara destination guides
Budapest to Istanbul
From pastoral countryside to forbidding forests and magnificent mountain ranges, experience the romance of the east on your way from Budapest to Istanbul. In two well-paced weeks, explore the weathered architecture of Budapest, grand Ottoman palaces and mosques in Istanbul for an introduction to the artistic and cultural heights of two very different empires.
Halloween in Transylvania
Transylvania. The name itself is enough to send an icy chill down the spine of even the most fearless adventurer.