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Introducing Sinaia

Nestled in a slender fir-clad valley, this pretty town teems with hikers in summer and skiers in winter. Backed by the imposing crags of the Bucegi Mountains, it's a dramatic place for a day's hike or, using the network of cabanas open to walkers, several days.

The town itself is a melange of crayon-coloured wooden houses contrasted with the 'wedding-cake' style of its grander 19th-century buildings. Once home to Romania’s first king, Carol 1, who created a summer retreat here, Peleş Palace is a dream of hidden passages, fairy-tale turrets, vertiginous galleries and classical statues; it's so beguilingly imaginative, it could raise a swoon from the most hardened cynic.

Sinaia is named after Mount Sinai, and you'll notice there's a cross on the mountain above the town; a bi-product of a nobleman's visit to Israel in 1965. Following his return he founded a monastery with a lustrously gilded interior up the hill.

Sinaia is administratively part of Wallachia but is most easily reached from Transylvania.