How to get there
The lowest round-trip air fare between Boston and Bucharest at press time was $677 on Swiss International. Brasov, the closest city in Transylvania from the capital, is about 100 miles from Bucharest and accessible by road and rail.
What to do
The Black Church
Piata Sfatului, Brasov
Completed in 1477, this Lutheran church is so named because of its appearance in the wake of a fire in 1689. Said to be the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul, it is decorated with more than 120 centuries-old Turkish rugs brought by Saxon merchants returning from trips to the East.
Settled in 1240, this pretty Saxon town a few miles northeast of Brasov has a 15th-century citadel and 13th-century Gothic evangelical church. The inner fortification wall contains 272 small cells that would house locals during sieges. Some of the cells are open for viewing, and visitors can also walk the circumference of the fortress along a narrow walkway inside the wall.
Piata Muzeului, Sighisoara
Built in 1648, this 210-foot structure was the main entrance to the fortified part of town. It now houses a history museum with a fine collection of medieval artifacts and Renaissance furniture; the top floor of the tower offers a view of its clock workings and a crow's view of the city. Adults $1.30. (Most historic sites in Transylvania charge visitors an entry fee of $1-$1.50, more if a camera or video camera is used.)
About 15 miles southwest of Sighisoara, 13th-century Biertan was the seat of Lutheran bishops from 1572 to 1867. Within the majestic fortification is a small room said to have been used by church leaders to reconcile couples seeking a divorce; locked up together for two weeks, the estranged couple supposedly would either come to realize their folly or, in rare cases, take their own lives.
Museum of Traditional FolkCivilization
Calea Rasinari, Sibiu
Some 300 traditional Romanian buildings and rural houses are reassembled here in a 200-acre open-air ethnographic museum, many furnished with textiles, pottery, carved wood, and metal implements. Folk technology is illustrated in various mills, presses, and distilleries in a park-like setting. Adults about $2.20.
Where to stay
62 Republicii St., Brasov
In the historical center of Brasov, this Baroque-style hotel is one of the oldest in the city and has elegant, spacious rooms. Rooms about $53-$70.
7 Piata Cetatii, Sighisoara
The owners have recreated a medieval setting using Gothic architecture and Saxon period pieces and antiques; the hotel has a restaurant offering decent Romanian, German, and Hungarian fare at reasonable prices, as well as a wine cellar. Rooms about $44-$90.
Imparatul Romanilor Hotel
4 Nicolae Balcescu St., Sibiu
In the heart of the old city, this grand hotel founded in 1556 as a restaurant offers 93 rooms, suites, and apartments, and boasts of having hosted many distinguished visitors over the centuries. Renovated in 2001-03, the three-level building is close to most tourist attractions. Rooms about $58-110.
Where to eat
Without a working knowledge of Romanian or German, eating out was a challenge in Transylvania. Local fare was heavy on meat (mostly pork and chicken), sausages, potatoes, and cabbage. We hedged our bets with the local ''mixed grill" and special of the day, and typically added side dishes of country-style potatoes and garnishes of pickled cabbage and peppers. We ate in our room occasionally, making meals of provisions from local markets, such as cheese, cold cuts, olives, pickles, yogurt, fruits, pastries, and fresh bread, along with a bottle of dry red wine from the Prahova Valley in southeastern Transylvania. It was impossible to spend more than $15 for such a meal for two, including the wine.
12 Piata Sfatului, Brasov
Romanian dishes are featured here, but the restaurant also gets raves from diners for its traditional decor. Live folk music offered on some nights. Dinner with wine about $20.
7 Decembrie 1 St., Sighisoara
Popular with foreigners, this pub-style restaurant serves a full menu of Romanian dishes. Brick and wood tavern-style interior is decorated with animal pelts on the wall. Dinner and wine from $12.
Calea Rasinari, Sibiu
Located on the grounds of the Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization on the outskirts of Sibiu, this charming eatery has the feel of a country inn and offers traditional fare. A narrow selection of wines, but good value for the money. Superb service. Dinner and wine about $18.
The official website for travel and tourism in Romania.