TRANSYLVANIA

Aquarius - - TRAVEL -

Moody Gothic cas­tles ris­ing from the mist, an­cient forests fre­quented by bears, wolves and lynx, bat-filled caves laced with sin­is­ter mys­tery – the dark ro­mance of this leg­endary Ro­ma­nian re­gion is within an easy six-hour flight from Dubai. While the cap­i­tal, Bucharest, is the bet­ter-known op­tion to fly into, new, low-cost flights to Cluj Napoca – the un­of­fi­cial cap­i­tal of Transylvania – have opened up this artsy, bo­hemian and largely undis­cov­ered city to UAE trav­ellers. Home to his­toric uni­ver­si­ties, avant-garde gal­leries, me­dieval tow­ers and a vi­brant world of weird and won­der­ful nightlife, Cluj’s many stu­denty eater­ies, boho bars and thriv­ing café cul­ture make for a per­fect city break. It is also, of course, a great gate­way for the many stun­ning nat­u­ral beauty spots and dra­matic fairy-tale cas­tles of Transylvania. Prince Charles of Wales is a huge fan of the re­gion and has re­stored a range of rus­tic guest­houses within driv­ing dis­tance of Cluj air­port (trans­fers can be ar­ranged). Ac­com­mo­da­tion is tra­di­tional and af­ford­able, full-board meals are in­cluded, and you can take part in any­thing from bear-watch­ing and horse treks to pond swim­ming and for­est for­ag­ing, as well as day trips to the Unesco-pro­tected Saxon vil­lage Sighișoara, pic­nics by the Pied Piper’s cave and gorge (where the leg­endary fig­ure is said to have taken the ab­ducted chil­dren of Hamelin) and of course a visit to Bran cas­tle (home of the in­fa­mous Vlad Drac­ula, or Vlad the Im­paler). It will set you

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