168km (104 miles) NW of Bucharest

Also known by its Saxon name Kronstadt, Brasov grew to prominence from the 13th century when Germanic knights arrived and fortified their settlement with walls and watchtowers, and it became a prosperous trade center for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although it's hemmed in by the thick outer layer of a modern, industrial city, Brasov's medieval and baroque heart is gorgeously well preserved, and seemingly sequestered from the world by mountains that surround it on three sides. A popular base for exploring legendary Bran Castle and hilltop Rasnov Fortress, Brasov also has its own ski resort, Poiana Brasov, which is a wonderful setting for summer hikes in the lovely, practically untouched Ardeal mountains.