Although not all that easy to get to, Curtea de Arges is worth the effort for its magnificent monastery as well as being home to Wallachia's oldest surviving church, built by the princes who ruled Wallachia from the adjacent palace during the 14th century. From Curtea de Arges, heading north through the Arges Valley, you'll come to the Citadel of Poienari, where you'll be able to say that you've finally caught up with the actual castle of "Count Dracula," or at least, what's left of it. From here, self-driving brave hearts can tackle the extraordinary Tranfagarasan Highway, a magnificent and challenging mountain pass (supposedly Europe's highest, reaching 2,034m/6,672 ft.) that wends its way over the Fagaras Mountains and into Transylvania; due to extreme weather conditions the route is only open for 3 months of the year.

If you have the time and your own transport, it's worthwhile heading farther west to see the UNESCO-listed Horezu Monastery, particularly if you're here during the first week of September when the nearby village of Costesti livens up for its annual Roma Festival. Attended by the self-proclaimed "emperor" of all the Roma people, it's a time of fierce celebration and deal making that draws Gypsies from across the country.

Some 200km (124 miles) west of Curtea de Arges is Târgu Jiu, an unspectacular place were it not home to some of the magnificent outdoor sculpture of the great modernist, Constantin Brancusi, who was born in a nearby village in 1876. The collection includes Brancusi's most significant work, the Endless Column, considered one of the world's most important sculptures.