(Schässburg in German, Segesvár in Hungarian)
Yes, yes, it’s Vlad Tepes’ (Dracula) birthplace – bite, suck, die – but more importantly this city wonderfully typifies the town you probably had in mind when you first decided to visit Romania. The hill-top citadel and clock tower, 500 year old, colorful buildings and a collection of arresting museums are really why you should come here. Once you’ve taken in these sights, hang around for a day or two and bike, hike, hitch or beg your way to the nearby Saxon villages of Biertan and Viscri.
Sighisoara recently completed a city-wide rejuvenation, with the assistance of German investors. The classic houses were re-painted, cobblestones re-laid and new hotels and sidewalk cafés have sprung up, which, along with the increasing tour bus presence, sometimes makes the citadel seem over-touristed.
Escape the crowds and visit the Breite Ancient Oak Tree Reserve, recently saved from being catastrophically developed into a Dracula theme park. Managed by the Mihai Eminescu Trust and the Sighisoara Local Council, it’s currently 70 hectares (with expansion to 133 hectares pending). The oldest oaks are roughly 800 years old, with circumferences of 400-600cm. To get there, follow Str Ilarie Chendie southwest for almost 2km (it changes to Str Ana Ipatescu after the bridge), then turn right onto Str Vasile Lucaci, a dirt road immediately after a short, cement bridge. Follow the poorly cemented road for 50m. At the first fork keep left (a continued, hard left) that leads onto a severely washed out mud road. At the next three-way fork, take the unsigned left or right forks (the middle is a dead end).