Ploiesti is the main city in the Prahova region and ranks as Romania’s second-most important industrial city (yay). It’s a little taste (and smell) of Texas in Romania due to oil being refined here since 1857. It’s appropriately been dubbed the city of ‘black gold’.

Ploiesti has a nice little center, museums for history, archaeology, clocks (of all things), art and of course oil. The food options in town are crap, but the upshot is that it has one of the best budget hotels in Romania, Forum Hotel.

A good day trip from Ploiesti is Slanic, 40 kilometers north of Ploiesti. Slanic has the Disneyland of salt in the form of the Unirea Salt Mine Complex, the largest salt mine in Europe. This complex is the result of 30 years (1943-70) of furious mining and now serves as tourist attraction and, strangely, health and sport facilities.

The intriguing salt pools and lakes notwithstanding, the air in the mine’s microclimate 220m below the surface is reputed to work wonders on the respiratory system. Visitors can admire salt statues and giant halls, up to 54m tall, then unload the kids to wreak havoc at the playground while the adults play some football, tennis or race through the run field, all underground. Ground level attractions include the Museum of Salt, depicting miner life, and the slowly diminishing Salt Mountain.

From Ploiesti’s southern train station, maxitaxis run to Slanic every 45 minutes (or when full), and a daily local train leaves from Ploiesti’s western train station.

Ploiesti accommodations