Best of the World: Family Journeys to Undertake in 2021 | Nat Geo Traveller India

Best of the World: Family Journeys to Undertake in 2021

Reach for the stars at Florida’s Space Coast, stroll the world’s longest seafront walking trail on the England Coast Path, or find the real-life idyll beneath the fantastic facade of Transylvania, Romania—the joys of planning a family holiday are aplenty.   
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The medieval Castle of Bran, known to be the mythical Dracula’s lair, is nestled in Brasov—a gateway city to the wildflower meadows and wooded mountains of rural Transylvania. Photo by: Izabela23/ Shutterstock

Transylvania, Romania

Finding the real in a land famous for fantasy

 

One of the side effects of Dracula—the Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker—was that it transformed Transylvania, a perfectly real Romanian region, into a mythical realm, a “cursed spot, from this cursed land, where the devil and his children still walk with earthly feet!” as the writer put it.

Since Stoker had never seen the place himself, he craftily compiled information for his 1897 novel from books written by British travel writers. He got some of the details right: the “robber steaks” (grilled beef kebabs called rablóhús) and national dish mămăligă (a cornmeal porridge); sweet Golden Mediasch wine; descriptions of the folk wear; the roadside crosses; and the culturally complicated mix of Magyars, Saxons, Székelys, and Wallachians.

What Stoker missed is what Transylvania should be known for: its pastoral, old-Europe feel. Cosmopolitan Cluj is the gateway to rural Transylvania’s wildflower meadows, storybook castles, and cobbled-lane villages. For families increasingly tethered to technology, a future farm stay here would be a chance to unplug, to spend time instead travelling by horse-drawn cart, hiking in the wooded Carpathian Mountains, and helping with chores like milking sheep, collecting eggs, and piling haystacks.

Transylvania’s bucolic charms have long captivated the Prince of Wales, whose foundation funds local architectural heritage preservation projects. “It’s the timelessness of it which is so remarkable,” the future king says in the travel documentary Wild Carpathia, “almost out of some of those stories one used to read as a child.”

 

— Catalin Gruia, editor in chief, Traveler Romania

 

‘Best of the World’ is a comprehensive list of 25 destinations on the rise in 2021, and has been reported by the global editors of National Geographic Traveler. Read all the entries on our digital forum or new National Geographic Traveller India app here.