If you’re looking for somewhere a bit different to spend Christmas this year, then Transylvania could be the destination for you.
Though this region of Romania might be best known for its association with vampires, it also has rich festive traditions and incredible Christmas markets.
And this week-long package from UK travel agency Responsible Travel offers the chance to spend the week at a fairytale estate restored to preserve its original 1800s character.
Starting on 23 December, it includes a range of optional activities from carriage rides to snow-shoeing, craft workshops and even skiing at the nearby Poiana Brasov resort.
Also on the itinerary is a black-tie Christmas dinner, so you won’t have to deal with the stress of cooking the annual feast yourself.
Stay in King Charles III’s Transylvanian holiday home
Perhaps the most unique part of the trip is the opportunity to stay in the tiny hamlet of Zalán Valley at King Charles III’s private nature retreat.
The village was first documented in the 16th century as belonging to one of the King’s Transylvanian ancestors. Home of a former judge who oversaw the hamlet, the property is surrounded by forests and extensive flower meadows.
Plants, insects, birds, mushrooms and even bears - which can sometimes be seen crossing the back garden - contribute to the area’s rich biodiversity.
This isolated property is 6km from the nearest village down a gravel track, making it the ideal place for a break in nature - particularly if you are interested in painting or photography.
A three-day stay can be booked as an optional add-on to the Christmas trip and all proceeds go to The Prince of Wales Foundation in Romania.
Why spend Christmas in Transylvania?
This region of Romania is well known for unique medieval villages, excellent wine and winter activities like sleigh rides and skiing - perfect for a Christmas break.
Winter is one of the most beautiful seasons, too, as snow caps the hills and turns the scenery into something that wouldn't look out of place on a Christmas card.
Each village has a multitude of different faiths that have made their mark on the region’s cultural heritage. This ensures a wide variety of winter traditions, from Christmas Eve carol singing to theatrical performances and special New Year’s Eve celebrations.
As the name suggests, Responsible Travel’s aim is to support local communities and have no negative impact on nature. This means everything from the food to materials used in the restoration of buildings is bought locally.