HighlightsBucharest | Bacau | Piatra Neamt | Vama | Moldovita | Sucevita Monasteries | Voronet Monastery | Visue de Sus | Maramures County | Steam train from Viseu to Paltin Station | Iza Valley | Bistrita | Barsana Monastery | Targu Mures | Viscri | Sighisoara | Brasov | Bran | Sinaia
Description of Romania holiday, the Beauty of YesterdayTravel back in time to visit traditional craftsmen in their workshops and spend time with local families in rural villages, and you’ll quickly begin to piece together the centuries old traditions and customs that help holidays in Romania resonate with responsible travellers.
This nine day small group Romania tour provides the perfect introduction to the untouched lifestyles and sweeping countryside of northern Romania and Transylvania including some of the country’s best-loved national parks, historic towns and UNESCO world heritage sites.
A minimum of two people are required for the tour to take place as a private experience (for any dates between April and October) with an English-speaking tour guide throughout helping travellers dig a little deeper into the history and the landscapes of this lesser-visited eastern European crown jewel.
Accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide, travellers are invited to take Romania holidays to a more immersive level with overnight stays as the guest of a local family certainly adding to the appeal of a genuinely authentic cultural experience.
Romania tours such as this don’t come along every day and you can expect an incredibly scenic route that takes in the drama of both the Carpathian Mountains and the iconic hilltops settings and cobbled town squares of Romania’s most famous region, Transylvania.
From Piatra Neamt in Moldavia, to Peles Castle near Sinaia, via Bucovina, Maramures and a spectacular steam train ride through the Vaser Valley, this holiday in Romania promises a treat for all of the senses with chances to linger a little longer in Bucharest definitely worthwhile if you’ve got time to spare before or after the tour.
The accommodation that we use on this Romania tour has been hand-picked to represent the hospitable nature of the local people as well as the charm and character of life in rural areas with family-run guesthouses and small, independently-owned, hotels adding to an experience that’s as unique as enchanting.
Responsible tourism Responsible tourism: Romania holiday, the Beauty of Yesterday Show More EnvironmentWe have chosen to include places to stay where there is much more opportunity for you to interact more fully with the locals, to practice your language and to minimise your carbon footprint somewhat. The village guesthouses and local homes that we stay in use predominantly local produce in the preparation of meals, reducing the foodmiles, waste and carbon footprint associated with larger hotels. Our guides (and drivers/escorts) will also provide best practice information regarding your environmental impact upon sites and fragile landscapes which is key to respecting and conserving both remote and well-visited places. By including the opportunity to visit the National Parks and UNESCO sites on this holiday you choose to contribute to the excellent record of conservation in recent years through the entrance fees. We ask all our customers to respect the environment. Litter, in particular, is damaging to the landscape and can injure animals so we encourage people to act responsibly. As a company we employ responsible policies such as recycling paper, ink cartridges, glass and cardboard; we minimize the use of electricity and conducting the vast majority of our correspondence and promotion via the internet and email, minimizing the amount of paper used for our activities. We also compost waste in our company garden.CommunityAccommodation on this holiday is in, primarily, family run, small hotels. The food in the hotels is primarily sourced locally and a large number of dishes on the menus are home made. We only employ local guides as their expertise and local knowledge will enhance your experience and understanding of the historical context and the environmental impact of your visit. In Bucharest in particular you will see the evidence for and read about the impact of the Ceauasescu period; the cost of rebuilding and repairing the historic centre has been enormous and every contribution made by visitors will help. Similarly the countryside was devastated in this time as whole villages were destroyed and communities forceibly removed to the cities - because of this experience rural Romania and its traditional way of life is so precious and through our tours we aim to assist the local economies to thrive with the help of tourism whilst not losing the integrity of the community structures. As well as supporting the local community and economy directly our holidays also encourage support indirectly. The latter because more interaction with local people and local tourist service providers engenders greater understanding and respect which almost always leads to larger and more careful spending by visitors.
|Day 1:||Day 1: Bacau - Piatra Neamt (62 km) Arrive in Bacau. On arrival you will be accompanied by our professional English speaking guide. Transfer to Piatra Neamt, the capital of Neamt County, which due to its architectural and natural beauty earned the nickname 'Pearl of Moldova'. Dinner with traditional Romanian dishes at a guest house in Piatra Neamt.|
|Day 2:||Piatra Neamt - Vama (126 km) After breakfast the tour starts with a trip to Bucovina, the "Monastic Archipelago", housing the painted churches, unique in the world, protected by UNESCO as part of humankind's world heritage. On the way stop for visits at Agapia and Varatec monasteries - Agapia is one of Romania's largest convents with 350 nuns, well known thanks to its carpet and embroidery workshops, which you can visit. The Varatec Monastery is a rather new monastic settlement, which has a museum that hosts many valuable religious objects and books mostly made by nuns. The tour will continue its journey to Tarpesti, where you will visit the house of the popular artist Nicolae Popa, author of the famous ceremonial masks and enjoy a traditional lunch [with folklore for larger groups]. In the afternoon visit Voronet Monastery (UNESCO): founded in 1488 by Stephen the Great. It is the most accomplished sample of artistic achievement in Moldavian architecture and painting, known as the oriental Sistine Chapel. Home-made dinner and accommodation in Vama at Guest House Casa Elvira.|
|Day 3:||Vama - Moldovita and Sucevita Monasteries - Viseu de Sus (150 km) Today you will visit some of the world-famous painted monasteries: Moldovita (UNESCO) dates back to 1532 and has the aspect of a fortress, with imposing towers and high, thick walls. Sucevita, the last and the most magnificent monastic achievement among the painted monasteries in Bucovina, looks like a real fortress, with towers, buttresses and watch roads. Paintings of the Sucevita monastery have been well preserved both on the outside and on the inside. Traditional lunch in Sucevita. In the afternoon drive to Maramures, the land of traditions and wooden churches via the stunning, remote and beautiful Prislop Pass. Dinner and accommodation in Hotel Montana in Viseu de Sus.|
|Day 4:||Foresty train - Sighetu Marmatiei (70 km) Today you will experience the steam train from Viseu to Paltin Station, through the Vaser Valley. The railway line passes through the most spectacular landscape of the whole route: narrow, rock lined canyons; fast-flowing, sparkling mountain brooks; the colourful wildlife of the mixed forests. A picnic / BBQ lunch is laid on at Paltin. In the late afternoon drive to Sighetu Marmatiei. Free time in Sighet where you may wish to visit the Museum to the Victims of Communism, located in the town centre at the former prison. Dinner and accommodation at Casa Iurca Guest House in Sighetu Marmatiei.|
|Day 5:||Sighet - Iza Valley - Bistrita (135 km) After breakfast leave for a visit to Sapanta with its unique Merry Cemetery, famous for its colourful tombstones with paintings describing the deceased. Much of the day will then be devoted to the traditional villages, countryisde scenery and wooden architecture of the Iza Valley, home to villages known for their historical significance and their wooden churches. The history of Maramures is told through the wood of their churches - through the centuries, the area's foreign rulers did not allow the people living here to build long lasting stone churches, so instead, the local carpenters raised beautiful wooden churches to communicate with God. The visit begins with Ieud and Rozavlea Churches, then Barsana Monastery, known as the "Holy Mother's Entrance". Lunch at Barsana Monastery or in a traditional guesthouse. The day conculdes with a drive through southern Maramures via Nasaud and through the mountain pass to Bistrita. You will have a short visit of Bistrita before dinner (landmarks are the Coopers' Tower, the Orthodox Church, the Saxon Evangelical Church, Bistrita's main square, the Sugalete Medieval Buildings and the Silversmith's House). In the evening arrive in Bistrita for dinner & accommodation at Coroana de Aur hotel.|
|Day 6:||Bistrita - Targu Mures - Sighisoara (145 km) After breakfast drive to Targu Mures, the city of roses, which enjoys the best of both Romanian and Hungarian cultures. Lunch in a Hungarian speciality restaurant in the city centre. Targu Mures' top attraction is located at the south end of the main square: the Culture Palace, a flamboyant early 20th-century city hall with an outstanding stained-glass windows, housing some of main local museums. In the afternoon a gentle drive south to the incomparable Sighisoara, that most unique but typical, in the mind's eye, of Transylvania towns. After check-in at your hotel a walking visit to Sighisoara, one of the most beautiful and best-preserved mediaeval towns in Europe. Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this perfectly intact 16th century gem with nine towers, cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches rivals the historic streets of Old Prague or Vienna for atmospheric magic. It is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), who inspired Bram Stoker's fictional creation, Count Dracula. Landmarks of Sighisoara are the famous Clock Tower, hosting the History Museum and the Torture Chamber with its impressive mediaeval arms collection. The Church on the Hill is a beautiful Gothic church which dominates the hill at the southern end of the citadel. Dinner in a restaurant in the old town. Accommodation at Casa Wagner Hotel in the mediaeval town centre.|
|Day 7:||Sighisoara - Sibiu - Sighisoara (185 km) After breakfast head to Sibiu. Sibiu (Hermannstadt in German) was the largest and wealthiest of seven walled citadels built in the 12th Century by German settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons. Riches amassed by its guilds paid for the construction of impressive buildings and fortifications to protect them. Sibiu's old town retains its grandeur of yesteryear when these rich and powerful guilds dominated regional trade. A visit of the mediaeval centre of Sibiu: the Great Square is the site of the Roman-Catholic church and the Brukenthal Palace, where you will find one of Romania's most important art collections. The square is linked to the Little Square by a passage beneath the Council Tower. The third square, Huet Square, is dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral. Return to Sighisoara for dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at Casa Wagner Hotel in Sighisoara.|
|Day 8:||Sighisoara - Brasov - Bran (135 km) After breakfast it is a short drive to the UNESCO protected village of Viscri; not only is Viscri renowned for its cultural heritage and natural beauty it also caught the eye of Prince Charles who now owns one of the 18th century Saxon cottages in the village. Further investigation of Viscri reveals an ancient fortified church and an array of pastel shaded houses that add to the artisan and scenic ambience of rural Transylvania. Further agricultural scenes come in the form of a horse drawn carriage ride before an organic lunch which you're invited to take at a family house within the village. In the afternoon you continue your tour with a visit of Brasov (100 km away), considered the heart of Romania, one of the most secure fortresses in Europe, the architectural defense pile being made of massive stone walls, 32 defence towers and 4 fortified gates. During your Brasov tour you will visit the magnificent Black Church - the largest Gothic-style church between Vienna and Istanbul, and stroll around the old Council Square, lined with beautiful red roofed merchant houses. You can also admire the Black and White Towers, the Ekaterina's Gate, the Schei Gate and Rope Street - the narrowest street in Europe. Dinner and accommodation in Moiceciu (near Bran) at Vila Arinul Guest House.|
|Day 9:||Bran - Sinaia - Azuga (55kms) After breakfast you will visit Bran Castle [Draculas Castle] where, along the dark corridors and in the inner gardens one can still hear the steps of the "Prince of Darkness". Continue your trip to Sinaia. Lunch at Vanatorul restaurant. After lunch, visit Peles Castle, a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance, once the summer residence of the Romanian king. It is considered by many one of the most stunning castles in Europe. Dinner at Rhein cellars, former Champagne "Supplier of Romania's Royal Court", and since April 2006 designated "Supplier of His Majesty King Michael the First". Acommodation at the Rhein Pension.|
|Day 10:||Azuga - Bucharest (145 km) - [London] Transfer to Bucharest International Airport (145 km) for your flight home or to Bucharest city centre for an extra night or more in this fascinating country.|