This 10 nights tour offers you the opportunity to get a comprehensive experience of this country and all that it has to offer; see the sites, learn about its history and experience the life- style.
Bucharest – Sinaia -Bran – Brasov – Gura Humorului - Voronet – Moldovita – Sucevita – Vadu Izei – Cluj – Turda – Sighisoara – Sibiu – Curtea de Arges – Bucharest
Day 1 – Arrival in Bucharest, followed by city tour and transfer to hotel. O/N in Bucharest
Day 2 – Drive towards Brasov, on the way visit the Peles Castle and Sinaia Monastery, also visit the Bran Castle aka Dracula Castle. O/N in Brasov
Day 3 – Guided walk in Brasov afterward drive north to Gura Humorului. Stop for lunch in Lacu Rosu and photo stop at the Bicaz Gorges. O/N in Gura Humorului
Day 4 – Explore the land of Bucovina with its Painted Monasteries: Voronet, Moldovita and Sucevita. Short visit at a Black Pottery center in Marginea. O/N in Gura Humorului
Day 5 – Today we will make our way toward Maramures following a scenic route in the Carpathians. Visit Ieud Wooden Church and Birsana Monastery, in the afternoon arrive at our Guest House, home-hosted dinner. O/N in Vadu Izei
Day 6 – Visit the Sapanta Merry Cemetery in the morning followed by a visit at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. After lunch take a walk through the Maramures Village Museum. O/N Vadu Izei
Day 7 – After breakfast we head towards Cluj Napoca, on the way we make a stop at the Surdesti Wooden Church (UNESCO World Heritage). Orientation Tour of the center upon arrival. O/N in Cluj Napoca
Day 8 – First visit today is at the Turda Salt Mines, newly renovated and arranged as a recreation center. In the afternoon arrive in Sighisoara, walking tour upon arrival. O/N in Sighisoara
Day 9 – In the morning we visit the impressive Biertan Fortified Church. In the afternoon walking tour of Sibiu Old Town. O/N in Sibiu
Day 10 – In the morning we drive back to Bucharest, on the way we stop for a visit at the monasteries of Cozia and Curtea de Arges. O/N in Bucharest
Day 11 – Departure day, transfer to airport.
Day 1 – Bucharest
Upon arrival at the Henri Coanda Airport the guests are met by their English speaking guide/driver and transferred to a your hotel in the center of Bucharest. After a short time to rest we will continue with the city tour of Bucharest an opportunity to explore the city formerly known as “Little Paris” capital of the Socialist Republic of Romania for almost half of century, a city still struggling on its way to capitalism and true democracy. The city tour will give you the opportunity to admire some of the landmarks of Bucharest, such as the Arch of Triumph, the Atheneum, the Revolution Square, the Romanian Patriarch’s Church, the Palace of Parliament the second largest building in the world.
Accommodation in Bucharest in a 3*, 4* or 5* hotel.
Day 2 – Bucharest – Sinaia- Brasov- approx. 170 Km/ 105 miles
In the morning we will leave Bucharest behind and start to drive north towards Brasov. We will make a stop along the way in the small mountain resort of Sinaia, one of the most popular destinations on Prahova Valley. Sinaia is famous for the fact that it is home to Peles Castle, the summer residence of the kings of Romania. Built in the 19th century by the Royal family in Neo Renaissance style it is one of the most beautiful castles in south-east Europe. Right after Peles Castle we will visit the Sinaia Monastery founded in the 17th century by a Romanian nobleman.
Our second stop of the day will be in the town of Bran which is home to Bran Castle (entrance included) also known as Dracula Castle, built in the 14th century by the Transylvanian merchants as a military fortress to defend the area against the frequent Turkish attacks. After 1900, it was donated to the Romanian Royal Family and it became the favorite place of Queen Maria. Extensively renovated, it became a residence, and later a museum. Nowadays it is one of the most visited sites in Romania.
After the visit of the castle, we will drive towards Brasov to check in at our hotel.
Accommodation in Brasov in a 3*, 4* or 5* hotel.
Day 3 – Brasov – Bicaz – Gura Humorului- approx. 380 km/ 235 miles
We start this day with a walking tour of Old City Brasov one of the most popular cities in Transylvania. On our tour we will see some of its landmarks such as the Black Church the most representative Gothic monument in South-Eastern Europe, and Piata Sfatului.
We continue the day with a pleasant drive through the Carpathian Mountains towards Gura Humorului. We stop for lunch in the Bicaz Gorges. The gorges, some 7 km long, with mountain walls on both sides of the road measuring up to 300m in height, is not only a breathtaking view, but also a chance to do some souvenir shopping at the local shops in the area.
Late in the afternoon we will reach Gura Humorului, and check in to our hotel.
Accommodation in Gura Humorului in 3* or 4* hotel.
Day 4 – Gura Humorului – Voronet – Marginea – Sucevita – Moldovita – Gura Humorului- approx. 85 Km/ 54 miles
We start early in the morning for a full day of touring to discover one of Romania’s best preserved, most valuable historical and religious sites, the famous painted monasteries. Built in the 15th century, they tell us times of turmoil, when the borders of Moldavia were often threatened by the Turkish Empire. Even though the architecture of the churches is humble, it is the frescoes that made them famous worldwide and each monastery is famous for a specific fresco and color. The first stop will be at Marginea, famous for the one of a kind black ceramic made here, and then continue to see the Medieval Painted Monasteries of Sucevita and Moldovita, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After lunch, in the second part of the day a visit to the Voronet Monastery, also called the “Sixteen Chapel of the East“, famous for the blue color that dominates the exterior frescoes.
Accommodation in Gura Humorului in 3* or 4* hotel.
Day 5 – Gura Humor – Borsa – Vadu Izei- approx. 215 Km/ 133 miles
Today we leave Gura Humorului behind and drive through the spectacular Prislop Pass (3000 ft elevation) into Maramures a very special area of Romania for here traditions and values of the old culture are at home. We will stop to visit the Ieud Church the oldest wooden church in Maramures listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Monastery of Barsana called by most a corner of Heaven.
Accommodation in Vadu Izei in a local home.
Meals: Breakfast and Homemade dinner.
Day 6 – Vadu Izei – Sapanta – Sighetu Marmatiei – Ieud – Vadu Izei- approx. 85 Km/ 54 miles
We will start the day with a visit at the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta. The cemetery is well known for its colorful, wooden crosses, which depict the life of the deceased in a realistic, sometimes humorous way.
Next on our list is the small town of Sighetu Marmatiei, where we stop at the “Memorial to the victims of Communism”, located in the building of the former Sighet Prison used by the communist regime to silence its opponents, in the 50’s. After a tasty lunch, we will visit the Village Museum of Maramures a collection of authentic traditional houses depicting the traditional village of Maramures. We return to Vadu Izei for a home hosted dinner.
Accommodation in Vadu Izei, in a local home.
Meals: Breakfast and Homemade dinner.
Day 7 – Vadu Izei – Surdesti – Cluj Napoca- approx . 280 Km/ 172 miles
In the morning, still driving through the beautiful Maramures countryside, we will visit Church of Surdesti (UNESCO World Heritage). The church, built in 1766, is famous for its exceptionally tall steeple (54m) that makes it the tallest wooden church in the world. After the visit, we will continue down south and enter the area of Transylvania that, for about 1000 years, was under Hungarian rule. Especially in the Northern part of Transylvania, the Hungarian influence is still very visible in the architecture of the cities.
Late in the afternoon, we will arrive in the city of Cluj Napoca, a major cultural center of Transylvania. Many of the buildings here remind us of Western European architecture. Upon arrival, we’ll take a stroll through the center of town and admire its beautiful buildings.
Accommodation in Cluj Napoca in a 3*or 4* hotel.
Day 8 – Cluj Napoca – Turda – Sighisoara- approx. 170 Km/ 105 miles
Early in the morning we leave Cluj Napoca behind and drive south towards Sighisoara. On the way we stop for a visit at the salt mines of Turda. Recently reopened for visitors, the mines were exploited as early as the year 1000 A.D. Narrow corridors that lead to great halls with excellent acoustics (sometimes used for concerts) and underground lakes make these salt mines one of the most famous objectives in the area.
In the second part of the day we arrive in the Medieval Citadel of Sighisoara, built in the 12th century by the Saxon colonists brought here by the Hungarian King. The citadel is still occupied and listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among the highlights of Sighisoara: the House of Vlad Dracul the Birth place of Vlad the Impaler, and the Clock Tower an impressive Gothic structure which nowadays houses the History Museum of Sighisoara.
Accommodation in Sighisoara in a 3* or 4* hotel.
Day 9 – Sighisoara – Biertan – Sibiu- approx. 105 Km/ 65 miles
Today we drive towards the city of Sibiu a former European Cultural Capital in 2007.We will make a short stop on the way at the Biertan Saxon Fortified Church (entrance included), one of the most important of its kind in Transylvania, because it is the last one to be built following this pattern, in the 1500’s, listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Once in Sibiu we will take a walking tour of the Old City, admiring its magnificent old center, visit places such as the Large Square (UNESCO World Heritage Sites), Small Square, the Catholic Church, Liars’ Bridge and learning about the interesting history of this great city.
Accommodation in Sibiu in a 3*, 4* or 5* hotel.
Day 10 – Sibiu – Cozia – Curtea de Arges – Bucharest- approx. 260 Km/ 162 miles
On our last day we leave Sibiu behind and head towards Bucharest following the scenic route of Olt Valley. On the way we will make a stop to admire one of the most beautiful and better preserved monasteries built in the14th century, Cozia Monastery.
After the visit, we continue to Bucharest. We will arrive in the city in the late afternoon.
Accommodation in Bucharest in a 3*, 4* or 5* hotel.
Day 11 -Bucharest – departure
Today you will say goodbye to Romania, and the friends you made here. Your private guide will escort you to the airport for your departure.
* 8 nights in 3, 4 or 5 star hotels with breakfast included;
* 2 nights home stay in Maramures traditional guest house;
* usage of the air conditioned car for the above mentioned route, gasoline price and parking fees;
* guided tours and entrance fees for the sights included in the itinerary;
* 12 meals: 10 breakfasts, 2 dinners;
* a professional private English speaking guide/driver, at your disposal throughout the trip;
* guide’s expenses;
* all transfers;
* VAT and local tax;
* map of Romania;
* meals other than the ones included in the program;
* individual travel insurance;
* photo and video fees;
Arch of Triumph
Initially built of wood in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in World War I, Bucharest's very own Arc de Triumph was finished in Deva granite in 1936. Designed by the architect, Petre Antonescu, the Arc stands 85 feet high. An interior staircase allows visitors to climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city. The sculptures decorating the structure were created by leading Romanian artists.
Athenaeum in Bucharest
The work of French architect Albert Galleron, who also designed the National Bank of Romania, the Athenaeum was completed in 1888, financed almost entirely with money donated by the general public. One of the preeminent public fundraising campaigns ever in Romania, the "Give a penny for the Athenaeum" campaign saved the project after the original patrons ran out of funds. With its high dome and Doric columns, the Athenaeum resembles an ancient temple.
It is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Romania. This well-maintained convent is located in the village of Barsana, about 25km southeast of Sighetu Marmatiei. The monastic buildings are built of wood and according to local tradition little or any modern tools have been used. Great skill of local craftsmen and artists is there to be seen in very beautiful carvings and frescoes in the style of the Moldovan churches.
Biertan Fortified Church
The 15th century fortified church at Biertan (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is perched high on a hill in the middle of the village. Three tiers of 35-foot-high defensive walls, connected by towers and gates, encircled the complex, making the church impossible to conquer during medieval times.
Featuring late-gothic architecture with heavy doors and double exterior walls, the church boasts the largest Transylvanian multi-paneled wooden altar and a remarkable wooden door which once protected the treasures in the sacristy.
Built between 1385 and 1477 on the site of an earlier church (destroyed by Mongol invasions in 1242), the construction of the Marienkirche, as it was known in German, was hampered by extensive damage caused by Turkish raids in 1421. The church was given its new name after disaster struck again in 1689, when the Great Fire leveled most of the town, blackening the walls of the church. Restoration took almost 100 years. Of two towers planned, only one was finished.
The Black Church is the largest gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul.
Black Pottery of Marginea
Located in the North of Romania, a few km have of Radauti in Bucovine, at the edge of the forests centenaries, the village of Marginea is famous especially by its black pottery.
This pottery kept for essence the features which it had with the Neolithic era: the form remains unchanged as well as the technique of cooking and ornamentation. This pottery is of indigenous, Dacia tradition and one finds it on territory of Moldavia and of the east of Transylvania.
Built on the site of a Teutonic Knights stronghold dating from 1212, the castle was first documented in an act issued by Louis I of Hungary on November 19, 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt (Brasov) the privilege to build the Citadel.
Although Stoker never visited Transylvania, the Irish author relied on research and his vivid imagination to create the dark and intimidating stomping ground of Count Dracula, leading to persistent myths that it was once the home of Vlad Tepes, ruler of Walachia.
Fringed by the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains and resplendent with Gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, as well as a wealth of historical attractions, the medieval city of Brasov, located just three hours north of Bucharest, provides a great introduction to the region. Among Brasov’s best know historical and cultural attractions are the Council Square, the beautiful St. Nicholas Church, the Black Church – the largest Gothic church east of Vienna.
Facing west of the square is the stunning Brukenthal Palace, built between 1778-1785 by a Viennese architect in a refined late-baroque style. It is now the home of the Brukenthal Museum, the oldest and one of the finest art museums in the country. The palace was built by Baron Samuel von Brukenthal to serve as his official residence and house his collections of Romanian and Western art, 16th – 18th century religious sculptures and icons, stamps and coins, as well as an impressive library.
Church on the Hill
To the north of the Clock Tower stands one of the most representative gothic-style structures in Transylvania, the Church on the Hill - so called because of its location on the School Hill (1,373 ft high). First mentioned in a document in 1345 and superposed on a former Roman basilica, its construction lasted almost 200 years.
The western Transylvania city of Cluj Napoca, tracing its origin back to the Dacian settlement of Napoca in 2nd century A.D., is today a vibrant cultural and university center. The main square, resplendent with 18th and 19th century buildings, is dominated by the 15th century St. Michael’s Church, one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Romania. The square is also home to the 18th century baroque Banffy Palace, housing the weaponry and Romanian painting collections of the Art Museum.
Located at the heart of old medieval Brasov and lined with beautiful red-roofed merchant houses, the Council Square, known to the Saxon population as the Marktplatz, is a nice place to rest and soak in the beautiful scenery.
In the center of the square stands the Old Town Hall, now home to Brasov's History Museum, while the southeast corner is dominated by the town's most famous landmark, the Black Church.
Cozia Monastery was erected close to Calimanesti by Mircea cel Batrân (grandfather of Vlad the Impaler) in 1388 and boasting his tomb, is one of the most valuable monuments of national medieval art and architecture in Romania.
Curtea de Arges Monastery
The Monastery of Curtea de Arges dates from the 16th Century, it is believed to be the most beautiful church in Eastern Europe. Behold the sad legend of Manole as you take in its beauty, the legend says that Manole, the master builder, had to sacrifice his wife by locking her into the wall to stop the monastery from falling apart. The monastery is also the final resting place of the first two kings and queens of Romania.
First mentioned in 1411 as a grain market, the Great Square – the largest square in the city, has been throughout the centuries a quiet witness to the town’s lively merchant activity, assemblies and even public executions. Located in the heart of the old walled city, the square was designated an architectural monument by UNESCO and features some of the most impressive buildings in Sibiu.
Huet Square is home to a mix of Gothic buildings dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral (Biserica Evangelica). This impressive structure, featuring five pointed towers, was built in 1520 on the site of an old Roman basilica. The simple, stark interior is in total contrast to that of the Catholic Church.
Here, you can also find the city's only fully German school, the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium, which exemplifies the city's proud German heritage
Ieud Wooden Church
The Wooden Church of Ieud was built in 1364, and is the oldest church in Maramures. Built of pine and fir with small windows, a double roof and a single, impressive steeple, it features 15th century primitive Byzantine-style murals. Fourteen icons, illustrating moments from the Judgment to the Crucifixion biblical scenes are placed along the path leading up to the church to recall The Way to the Cross that Jesus Christ walked to Golgotha.
Several steep streets and stairways lead from the upper to the lower town. One of them passes beneath the iron Bridge of Lies. Built in 1859 by Fredericus Hutte, this was the first wrought iron bridge in Romania.
From the Great Square, walk through one of two tunnels under the arches of the Council Tower to arrive at the Little Square. This second fortified square was home to the town’s most prestigious master craftsmen, who lived in rows of arcaded houses along the north and east sides. Today, small shops, cafes and businesses line the square.
Maramures is an area of the country known for its timeless tranquility. In late afternoon, old women sit outside their gates coaxing coarse wool onto spindles. Many still favor traditional dress, meaning white frounced blouses, striped woven panels covering full black skirts, headscarves and opinci, a sort of leather ballet slipper from which heavy yarn criss-crosses over thick socks. On Sunday, such dress is practically “de rigueur”, even for little girls.
The Merry Cemetery is the cemetery of the village Sapânta, in Maramures county, Romania. It is famous for its colorful tombstones with naive paintings describing, in an original and poetic manner, the persons that are buried there as well as scenes from their lives. The Merry Cemetery became an open-air museum and a national tourist attraction.
The Monastery of Moldovita pronounced "Mol do vee' tsa", located in the village of Vatra Moldovitei, was built by Petru Rares in 1532. The predominantly gold and deep blue paintings on the exterior walls were completed in 1537. The large and vivid Siege of Constantinople highlights the frescoes. Another stunning representation depicts the Tree of Jesse, representing Christ’s genealogy, a wide-spread iconographic theme in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Museum of the Romanian Peasant
Opened in 1906, the museum features the richest folk art collection in Romania, with over 90,000 artifacts that trace the colorful and diverse cultural life of the Romanian people. The displays dip into all aspects of life in the Romanian countryside. Exhibits of agricultural tools, carpets, icons, furniture, photographs and films build up a complete picture of Romanian folk culture. In 1996, the museum was named European Museum of the Year.
National Art Museum
Located in the neoclassical former Royal Palace, set amid a wealth of historic buildings such as the Romanian Athenaeum, Kretzulescu Church and the Hotel Athenee Palace-Hilton, the museum currently exhibits over 100,000 works divided into two major sections. Its National Gallery features the works of major Romanian artists, including Grigorescu, Aman and Andreescu. There is also a roomful of early Brancusi sculpture.
Built by Communist Party leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, the colossal Parliament Palace (formerly known as the People's Palace) is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon.
-It is the world's second-largest office building in surface (after the Pentagon) and the third largest in volume (after Cape Canaveral in the U.S. and the Great Pyramid in Egypt)
- The crystal chandelier in the Human Rights Hall weighs 2.5 tons
- Some of the chandeliers have as many as 7,000 light bulbs.
Peles Castle a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, considered by many one of the most stunning castles in Europe.
Commissioned by King Carol I in 1873 and completed in 1883, the castle served as the summer residence of the royal family until 1947. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows and Cordoba leather-covered walls.
Savings Bank Palace
Boasting one of the most impressive neoclassical facades in the city, this structure was built in the 19th century to the design of French architect Paul Gottereanu (who between 1875 and 1900 designed more than 50 buildings in the city, to house the first Romanian Savings Bank. The square-shaped palace has a large central dome with metallic ribs separated by glass, which allows natural light to come in; there are also four smaller domes.
Located at the end of School Street and connecting the Citadel Square with the Church on the Hill, the Scholars' Stairs, or Schoolboys' Stairs, as it was also known, makes for an interesting piece of medieval architecture. Built in 1642, the covered stair-passage was meant to facilitate and protect schoolchildren and churchgoers on their climb to the school and church during wintertime. Originally, the stairs had 300 steps, but after 1849, their number was reduced to 175.
Designated European Capital of Culture in 2007, Sibiu retains the grandeur of its earlier days when rich and powerful guilds dominated regional trade. Explore the old city center with its upper town, home to most of Sibiu's historic sites, and lower town, lined with colorful houses on cobblestone streets and bounded by imposing city walls and defense towers overlooking the river Cibin. Sibiu makes an ideal base for the exploration of the nearby countryside and villages.
The Sighet Memorial was opened in 1997 in the former "Prison of the Ministers" (Inchisoarea Ministiriilor) in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei "Sighet" located in the far north west, in the beautiful Maramures region. It is one of the best museums in Romania depicting the evolution and atrocities committed by the Communist regime in Romania.
The medieval town of Sighisoara, a perfectly intact 15th century gem with nine towers, narrow passageways and cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sighisoara is also the birthplace of Vlad Draculea, nicknamed Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes), ruler of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. It was Vlad who inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional creation, Count Dracula. His house is just one of many attractions here.
Sighisoara Clock Tower
Sighisoara's main point of attraction is the Clock Tower, also known as the Council Tower, built in the second half of the 14th century and expanded in the 16th century. In the 17th century, a two-plate clock, with figurines carved from linden wood, was set at the top of the tower, with one dial looking over the Lower Town, and the other facing the citadel. This intricate two-plate clock has been working continuously since the Middle Ages.
Sucevita Monastery Founded in 1581 by Gheorghe Movila, Bishop of Radauti, it was later expanded by his brother, Ieremia, ruling prince of Moldavia. Sucevita was the last of the 22 painted churches of Bucovina in 1602-1604 and has the largest number of painted images.
Sucevita boasts a magnificent depiction of the Ladder to Paradise. Red-winged angels in orderly rows attend the righteous on a slanting ladder to the heavens, each rung inscribed with one of the monastic virtues. Sinners fall through the rungs and are driven by grinning devils to the chaos of hell.
Dating from 1767, the famous wooden church in Surdesti, built of oak beams skillfully intertwined, displays well-preserved interior watercolor canvases and a remarkable 175-feet tall belfry. Surdesti is known to be one of the highest oak buildings in the world with an overall height from ground level to the top of the steeple of 235 feet. Remarkably, no metal was used to erect the belfry as even the fastenings are made entirely from wood.
Turda Salt Mine
Salt was first extracted here during the antiquity and the mine continuously produced table salt from the Middle Ages (the mine being first mentioned in 1075) to early 20th century 1932).
Since 1992, Salina Turda is a halo-therapy center and a popular tourist attraction. Inside the salt mine the temperature remains constant (10-12 °C) all the time, at any time of the year. Humidity in the air remains constant too, at about 75-80%.
The Village Museum was founded by royal decree in 1936, this fascinating outdoor museum, the largest in Europe, covers some 30 acres on the shores of Lake Herastrau in Herestrau Park. It features a collection of 50 buildings representing the history and design of Romania's rural architecture. Steep-roofed peasant homes, thatched barns, log cabins, churches and watermills from all regions of the country were carefully taken apart, shipped to the museum and rebuilt in order to recreate the village setting.
Vlad Dracul’s House
Vlad Dracul's House is located in the Citadel Square of Sighisoara, close to the Clock Tower. This ocher-colored house is the place where Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's famous Dracula, was born in 1431 and lived with his father, Vlad Dracul, until 1435 when they moved to Targoviste.
The ground floor of the house serves as a pastry shop while the upstairs is a restaurant.
Perhaps the most famous and stunning of the painted monasteries is Voronet (Vo ro nets), founded in 1487 by Stephen the Great to celebrate a victory over the Turks. Widely known throughout Europe as "the Sistine Chapel of the East" due to its interior and exterior wall paintings, this monastery offers an abundance of frescoes featuring an intense shade of blue commonly known as ‘Voronet blue.’ The composition of the paint continues to remain a mystery even now, more than 500 years after the church was built.