Highlights of Romania Tour

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Total Trip:

15 Days
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Countries Visited:

Romania
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Places Visited:

Bucharest, Tulcea, Sinaia, Berca, Babele, Transylvania, Prejmer, Brasov, Lacul Rosu, Bicaz Gorges, Moldavia, Iasi, Bucovina, Sapanta, Maramures, Cluj-Napoca, Sighisoara,

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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Romania loves to surprise. Mud volcanoes, World Heritage wetlands, ethereal mountain formations and many more feats of nature. Dracula’s castle, Ceausescu’s palace, fortified Saxon cities and more places of legend. Bucovina’s painted monasteries, Maramures village life, Transylvania’s Middle Ages cities, and that’s just the start of the immersive culture. Handcrafted for active travelers this fast-paced tour explores Romania’s highly diverse highlights. For unique Romania touring ideas, see the

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Day 1

Bucharest – Traditional Cuisine Welcomes You to Romania

Land in Bucharest and it’s hard to get a handle on the city. Palaces juxtapose with decomposing apartment blocks, glamorous cafes stand on streets of graffiti, and everything seems jumbled together as if the cityscape went through a washing machine. But then again, Romania isn’t an easy country to get a handle on, so you should be anticipating some surprising sights and sounds. Touch down and transfer to a hotel in the old part of the capital, where a few walking routes can provide first impressions. For the evening, there’s a more definitive welcome to Romania, a traditional meal at Caru’ cu Bere, a restaurant that’s been around since the late 19th century.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Dinner

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Day 2

Bucharest – All the Grandeur and Glory of a Strange City

It’s so big you can’t fit it into a photograph without using the panoramic feature. It’s so grand you can’t imagine it was built at a time of Communism. The Palace of the Parliament is an ode to excess and the megalomaniacal ideals of dictator Ceausescu. You won’t believe what’s on the inside and it’s best to enter without anything spoiling the surprise. A royal palace is nearby, reached via a meandering walk through Communist architecture and contemporary cafe terraces. In the vicinity, you find contemporary art galleries, village reincarnations, plenty of majestic 19th-century buildings, and the bustle you would expect from a capital. After the unmissable palace, the guide tailors the day’s tour to your interests; there’s plenty to choose from if you have a curious mind.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Tulcea – Boating and Birdwatching in Europe’s Largest Wetlands

Driving eastwards you head towards the coast, where the Danube splits and spiders into a web of channels. This is Europe’s largest delta system, a World Heritage Site that isn’t just for avid birdwatchers. Some 350 species gather here, including cranes in the reeds and great wings that flutter overhead. Most of all, you remember the serenity here, boating down the channels in an unheralded corner of the world. Over the next days, you’ll be hopping between towns, castles, monasteries, and villages. Take your time today, watching the colors swirl along the riverbanks as you cruise between forests and tiny villages. It’s remarkable to think that these wetlands are so close to such a big, bustling capital.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Berca to Sinaia – Mud Volcanoes and the Remarkable Peles Castle

They bubble and burst, peculiar parcels of mud that enliven the air with the scent of sulfur. The volcanoes explode, sending cooling mud lava across the landscape, creating bizarre natural formations. These aren’t real volcanoes, but you can see why they have that name. They’re made really spectacular by how close you get to the bubbling superfluity. This stop in Berca breaks the long journey to Sinaia. Travel the rooms of Peles Castle with a local guide and make sense of the design – it’s like the designer used something from every European architectural movement of the 15th to 19th centuries. Flamboyance would be an understatement here, and the same inimitable beauty also comes alive nearby in the smaller Pelisor Castle.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Bucegi to Bran – Dazzling Rock Formations and Dracula’s Castle

The wind rushes past and gives a clue as to the Bucegi landscape peculiarity. Wind weathered rocks have been sculpted into dazzling formations here, Babele and Sfinxul so strange they’ve long had their own names. Further along the road, there’s another bizarre sight, Bran Castle perched upon a cliff above the valley. It’s never been home to a vampire and it’s unclear whether the castle really did inspire Bram Stooker’s Dracula. However, Bran is a majestic work of medieval architecture, mostly untouched since the 14th century. Turrets rise to sharp red roofs, great windowless walls impress power, and the stories tell of a stronghold between Transylvania and Wallachia. Spend the day at the castle, and then spend the night at a hotel overlooking the valley, the castle omnipresent.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Transfer

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Breakfast

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Day 6

Prejmer to Brasov – Saxon Heritage in the Heart of the Carpathians

Small rooms are carved into Prejmer’s thick city walls, each just about big enough for a family. They are like medieval-era bomb shelters, places of refuge in a time of siege. Walk past them into the city, and you’re amazed at what the walls hide, notably an enormous fortified church behind Prejmer’s initial facade. Brasov has a similar style, monumental walls, and bastions hiding a well-restored Saxon city. Stroll the old city square, wander beneath ornamental excess in the Black Church, and then walk down Europe’s narrowest street. It’s cobbles and charm all around, Brasov a good place to go exploring without a map. A guide gives you a brief tour of the major highlights then the evening is all about settling into the old Saxon atmosphere.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Lacul Rosu to Bicaz – A Red Lake and a Day in Nature

A day in nature today as you take an alternative route into the Carpathian Mountains, a series of narrow gorges marking the journey towards Moldavia and the border with Ukraine. There’s a lake that’s red, colored by the blood of villagers killed in an earthquake (that’s the legend anyway, it’s actually tainted by alluvium). Stonewalls narrow as you reach the Moldavia border, you must continue on foot, following remote walking trails enlivened by the sound of gushing rivers. Retreat to the vehicle, and the gorge becomes so narrow it seems like the road is a tunnel, rocks overhanging the tarmac as this Romanian odyssey takes you towards the world of Moldavia.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

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Transfer

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Breakfast

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Day 8

Iasi – Immersed in the World of Moldavia

Not many travelers make it to Moldavia, and its capital is one of Europe’s real hidden gems. Grand steps lead through the gardens to the great Palace of Culture, where contemporary and historical art fills the interior. All over the streets, you find the words of Mihai Eminescu, Romania’s national poet. Elegant and unassuming, Iasi carefully preserved its past throughout the years of communism. Its cathedral sticks true to the old style of frescoes and murals, while Palas Park is an ideal place to watch local life unfold. This is the sort of city where you can sit on a bench and instantly make new friends.  Moldavia suggests rural travel experiences, yet Iasi is Romania’s fourth city and a lovely contrast to what you’ll find over the next two days in Bucovina and Maramures.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

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Day 9

Voronet – Beautiful Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

Murals change color with the seasons in Buvocina, natural colors appearing different as the climate changes. Bells have gone from the belfries so monks bang out a drumbeat on wooden beams. The churches are small in comparison to Europe’s grand Christian cathedrals yet their intricate attention to detail is evident on every square inch of wall. These are the painted churches of Bucovina, leftovers from the rise of Orthodox Christianity, expertly preserved into the 21st century. In some villages, there is little bar the painted church and a handful of stone buildings; you expect beautiful religious artworks in major cities, but such complexity of design is almost unheard of in such small villages. These are tiny parish churches and monasteries, but their design can give you goosebumps. You’ll visit at least four or five today, with Voronet the absolutely unmissable.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

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Tour

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Breakfast

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Day 10

Sapanta – Maramures Village Life, Mountain Landscapes, and a Merry Cemetery

Further north through the mountains, twisting and turning towards the Ukraine border, serendipity playing its role today as you stop in a handful of Maramures villages. This is the most traditional region of Romania; horse carts still ply the streets, locals wear their late 19th-century clothes, laughter spills from small stores. Some of the villagers are taking their artisanal crafts into the 21st century with workshops for the trickle of visitors coming through the region. While the journey is long, today there’s always a new memory as you explore a land of customs and traditions. Your final destination is Sapanta. Here the cemetery is filled with humorous poems, the so-called Happy Cemetery following a Dacian belief that death is a moment filled with joy.

What's Included:

included

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Day 11

Cluj-Napoca – Stop, Relax, Indulge

Descend back through the Carpathian Mountains and arrive in Cluj-Napoca for lunch. Dine al fresco on the main square, gazing up at the church spire. Sip a coffee beneath rose-tinted townhouses, explore the odes to Transylvania’s heart, and take a stroll through Cetatuia Park. After a few days of driving and exploring this day is left free. Cluj-Napoca certainly brings you halfway back to the modern world after Bucovina and Maramures. This lively city has quickly become a visitor hotspot, its historic center covered in statuesque heroes and picturesque squares. Today is your chance to take your time and indulge.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Day 12

Turda to Sighisoara – A Shimmering Salt Mine and an Inhabited Medieval Fortress

Back to the road and the wonders that Romania likes to hide. Slither downhill into Turda Salt Mine, where a theme park has been created in the carved out space beneath the ground. Continue to Sighisoara, and step into the citadel, where aromas float down cobbled streets and you immediately sense the Middle Ages. Perhaps nowhere else in Europe has a medieval citadel been so expertly preserved, right down to the colorful townhouses that enliven every street; yellow, green, white, peach, maroon, now onwards to the cathedral tower that dominates Sighisoara’s center. Inhabited for hundreds of years Sighisoara is arguably Romania’s most memorable destination. You’ll have the full afternoon here, a short walking tour of the main sights, then an evening to soak up the vibe.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 13 - 14

Sibiu – Taking it Easy in Romania’s City of Romance

Small bridges seem to sway as they carry people through Sibiu. Baroque buildings shimmer as they suggest a distant era. Gravestones have become walls in the cathedral; 13th-century Saxon homes have turned to cafes and bars. This is Sibiu, a city that’s easy on the eye and as laid-back as you can imagine. Most of the center is pedestrianized and you’ll quickly learn the routes around Huet Square, Lies Bridge, and Small Square. Like Sighisoara you’ll find some epic sights here, the Brukenthal National Museum just one place that deserves two hours of your time.

After 12 days touring Romania, this final destination is less about discovering and more about relaxing. Take your time over a coffee on a city square. Explore the craft shops and inspect all the little details down the streets. You’ve been a long way in the last 12 days, and now there’s no need to go anywhere beyond what’s reachable on foot. Your hotel is in the heart of Sibiu and two days are at your leisure for a chance to reflect on everything that has gone before.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Day 15

Sibiu to Bucharest – Departure

Take a late breakfast then transfer back to Bucharest, arriving in the capital with plenty of time before your late-evening outbound flight.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Be baffled by painted monasteries in Bucovina
  • Celebrate village life and tradition in Maramures
  • Go off the beaten track in the Moldavia region
  • Explore spectacular feats of Mother Nature, from mud volcanoes to the Bucegi rock formations and a lake painted red
  • Discover the ostentatious art and architecture of Bucharest
  • Go boating and birdwatching through the Danube Delta, Europe’s largest wetlands
  • Explore the Saxon heritage of Transylvania, with Prejmer and Brasov just two of the intriguing stops
  • Discover Dracula’s legend at Bran Castle then discover two castles that are even more impressive
  • Disappear into a salt mine, stay in an inhabited medieval fortress, and sip drinks on beautiful cobbled squares
  • Rest and relax by finishing the tour in Sibiu, an adorably preserved city from the 15th century
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Detailed Description

Romania’s surprises come at such a pace it can be hard to know which way to look. One moment you’re standing before bubbling mud volcanoes, the next you’re wandering through an extravagant 19th-century castle. In far-off Bucovina, the monks beat beams because their painted monastery doesn’t have a bell; in far-out Bucharest, it’s impossible to imagine what Ceausescu was thinking of building a palace of such size. From a medieval city that’s been spruced up for tourism, you can travel by horse and cart to villages where the clothes and culture are firmly in the medieval era. The diversity of experience is staggering, and that’s what this handcrafted tour celebrates. Over two weeks, you travel all across the country, combining the idiosyncrasies that make this corner of Europe so surprising.

Journeys can be slow in the mountains, especially when you travel far north to Bucovina and Maramures. However, there’s always another viewpoint, often a village that welcomes you, and usually a feat of nature or culture to break the journey. Over these two weeks, you’ll go off the beaten track. It’s a real adventure, connecting with Eastern Europe’s forgotten cultures, being baffled by untouched landscapes, building a complete picture of this vastly misunderstood nation.

Start in Bucharest, traditional cuisine in the old city and cafe culture in “Little Paris.” Spend a day deciphering the capital’s grandeur, the monumental Palace of the Parliament just one of the sights that can’t quite be captured by a camera. Travel east into the Danube Delta for an afternoon of bird watching and boating in the World Heritage wetlands. Then travel north into the mountains, Peles Castle showcasing dozens of architectural styles. Visit mud volcanoes and Pelisor Castle, then Dracula’s castle (Bran Castle) and strange Bucegi mountain-scapes are among the highlights.

From here, you travel further through the Carpathians, exploring the remains of Saxon heritage in the heart of Transylvania. Prejmer is intriguing while Brasov is one of Eastern Europe’s most immersive old cities. The focus switches to nature with spiraling roads leading you to a red lake and the impressive Bicaz Gorges. You’re far from everything now, and that’s how the historical region of Moldavia likes to be. Visit Iasi, with lots of art and local folklore keeping you entertained. Bucovina is famed for its painted monasteries, and you’ll visit several, finding that the painted facades are just the start of an inimitable past.

Continue exploring rural Romania. Travel into Maramures, stopping at local villages and getting a sense of a land that’s deliberately cut itself off from everywhere else. The roads can be slow, but the journey is always memorable, with Sapanta village your destination on the border with Ukraine. Returning to Transylvania the pace slows a little, a night in Cluj-Napoca followed by a day in Sighisoara and then quiet days in Sibiu. These Transylvanian cities are Romania’s most loved destinations, good places to explore without a map after a local guide has walked you through the main attractions. Sibiu’s town square gives you time and space to rethink what has gone before, a romantic setting to recollect the diverse Romanian memories. From here it’s back to Bucharest and you’ll be baffled by how much you can fit into your tour.

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Starting Price

$2995 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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