Bucharest, Brasov, Cris, Vatra Dornei, Petrova & Cluj Napoca
History & Culture, Off the Beaten
Commonly referred to as the Land of Dracula, Romania certainly offers a lot more than just tales of the legendary Vlad the Impaler with its fortified castles and narrow cobbled streets
At the heart of Romania lies the last remaining authentic villages in Europe where people still engage in medieval living like they do in centuries past, waiting for you to unravel at Maramures and Bucovina.
In the rural townships of Transylvania, you will engage in seasonal truffle hunting, rub shoulders with local shepherds and sample the delicious Royal Honey by local farms who supply for Prince Charles!
Arriving into Bucharest, we will transfer to your hotel. Today’s afternoon Bucharest orientation tour brings us to the Palace of Parliament, Patriarchal Cathedral and Cotroceni Palace, followed by a 1-hour ride on Dacia vintage car across the old town, concluding at the Stavropoleos Church.
Departs 8am to Snagov Monastery, the burial place of Vlad the Impaler who served as the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula. En route to LacertA Winery at Dealu Mare. Stroll along the sun-bathed vineyards and cellars, followed by tasting of 6 wines (out of 20 varieties) including Feteasca Neagra, made from local star grape. Time permitting, visit Peles Castle in Sinaia (closed Mon, last entry is 4.15pm) with over 170 lavish rooms. Afterwards, we transfer to Brasov, your gateway to the Transylvanian region.
Start the morning with the famous Bran Castle. It’s time to find out the truth about Dracula.
Transylvania is famed for its villages with fortified churches, which are inscribed in UNESCO. We will visit Prejmer (closed on Mon), which lays claim as Southeast Europe’s largest fortified church.
Back in Brasov, we visit the Black Church (closed on Mon), Piata Sfatului main square and Schei District where you can see the oldest house in Romania.
This morning, we will pass by Rupea Fortress for a photo stop before transferring to Viscri (UNESCO) to see blacksmiths making horseshoes in the old style. Ride a horse cart with a local shepherd onto the nearby hills, followed by a picnic lunch overlooking the village’s fortified church (closed Mon). Chat with the shepherd to learn about his ancient profession while you savour the local sheep’s cheese, brandy and ‘royal honey’ sourced from a local farm who provides for Prince Charles!
If you’d like and time permits, we can visit the ‘royal honey’ beekeeper in Crit village to learn about the apiary technique. Otherwise, we transfer to Cris to rest.
Enjoy a 2-hour morning truffle hunting experience (available Jun-Dec, if weather permits). Follow the truffle hunter and dogs in search of the black gold in the Transylvanian forest between Cund and Dumbraveni. Afterwards, enjoy delicious risotto cooked over open fire with a glass of Romanian wine. If you are visiting during non-truffle hunting season, we will replace the morning activity with a hike through the Transylvanian hilly countryside, colourful meadows and virgin forests.
In the afternoon, stroll the well-preserved Biertan village (UNESCO) to admire one of Transylvania’s most important hilltop fortified church.
This morning, the Dracula story continues into his birthplace in the UNESCO-listed Sighisoara to visit the fortified citadel. Climb to the main tower which houses a History Museum and the hilltop church (both closed on Mon). Afterwards, we drive 4 hours to Vatra Dornei, with en route stop at Bistrita for a short walk through the Saxon historical centre passing by the Orthodox Church, Saxon Evangelical Church, Silversmith’s House and Sugalete Medieval Buildings (all churches and museums closed on Mon).
We dedicate the day getting acquainted with Bucovina’s local and explore some of the UNESCO-listed Churches of Moldavia. Art historians consider the artistic values of the mural paintings Moldovita and Sucevita among the most important of medieval Romanian arts. En route to Marginea where a local craftsman will guide you through the magical process of moulding the black pottery clay before continuing to your third monastery, Voronet or often dubbed as “the Sistine Chapel of the East” for its intense shade of blue.
Drive to Vama’s Egg Museum where a local artist will introduce you into the art of egg painting. See one of Europe’s most varied and important collection of decorated eggs.
Today, we cross the Carpathian mountain into Maramures, considered among the last few remaining authentic villages in Europe where medieval living remains as it is today. Along the way, we visit Ciocanesti to admire the beautiful painted houses, St. Nicholas Church at Bogdan Voda, as well as the UNESCO-listed Barsana with its wooden churches complex and Gate Tower, the highest wooden building in Europe.
Keen to learn about the region’s heart-wrenching past? We can spend the morning visiting the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance at Sighetu Marmatie near Ukraine border. Dubbed “Museum of the Arrested Thought”, the former prison presented the chronology of the totalitarian system during the dark times of Communist Romania.
We will visit the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, where crosses are adorned in unique colours and witty poetries, greeting the passing of the deceased with a bitter-sweet humour and irony. Afterwards, enjoy a 3-hour hike from Hoteni to Ocna Sugatag, passing through hillsides dotted with timber houses, cowherds, poplars, beeches and flowering ashes in one of Europe’s remotest corners. If it opens, visit a Thursday peasant market to see locals trade in grains, chickens and pigs.
Today, we drive 4 hours to Cluj-Napoca. Along the way, stop at the charming wooden-church villages of Budesti (largest in Maramures), Surdesti (world’s tallest wooden church) and Rogoz (brightly-coloured murals) – all listed in UNESCO and closed on Mon. If you’d like and time permits, we can en route to Banffy Castle in Bontida. Dubbed as the Versailles of Romania, the Transylvanian largest castle is interestingly believed to be haunted. Hear some spooky tales from your guide before arriving into Cluj-Napoca.
If time permits, enjoy a morning tour of Cluj-Napoca visiting Avram Iancu Squarre, National Theatre, Unirii Square, St. Michael’s Church, Cluj-Napoca Banffy Palace, King Matthias Corvin Statue and the Museum Square before transferring to Cluj-Napoca airport for your flight home.
Hotel Epoque Bucharest • Kronwell Brasov Hotel • Bethlen Estates Cris • Kaban Boutique Hotel Vatra Dornei • Dacii Liberi Resort & SPA Petrova • DoubleTree by Hilton Cluj-Napoca
Part of the Relais & Châteaux, this urban retreat is exquisitely situated at the charming and historical Cișmigiu area just a short drive away from key attractions. (Refurbished: 2012; Rooms: 45)View More
Comfortable 4-star with beauty therapies, fitness studio, sauna and indoor pool for a surcharge. (Opened: 2012; Rooms: 81)View More
A luxurious four-bedroom retreat in the Transylvanian countryside, lovingly restored from a 300-year-old building with a stylish modern streak. (Opened: 2019; Units: 2)View More
One of the few modern options available in the Bucovina region, allowing excellent exploration of the rural countryside not usually seen by international tourists to Romania. (Opened: 2018; Rooms: 9)View More
The Maramures region is known for its authentic wooden buildings and this resort has painstakingly incorporated its heritage while bringing in a hint of contemporary influences. (Opened: 2017; Rooms: 15)View More
Just a 5-minute walk to the old town, enjoy stunning views of the city from the top-floor pool in this international-standard hotel. (Refurbished: 2010; Rooms: 85)View More
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