Romania holiday, the Beauty of Yesterday
Description of Romania holiday, the Beauty of Yesterday
Travel 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 eleven 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.
This small group holiday is offered on two guaranteed dates during the year accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide. Travellers are thus invited to take Romania holidays to a more immersive level with many of the overnight stays being the guests of a local family, certainly adding to the appeal of a genuinely authentic cultural experience.
Alternatively, 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.
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.
|Day 1:||Bacau - Piatra Neamt. 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:||A day in the Carpathians (Bicaz Gorge & Red Lake) Experience the natural wonder of the Bicaz Gorge followed by a picnic lunch and a stroll around the Red Lake (Lacu Rosa). Free time to visit Piatra Neamt in the late afternoon (including cable car ride).|
|Day 3:||Piatra Neamt - Vama. 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]. Home-made dinner and accommodation in Vama at Guest House Casa Elvira.|
|Day 4:||Bucovina Painted Monasteries (Moldovita, Voronet and Sucevita) 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. 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. Your day also includes a visit to the Decorative Egg Museum with demonstration and the unique Black Ceramic pottery. Dinner and accommodation back at the welcoming Casa Elvira in Vama.|
|Day 5:||Bucovina - Maramures. After breakfast drive to Maramures, the land of traditions and wooden churches via the stunning, remote and beautiful Prislop Pass. In the afternoon continue 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. Time permitting a visit to the Merry Cemetary at Sapanta. Retire to a traditional welcome at a guest house in Ieud for dinner & overnight accommodation.|
|Day 6:||Vaser Valley Forest Railway - wooden churches. 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. Afterwards 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. In the evening return to your guest house in Ieud for dinner & overnight accommodation.|
|Day 7:||Ieud - Targu Mures - Sighisoara. After breakfast drive via Nasaud and Bistrita to Targu Mures, the city of roses, which enjoys the best of both Romanian and Hungarian cultures. (Lunch option 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 a Hotel in or just below the mediaeval citadel.|
|Day 8:||Sighisoara - Sibiu - Sighisoara. 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 a Hotel in or just below the mediaeval citadel.|
|Day 9:||Sighisoara - Brasov - Bran. 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, 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 Zarnesti (near Bran) at Hora cu Brazi Guest House.|
|Day 10:||Zarnesti / Bran - Sinaia - Bucharest. After breakfast you will see Bran Castle [Dracula's Castle] where, along the dark corridors and in the inner gardens one can still hear the steps of the "Prince of Darkness" - as this location is VERY touristy and offers no authentic connection to the legend or real person of history we will visit the Rasnov Fortress instead. Continue your trip to Sinaia. Free time for lunch. 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. If time allows a visit to the Rhein cellars, former Champagne "Supplier of Romania's Royal Court", and since April 2006 designated "Supplier of His Majesty King Michael the First". Onward drive to Bucharest Bucharest city centre for an extra night (or more) in this fascinating country.|
|Day 11:||Bucharest. Morning city tour and then departures to Bucharest Airport or extra nights in the city or add-on tours to the Danube Delta and/or Black Sea coast - more details on request.|
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12 Reviews of Romania holiday, the Beauty of Yesterday
Reviewed on 24 Sep 2019 by Faye CourtneyWe really enjoyed our discovery of Romania and its treasures. Read full review
Reviewed on 14 Jun 2019 by Andrew GerryIf you drink tea, take your own teabags. Take your own plug for the basin. This sort of info should be provided automatically by you Read full review
Reviewed on 11 Oct 2018 by Gerhard KordmannAbsolutely delightful, I never came back from a holiday more relaxed. The weather, of course was a bonus, but the perfect organisation made all the difference. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Oct 2018 by Sue BeckinghamWe enjoyed it all but going to to the Merry Cemetry at Sapanta was interesting also Viscri where Prince Charles has bought a home. He has helped the village and it was great going to the woods on a horse drawn cart to the brick maker and learning about his craft. Read full review
Reviewed on 20 Jun 2018 by Rodney MountFor anyone with an interest in this part of Romania, with its unique history, unusual ecclesiastical architecture, and its customs and traditions, and who may be considering a holiday there, I can recommend this 10 day group tour by mini-bus with almost no reserve. Read full review
Reviewed on 28 Sep 2018 by Howard SomervilleThe painted churches, Sighisoara, the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, the dramatic mountain scenery around Azuga and the excellent tour leader and meals. Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Sep 2017 by Rob MoodyThere are many to choose from, but Biertan and Viscri stand out for their beauty and country setting. We had a great time. The accommodation was good, the people were friendly and the museum village and Ethnographic museums were wonderful. Read full review
Reviewed on 29 Sep 2017 by Ann LindsayThe most memorable was the painted monasteries, fortified churches, peasant/rural lifestyle all brilliantly presented by our guide Alexandra. Also the steam train. Read full review
Reviewed on 21 Jul 2017 by Heather RushtonThe rich history and culture, the variety of landscapes, the natural beauty and the glorious food. Read full review
Reviewed on 22 Jun 2015 by Peter HartnallEXCELLENT, our guide Alexandra was first class....Hard to say as so many wonderful bits. Maybe visiting the fortified church in the village where Prince Charles has bought a house, and then going by horse and cart to visit the brick maker. Read full review
Reviewed on 22 Oct 2014 by Julie. StokesIt is difficult to pick out the 'most' memorable as the whole holiday was absolutely wonderful. The guide made it possible to visit small museums and 'cottage industries' such as a rural tile maker, which involved a pony cart ride, none of which would have been possible without her local knowledge. Read full review
Reviewed on 15 May 2014 by Martin SuttonIt's difficult to pick one thing. For me the Carpathian Forest Steam Train trip and the visit to Viscri Weisskirch are the two most memorable items. Read full review
PlanetWe 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.
PeopleAccommodation 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.
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