Romania Romania

Essential Romania

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Transylvania is the centre of Romania and her cultural core. The region is a blend of Hungarian, Saxon and Romanian influences. The permutation of travel possibilities in Transylvania is vast, and we recommend that you contact us to discuss your specific needs.

To understand the ethnic mix of the region today it is necessary to understand the history of past conquerors. The fortified churches are a testimony to the Saxon colonisation in the Middle Ages. Saxon merchants arrived in the 12th century to help fortify and defend the eastern borders of the region, which at that time were controlled by the Hungarian Kingdom.

The Saxons founded several settlements, among which are the present day cities of Sighisoara, Brasov, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca, which all boast perfectly preserved Saxon architecture.

For custom luxury travel and tours to Transylvania and Romania, please contact one of our travel experts.

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ITINERARY

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$5,100 per person, based on two people traveling together.  Please contact Exeter International for specific pricing and availability. 

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Upon arrival, your guide-driver will meet you at the airport, outside of customs and after picking- up your luggage and will transfer you to the city center and to your hotel.

After some time to drop off your luggage and freshen up, your guide will meet you in the lobby for an overview tour. Romania’s capital city was first mentioned in the 15th Century and later became the residence of the Wallachian prince Vlad III Tepes. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, Bucharest was occupied on several occasions by forces of the Ottoman, the Habsburg, and the Russian Empires. When Wallachia and Moldavia were united to form the Principality of Romania in 1861, Bucharest became the new nation's capital.

You may see the Romanian Atheneum – a circular, Ionic temple-style building, built in the late 19th Century as a culture house. You may also stroll down the Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue), one of Bucharest’s most historic streets. You will also drive by the enormous Palace of Parliament, a memorial to Ceausescu’s ideals and visions of Communism. The building has over 1,000 rooms and is 12 stories tall. In order to free space for the construction the Palace, Ceausescu ordered the demolishing of some of Bucharest's most historic districts, including some 30 churches and synagogues and over 30,000 homes.

You will finish the day with a visit of Ceaucescu’s former private residence, Palacio Primaverii, built in the mid 60’s in a luxurious classical style. Here is where the dictator lived with his wife during the last 25 years of their lives.

Exeter Services: Arrival Transfer; Vehicle, Driver & Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Grand Continental

Day 2
Peles - Bran | Peles - Bran

This morning, you will leave Bucharest and transfer north across the Carpathian Mountains and into the Transylvania region.

On your way, you can make a stop at the Peles Castle, located in an idyllic setting near Sinaia, and indeed a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture. The former summer palace of King Carol, its architecture is resplendent with turrets, curlicues and painted frescoes on the walls. Completed in 1883, Peles' interiors are a magnificent display of elegant design and historical artifacts. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows, walls covered with Cordoba leather, Meissen and Sevres porcelains, ebony and ivory sculptures.

Upon arrival in Bran, you will have the remainder of the day at leisure.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide-Driver & Vehicle

Hotel: Balaban Inn

Day 3
Brasov | Brasov

Today you will start with a visit to nearby town of Brasov, one of the most historic towns in the Transylvanian region. Founded in the 13th Century as a German merchant colony, the town soon became a major medieval trading center. The Saxons built ornate houses and churches, protected by a massive defensive wall that still remains. You may decide to visit the Council House in the middle of the Old Town’s square. The building’s tower, called the Trumpeter’s Tower, was once a watchtower from which alarm was sounded in times of danger. After the great fire of 1689, set by the invading Austro – Hungarian army, the building was restored and completed as a Renaissance-style loggia dominated by a Baroque facade bearing the coat of arms of the town. The Counsel House was at that time the business and political decision-making center of the city. Nowadays it houses the Brasov Historical Museum, which focuses on the history of the Saxon guilds. Brasov also has some wonderful examples of Renaissance, Baroque and Romanian 19th Century architecture.

You will have the afternoon at leisure. If you wish, you can adventure on a hiking journey from Bran, which is an excellent base for hikes to the Piatra Craiului ridge, the eastern extremity of the Fagaras Mountains, regarded as one of the most beautiful sites in the Carpathians.

You may also visit the famous Bran Castle. Commonly known as Dracula’s Castle, the Bran Castle was originally a stronghold built by the Teutonic Knights in the 12th Century. The building of the actual castle started in 1378 as a defense against the Turks and later became a customs post on the pass between Transylvania and Wallachia. The castle is famous because of the wide-spread myths that it was once the home of Vlad the Impaler, although there is no historic evidence that he ever lived here.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide-Driver & Vehicle

Hotel: Balaban Inn

Day 4
Sighisoara | Sighisoara

This morning meet your guide to continue the exploration of Transylvania. You will arrive to the town of Sighisoara - the birthplace of the infamous Vlad Tepes and one of the most charming and historic towns in the whole of Transylvania.

Check in at your hotel located in the medieval citadel and enjoy a walk around the historic Old Town which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument. This ancient town is still very much a functioning hub of the Transylvanian region. Your guide will take you on a brief walking tour of Sighisoara’s Old Town to include the medieval Citadel with 9 surviving towers; the over 200 feet-tall Clock Tower – once the main entrance to the fortified city; and the Covered Stairway leading to the still-functioning School on the Hill, the Saxon Church on the Hill and the nearby Saxon cemetery.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide-Driver & Vehicle

Hotel: Casa Fronius

Day 5
Gura Humorului | Gura Humorului

This morning, after meeting your guide, you will continue with your journey towards the northeast and to the region of Bucovina.

You will first reach the Lacu Rosu (Red Lake) – another site of breathtaking natural beauty and a popular mountain resort. The lake was only formed in 1838 by a landslide, which dammed the Bicaz River, thus eventually flooding the valley. According to a legend, two of the surrounding mountain peaks collapsed, burying in the lake a local shepherd and his herd. A more recent and rational explanation of the red lake phenomenon is that a high concentration of algae and minerals from the surrounding soil causes the waters of the lake to occasionally turn crimson.

You will also pass through the majestic Bicaz Gorge along a winding road cutting through natural formations of limestone rock and offering some of Romania’s most spectacular views. The gorge was cut by the waters of the Bicaz River and nowadays serves as a passageway between the Romanian provinces of Moldova and Transylvania.

After crossing the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, you will enter Southern Bucovina – a rural paradise, whose painted churches are among the greatest artistic monuments of Europe and are collectively designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. Bucovina is also known for its religious art, folklore, and beautiful handicrafts, including embroidery, ceramics and carpet weaving. Upon arrival in Gura Humorului, you will be transferred to your hotel and you will have the remainder of the evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide-Driver & Vehicle

Hotel: Casa Roata

Day 6
Bucovina Region | Bucovina Region

Today meet your guide in the hotel lobby - you will spend the day exploring the Bucovina region. You will have time to visit the region famous painted monasteries.

You will first visit Moldovita Monastery, built by the prince Petru Rares in 1532. The monastery consists of an impressive fortified enclosure with towers and strong gates, surrounding a superb painted church. You will also visit the monastery’s museum, which houses a wonderful collection of medieval art dating as far back as the 15th Century, including prince Petru’s original throne.

Next, your driver-guide will take you to visit Sucevita Monastery. The 20 miles of remote, winding road offer breathtaking views over the surrounding fields and Alpine villages. The youngest and the largest of the painted monasteries in this region, Sucevita has the most religious iconography of any of them. The Arbore Monastery was named after a local nobleman and general who owned the nearby village. He had the church built next to his private residence to serve as a family chapel and cemetery. Later today, your driver-guide will take you to visit the monastery at Voronet. This beautiful painted monastery is one of the gems of Bucovina. The completely painted exterior is stunning with scenes from the bible.

You will be then transferred back to Gura Humorului for an evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide-Driver & Vehicle

Hotel: Casa Roata

Day 7
Maramures Region | Maramures Region

This morning, you will leave the Bucovina region and depart towards Maramures, known for its pastoral and agricultural traditions and largely unscathed by the industrialization campaign that was carried on during Romania's communist period. Even today, plowing, planting, harvesting, and hay making and handling are mostly done through manual labor. The region is also known for its beautiful rural scenery, local small woodwork and craftwork centers, as well as for its wooden churches and original rural architecture.

The well-known wooden churches, which were mainly built in the 18th and 19th Centuries and were made from thick logs, with quite small and dark interiors painted with rather simplified biblical scenes. The most characteristic feature of these churches is the tall tower above the entrance and the massive roof that seems to dwarf the main body of the church. The wooded churches of Maramures have been collectively listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their religious architecture and timber construction traditions.

You will arrive in Sighetu Marmatiei (commonly simply called Sighet), which is probably best known as the birthplace of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, novelist, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, whose autobiography ‘The Night’ was the first account ever published of the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War, and whose home is now a small museum.

The remainder of the day will be at leisure.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide-Driver & Vehicle

Hotel: Gradina Morii

Day 8
Cluj Napoca | Cluj Napoca

This morning at 10AM, meet your guide for your transfer to Cluj Napoca. Throughout your journey, you will notice the very distinctive feature of the traditional Maramures houses - their monumental wood carved front gates. In the past, only the nobility had the right to commission the carving of such richly decorated entry gates. Later, when this restriction was removed, the common villagers began competing in having the most beautiful and richly-sculpted gates because these were perceived as a sign of higher social status. A few motifs are often found as part of the decorations - grapevines, rosettes, animals (for rich harvest and healthy livestock) twisted rope (so the family in this house lives together and in harmony), and crosses (so the house is blessed and protected from evil).

In the afternoon, you will arrive in Cluj Napoca, one of the most important academic, cultural and industrial centers in the country. It is believed that the Roman Emperor Trajan, after conquering the local Dacian tribes, founded a military garrison here, which gradually grew into a settlement called Napoca.

Even today, the city has a noticeable Hungarian influence from its close proximity to Hungary. As you walk around the city’s historic center, you will see the memorial to Mathias Corvinus, the most popular of all Hungarian kings, who ruled from 1458 to 1490. Your guide will also point out various landmarks which illustrate the medieval history of this former capital of Transylvania.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide-Driver & Vehicle

Hotel: City Plaza

Day 9
Departure | Departure

Meet your guide for your transfer to the airport to catch your onward flight.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer

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