Best of Romania

Begin your tour in Bucharest and drive into the wild Transylvanian landscape, immersing yourself in traditional culture and medieval lore. At Curtea de Arges, visit the 14th-century monastery haunted by tales of sorrow. At Poienari Castle, ascend to the throne of Vlad the Impaler, who forced captured nobility into hard labor to rebuild his fortress.

Visit the heavily-fortified Saxon city of Sibiu, then proceed to Sighisoara, a gorgeous inhabited citadel. Take a detailed walking tour of the Old Town, and have coffee at the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler.

Next, discover Surdesti, among the tallest wooden churches in the world; tour the ancient salt mines at Turda; and visit the modern urban and academic center of Cluj Napoca. Cross the Carpathians to Maramures, and experience a living medieval landscape. Tour the bright Merry Cemetery, visit the home of the woodcarver, and learn all about his unique generational trade. In Vadu Izei, you’ll be treated to an exclusive show of folkloric song and dance.

Visit the famous UNESCO World Heritage painted monasteries, famous for their color schemes and priceless frescoes. Journey through the spectacular Bicaz Gorges, a seven – kilometer stretch with towering cliffs on both sides of the road. In Brasov, admire the Black Church, the Old Town Square, and the legendary St. Nicholas Church.

Proceed to Bran Castle, renovated in the 1920s by Maria, Queen of Romania. Witness the royal opulence of the 19th-century Peles Castle, and wind down your tour at the 17th-century Sinaia Monastery.

Highlights of the tour

Click Here To See Detailed Tour Itinerary
Detailed Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Bucharest, arrival. City tour Click for more photos »

Day 1: Bucharest, arrival. City tour

Arrive in Bucharest and settle into the modern, comfortable Berthelot Hotel.

You’ll meet your guide and find everything you need to rest, recoup, and prepare for your Romanian adventure. Bucharest, capital and cultural heart of Romania, offers a vibrant, energized, urban start to your tour. This buzzing Eastern European hub features stark architectural contrasts, an international art scene, dynamic nightlife, and cutting-edge performing arts.

Your guide will take you on an exciting city tour, giving you an insider’s glimpse into the unique soul of this remarkable city.

*should you travel to Bucharest on a flight that arrives late in the afternoon or evening, the city tour can also be done the next morning

Overnight in Bucharest, Hotel Berthelot**** (centrally located)

Day 2:  Bucharest – Curtea de Arges - Poienari ruins - Transfagarasan road – Sibiu Click for more photos »

Day 2: Bucharest – Curtea de Arges - Poienari ruins - Transfagarasan road – Sibiu

Today, you’ll journey to the medieval Transylvanian city of Sibiu. On the way, make a stop at the Cathedral of Curtea de Arges, an architectural wonder featuring cupolas that seem to lean and twist at impossible angles. Its construction in the early 1500s, marred by obstacles and delays, resulted in the legendary sacrifice of Ana, wife of the head architect; she is said to rest within the walls of the cathedral.

Next, drive north into the wild Carpathian Mountains to ascend 1,480 steps to the 13th-century Poenari Castle, famed stronghold of Vlad the Impaler. Its enormous size, impossibly high cliffs, and strategic location provided him with the perfect vantage point for maintaining power and control. During an infamous siege by the Turks, Vlad’s wife, Jusztina of Moldavia, flung herself from the steep precipice to avoid being taken prisoner by her enemies.

On your voyage to Sibiu, you’ll drive on the renowned (and relatively new) Transfagarasan Road. The route traverses the Carpathian Mountains at 6000 feet, and the views—miles of misty cliffs and hairpin turns—are spectacular. No wonder it’s considered by the BBC Top Gear team to be “the best road in the world.”

After your journey, arrive in the idyllic Saxon settlement of Sibiu. Your guide will take you on a walking tour of the medieval Old Town, historic center of the most heavily protected of all Saxon cities. Visit the iron-cast Bridge of Lies, the extensive, labyrinthine fortifications, and the Passage of Stairs.

*please note the Transfagarasan road is open only between June and September. If your tour takes place outside this period, you will travel on the road going along the Olt river valley

Overnight in Sibiu, Hotel Casa Levoslav**** (located in the Old Town)

Day 3: Day trip to the Biertan fortified church and Sighisoara Click for more photos »

Day 3: Day trip to the Biertan fortified church and Sighisoara

Today, set out for a day trip to Sighisoara.

On the way, stop to view the 16th-century Biertan Church (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the last “peasant fortified church” ever built. The door of the sacristy features an elaborate system of locks, securing its valuables with a system of thirteen points blocking the door.

Next, the citadel of Sighisoara beckons; you’ll have the chance to explore the 12th-century citadel, the oldest in Europe continuously inhabited since it construction. Take a guided walk through the Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and visit the 14th-century clock tower—the citadel’s main gate and original home of the city council—which now houses a history museum. From the top, a magnificent view of the Old Town spreads out before you. Ascend the long, covered Scholars’ Staircase, built in 1642, to the Church on the Hill, a beautiful Gothic landmark marking the southern end of the citadel.

Sighisoara takes its place in history as the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, ruthless and bloodthirsty warrior and Prince of Wallachia. The house where he was born in 1431 now serves as a restaurant and café.

Return to Sibiu in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Sibiu, Hotel Casa Levoslav**** (located in the Old Town)

Day 4: Sibiu – Turda Salt mines – Cluj Napoca – Surdesti church – Vadu Izei

Today, drive toward Maramures, an area where local traditions and culture have scarcely altered over the centuries. On the way, visit Salina Turda, one of the oldest salt mines in the region. This vast, highly unusual underground landmark is characterized by stalactites, a subterranean lake, and enormous, illuminated machinery.

Your next stop is the city of Cluj Napoca, a young, vivacious metropolitan center. One of Romania’s foremost universities is located here, making for a fun, energized street vibe. Join your guide for a stroll in the central area of Cluj.

After your tour, head north to see the famed wooden architecture and carved gates of Maramures, a region immediately surrounded by untamed wilderness and vast reserves of wildlife. Visit the towering 18th-century wooden church at Surdesti (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is devoted to Archangels Michael and Gabriel.

Spend tonight at a family-run guesthouse in the village of Vadu Izei. Home-cooked dinner included.

Overnight in Vadu Izei, in a family run guesthouse, home cooked dinner included

Day 5: Full day in Maramures

Experience the luxury of devoting a full day to cultural exploration of Maramures. Its traditions and medieval landscape are virtually untouched by the passage of time.

Check out the local market, filled with culinary delicacies and convivial exchanges between neighbors; then visit the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. Here, an explosion of festive color belies the existence of a graveyard, unabashedly celebrating the lives of those who have passed. Hand-painted imagery in the naïve style depicts significant life events, providing an alternate view of death that may have its roots in the era of the Dacians, the ancestors of the Romanians. You’ll even visit the studio of the woodcarver, and hear all about this cheerful, unexpected artistic tradition.

Next, tour the tallest wooden structure in existence: the iconic Peri Monastery. Towering over the landscape at 250 feet, the monument exemplifies the incredibly high standards of living traditional craftsmanship.

Next, proceed to the nearby city of Sighetu Marmatiei, where you’ll tour the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. The Communist era, decidedly forceful and oppressive, dominated the psyche of everyone it touched, effectively changing the way people were allowed to think and approach their lives.

Tonight, release all remembrances of difficult times at an exclusive folkloric show—an exceedingly rare opportunity to glimpse local traditions of song and dance passed down through the generations.

Overnight in Vadu Izei, in a family run guesthouse, home cooked dinner included

Day 6: Vadu Izei – Barsana Monastery – Borgo Pass - Monasteries at Sucevita & Moldovita – Gura Humorului Click for more photos »

Day 6: Vadu Izei – Barsana Monastery – Borgo Pass - Monasteries at Sucevita & Moldovita – Gura Humorului

Today, you’ll drive to the Bucovina region in the northeastern Carpathian Mountains, renowned for its treasured UNESCO World Heritage Painted Monasteries. Along the way, enjoy the unparalleled open countryside and discover the beautiful wooden church in Barsana.

Next, cross the Carpathian Mountains via the ethereal Borgo Pass (fictional home of Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel) and descend to the village of Ciocanesti in Bucovina. Here, the townspeople take great pride in their beautifully-kept houses, decorated with traditional patterns and geometric motifs.

Arriving in Bucovina, you’ll visit the incomparable, jewel-like Painted Monasteries. Moldovita, built in 1532 by the son of Stefan the Great, features external Biblical frescoes known for their use of yellow as a primary motif. 17th-century Sucevita, intensely fortified and barricaded against invaders, houses a wonderful museum. It is now, yet again, an active convent.

Overnight in Gura Humorului, Hotel Casa Humor****

Day 7: Gura Humorului – Monasteries at Humor & Voronet – Popa Museum - Bicaz gorges - Brasov Click for more photos »

Day 7: Gura Humorului – Monasteries at Humor & Voronet – Popa Museum - Bicaz gorges - Brasov

In the morning, visit the remaining two UNESCO World Heritage Painted Monasteries: Humor, with beautifully-preserved 1532 frescoes by Toma of Suceava, painted in shades of maroon, rust, and red; and the exquisite Voronet, where the exceptionally brilliant, polychromatic facades include fantastical creatures among the extensive Biblical scenes and representations.

Next, discover a hidden jewel: the Nicolae Popa Ethnographic Museum, filled with original works by the sculptor as well as a highly representative, personally-curated collection documenting Romania’s traditional peasant culture.

On your way back, you’ll be treated to a panoramic route winding its way through the stunning Bicaz Canyon; the views here are absolutely magnificent. Spend time in sweet little souvenir shops along the way; you’ll have the chance to choose a treasure for remembering your journey.

Arrive in Brasov in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Brasov, Hotel Armatti*** (located in the Old Town)

Day 8: Brasov – Bran Castle – Peles Castle - Sinaia monastery – Bucharest Click for more photos »

Day 8: Brasov – Bran Castle – Peles Castle - Sinaia monastery – Bucharest

After breakfast, your guide will take you on a stroll through Brasov’s Old Town. You’ll tour the expansive Black Church, built in the 15th century; the Old Town square; and Catherine’s Gate, the only known medieval gate to have survived to the present day.

Afterwards, you’ll tour Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle—the psychological link with the famous story is very strong). Wander through the medieval courtyard, gardens, and secret passageway. After the tour of the castle, sample the delightful traditional cheeses, pálinka (plum and pear brandy), and meats for sale outside the castle.

The road to Sinaia brings you through unparalleled mountain scenery and endless, sweeping views of the wild Carpathians. Once in town, you’ll tour the 19th-century Peles Castle, opulent residence of Carol I. The creators of its unbelievably ornate interior knew no budget or limit; every conceivable luxury known to the era was included and showcased. Nearby, you’ll visit the Sinaia Monastery, founded in 1695 and named after Mt. Sinai in Egypt.

Arrive in Bucharest in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Bucharest, Hotel Berthelot**** (centrally located)

Day 9: Bucharest, departure

Your tour ends. Transfer to the airport for the flight home.

Download Tour Description PDF

What people have said:

I am totally satisfied with everything we did, I think you put such a lot of thought into it all that you did not leave much to improve upon. The two guides were excellent, we very much enjoyed their company as well as being able to rely on them for good translations and communication with locals. I appreciated having a Bulgarian guide in Bulgaria and a Romanian guide in Romania. … read more

Valerie Kleindienst (Australia)

We were very satisfied, thank you for your friendly and professional services. We loved Romania and hope to return someday!

Ernesto Arnoux and friends (Mexico)

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If you would like to book this tour, or just want to learn a bit more about it, please fill in the enquiry form below and we will get back to you within 48 hours.
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vladzoe21

We are Vlad and Zoe Trestian – the owners and managers of Balkan Trails. We have been creating memorable travel experiences in Eastern Europe for almost 20 years now.

We understand traveling is personal and individual, and no two travellers are alike. That is why the majority of our tours are based on customised itineraries. Your tour is exactly that: YOURS. Just let us know when you’d like to arrive and depart, what your interests are, the type of hotels you prefer, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Looking forward to showing you our part of the world.

Other Ways to get in touch:

Have a Question? Call Us: 0040 723 578 452

E-mail address: office@balkantrails.com

Frequently asked questions

1 Best of Romania

What is included with this tour?

Included services and features:

  • The possibility of having your itinerary customised in any way you desire before the tour starts, at no extra charge
  • Great flexibility regarding changes to the daily itinerary even after the start of the tour
  • A private, licensed English speaking guide/driver, available throughout the tour
  • All guide’s expenses (meals, accommodation, etc.)
  • Private transportation in air conditioned car
  • All car expenses, such as gasoline, parking and road tolls
  • Complimentary wireless internet access in the car, so that you can stay in touch with your loved ones even while traveling
  • Entrance fees as per the itinerary, with guided visits. If you wish to add any sight on the go, the guide will always be available with information during the visit
  • Accommodation as per the hotel list on the itinerary page (we can also offer a different selection of hotels, based on your preference)
  • Breakfast every day
  • Two home cooked dinners
  • Exclusive folklore show in Maramures
  • Airport transfers

Not included:

  • Airfare to and from Romania
  • Meals or beverages, other than the included ones
  • Photo fees (some sights require the payment of a fee for allowing you to take pictures – they are mostly inexpensive, around 2 or 3 euro/sight)

Posted in: 1 Best of Romania

About Tours In General

Where do the tours start?

Our tours start in either Sofia (Bulgaria) or Bucharest (Romania). Both cities have well-connected international airports. However, we can also customise the tours to start in a different city, if that better suits your flight arrangements. Alternative airports include Varna or Burgas (in Bulgaria) or Sibiu, Cluj Napoca, Iasi and Targu Mures (in Romania).

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What are the departure dates?

We do not have set departure dates. All our tours are private and organised on request. The dates when you start and end the tour are entirely up to you.

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I like one of the tours, but I’d like to make some changes to the itinerary. Is it possible?

Of course. All our tours are customisable. We can make changes to one itinerary, join 2 itineraries together, or you can just tell us about the places you want to see, and we’ll make a whole new itinerary just for you! Customising a tour comes at no extra charge.

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I would like to change some of the hotels that come with the tour. Can I do that?

Definitely. The hotels are always up to you. We can upgrade the standard selection of hotels, or if you are on a budget, we can also offer cheaper accommodation options.

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I see that in most cases, only breakfast is included. Why is that?

Having meals included means that you would have to be at a certain restaurant at a certain time just so that you don’t miss a pre-booked meal. This takes away from one of the great advantages of a private tour: flexibility. Not having a restaurant pre-booked gives you great freedom to set your own pace each day, add or skip some sights as you go, etc.

To ensure maximum flexibility throughout your trip, meals are usually planned as you go. Your guide knows the best restaurants in each area you travel through and will make suggestions based on the kind of meal you’d like to have.

The meals we include are the ones that come with an important cultural element: home-cooked meals where you can interact with locals, lunches at homes of artists where you learn more about a specific form of art, or refreshments such as the ones offered during the home visit with the Gypsy family.

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Do your tours include any insurance related services?

No. We recommend to all of our clients to  carry a medical insurance that would cover any health-related costs that might incur while on the trip. Insurance for trip interruption and lost/stolen luggage is also recommended.

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Do I have to pay for the guide’s meals?

No. The guide will have a meal allowance, which will cover his meals. Furthermore, the guide will only join you for meals if you ask him to – if you’d rather be on your own for lunch and/or dinner, that is perfectly fine.

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How about changes of itinerary on the fly? Can we do that?

Changes on the fly can be done to a certain extent. You can always choose to skip a meal or a sight, or swap for a totally different sight altogether. Alterations of itinerary that imply hotel changes are subject to rooms availability. Also, please note that in the case of last minute hotel cancellations, sometimes the hotel may charge late-cancellation penalties which can be up to 100% of the reservation cost. Additional costs generated by on-the-fly changes will be billed separately.

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