From Transylvania to the Danube Delta

Romania is a stunning land of fairy-tale castles, beautiful towns, rural traditions and great countryside. We’ll take you to the historic sites and then go far beyond. Our Romania tour is an exciting encounter with one of Europe’s most enchanting destinations.

From the capital Bucharest we head into Transylvania, home of the Dracula legend. Here we visit some exceptionally well-preserved towns built when the Saxons dominated the region. We’ll see many magnificent churches and well-preserved merchants’ houses here.

Further into the trip we explore the rural heritage of the country, staying in small villages where people still use horse and carts to get around. We stay as guests of local families, an ideal way to learn about life here. The painted monasteries in Bucovina are a sight to behold with elaborate frescoes of Biblical scenes decorating their walls.

In the Danube Delta we stay deep in the backwaters of a traditional community in order to explore this stunning region properly.

Romania has many spectacular sites, from ‘Dracula’s castle’ to fortified churches. However the welcome that we receive in the villages is likely to be your most enduring memory. These encounters will offer you the best chance to really get to know this charming country.

Transylvania to Danube itinerary image of castle

Highlights

  • Visit traditional villages of Maramures
  • See the painted monasteries of Bucovina
  • Explore Transylvania
  • Look for wildlife in the Danube Delta
  • Local homestays in rural communities

Day 1 - Bucharest

Arrive in Bucharest and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Hotel Berthelot or similar.

Bucharest

Romania’s capital lies on the banks of the Dambovita River. It has an eclectic collection of Communist architecture from the Ceausescu era and older more attractive buildings dating from the time when the city was known as the ‘Paris of the East’. Its position on the edge of Europe has meant that it has suffered successive waves of invasion from the 14th century. Invaders have left a rich cultural legacy that intertwines Ottoman, Russian and German heritage, melding with the traditions of Romania itself.

Once a summer residence for the royal court, Bucharest rose to prominence during the time of Vlad (the Impaler) Tepes. This ruler is credited with establishing its fascinating historic centre, marvellous Wallachian churches and narrow streets. Bucharest also contains a splendid array of neoclassical and Art Nouveau buildings, parks, lively markets and some excellent museums. It is starting to reassert its position as one of the cultural hubs of Eastern Europe.

One of the most imposing areas of the city is Ceausescu’s ‘Centru Civic’. It is dominated by the enormous Palace of Parliament, the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. Bucharest played an integral part in the 1989 Romanian revolution which led to the downfall of the dictator and freedom for the Romanian people.

Day 2 - Bucharest - Sibiel

Explore some of the sights of Bucharest on foot and by vehicle. We visit the enormous Palace of the Parliament and the Cotorceni quarter with its typical architecture, along with other sites. We then drive along the Olt River canyon to Transylvania and the traditional village of Sibiel, where we stay in a family run guesthouse. (BD)


Day 3 - Sibiu – Rimetea

Drive to Sibiu, one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the country, with a fascinating historic centre. From here we continue to Huniady castle, a real gem of Gothic architecture, and then on to the village of Rimetea. Rimetea is populated by the Szekely people, a Hungarian ethnic group, who have maintained their own distinctive traditions over the centuries. We explore this area including the ruins of Torocko Fortress and enjoy a typical home cooked dinner in our homestay accommodation. (BD)

Sibiu

Exploring the colourful and well-preserved town is Sibiu is like stepping back into the medieval era, with splendid old churches, merchants’ houses and cathedrals. The old quarter is the most impressive part of the town, although even the ‘new quarter’ is worth exploring with buildings dating back five hundred years or so, and Sibiu as a whole is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. Dating back to the 12th century, it became an important town due to its position on prominent trade routes, and its public life was dominated by Saxon merchants who have left their mark on the town even today, constructing grand fortifications in order to protect it from invaders.

Day 4 - Cluj Napoca – Maramures

Morning walking tour of the village before driving to Cluj Napoca, visiting the most important sites of this 12th century town including the impressive St Michael’s Cathedral. From here we head to the region of Maramures, one of the most traditional parts of Europe with a unique personality and culture that has remained largely unchanged for centuries. We stop in villages along the way until we reach our homestay accommodation in the village of Iza. (BD)

Maramures

The northern region of Maramures is an area where the past never seems too far away, with picturesque villages and inhabitants often still wearing traditional dress. Striking wooden churches abound here, although scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find that many people meld older, pagan beliefs into Christian rituals, giving a glimpse of the Romania that once was.

With a landscape of small villages, rolling hills, pastures, and meadows full of wildflowers, Maramures epitomises all that the rural lifestyle encompasses. Maramures has changed hands many times over the years, having been ruled by Celts, Russians, Ottomans, Hungarians and more but through all the changes the people have maintained their simple way of life, with communities focused around the church and a strong attachment to traditional crafts that can still be seen today.

Days 5-6 - Maramures - Bucovina

We have two days to explore this fascinating region. We visit the colourful market of Sighet, the ‘merry cemetery’ of Sapanta, the Barsana nunnery and traditional villages known for their crafts and architecture. On the afternoon of day 6 we cross the Carpathian Mountains to reach the region of Bucovina. Overnights in homestay and traditional hotel. (BD)


Day 7 - Bucovina

Bucovina is renowned for its painted monasteries, dating back to the 15th century and vividly decorated with ornate frescoes. Today we visit some of the best: Sucevita, Moldovita, a masterpiece of Moldavian Gothic architecture, and Voronet, the ‘Sistine Chapel of the East’. Overnight in traditional hotel. (BL)

Bucovina

Among the most picturesque treasures of Romania are the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, heaven and hell. These churches are considered masterpieces of Byzantine art and unique architectural sites in Europe.

Far from being merely wall decorations, the murals represent complete cycles of religious murals. The purpose of the frescoes was to make the story of the Bible and the lives of the most important Orthodox saints known to villagers by the use of images. Most of the churches are fortified with strong defensive surrounding walls as protection against Turkish invaders and they sheltered large armies of soldiers awaiting battle.

Day 8 - Tarpesti – Sighisoara

Drive to the village of Tarpesti and the house of the artist Nicolae Popa. Although now sadly deceased, we are welcomed by his family and visit his intriguing collection of ethnographic and archaeological exhibits relating to the area. Later drive through the Bicaz Gorges, and visit a community of gypsies – this is a unique opportunity to meet and learn more about this much maligned but fascinating ethnic group. Arrive in Sighisoara, a stunning medieval city, in the afternoon. Overnight tourist class hotel. (B)


Day 9 - Sighisoara – Biertan – Viscri

Explore the enchanting citadel of Sighisoara, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore its cobbled streets and winding alleys. Afterwards we drive to the fortified church of Biertan, another UNESCO site, then continue to the Saxon village of Viscri. Overnight local guesthouse. (BD)

Sighisoara

The fortified town of Sighisoara is one of the jewels of Transylvania, with stunning medieval houses dating back to the time when this region was dominated by the Saxons. An important regional trading centre, it attracted merchants and artisans from across the Holy Roman Empire, constructing many impressive old buildings including the 13th century clock tower, which now houses a small museum with exhibits on the history of the town. Intriguingly it also contains the house where Vlad Tepes – Vlad the Impaler – was born.

Day 10 - Viscri – Bran – Brasov

The Saxon village of Viscri has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and is a superb place to get to grips with the rural traditions that still retain great importance within Romania. Spend the morning getting with local families involved in traditional industries, visit the fortified church and explore the village by horse and cart. Continue to the 14th century Bran Castle, linked to the legend of Dracula and one of Romania’s most iconic sights. From here continue to the town of Brasov, an old Saxon settlement fringed by the Carpathian Mountains. Overnight Hotel Bella Muzica or similar. (B)

Brasov

The town of Brasov owes its existence to Saxon settlers, who passed through here in the 12th century and established it as a fortified trading centre. With a stunning Baroque old centre, it is one of the most attractive cities in the region with colourful houses, secret alleyways, imposing towers and an impressive Gothic church which claims to be the largest between Vienna and Istanbul.

Long under Saxon rule, the architecture of the city betrays its Germanic heritage with fine merchant houses dating reminiscent of the town’s traditional past, as well as defensive ramparts, built to protect it against the Ottomans. Not far from here is the iconic Bran Castle, linked to the legend of Dracula and looking for all the world like a veritable home for vampires.

Day 11 - Sinaia – Tulcea

Drive to Sinaia where we visit the spectacular Peles Castle, once a royal residence from the 19th century and one of Romania’s most impressive buildings. From here we continue to Tulcea, our gateway to the Danube Delta. Overnight Hotel Delta or similar. (B)


Day 12 - Danube Delta

Spend today exploring the glorious Danube Delta, one of Europe’s most important wetlands and a haven for wildlife. Shunning the ‘floating hotels’ used by many other visitors we aim to really get beneath the skin of this intriguing region by getting much further into the Delta and staying in one of the small and traditional villages that dot these waterways. We explore the lakes and channels hoping to spot wildlife such as deer, pelicans and storks. Our accommodation tonight is in the village of Mila 23, which offers us an excellent opportunity to understand the ways of this magical region. Overnight local guesthouse. (BLD)

The Danube Delta

The vast Danube Delta covers over 4000 sq. km, the majority of which are in Romania, and is one of Europe’s most important regions for wildlife. Its network of channels, reedbeds, backwaters and lakes provide a home for an incredible array of birdlife including herons, pelicans, eagles and waterfowl, and mammals include wild boar, deer, wild cat and also wolves.

This is perhaps one of the least populated parts of the continent, with just two people per square kilometres, settled in traditional villages that largely draw an income from fishing. Some of the houses here use natural materials such as reeds for construction, and others are home to Lipovani communities, descendants of the ‘Old Believers’ who fled Russia centuries ago to escape religious persecution. This is a beautiful and tranquil area where the rhythm of life is gentle and one can easily lose a sense of all time when exploring the waterways by boat.

Day 13 - Histria - Bucharest

Reluctantly we leave the delta behind and travel to Histria, the remains of an ancient citadel that was constructed by the Greeks around the 7th century BC. After exploring the site we continue to Bucharest for our final night in Romania. Overnight Hotel Berthelot or similar. (B)

Histria

The ancient city of Histria was originally a Greek colony located at the mouth of the Danube, and is thought to be Romania’s oldest known settlement. Its wealth came from being an important regional port, with the focus later shifting to fishing, and in the 1st century it was conquered by the Roman Empire. The Romans built temples and bathhouses, the remains of which can be seen today, and the city flourished until the 7th century, when it was invaded by Slavs and Avars and was destroyed.

Day 14 - Bucharest

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


Optional Moldova Extension

Day 1 - Chisinau

Arrive in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Jolly Alon Hotel or similar.

Chisinau

Pretty Chisinau is characterised by tree lined avenues, white washed buildings and imposing civic monuments and as the capital is the economic centre of Moldova. Founded in the 15th century it has been ruled by Russians and Ottomans, located at an awkward point between the two giant empires, and became the capital of the province of Bessarabia in the 19th century. It suffered much during the Second World War and much of what you will see has been rebuilt, on a typical Soviet grid system of streets. It contains one of the highest proportions of green spaces within any major European city, with many parks and lakes within its boundaries.

Day 2 - Chisinau - Capriana

Spend the morning exploring Chisinau, one of Europe’s greenest cities. We visit some of its key monuments including the St Teodora church, the Arch of Triumph and its collection of striking 19th century buildings. In the afternoon visit the 14th century Capriana Monastery, before returning to Chisinau for the night. Overnight Hotel Jolly Alon or similar. (B)


Day 3 - Transdniestr

Cross the border into the breakaway republic of Transdniestr, one of Europe’s oddest entities and something of a throwback to the days of the Soviets. We explore the ‘capital’ Tiraspol with its stark monuments and also visit the town of Tighina, once an important trading centre and with an impressive 16th century fortress to explore. Return to Chisinau for the evening. Overnight Hotel Jolly Alon or similar. (B)

Transdniestr

Transdniestr, or Transnistria, is a European oddity – a tiny breakaway state within Moldova between the River Dniestr and the Ukrainian border that is unrecognised by other nations but to all effects and purposes functions as a completely separate country, with its own government and army. Once part of the Soviet Union along with the rest of Moldova, when the Cold War ended its population decided to declare independence, sparking a war with Moldova – things are peaceful now but the two states eye each other cautiously from across the border.

Ethnically it has far more ties with Russia, and you will hear Russian being spoken here – part of the basis for its claims of sovereign status is that while the rest of Moldova was ceded to Turkey following the Russo-Turkish conflicts of the 18th century, Transdniestr remained Russian, hence they cannot be considered to be the same country. The capital Tiraspol is a rather odd but intriguing place where the Soviet Union doesn’t seem to have quite died, and is fascinating to explore for an insight into what life was once like behind the Iron Curtain.

Day 4 - Cricova – Orheiul Vechi

Just outside of the capital lie the vast wine cellars of Cricova, around 80 metres underground and consisting of tunnels that stretch for more than 120 kilometres. Explore this unusual site then visit the monastery complex of Orhei Vechi, one of Moldova’s most important historic sites and dating back to the 13th century. Overnight Hotel Jolly Alon or similar. (B)

Orheiul Vechi

The Orheiul Vechi Monastery complex is carved into a cliff and dates back to the 13th century, although it has only recently come back into use after being abandoned in the 18th century. It contains a chapel and a sleeping area for monks, and the cliffside is dotted with small cave and places of worship, dug over thousands of years by ancient Dacian tribes.

Day 5 - Chisinau

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


From Transylvania to the Danube Delta
From Transylvania to the Danube Delta
From Transylvania to the Danube Delta
Romania - Transylvania to Danube small group tour
Castle - Romania - Transylvania to the Danube small group tour
Pelicans - Romania
Historic Romanian street

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.

    Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

Most travellers do not require a visa to enter Romania. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. However, there are no compulsory vaccinations needed to enter either country. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover, which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

Romania’s local currency is the leu, which you may or may not be able to obtain from your local exchange bureau. We recommend taking Euros to exchange in Albania.

Changing money is fairly simple – many hotels will offer this service and there are also banks and exchange bureaus in larger towns. Your guide will be able to advise of the best option. Most towns also have ATMs which accept foreign cards, although don’t count on these always working. Credit cards are not used as widely here as they are in other European countries, so you should only think of this as a back up rather than the main source of obtaining money.

Local conditions

Romania is Europe, but it’s far less developed than many other countries, especially in the rural areas, and things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing there are no warnings against travel to Romania.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

From Transylvania to the Danube Delta
From Transylvania to the Danube Delta
From Transylvania to the Danube Delta
Romania - Transylvania to Danube small group tour
Castle - Romania - Transylvania to the Danube small group tour
Pelicans - Romania
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
02 May 2020
Price (PP) -
£1,925
Single Supplement -
£250
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
05 September 2020
Price (PP) -
£1,925
Single Supplement -
£250
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
01 May 2021
Price (PP) -
£1,949
Single Supplement -
£250
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
04 September 2021
Price (PP) -
£1,949
Single Supplement -
£250
Trip Status -
Available