Day 1: Australia – – Bucharest
Make your way to the airport at the necessary time in order to catch your flight to the capital of Romania, Bucharest.
Day 2: Bucharest (D)
You made it! You arrive in Bucharest and take a transfer from the airport to your hotel for check in. The remainder of the day you have at your leisure to rest in your room or explore the neighbourhood around the hotel. Tonight, join your fellow travelling companions and Tour Director for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant in the city’s Old Town.
Day 3: Bucharest (B)
Begin your first full day of touring Romania with an immersive city tour of Bucharest. This all-day outing includes a walking tour of the old city centre. Take in the legacy of Palace of the Parliament, the grand structure that now symbolises the reign of Nicolae Ceauseşcu. It is the heaviest – and one of the most expensive – buildings in the world. Your learnings about the Ceauseşcu era continues at the Spring Palace, or House of Ceauseşcu. Another visit to look forward to is the ‘Dimitrie Gusti’ National Village Museum, an open-air museum located within King Mihai I Park that is home to 272 displays of traditional peasant farms and Romanian houses.
Day 4: Bucharest – Curtea de Argeș – Sibiu (B)
Leave Bucharest behind as the group drives north into the Carpathian Mountains and to Curtea de Argeș. This city was a former royal capital in the 14th century, and its main sight is a spectacular Byzantine-style cathedral. The next stop of Cozia Monastery. Located on the banks of the Olt River, the Monastery boasts an incredible collection of medieval art and architecture – it is one of Romania’s most valuable cultural monuments. Cross into Transylvania and arrive in Sibiu in the afternoon. This city is one of the most important cultural epicentres of Romania and was named a European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Day 5: Sibiu – Sibiel – Sibiu (B, L)
Head into the centre of Sibiu on a guided morning walk, and wander past sights including the Council Tower and its Gates and Stairs, plus Liar’s Bridge and some of the town’s most important churches. Stop in the village on Christian to tour a fortified Saxon church constructed in the 13th century, and then enjoy lunch in nearby Sibiel Village. Later on, you’ll meet a local family who will show off traditional regional costumes, flute singing, cuisine and dancing. The final visit of the day is to The Museum of the Icons on Glass.
Day 6: Sibiu – Sighisoara – Targu Mures – Cluj-Napoca (B, L)
Travel to the town of Sighisoara this morning and learn about its German heritage and the role it once played as a medieval strategic and commercial outpost for central Europe. The town is perhaps most famous however for being the rumoured birthplace of Count Dracula! The Old Town is a UNESCO Historic Centre and still has well-preserved walls. Tour the area and take in some of its main sights, including the Clock Tower and History Museum. Continue to Târgu Mureş, a town that spans both sides of the Mures River in central Transylvania. Learn about the town’s unique spiritual, cultural and religious identity, and have lunch at a local restaurant. Move onto Cluj-Napoca, the capital of Transylvania commonly known as just Cluj, for overnight.
Day 7: Cluj-Napoca – Baia Mare (B)
Tour the city this morning on a guided outing that takes in the Botanical Garden, Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral, Matthias Corvinus House, Cluj-Napoca National Theatre and the Romanian National Opera, among other sights. Travel north through picturesque countryside and arrive in Baia Mare, the regional capital of Maramureș county. This region shares borders with both Hungary and Ukraine.
Day 8: Baia Mare – Sighetu Marmației – Baia Mare (B, L)
Seek out the village of Sapanta and visit Merry Cemetery, which is known for its colourful tombstones engraved with darkly humorous inscriptions. It is then onto Sighetu Marmației, a town closely associated with the legacy of Romania’s brutal communist regime. Visit the communist-era prison – once used to hold opposing Romanian leaders and dissenting members of the public – and also see the home of Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and survivor of Auschwitz. Lunch is had in Sighet before returning to Baia Mare for this evening as free time.
Day 9: Baia Mare – Botiza – Borsa – Gura Humorului (B, D)
Pass by quaint villages and pretty country scenery as you travel into the northernmost parts of Romania today. This region is most famous for its incredibly well-preserved monasteries and churches – seven of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first touchpoint with the area is Moldovita Monastery, which was founded in 1532. It sits on the site once occupied by a fortified stone church built by Alexander the Kind-Hearted. The present-day monastery features its own imposing fortifications and conceals a magnificent painted church. The next stop is Voronet Monastery. It was constructed by Stephen the Great to mark the victory at the Battle of Vaslui, and is now commonly dubbed, ‘The Sistine Chapel of the East’. Admire its frescoed walls and the vibrant shade of Vaslui blue that adorns much of its structure. Lastly, see Humor Monastery. Arrive in Gura Humorului for a two-night stay.
Day 10: Gura Humorului – Moldavia – Gura Humorului (B, D)
Continue to discover the treasures of the region’s painted monasteries today. Head to Sucevita Monastery, which is regarded as one of the finest painted monasteries in Bucovina. Be in awe of its mediaeval art, including the Prayer of the Saints, the largest of the Moldavian wall paintings. There is also time to wander the grounds and see this incredible fortress, its central fortified citadel and watchtowers. Continue to Putna Monastery, a sight with direct links to famed ruler, Stephen the Great. His tombs are located within the monastery and are a remarkable example of the Moldavian art of his era. Finally, see the black-hued ceramics produced by Marginea Ceramic and learn more about this craft that has been practiced since the 1500s. There is also a visit to a ethnographic museum to see traditional regional costumes.
Day 11: Gura Humorului – Piatra Neamt (B)
Journey along one of Romania’s most scenic routes, through the Bicaz Gorges, and appreciate its dramatic landscape of steep ascents, limestone rocks and sheer cliff-faces. Stretch your legs with a stop at Red Lake, the largest natural mountain lake in Romania, ahead of arriving in the city of Piatra Neamt. Keep your fingers crossed for a visit to the only wooden synagogue in Romania that is located nearby.
Day 12: Piatra Neamt – Brasov (B)
Piatra Neamt has been dubbed the ‘Pearl of Moldovia’, as it was where Stephen the Great built both the Princely Court and then the Princely Cathedral. Have some time to explore the city in the morning before setting out for Brasov. Make a pitstop in Prejmer, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see the fortified Saxon church and fortress once used by early German settlers in Transylvania. Arrive in Brasov in the afternoon. Some of the settlements and remains found in the area date back to about 9500BC, and you have opportunity to find out more about this extraordinary history on a tour of the old city centre. This includes an orientation walk of the main square and a visit to the Black Church, the largest Gothic church in South Eastern Europe.
Day 13: Brasov – Bran – Sinaia – Brasov (B)
Today’s sightseeing will be a highlight for literature-lovers, horror film-fiends, and pop culture vultures alike. To Bran Castle, the majestic structure more commonly known as Dracula’s Castle. This renowned location is intertwined with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and you have the opportunity to soak up its eerie atmosphere by learning about its dramatic folklore, see period furniture, and wandering the small open-air museum. Afterwards, head to Peles Castle in Sinaia. This former royal residence was built in the German-Renaissance style. Return to Brasov to overnight.
Day 14: Brasov – Bucharest (B, D)
Have a lowkey morning in Brasov ahead of making the return journey to Bucharest. There is a stop enroute for lunch at a winery in Azuga and then a sparkling wine tasting at the Rheins Cellars. Have free time once back in Bucharest, but reconvene for the group for tonight’s farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Your meal is accompanied by a music and dance performance.
Day 15: Bucharest – – Australia (B)
Head to the airport at the appropriate time to catch your return flight to Australia.
Day 16: Australia
Arrive back in Australia today.