Romania Revealed

 Enigmatic Romania offers an entirely different culture from what you'll find elsewhere in Europe with some of the most stunning mountain scenery on the continent, and much of the countryside seem untouched by modern history. For the discerning, the eerie castles, charming villages and painted monasteries hidden away in deep forests showcases a Europe that still seemed to be lost in time. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Witness surreal landscapes and heritage of Romania

Savour exquisite wines and gastronomy 

Stay in refined boutique hotels 

Enjoy an insightful experience with the local characters

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE BUCHAREST

Arrive Bucharest Henri Coanda Intl Airport where you will be met and thereafter, we drive to the heart of the capital city of Romania for an insightful orientation of Bucharest. First, we visit the massive Palace of Parliament with its stark Stalinist and Neoclassical architecture. Built during the communist era, it is also referred to as Ceausescu’s Palace, named after the famous Romanian dictator as well as being the second largest building in the world according to the Guinness World Record Book after the Pentagon. Thereafter, we will enter into the bohemian area of the city adorned with old buildings, narrow streets and chic little cafes in the town’s old historical center.  Landmarks that we will come across include the Triumphal Arch, the House of the Free Press, University Square and Revolution Square. An interesting stop that we will make will be the Caturesti Carusel bookstore. Opened in 2015, it is situated in a restored 19th Century building containing more than 10,000 books with impressive and picture-perfect display, definitely one of the most beautiful bookstore in the world. We will also take a walk through the charming Macca-Villacrosse passage, a glass-covered passage lined with interesting cafes, restaurants, shops and is a lovely meeting place for locals to catch up, dine and entertainment. Finally, we wrap up the day arriving at the elegant Epoque Hotel

Overnight: Epoque Hotel, Bucharest

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: BUCHAREST / CURTEA DE ARGES / TRANSFAGARAN / SIBIU

We start our journey leaving the historical Walachia region driving northwest into Transylvania. Our first stop of the day will be at the 16th Century Curtea de Arges Cathedral, a surreal feat of architectural engineering and one of the most spectacular churches in all of Romania. Next, visit the dizzying heights of Poenari Citadel, the epic ruin of Vlad the Impaler’s main fortress. Legend has it that he forced the labor for its restoration from enslaved nobility arrested under charges of treason. Few survived to see the castle completed; its precipitous location prevented their escape or rescue. En route to Sibiu, you’ll take one of southeastern Europe’s most famous roadways: the Transfagarasan Road, a high military route built during the Communist regime. Your passage across the magnificent Carpathian Mountains will reach an altitude of 2054m (over 6000 feet), and the scenery is some of the most breathtaking in existence. It’s easy to understand why the BBC Top Gear team declared the Transfagarasan “the best road in the world.” 

Thereafter, we will arrive at a secret location for an outdoor-styled BBQ lunch prepared by locals in one of the most enchanting fairytale settings in Romania, if not all of Europe. (a Beyond X Boundaries exclusive) Thereafter, a short drive arrives us into Sibiu where we check in into the Noblesse Boutique Hotel and later, join your guide on a walking tour of the medieval Historic Center, and explore the most elaborate and developed of the seven Saxon cities. As a crucial trading post and Transylvania’s most important German settlement, Sibiu was often attacked; seven concentric walls encircled and protected the city throughout the Middle Ages. Discover the attractive old town starting from the Large Square where in no time, you will admire landmarks such as the Brukental Palace, Blue House, Haller House and the Sibiu Cathedral with its spectacular frescoes. 

Overnight: Noblesse Boutique Hotel, Sibiu

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 3: SIBIU (EXCURSION TO HUNYAD, DENSUS & SARMIZEGETUSA)

Our day diverges from the beaten path today, heading west towards the Banat region. Our first visit of the day will be the 15th Century Hunyad Castle, a Gothic fortress complete with bastions, towers, and a real dungeon. According to legend, Vlad the Impaler spent a few years here as a prisoner after he was overthrown in 1462. Our next stop thereafter is the spectacular 7th Century Densus Church, a truly ancient site of worship built atop a Roman temple.

 

On our return back to Sibiu, we visit the UNESCO-listed Sarmizegetusa Regia, ancient capital of the Dacian Empire - ancestors of the Romanians, situated deep into the Orastie Moutains in the Southern Carpathians area. A really complex architectural wonder, more than 2000 years old, Sarmizegetusa was a great city almost as big as the actual size of Bucharest. 

Overnight: Noblesse Boutique Hotel, Sibiu

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 4: SIBIU / SALINA TURDA / CLUJ-NAPOCA / BREB

Journey north today as we leave Sibiu behind to visit Salina Turda, one of the oldest mines in the area, features soaring, cavernous chambers filled with fabulous acoustics, underground lakes, and giant, illuminated machinery. Next, continue to vibrant and beautiful city of Cluj-Napoca, one of Transylvania’s major urban centers and boasting one of the best universities in Romania and a youthful, vibrant street atmosphere. Join your guide for a stroll in the central area of Cluj, admiring the Baroque architecture. Later, we continue north to arrive in the rural landscapes of the Maramures region - home to the renowned wooden churches and amongst them, the UNESCO-listed Surdesti Church, the tallest wooden church in the world. We will check in into the Village Hotel Maramures in the village of Breb where you will enjoy the traditional hospitality and rustic village life. 

Overnight: The Village Hotel Maramures, Breb

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5: BREB

Spend a full day exploring Maramures, where you’ll learn about the culture of the area, uninterrupted since medieval times. The morning suggestion would be to learn from locals how hay are still made by hand, visit the houses of locals and mingle with local people sampling exquisite traditional delicacies at a traditional open-air market before moving on to the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. Since 1935, colorful wooden crosses painted in the naïve style have encrusted this landmark. Hand-painted imagery and brutally honest epitaphs describing the lives of the deceased impart a lighter view of death that may trace its lineage all the way back to the Dacians. Visit a woodcarver still working at his trade to learn all about this unique, generational art form. Later on, stop at UNESCO-listed Barsana Monastery, a beautiful synthesis of Eastern and Western European architecture, with Gothic and Byzantine elements. Spend the rest of the day on a spontaneous touring style, allowing for interactions to happen where villagers are extremely hospitable and proud to present their traditions and way of life.  In the evening, you’ll enjoy a rare opportunity: an exclusive folkloric show! The performers are real villagers, singing and dancing to songs passed down through generations. 

Overnight: The Village Hotel Maramures, Breb

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6: BREB / BISTRITA / BIERTAN / SIGHISOARA

Sadly, we leave Maramures behind returning south in this fairy tale land through the valleys of Iza and Mara, true outdoor museums of rural art. You will be introduced to the mysteries of carved wood while meeting Toader Barsan. He is a local wood carver  who took part at the Smithsonian World Festival in Washington.  In the afternoon we’ll arrive in Bistrita ,one of the oldest towns from Romania, an important Saxon citadel. A short walking through the center to discover the most important landmarks of this medieval town: The Orthodox Church and the Saxon Evangelical Church, the Silversmith’s House and Sugalete Medieval Buildings. Heading further south, we visit the first of the Fortified churches of Transylvania at Biertan, part of the UNESCO-listed fortified churches in the region which features defensive structures circling the church. Finally, we will arrive into probably Romania's most beautiful city of Sighisoara with its impeccably-stunning UNESCO-listed old town. Arrive at the tantalizing and charming Casa Savri for check in. 

Overnight: Casa Savri, Sighisoara

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 7: SIGHISOARA

The most important medieval fortress in Romania and among the very few in Europe, Sighisoara is waiting to take us into a world of knights and princess surrounded by defensive towers. You will see  the main ones: the Tailors Tower, the Shoemakers tower and the Clock Tower. Besides the story of Dracula vampire, Transylvania provides also other stories: the ancient salt mines , known even since the Romans’times. In the incomparable city of Sighisoara, the fortification system of the upper town remains largely unchanged since medieval times. Enjoy a guided walk through the UNESCO-listed Old Town, visit the History Museum inside the 800-year-old clock tower, and enjoy the magnificent view from the top. Sighisoara is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, source of inspiration for the main character of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The house where he was born in 1431 is still standing, and is now home to one of Sighisoara’s excellent restaurants.

Overnight: Casa Savri, Sighisoara

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 8: SIGHISOARA / VISCRI / FAGARAS / BRAN

Leabing Sighisoara today, we depart for Viscri, where you will experience firsthand Transylvania's gift of living heritage and incomparable rural charm. The village was virtually unknown to the outside world until Prince Charles of Wales, bought an 18th-century house there in 2006 and continues to work toward the preservation of the traditional Transylvanian way of life. We visit the UNESCO-listed Fortified Church of Viscri, built in around 1100 by the Szecklers. In 1185 the church was taken over by Saxon colonists, and the Szecklers were forced to settle in southeast Transylvania. In the 14th century the eastern part of the church was rebuilt and in 1525, the first fortifications with towers were added. Next, we continue to the spectacular 14th Century Fagaras Fortress, used by Romanian, Austrian and Hungarian princes as defense stronghold against the Ottomans. Our journey for the day eventually culminates in our arrival into Bran Castle,  also known as "Dracula’s Castle", for its ties to Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic tale and its bloodthirsty villain. The high stone walls and red turrets of this hilltop citadel come into view as you approach the secluded castle, set among the dramatic backdrop of the Carpathians. Finally, we arrive at the authentic and experiential guesthouse, The Inn on Balaban.

Overnight: The Inn on Balaban

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 9: BRAN (PREJMER, BRASOV & RASNOV CITADEL)

The day begins with a visit to the UNESCO-listed Fortified Church of Prejmer,  the largest fortified church in southeastern Europe. Built by Teutonic Knights in the early 13th century, the church was once the most powerful peasant fortress in Transylvania. The church was built in a cross-like plan and the nave has late-Gothic style vaulting. It houses a folding triptych altar built around 1450, making it the oldest in Transylvania. Later, we continue to the stunning city of Brasov, inhabited since Neolithic times. Join your guide for a leisurely walk in Brasov's Old Town. Discover the Black Church (the largest Gothic cathedral in southeastern Europe) and the Old Town square, surrounded by the beautiful houses of wealthy merchants of the past. Visit the ancient city walls, the bastions, and the first Romanian school, a site of national importance for all Romanians. On our return back Bran, we make a visit to the Rasnov Citadel, one of the best preserved rustic citadels from Transylvania. Rasnov Citadel was at first called “Rustic Citadel”, because the main occupation of its constructors was agriculture. 

Overnight: The Inn on Balaban

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 10: BRAN / PELES / SINAIA / DOFTANA VALLEY

We leave Bran today for an easy drive to visit the UNESCO-listed Peles Castle, a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, considered by many one of the most stunning castles in Europe. 

Commissioned by King Carol I in 1873 and completed in 1883, the castle served as the summer residence of the royal family until 1947. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows and Cordoba leather-covered walls. Next, we discover the Sinaia Monastery, one of the oldest in Romania, built at the end of the 17th Century by spatar Mikhail Cantacuzino, after his return from the Sinai Mountain. This is where the name of the monastery came from where it is said that Mikhail Cantacuzino and his family went on a trip to the holy places. One day he reached an Orthodox monastery on Sinai Mountain, with Saint Catherine as its dedication day. Impressed by what he had seen and felt in the holy lands, when he came home he decided to build a monastery with the same name as Sinai Mountain. A short drive away then arrives us at the Atra Doftana, a contemporary design lodge nestled on the shores of Lake Paltinu Doftana in the Doftana Valley.  

Overnight: Atra Doftana, Doftana Valley

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 11: DOFTANA VALLEY / DEPART BUCHAREST

Our journey comes to an end in Romania as we transfer to Bucharest Henri Coanda Intl Airport for your onward journey. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

Centrally located near the Cismigiu Central Park, away from Bucharest's noisy boulevards, Epoque is a stylishly and elegantly decorated boutique hotel with spacious and air-conditioned rooms. With interior of neutral colours and with attentively chosen design touches inspired by the Neo-Romanian architectural style, some units have a french balcony and views of the garden. 

Epoque Hotel, Bucharest

A new, warm, intimate, central located property with one of the most beautiful yards from the historical center of Sibiu. With 6 double rooms, 3 apartments and 1 single room, Noblesse Boutique Hotel offers a comfortable and relaxing stay in the historic heart of Sibiu. 

Noblesse Boutique Hotel, Sibiu

The Village Hotel is set in over one hectare of land in the heart of the village of Breb, in Northern Transylvania. There is a stream that runs though the center, surrounded by fruit trees and the organic gardens where you can enjoy a private villa stay to experience the old ways of life in Breb and the surrounding Maramures villages. 

The Village Hotel Maramures, Breb

Casa Savri  is located in the oldest building dated from Sighisoara, as proved by the fresco inscriptions on the facade (year 1568) and a historic building of Class A, which makes it part of the UNESCO-listed old town. 

Casa Savri, Sighisoara

The Inn on Balaban is an authentic guesthouse located in the beautiful countryside overlooking valleys dotted with picture-perfect wooden barns and the backdrop of the Piatra Craiului mountain range. The inn is designed in traditional Romanian style with shingled (wooden tiled) roofs and tastefully decorated interiors, and there are eleven bedrooms spread across three buildings. 

The Inn on Balaban, Bran

Only 100 m away from the shore of Lake Paltinu in Tesila, this modern guest house features a lounge area with a fireplace. Free WiFi is available. Pension Atra Doftana overlooks the lake and has a restaurant serving international cuisine. The outdoor terrace has barbecue facilities. All rooms come with a flat-screen TV and a bathroom with a hairdryer, bathrobes and slippers.

Atra Doftana, Doftana Valley

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