Romania is a Latin country that beats to a different rhythm, that veritably exudes authenticity and charm. The allure of the country runs deep, in the dazzling countryside landscapes, the myths and legends surrounding its castles and citadels, the untouched nature and welcoming people. Explore its beguiling Roman past, its tumultuous Eastern-European soul, and the modern vitality of its cities. On this 14-day adventure Romanian Thrills will take you on a fascinating journey of discovery, from hidden villages to mountain-high castles, in search of our best kept secrets.
Welcome to Bucharest!
This day is reserved for your arrival and for giving you some recovery time from your jetlag. Whatever time you land, we’ll arrange a private transfer to take you from the airport directly to your charming hotel.
After a hearty breakfast, we head to the fairytale Peles Castle in Sinaia, the royal palace built in Neo-Renaissance style, discreetly nested in the mountains. This summer residence was built for the first king of modern Romania and boasts impressive interiors, being also the world’s first castle fully powered by electricity.
In the afternoon, we head to the Romanian wine-road, where a cluster of vintners have taken advantage of the perfect soil conditions and started creating delightful wines. We visit two vineyards, we talk to the owners as we taste some of their best vintages and take a tour of the estates. This day is about relaxation and discovering the surprising Romanian wine.
We continue into the SzeklerLand, a county where the Hungarian minority lives predominantly.
Here we visit the countryside and our first stop is to get involved in a hands-on workshop with the local millers, where they teach us how to make kurtoskalacs (chimney cake) from scratch.
After lunch we will also visit a local cooper, specialized in producing barrels or wooden hot tubs. Enjoy a sample of a local homemade brandy.
In the evening, we spend the night at an authentic chateau owned by the Mikes noble family since the 16thcentury.
Today, we start with a lovely breakfast in the castle’s park and head towards the only volcanic lake in the country, St Anne. We take in the gorgeous natural scenery and wildlife, followed by a few hours in one of Romania’s best hot spring resorts, Balvanyos, where we soak in an open-air pool surrounded by mountains.
Drive through Bicaz Gorges, a road full of ravines built on a former riverbed, one of the most spectacular rock formations in the country. This gateway takes us from Transylvania to Moldavia, where the impressive Neamt Citadel marks our first stop in the region.
Discover the Painted Monasteries in Bukovina, symbols of the Christian-Orthodox religion of Romania which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage. They are considered masterpieces of Byzantine art as the interior and exterior walls are covered in exquisite, vividly-colored mural paintings dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. During the day we also stop for a black pottery workshop in Marginea (the only one of its kind in the country), where you can try crafting your own souvenir.
Get to know the iconic tradition of egg decorating by visiting the museum of an internationally acclaimed Romanian artist. Later, we take a chairlift to the top of the mountains to see Horses’ Waterfall, a breathtaking canyon drop formed by glacier lakes. Before our trek to the waterfall we stop at a sheep pen for a locally sourced organic lunch.
We start the morning with an epic ride on one of the last steam trains in Europe, which passes through the Carpathian forestry – a picturesque railway that was used for coal transportation. It’s the perfect opportunity for a picnic by the river while immersing into the surrounding landscapes. We continue by visiting the Wooden Churches of Maramures (also part of UNESCO sites), found in Ieud and Barsana, two traditional villages that seem to have been frozen in time for 100 years. We finish the day wandering around the Merry Cemetery, a fascinating result of people making fun of their own death.
Being a former communist country, Romania experienced great losses. An important place to understand how people were treated during the totalitarian regime is through a tour at the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance, a former political prison turned into a museum, located in Sighetu Marmatiei. As the journey unfolds, we head to the fastest-growing city in Romania, Cluj-Napoca, where we go on a walking tour to explore its stylish medieval area, with buzzing restaurants and youthful crowds.
If you have never visited a salt mine, you will be impressed with this one located in Turda, where a massive network of mines has been restored to welcome tourists. Our next stop is the imposing citadel of Alba-Iulia, where we take a guided tour that depicts 2000 years of history, from ancient Roman times up to Romania’s Union Day (hence the name similarity).
We travel deep in the center of Transylvania and discover Biertan, one of the most important Saxon villages with medieval fortified churches. Following on our itinerary is Sighisoara, the last inhabited fortress in Europe, listed by UNESCO for its alluring walled old town and surviving guilds’ towers. This place is also known as the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, a ruthless ruler that served as inspiration for Count Dracula.
We reach another highlight of our tour by arriving at Bran Castle, commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle”where we try to debunk the real mystery behind it. Close to it lies the charming city of Brasov, right in the middle of the mountains, waiting to be explored by the curious traveler. Here, we visit the Black Church, an important turning point in religious affairs in the Middle Ages and we discover the foundation of the very first Romanian school.
How about a visit to the real Dracula’s castle this time? Poenari fortress stands tall on top of the mountains and welcomes you with a hike of 1476 steps for a breathtaking view (literally). To make things even better, on our way to the fortress, we drive on the magnificent Transfagarasan highway, voted by Top Gear as the “best road in the world”, cutting right through the mountains and ending with the Vidraru Dam, which borders the biggest accumulation lake in the country.
Today we’ll transfer you from the hotel to the airport or show you more around the city if you have a late flight. Depending on your schedule, we can go on a walking tour around the Old Town or arrange a visit to the Palace of Parliament, it’s your choice.
It will be hard to say goodbye but we’ll make sure to celebrate your adventure with a personalized Romanian departure gift.
Bespoke off-the-beaten-path travel itineraries
Unique 4 or 5 star, privately-owned accommodations
Authentic experiences with the locals
Premium guidance from arrival to departure
Farm-to-table exclusive dining experiences
Slow-traveling to immerse into the local culture
Falling in love with Romania