UNESCO World Heritage Sites should be seen by everyone at least once in their lifetime and Romania is home to no less than eight of them. On our thrilling journey we explore ancient sites from the times of the Dacians and Romans, fortified villages from Medieval Europe or cultural heritage sites such as the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Follow us on this captivating tour and let yourself be surprised by this complete local heritage experience.
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.
We travel from Bucharest to Horezu, a town well-known for people who make pottery, a craftsmanship that reflects many generations of traditions, skills and knowledge. Horezu ceramics is a unique type of Romanian pottery, produced by hand, included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. We participate in a workshop held by a master potter and strive to make our own souvenir at the end of it. Also found here is the Horezu Monastery which made the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993 for its intricate craftsmanship and good depiction of religious compositions in its paintings and sculptures. We spend the night in Maldaresti, a nearby village known for its authentic style of semi-fortified houses, named “cule”, also currently inscribed on the tentative list for UNESCO.
During ancient times, Romania’s territory was known as the province of Dacia and it was eventually conquered by the Romans (hence the name analogy). Dacians have built several fortresses as a protection against them and all of them have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. They represent an eerie and surprising result of religious and military building techniques, letting us take a peek into a rich polytheist civilization, with a high standard of living. We explore the capital of independent Dacia (Sarmizegetusa Regia), so we can compare it to the former capital of Roman Dacia (Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa). The place has a strong sacred meaning and it is impossible to leave without a surreal feeling.
We will end the day with a visit to the Corvins’ Castle, the largest medieval castle in Romania and one of the most beautiful in Europe, built over 6 centuries ago in Renaissance-Gothic style.
On our way to the next Unesco destinations, we make a few memorable stops to avoid long driving hours. After we leave Deva in the morning, our next stop is the Vauban 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). People consider it the spiritual capital of the country with numerous historical events that have taken place here. As the journey unfolds, we head to the fastest-growing city in Romania, Cluj-Napoca, where we explore its stylish medieval area, with buzzing restaurants and youthful crowds.
We start our visit with the Wooden Churches of Maramures (also part of UNESCO sites) in the villages of Ieud and Poienile Izei, where time seems to have stopped and kept traditions and people’s lifestyle the same as 100 years ago. We will also stop by the local ethnographic museum, where you can try your hand at weaving and you can admire colorful traditional rugs and house objects. Spend the night in a restored traditional house.
We continue our adventure towards Bukovina to visit the Painted Monasteries. However, on our way there we will make a stop in Ciocanesti, Bukovina’s Painted Village, where the villagers adorn their houses with traditional motifs, normally found on painted eggs. Later on, we visit the museum of a local artist, internationally-acclaimed for her talent at painting eggs. Last stop is also your first Painted Monastery, Moldovita.
These painted churches are considered masterpieces of Byzantine art and we visit 3 more of them today: Sucevita, Arbore and Voronet. Their interior and exterior walls are covered in exquisite, vividly-colored mural paintings dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. They are particularly well preserved and represent the quintessence of the Christian-Orthodox religion in Romania through a systematic covering on the facades, an old storytelling format depicting core religious themes. In the afternoon, we arrive in Neamt and visit the Citadel – a massive medieval fortress fully restored to its former glory, with epic views of the surrounding areas. We spend the night in a charming, rural guesthouse.
Welcome to Sighisoara, one of the most beautifully preserved inhabited citadels in the world! This UNESCO gem is home to medieval buildings, hidden chambers, burgher houses, towers and ornate churches full of myths and legends. It is here that Vlad the Impaler was born, who served as inspiration for one of the biggest legends in international folklore, Count Dracula. We take a walking tour of the historical center founded in the 12th century by German merchants known as the Transylvanian Saxons and stroll through the winding cobbled streets that haven’t changed in 800 years. On our way to Sighisoara, we pass through Bicaz Gorge, known as the gateway between Transylvania and Moldavia – a road full of ravines built on a former riverbed, one of the most spectacular rock formations in the country. Overnight in a restored Saxon house, dating back to the XVI century.
The main legacy of the Saxon population living in Transylvania are the villages with fortified churches that served as a defensive system against raids from invaders – one of the many reasons they feature on the UNESCO list. These are usually centrally located, with multiple layers of protective walls and enough chambers to host the villagers and their goods in case of an attack.
Today we make our way to the most impressive ones, Saschiz and Viscri – considered live medieval museums that teach visitors about their specific architecture, old crafts, traditional cuisine and local heritage. In the evening, we spend the night in Brasov where 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. We end our day in an excellent traditional restaurant located in the Old Square.
In the first part of the day we visited Prejmer – known for its mesmerizing Saxon architecture and included in the UNESCO list as part of the villages with fortified churches in Transylvania. Transfer to Bucharest and enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town and see the Palace of Parliament, before we stop for our farewell dinner. Alternatively, we can transfer you to the airport if you have an afternoon flight.
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.
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Slow-traveling to immerse into the local culture
Falling in love with Romania