Romania is one of the few countries in Europe still surrounded by an aura of mystery and the unknown. Being blessed with large swathes of virtually untouched countryside, much of the country follows an old way of life where centuries old folklore and traditions still thrive in its picturesque villages. This thrilling adventure takes you from high mountain peaks, scenic roads and dense forests to impressive medieval towns and isolated rural communities. Be prepared for enigmatic landscapes and genuine cultural encounters with local people that will leave you with special memories for a lifetime.
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. We spend the afternoon 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.
Action calls, as today we explore one of the most imposing river valleys of Romania on the highest paved road in the country: Transalpina. From the top you will go paragliding for spectacular views or you can just hike the surrounding area and visit the local sheep pen for a quick lunch. If you really feel adventurous we can safely set-up camp on a slackline hammock and watch the sun go down, in Baia de Fier (optional activity, which can be replaced with a visit to the nearby Woman’s Cave).
Next we set-off for a beautiful natural park which shelters rare flora and fauna, located near a bygone spa town that still boasts impressive hot springs. Here, we also go on a hike to visit the most isolated village in Romania, accessible only through climbing. After reconnecting with nature, we continue our journey towards Rudaria watermill complex, the biggest milling system in Europe, where we make our own whole-wheat flour.
We recover after an active day with a trip to the Danube: Europe’s major river that also serves as the country’s southern border. Here we discover the remains of an ancient Roman bridge, a relocated sunk island that used to be a fiscal paradise (now a ghost island) and a monastery built over a lighthouse. The highlight however is a chartered boat tour along the Danube which takes us closer to our own version of Mount Rushmore: the rock sculpture of Decebalus.
We also have the chance to visit concealed caves and take a quick hike up the Ciucaru mountains for a panoramic view of the area. Spend the night in a charming cottage with stunning river views.
Nera Gorge nature reserve is the wildest and longest in Romania, probably home of the most charming waterfalls in the country. The trail is full of surreal springs, lakes, canyons, caves, tunnels and footbridges, but we can also go kayaking, rafting or biking. It’s a gorgeous route with fairly easy difficulty, which makes it great for a picnic along the way. Overnight away from civilization in Casa Thea, a charming guesthouse with a delicious restaurant.
We get ready for a trip back in time aboard a century old style train with wooden seats and open windows. It takes us on a 19th century railway used for coal transportation, sprinkled with breathtaking viaducts and tunnels which closely follow the shape of the mountains. Afterwards we pay a visit to Densus, the oldest surviving church of Romania, situated in a quiet area, but with a turbulent past. As we get deeper into the woods, we try to understand the connections between Dacians (our ancestors) and Romans by exploring the former capital of Roman Dacia (Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa).
Dacians have built several mountain fortresses and all of them have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1999. They represent an intricate and surprising result of religious and military building techniques, letting us take a peek into a rich and intriguing civilization. We will explore the capital of independent Dacia (Sarmizegetusa Regia) which has a strong sacred meaning – it is impossible to leave without a surreal feeling.
Our second stop of the day is Corvin’s Castle or Hunyad Castle, the largest medieval castle in Romania and one of the most beautiful in Europe, built over 6 centuries ago in Renaissance-Gothic style. There are many legends linked to this place, one of them being the place where Vlad the Impaler was held prisoner by the Hungarians. Overnight in Deva, at a former boyar’s house.
Feel like a gold-digger? Forget about the Wild West, gold rushes extend as far back as the Roman Empire, who set-up a mining town named Alburnus Maior, now Rosia Montana. The small town has a controversial history, as the rich mineral resources of the area have been exploited from antiquity until the state-run gold mine closed in 2006 due to public pressure regarding environmental concerns. Since then Rosia Montana was nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List and we are proud to promote it as a sustainable tourist destination, with alternative activities such as captivating goldmine gallery tours, local crafted workshops and seasonal music festivals. In the evening we go for a surprise getaway, nestled deep in the Apuseni mountains.
In the evening we go for a surprise getaway, nestled deep in the Apuseni mountains.
We depart for Sibiu, a medieval area with quaint villages surrounded by wooded peaks, fortified churches and alluring bistros right in the central square. On our way there we make a short stop at the Red Ravine, a protected geological area that forms a badlands micro relief, giving the impression of a ruined ancestral monument. We finish the day with a stroll in the Old Town. Being so culturally rich, the city of Sibiu offers multiple options for art, history or leisure enthusiasts. It’s no wonder most of our tourists prefer to have some spare time here!
On our last day we visit the small village of Carta, home to the oldest Cistercian monasteries in Europe, built in the 12th century by monks that arrived here with the Teutonic Knights. As the journey comes to an end, we drive back to Bucharest on the magnificent Transfagarasan highway, voted by Top Gear as the best road trip in the world, cutting right through the mountains and ending with the Vidraru Dam, which borders the biggest accumulation lake in the country. In the evening we arrive back to Bucharest, for a farewell dinner.
Today we’ll transfer you from the hotel to the airport or show you more around the city if you have a late flight.
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