PRICE FROM: 990 euro
DURATION: 12 days
ITINERARY: BULGARIA: Sofia – Rila – Plovdiv – Veliko Tarnovo ROMANIA: Bucharest – Maramures – Scenic drive in the Carpathian Mountains – Bucovina – Exclusive Gypsy Family Home Visit – Sighisoara – Bran and Peles Castles
INFO: THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE BULGARIA & ROMANIA 12 DAY ITINERARY. A hand crafted cultural tour steeped in vibrant local and time-honored traditions.
Itinerary: Bulgaria : Sofia Tour – Rila – Plovdiv – Kazanlak – Veliko Tarnovo – Arbanassi – Roman Ruins at Nicopolis – Ivanovo Rock Hewn Churches
Romania : Bucharest Tour & Folklore Show – Lunch at the famous Hunchback’s – Huniady Castle – Maramures Exclusive Program: live in a village and interact with locals – Home Hosted Dinner & Included Folklore Show – Scenic drive in the Carpathian Mountains – Bucovina Frescoed Monasteries – Bicaz Gorge – Exclusive Gypsy Family Home Visit – Sighisoara Upper Town – Bran and Peles Castles
Day 1: Sofia Arrival
Arrive at Sofia airport. Meet and greet by your Bulgarian guide. Once in the capital Sofia take a panoramic city tour with the Rotunda of St George and a visit to Alexaner Nevski Cathedral. Hotel check in with the evening at leisure.
B Accommodation in Sofia at Best Western Thracia Hotel **** (centrally located)
Day 2: Sofia – the Rila Monastery – Plovdiv
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. You’ll enjoy a scenic ride to the Rila Monastery, Bulgaria’s most famous tourist site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in the 10th century by St. Ivan Rilsky, the monastery was at the center of Bulgarian culture and Orthodox belief for centuries and today the most visited cultural site of Bulgaria. Continue to Plovdiv – the country’s second largest city. Evening at leisure in the lovely pedestrian area of the Old Town.
B Accommodation in Plovdiv in family hotel Renaissance or hotel Odeon ***
Breakfast at hotel. Morning tour of the Old Town including the large Roman Amphitheatre and the Roman stadium. Departure to Kazanlak. As we wind through picturesque Rose Valley, we make a stop at the world famous Thracian Tomb, you get an up-close view of the wonderfully preserved Hellenistic frescoes dating back to the 4th century BC. Another must-see is The Rose Museum. Continue to Veliko Tarnovo, the anicent capital of Bulgaria. The tour will include the picturesque Samovodene Street with its many artisans shops and a view of the mighty Tsarevets Fortress. Continue to the picturesque village of Arbanassi, near Veliko Tarnovo. Your afternoon highlight is a visit to the Church of Nativity, the most richly decorated church in all of Bulgaria.
B Accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo at Hotel Gurko *** (located in the Old Town)
Day 4: Veliko Tarnovo – Roman Ruins at Nicopolis ad Istrum – Ivanovo Rock Churches – Ruse – ROMANIA Bucharest
Departure to the North where your first visit is the complex of Roman ruins of Nicopolis ad Istrum, built in the 2nd century AD by Emperor Trajan. Continue to the cavernous Ivanovo Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take an orientation tour of the center of Ruse,the largest Bulgarian town on the Danube with its classical architecture before you cross the Danube River where you will enter Romania and will change tour guides and vehicles. Drive to Bucharest. Check in and time at leisure. In the evening enjoy a Traditional Romanian Welcome Dinner and Folklore Show.
T D Accommodation in Bucharest at Hotel Berthelot **** (centrally located boutique hotel)
Day 5: Bucharest – Olt River Gorge – Cozia – Sibiu
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. This morning take a city tour of Bucharest including the Revolution Square, a guided tour of the Palace of the Parliament, the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon, Cotroceni Quarter for its representative architecture, a view of the Ceausescu’s former private residence and the Village Museum – one of the world’s most interesting open air museums with century old original peasant households from all parts of Romania. Enjoy lunch with traditional Romanian skinless sausages at the Hunchback’s. On route later, make a short stop to the 14th century Cozia Monastery built by Prince Mircea the Old and an excellent example of late 14th century Wallachian architecture. Drive along the Olt River Canyon crossing the mountains into Transylvania. This obviously is one of the most scenic roads of Romania. Reach Sibiu. Brief orientation tour on the way to the hotel. Overnight in Sibiu’s famous Romans’ Emperor Hotel, first built at the end of the 18th century. Dinner on own. Suggested is Crama Sibiul Vechi, best cellar – restaurants in town, serving Transylvanian fares.
B L Accommodation in Sibiu at Imparatul Romanilor Hotel ****
Hotel Imparatul Romanilor, located in the old part of Sibiu near the main square, in a 16th century building built in traditional Transylvanian Renaissance style, a former merchant’s hall transformed into hotel in the 18th century, with many famous guests: Emperor Franz Joseph II, composers Franz Liszt, Johann Strauss as well as Prince Charles and many others.
Day 6: Sibiu – Huniady (Corvin) Castle – Cluj Napoca
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Start your day with a leisurely walking tour of Sibiu, the chief city of the Transylvanian Germans. View the old surrounding defense walls and the remaining guild towers. One of the landmarks of Sibiu is the Bruckenthal Museum assembled by Baron Bruckenthal, the Governor of Transylvania at the beginning of the 19th century and the second museum to ever open in Europe after the National Gallery in London. Next is the Evangelical Cathedral completed in its actual shape in 1520. The tour ends with the original Pharmacy Museum located in a 15th century pharmacy but in operation until 1974. Before noon depart for Hunedoara for a guided tour of Huniady Castle, one of the most well preserved Gothic castles of Transylvania (though off the beaten track) and home to the mighty Huniady royal family. Late afternoon arrival to Cluj Napoca. Hotel check in.
B Accommodation in Cluj at Hotel Siago *** (or similar)
Day 7: Cluj Napoca – Baia Mare – Maramures Region
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. This morning you will have a choice between a stroll in the Botanical Gardens of Cluj or a guided tour ofthe Ethnographic Museum. Later drive north towards Baia Mare and reach the splendid region of Maramures (northern Transylvania). Due to the relative isolation of their land, the people of Maramures developed a particularly strong community, with a unique personality, traditions, culture, fashion and lifestyle unspoiled for centuries. Stop in the villages of Giulesti for the dowry tradition and Mara for the wonderfully carved wooden gates. Continue west along Tisa River (very close to the Ukrainian border) and reach the village of Sapinta, world famous for its “Merry Cemetery”. Each wooden cross carries a funny epitaph about the person’s life. In the same village you will have the opportunity to witness the construction of the tallest wooden church in the wolrd: Sapinta – Peri. Accommodation in a private house in the village of Iza. Meet a Romanian family in their home for dinner, this being a first hand cultural interchange. You will also enjoy an exclusively organized Maramures Folklore Show.
B D Home stay accommodation (modern villa) or Casa Maramures *** in Sighet
Family home, with one section renovated into a modern villa with all modern facilities. The location is excellent, in a small village, quiet neighborhood, far away from the main street. The terraces offer a beautiful view on the village. Excellent home cooking.
Day 8: Maramures: Iza Valley – Sighetul Marmatiei – Bucovina
After breakfast, take an exclusively designed walking tour of the village of Iza including an icon-on-glass workshop (and learn about the technique), the local ancient type plum brandy distillery and a typical wooden whirlpool still used by the local women to wash heavy woolen blankets. Then drive to the nearby town of Sighet to mingle with the locals at the colorful fruit and vegetable market where you will have the oportunity to sample various produce. Continue to the Anti Communist Memorial – a political prison in the Communist times. This is one of the main memorial sites of the continent, alongside Auschwitz Museum and the Peace Memorial in Normandy. The visit here provides a direct connection to Romania’s most recent history. Next is the house of Nobel Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel who was born in town. Lunch on own. Continue exploring Maramures along the picturesque Iza Valley – an excellent oportunity to witness daily life in this corner of Europe. Stop in the village of Rozavlea for a visit to the workshop of a famous master carver in his own workshop. He represented Romania at the 1999 Smithsonian World Folk Festival in Washington, DC. Next is the exquisite Barsana Monastery, a great example of Maramures wooden church architecture. Cross the Carpathian Mountains thru the picturesque Prislop Pass into the northern part of Moldavia called Bucovina with excellent opportunities for pictures. In the town of Campulung enjoy an exclusively organized interactive egg-painting demonstration by a local artist in her home, this being one of the local traditions of the area. You will also have the chance to admire painted eggs from all over the world in an unique private exhibition. After arriving in Gura Humorului, check into the hotel.
B Accommodation in Gura Humorului at Hotel Casa Humor **** (two nights)
Day 9: Bucovina Painted Monasteries Excursion ( World Heritage Sites) & Traditional Bucovina Lunch
A la carte breakfast at hotel. Bucovina monasteries are gems of medieval Moldavian architecture and artistry. Begin your day with Voronet , the most famous out of all, known as the Sistine Chapel of the East and featuring one the best Last Judgment Fresco in this part of the World. Next is Moldovita Monastery where the UNESCO Golden Apple Award given to the painted churches in 1975, is kept. As a cultural connection, enjoy a traditional Bucovina lunch in the picturesque village of Sucevita. Later continue to the nearby Sucevita Monastery, which is the largest of all, looking more like a mighty fortress than a monastery. The Ladder of John of Sinai is considered one of the best of the frescoes of Sucevita, rarely present in medieval Romanian art. The monastery has a small old bibles museum. In the village of Marginea visit the black pottery workshop – they use a technique called “oxygen reduction”, there is the same technique in Mexico only! End your day with the Monastery of Humor, the only one without a belfry tower.
B L Accommodation in Gura Humorului
Day 10: Gura Humorului – Piatra Neamt – Bicaz Gorges & Red Lake – Sighisoara
A la carte breakfast at hotel. Begin your day with a drive south to Piatra Neamt for a tour of the only wooden synagogue in Romania (dating back from the 17th century) and built half underground. Later reach Bicaz Gorges where the surroundings are dramatic. Here you have an opportunity for a short hike. Optional lunch in the resort of the Red Lake – Lacu Rosu (restaurants here specialize in naturally grown trout). Once passing the Red Lake you are back to Transylvania. On an exclusive cultural connection, meet a local Gypsy family in their own home. Afternoon arrival to Sighisoara – World Heritage Site and the only still inhabited medieval citadel in Europe. Before starting your walking tour of old Sighisoara attend an informal talk on Vlad the Impaler – Dracula, what is truth and what is fiction. Sighisoara is one of a kind. It was developed by the German settlers as of late 12th century. It stands on a network of tunnels and catacombs and, according to one version of the myth; this is where the Pied Piper brought the children of Hamelin after their ungrateful parents refused to pay him his due. The walking tour includes the two squares of the Citadel (Upper Town), the Scholars’ Staircase, the House with Antler, the Tower with Clock (climb up for a great view), the Torture Chamber and the Weapon Museum. Sighisoara is the place where the Vlad the Impaler Dracula was born in 1431. The Birthplace is one of the main tourist attractions. Accommodation in the Upper Town. Suggestion for dinner at the Birthplace of Vlad Dracula.
B Accommodation in Sighisoara at The House with Antler ***
Day 11: Sighisoara – Brasov – Bran Castle – Sinaia Resort
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Journey south through the picturesque Transylvanian Plateau for a tour of Brasov to admire the 14th century Gothic Black Church with its 4,000 pipe organ and over a hundred Anatolian prayer rugs given to the church as gifts by the rich Brasov merchants. Visit Schei Quarter with the First School in Romanian language (meet with professor Olteanu). The tour will also include the Council Square, Catherine’s Gate, the Rope Street and a view of the synagogue. Time at lesiure in the oovely pedestrian area of the Old Town. The attraction of the afternoon is Bran Castle also known as Dracula’s Castle altough the connections to Vlad are still in debate. Today one of the most popular attractions of the country, the castle was built in 1377 to safeguard the trading route between Transylvania and Wallachia, then enlarged and restored a few times to become a royal residence after the 1920s under Queen Marie of Romania. Take a guided tour followed by cheese sampling. Continue to Sinaia mountain resort. Named after St. Catherine Monastery on Mount Sinai, Sinaia became the unofficial capital of the Kingdom of Romania towards the end of the 19th century. Orientation tour of the resort including a view of the famous Casino building, inspired by the one in Monte Carlo. Evening at leisure in the resort.
B Accommodation in Sinaia at Palace Hotel ****
Day 12: Peles Castle – Bucharest. Departure from the Bucharest Airport. End of service.
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. In the morning take a guided tour of the Peles Castle and Gardens in Sinaia, the royal residence of King Charles I of Romania and known as one of the most beautiful summer royal residences in Europe. A ride south to Bucharest. Transfer to the Bucharest airport for your departure flight.
PRICES AND DATES:
This tour is scheduled for May 10, 2016, starting from Sofia, ending in Bucharest.
· 11 nights at three and four star hotels, all centrally located
· fully insured sedan/minivan with climate control, for the entire distance
· fuel & parking fees
· all sightseeing tours & cultural connections
· three informal talks on: Vlad the Impaler – Dracula, Ceausescu and His Times, The Gypsies and Their Journey (all by tour guide)
· 17 meals: 12 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners
· professional English speaking tour guides (driving) to accompany you throughout
· an exclusively organized folklore show in Maramures
· an interactive egg painting demonstration in Bucovina
· cheese tasting in Bran
· Bucharest and Sofia city tours (including the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest)
· private airport transfers on arrival and departure
· admissions to museums and sights as per itinerary
· porterage (except for Customs Areas)
· maps of Romania and Bulgaria.
You’ll visit 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Romania: Sibiu’s Historical Center, Maramures Wooden Churches, Bucovina Exterior Frescoed Monasteries, Historic Center of Sighisoara; Bulgaria: Ivanovo Rock Hewn Churches, Kazanlak Thracian Tomb, Rila Monastery, Boyana Church.
· other meals than stated
· alcoholic beverages
· photo/video fees at sites and museums.
This tour can be paid by credit card, paypal, bank transfer or cash upon departure.
Please note paying by credit card will apply a supplementary fee of 2,5% for VISA card and 1% for Master Card. Paying by paypal will apply a supplementary fee of 4% for overseas transactions.
CANCELLATION POLICY FOR THIS TOUR:
– 15 days prior to date of activity – Free cancellation
– 14 to 10 days prior to date of activity – 30% Cancellation Fee (70% reimbursement)
– 10 – 3 days prior to date of activity – 70% Cancellation Fee (30% reimbursement)
– 3 days prior to date of activity, on the day of the activity and for now show – 100% cancellation Fee (No reimbursement)
For other Bulgaria Romania Tours please see here.
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