You probably noticed that we have quite a few tours in our portfolio, and they are focused on certain specific regions. But what if we would combine all of them in one? What if you could explore the entire country throughout the course of 10 days? Might seem like a lot, but time goes by very fast when there’s so many things to see.
This is Romania’s Grand Tour, where all the main highlights of the country are showcased in one amazing tour. Let’s get started.
Right off the bat, our first destination is the Arges Court Monastery, founded in the time of Neagoe Basarab, between 1512 and 1517. Without giving too much away, the building process of this monastery is part of famous Romanian legend “The legend of master Manole”. The legend says that the best fortified churches are built with a human being inside the walls, to better sustain it from falling apart.
You’ve seen one monastery, now it’s time to see a fortress as well, the Poenari Fortress, on top of the Cetatuia Mountain; to reach it you have to climb 1480 stairs but I guarantee you that it is worth it. This fortress was the refugee of Vlad the Impaler, when hiding from the Ottomans. There are many legends about this place; one of them says that the fortress was the inspiration for the Jules Verne novel ”The Carpathian Castle”. And it is a truly unique place.
Further along the way, it’s the Transfagarasan Road, mentioned on the famous tv show Top Gear; it passes over the Fagaras mountains in Transylvania. Fun fact: 6000 tons of dynamite were used to clear the path in order to build the road. And the surroundings are breathtaking, perfect for taking pictures.
We finish the day near the Balea and Vidraru Lake. Balea Lake is a glacier lake situated at an altitude of 2.034 m. Here are two chalets opened all the year around, a meteorological station and a mountain rescue station. It is accessible by car on the amazing Transfagarasan Highway. And of course, the Vidraru Dam, built in 1965 on the Arges river. This was the first valley arch dam in the country. It is a 166.60 m high, and 305m long. The electricity monument, a huge Prometheus, the work of sculptor Constantin Popovici, is placed in top of a tower. The water from the lake is used for generating electricity. Vidraru dam is also a venue for extreme sports. This is where the highest bungee jumping platform is located. It is 166m high. Pleasure boats run across the lake, but paddle boats, boats, and fishing flat-boats also await to be rented.
Accommodation near Vidraru.
In the morning, you just won’t resist taking even more pictures of the area before embarking on our journey for the next attraction, which is the Balea Waterfall, followed by a small castle that looks like it’s straight from a Hansel & Gretel tale; the Clay Castle Is situated in the Fagaras Mountains in “The Valley of the Fairies” Valea Zanelor.
And speaking of Sibiu, this is our next stop for the day. Sibiu was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels built in the 12th century by the German settles known as the Transylvanian Saxons. The Old Town is conjured by a fortress and has many buildings that kept their medieval ambiance.
Accommodation in Sibiu
Because we visited Sibiu the day before, it’s time to go towards the Corvin Castle, in the county of Hunedoara; the construction of the Castle started in the 15th century having an old settlement as a starting point. Huffington Post presented this castle as one of the ten most magical constructions of this kind in the world. This Gothic castle is surrounded by a lot of legends, which are just waiting to be discovered.
Next up is the city of Alba Iulia, built between 1714-1738 after the Habsburg conquest of Transylvania. It is the most representative baroque, Vauban-type state fortress in Romania and one of the largest of this kind in Eastern Europe. The Roman Catholic Cathedral – a medieval architecture jewel, built in the 13th century in two stages: 1247-1291 and 1320-1356 and it is placed in the heart of the Alba Carolina Stronghold. The Path of the Three Fortifications – is unique in Europe, because it takes you back 2000 years. The Union Hall – the place where on the 1st of December 1918, the document that attests the union of Transylvania with Romania (First time the union of the three Romanian provinces was made by Michael the Brave in 1600) was signed.
But that’s not all, as there are 2 more places to visit; but not to worry, there is plenty of time, as all of these are pretty close to each other. The Turda Salt Mine, which is close to Cluj Napoca, is largest salt mine in Europe. where you will encounter a carousel, a 180-seat amphitheater, ping-pong tables, basketball hoops, mini-golf, bowling and also a mini lake where you can rent a boat. There is also an area with health treatments that draws upon and takes advantage of the mine’s optimal climate.
And to finish this day off we are arriving in Cluj Napoca, The 4th largest city in Romania, dating since 106, when the Roman Emperor has conquered Dacia and formed the settlement named Napoca. Over the years the city has thrived, becoming very famous, hosting some of the best music festivals in Europe like Electric Castle and of course Europe’s best festival – Untold, and for the movie goers, the Transylvania Film Festival (TIFF).
Accommodation in Cluj.
Now we will be heading towards the north of the country, towards Maramures County, with our first stop being the Merry Cemetery; it’s safe to say that this cemetery is unique, because the grave markers celebrate life with beautiful images and gentle wit. This place marks each grave with a lively, beautifully carved wooden cross, painted blue containing original poems that disclose a little something about life and character; some of the verses are funny other are more whimsical.
Next up is Sighetu Marmatiei, also known as Sighet, one of the main towns in the Maramures region, an area noted for its rich centuries-old traditions. The inhabitants of this area have preserved, to an amazing extent, the rural culture and crafts of their Dacian ancestors.
And finally, the most beautiful monastery ever created, the Barsana Monastery, which now stands on a small hill surrounded by an orchard. It is one of the eight churches on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The name bârsan means a shepherd who keeps sheep with thick long wool, and the word became a surname during medieval times. The church was used for monastic purposes until 1791, when the monastery was abolished.
Accommodation in Viseu de Sus
In the morning, at 9AM, we are scheduled to go on board the Mocanita, the last European forestry railway (built in 1932) that was used for wood transportation. The train was built in Poland in 1949 and it’s still used today for tourism purposes. Take a ride through the forest, and travel back in time.
In the afternoon, our next objective is the Iza Meadows, located in the historical heart of Maramures, where age costumes blend perfectly with the purity of nature. Between the mountains and forests of Maramures, you will have the opportunity to experience country life in the purest way possible.
Accommodation in Viseu de Sus.
This day is focused on the most beautiful and unique monasteries in Romania, more specifically, in the Bucovina region. And there’s a lot of them to cover, but the experience of what you’re about to see here is indescribable.
The Moldovita Monastery. Alexander the Kind built the first monastery hotels in Moldovita on the banks of the Moldoviţa River at the beginning of the 15th century. The exterior paintings are the best preserved of all the churches of Bucovina.
The Sucevita Monastery, included on the UNESCO Heritage List on 1 August 2010 and is the only church that includes a representation of The Ladder of St. John. This classic church with its five rooms, shows the first new architectural tendencies: smaller niches, and three bases for the tower. The frescoes are very remarkable, colorful and well preserved.
The Humor Monastery, founded in 1530 and is one of Bucovina’s treasures with a variety of frescoes from 1535 and an extremely valuable collection of icons from the 16th century displayed here.
And finally, Voronet, also known as the “Sistine Chapel of the East”. It is believed to be the most famous painted monastery founded in 1487 by Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare). Besides numerous frescoes featuring an intense shade of blue known as the “Voronet blue”, the monastery also features portraits of ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato.
Accommodation in Vatra Dornei.
We are now going back towards the south, strolling around the country, on our way to Brasov and its surroundings. But first, there is another city that’s not to be missed, Sighisoara, one of the most beautiful self-preserved medieval cities in Europe, founded in the 12th century by the Transylvanian Saxons. Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this town is the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler).
And that’s not all, because next to Sighisoara there is a special and unique village as well, Viscri, a Saxon village. One of the main attractions here is the Viscri Monastery – part of the UNESCO Heritage. Fun fact: Prince Charles of Wales bought a house here.
Accommodation in Sighisoara.
How can we miss the city of Brasov? Founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211, its medieval ambiance is present today as it was back in the day, especially in the old Town Hall Square. Here you can take a peek inside the Black Church – the largest gothic church in Romania, and pass through the narrowest street in Europe, the Rope Street. It is one of the most famous cities in Romania, and among the most visited.
And it’s safe to say that this day is reserved just for this city, as there is a lot to see, and there’s plenty of time for relaxation as well.
As we are getting closer and closer to the end of the tour, we are not missing the most well-known attractions in Romania, that are part of any tour you could think of. Fortresses and castles are the subject of our journey today.
Around the Carpathians, just outside the city of Brasov, we find the Rasnov Fortress, one of the best preserved rustic citadels from Transylvania. Its main purpose was defense for the Transylvanian villages that were exposed to attacks.
And very close to Rasnov we find the world-famous Bran Castle, or “Dracula’s Castle” as it is known worldwide. First stated in official documents in a letter written in 1377 by the Hungaruan Ludovic I D’Ánjou giving the inhabitants of Brasov the privilege to build the citadel in the place of the old stronghold. Its purpose was for defense and commercial use. Many legends relate to Bran Castle, one of them saying that the castle belonged to Count Dracula himself.
And if one castle wasn’t enough, here’s another one; the Peles Castle, built between 1875 and 1883 it actually is the most famous royal residence in Romania. It is said that King Carol I decided to build a castle here. Therefore, he bought the land in 1872, and hired the German architect Wilhelm Dodderer to make the plans for the construction. This is the reason why the exterior architecture of the castle contains specific German neo-renaissance elements.
Accommodation in Sinaia.
On this last day, before we go back to Bucharest, there is just one more thing to do, and that is to get in a cable car, on top of the mountain, in Busteni. The Babele and the Sphinx attractions from the Bucegi Mountains. You might guess where the Sphinx got the name from and Babele (The Old ladies) got this name in the Interbelic period when observers thought these rock formations looked like some old ladies chatting.
And there is one more thing to visit before we go, and that is, The Caraiman Cross, built at the request of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, to celebrate the soldiers who fought in World War I. The cross can be seen from a fairly large distance, and I am sure you are going to spot it, once we’re in the area.
We will be back in Bucharest sometime in the afternoon and because this is the capital after all, why not squeeze a mini-tour of the city as well? Focusing on some of its most well-known attractions? Such as The Arch de Triomphe, Victory Square, the Romanian Athenaeum, the Revolution Square, the National Museum of Art (which back in the day was the Royal Palace).
Of course, we wouldn’t miss the Old Town of Bucharest, home of many art galleries, antique shops, coffee houses and nightclubs. You can walk along the narrow streets and aside from the numerous restaurants and terraces, you can admire old buildings that used the be the workplaces of craftsmen and merchants back the 1400s (Romanian, Austrian, Greek, Bulgarian, Jewish). Plenty of things to do here as well. And this area is the perfect place to end the day, marking the end of the Finding Romania Grand Tour!
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There was snow everywhere, at most of the places i visited. This is a tour for everyone and I would say that 10 days would be enough, even though we only saw only about half of the things due to our time here.
I think everybody take this tour in Romania and it is worth it. I liked it. And it did not feel long at all, it covers a large portion of Romania.
I have met Andrei before and he recommended this tour. It is safe to say that we are good friends and he also offered me a great deal. This tour is a must if you want to see Romania at its finest.
We went for a trip around Romania and we were amazed about how much we have seen. It is true we did not see everything in this tour but that’s because of the short time we had. I would definitely recommend this program for anyone, as they are really flexible. 5 stars.