Hidden Charms of Romania & Bulgaria
April 19- May 3, 2019
This tour focuses on the diverse cultures, history, crafts, cuisine and people of two Eastern European countries. They have long histories, having been fought over and conquered many times.
You will have personable and well-educated local guides and a spacious air-conditioned bus to travel in comfort.
The itinerary provides many diverse experiences including visits to historic buildings of architectural significance such as castles, fortresses, churches, cathedrals, monasteries. You will see 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sights.
You will be served a variety of fresh local cuisine, see music and dance performances, as well as demonstrations of local crafts. You will visit story-book quaint villages, farms, and colorful local open-markets. You will be surrounded by glorious natural landscapes such as the Carpathian mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and rolling green countryside. Many parts of the Romanian countryside are like a scene in a fairy tale! Even their haystacks create a worthy photo!
Day 1- Friday, April 19
Depart US destinations.
Day 2- Saturday, April 20 Sofia, Bulgaria
Arrival in Sofia (population 1.7 million). Travelers will arrive on different flights at different times. Iconic Journeys will pay for the transfers. If time allows, short walking tour. Dinner and overnight in Sofia. (D)
Day 3- Sunday, April 21 Sofia, Bulgaria
After breakfast enjoy a bus and walking tour of town about 2 hours. Then departure for a half day trip with a visit to Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Lunch on the way. Return to Sofia in late afternoon for dinner, folkloric music and overnight in Sofia. (B, L, D)
Day 4- Monday, April 22 Plovdiv, Bulgaria
After breakfast depart for Plovdiv, another UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Plovdiv is the 2nd largest city of Bulgaria, situated on the two banks of Maritsa river. Lunch here. In the afternoon see the ancient Roman city which existed where modern Plovdiv now exists (including the theatre, stadium, forum, odeon, etc.) Visit the ethnographic museum. Wander through the old part of the city of Plovdiv, with its medieval streets, churches and mosques. Dinner on your own during free time. Overnight in Plovdiv. (B, L)
Day 5- Tuesday, April 23 Veliko Tarnovo
After breakfast, head toward Veliko Tarnovo about 78 miles from Plovdiv. On the way visit Kazanlak, the city of roses. You will be tempted by the myriad products they create from this product.
Veliko Tarnovo was Bulgaria’s ancient capital founded in the Middle Ages. This city is a candidate for the “European Cultural Capital” in 2019. Visit the most famous attraction: the 11th century medieval fortress “Tsaravets” which is situated on three hills, and was built during Bulgaria’s peak period. Veliko Tarnovo is now an architectural reserve and during excavations, the remains of more than 400 homes, 22 churches and 4 monasteries were found. Inside the walls of Tsaravets, the Bulgarian emperors (and the Patriarch) had their palaces. After lunch visit the citadel. Dinner and overnight in Veliko Tarnovo. (B, L, D)
Day 6- Wednesday, April 24 Brasov
Today you will have an early departure towards Romania (population 21 million, 4 million of whom are working abroad). To enter the country, you will be crossing the Danube river (a natural border between Romania and Bulgari) at Giurgiu/Ruse. The distance between Veliko Tarnovo and Bucharest is 100 miles. There is no highway, so the journey may take 5 hours including border crossing formalities and lunch.
Continue to Brasov, an ancient Transylvanian city ringed by the Carpatian Mountains. It is a whimsically enchanting place with fairy-tale turrets and cobbled streets. It is known for its medieval quality with Saxon walls and bastions, the towering Gothic-style Black Church and lively cafes. Enjoy a walking tour of the city. Dinner, musical performance and overnight in Brasov. (B, L, D)
Day 7- Thursday, April 25 Brasov
Visit Prejmer & the citadel of Rasnov or “Bran Castle”. This is a national monument and landmark between Transylvania and Wallachia commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle.” This castle fortress is marketed as the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad III of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula.
After an excellent lunch together, return to Brasov, for free time. Dinner on your own and overnight in Brasov. (B, L)
Day 8- Friday, April 26 Gura Humor
Very early departure from Brasov to North Moldova via Tusnad, Miercurea Ciuc and to the Red Lake. After lunch continue through spectacularly beautiful countryside via the Bicaz Gorges and Piatra Neamt (one of the most picturesque cities in Romania) to Gura Humor. Dinner and overnight in Gura Humor. (B, L, D)
Day 9- Saturday, April 27 Gura Humor
Today will be dedicated to visiting four painted Romanian Orthodox monasteries of Bucovina in the Northeastern corner of the country near Ukraine. All are masterpieces of Byzantine art and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include: Moldovita with the famous “Siege of Constantinople” fresco, Sucevita with blue and green dominating the frescoes and with its famous “Ladder of Virtues”, Humor (the most tiny of the monasteries) with a depiction of the devil as a woman, and Voronet the “Sistine Chapel of Romania”. Lunch will be in Radauti, a 14th century town. See egg painting artisans. You may want to roam and enjoy your picturesque surroundings after dinner. Dinner and overnight in Gura Humor. (B, L, D)
Day 10- Sunday, April 28 Sighisoara
Early breakfast and departure to Sighisoara, in the heart of the province of Transylvania. En route you will pass the glorious eastern Carpathian mountains, and the medieval towns of Campulung, Vatra Dornei, and Bistrita Nasaud located in fairy tale green countryside surroundings. After lunch continue through Targu Mures for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D)
Day 11- Monday, April 29 Sighisoara to Sibiu
After breakfast enjoy a guided visit to the Citadel and then three hours of free time for strolling and free time for lunch on your own, in the medieval feudal citadel town of Sighisoara. You will be surrounded by pastel-colored buildings, stony lanes and gingerbread towers. Sighisoara is the only inhabited Citadel in Europe and is where Vlad the Impellor (aka Dracula) was born.
After lunch continue by bus to Sibiu (also in Transylvania). Stop in a Gypsy (Roma) village along the way and see their wares and unique architecture with elaborate tin roofs. In Sibiu you will have free time before dinner. Dinner and overnight in Sibiu. (B, D)
Day 12- Tuesday, April 30 Sibiu
Following breakfast begin the day with a leisurely walking sightseeing tour of the old city of Sibiu, built in the 15th and 16th centurries. See the German church, the Orthodox church, the old city walls and streets, the town squares, and the medieval staircase leading to the lower town. You will see famous icons painted on glass with an unique technique.
After lunch you will have free time to enjoy more of your charming surroundings. Dinner and overnight in Sibiu. (B, L, D)
Days 13 and 14- Wednesday and Thursday, May 1 & 2 Bucharest
Breakfast. Departure to Bucharest, the capital city of Romania (population 2 million). Enjoy lunch upon arrival.
You will have a day and a half to discover Bucharest by bus and on foot. Its architecture is a mix of neo-classical, interbellum (Bauhaus and art deco), communist-era and modern architecture. In the period between the two World Wars, the city’s elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite residents earned the city the nickname of “Little Paris”. Many buildings and districts in the historic city center were heavily damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes and Ceausescu’s program of systematization, yet many survived. In recent years the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom. Visit two museums.
Note: The highly honored Museum of the Romanian Peasant is closed for renovation for the full year of 2018.
Dinner and overnight in Bucharest. Lunch on Monday will be free time. The dinner Monday will be a special Farewell dinner. (B, D) Tuesday (B, L, D) Wednesday.
Day 15- Friday, May 3 Bucharest
Transfer to the airport for flights to US destinations.
*NOTE: This printed itinerary is a basic outline. While destinations will remain the same, the order of day-to-day visits may be adjusted according to the schedules of crafts people and site opening dates and times and possible national holidays which may affect attraction hours.
Sofia: Best Western Plus
Bucharest: Intercontinental Hotel
NOTE on HOTELS: Traveling through Bulgaria and Romania is best seen using small, local hotels that capture the countries’ charm and local flavor. Given that many of the above noted properties have limited capacity, Iconic Journeys Worldwide reserves the right to substitute similar properties to accommodate our groups.
Cost per person: $5,750 based on double occupancy.
Single supplement of $1,500.
Water at all meals and at all times on the bus.
All meals as listed in itinerary.
Gratuities to porters.
All shows and activities in itinerary.
All relevant transfers to and from airports within itinerary.
Personal travel insurance.
Gratuities to driver and guide.
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