ROMANIA & MOLDOVA 12 DAYS
Group size 10 Start Cluj-Napoca
Countries 2 End Sighet
Reviews 0 Reviews0/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Medium Group
Romania and Moldova – two countries that are just perfectly suit for a combined trip. Though both are a novelty on the tourist map of Europe, they can boast about true natural treasures and a rich history behind. In terms of political development as well as tourism, Romania is one step ahead its neighboring country. Being a member of the EU, it became a well known destination in the last decade. As for Moldova, the country has recently signed an Association Agreement with the EU and for the last few years has been showing an enormous upswing in tourism. Both folks are quite close, and not only through language but also traditions and mentality. Breathtaking natural beauty, numerous monasteries with unique frescos, authentic people and impressive hospitality are the answers why you must visit these two countries.
- 11 nights in 3*-4* hotels: 1 x Cluj, 1 x Sighisoara, 2 x Sibiu, 1 x Brasov, 2 x Chisinau, 1 x Soroca, 1 x Suceava, 1 x Borsa, 1 x Sighet.
- Transfer by modern coach throughout the whole trip.
- All-route English-speaking guide.
- Meals: HB, including traditional food with a Saxon family in Sibiu (including schnapps); coffee and cake in the multi-ethnic museum; traditional food with a family in Sibiel (including schnapps); traditional dinner in Chisinau; wine tasting with a well-known wine producer; Lunch at the farm in Trebujeni; Lunch and tea with the Old Believers community; Grill menu on the train ride in the Carpathians; Traditional food with a peasant family in Oncesti (including schnapps).
- Guided City Tours: Cluj, Sighisoara, Sibiu, Brasov, Chisinau, Soroca.
- Entrance+guided tour: all sacred buildings according to the program; Multiethnic Museum in Altana, Museum of Glass Icons in Sibiel, Bran Castle, Peles Castle in Sinaia, Black Church in Brasov, Curci Monastery, Ethnographic Museum in Butuceni, Old Orchei, Fortress in Soroca, Monastery Sucevita, Moldovita, Voronet, Museum of Victims of Communism in Sighet.
- Other highlights: visiting of Old Believers community in Pokrovka, private household visit in Trebujeni, train ride on the forest railway in Maramures, “Merry Cemetery” in Sapanta.
- Visa Fee
- Travel Insurance
- Single Supplement
- Any meals not mentioned
- Any transfers not mentioned (e.g. first and last day)
- Any expenses of a personal nature
- Camera/video permits
- Tips to the guide and driver
Welcome to Cluj-Napoca
On the first day you arrive at the airport in Cluj-Napoca. You will be warmly welcomed by our English-speaking tour guide and our comfortable bus takes you to the hotel, where you stay overnight.
Off to Transylvania
After breakfast we explore Cluj. Not far from the town center, you can see ruins of the ancient Roman city of Napoca. You will also visit the city ’s main landmark – the Catholic St. Michael’s Cathedral, built in Gothic style in the 14th century. The City Theater and the Orthodox Neo-Byzantine Cathedral complete your impression of the city. You also visit the synagogue and learn a lot about the sad fate of the Transylvanian or Romanian Jews. After the lunch break, we continue our journey through Transylvania. The name is selfexplanatory and is translated as “the land behind the woods”. The first settlers here were the Germans, who settled here in the 12th century to build a bastion with seven fortified towns against the Ottomans. On the way you will see mountains with historic forests and a rich wildlife, fabled castles, allegedly full of werewolves and vampires, ancient Romanesque, Scythian and Dacian settlements, but also modern villages with uncommonly well-preserved traditions. For the traveler, it is a unique opportunity to make a leap in time into the past epoch and experience the ancient customs up close. In the afternoon we reach Sighosiara – the only still completely preserved and inhabited medieval fortress of Eastern Europe. Our bus brings us to the hotel and after a short break we take the guided walk through the city center. We are enchanted by the medieval castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Particularly well known is the clock tower of this castle. Here is also situated the house in which allegedly the Wallachian prince Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Tepes (the impostor), was born. He served as a historical role model for Bram Stoker ’s main character in the novel “Dracula”. From the late Gothic church we enjoy a breathtaking view over the city.
The multiethnic Transylvania
On the way from Sighisoara to Sibiu, which we start right after breakfast, there is much to see. In a good hour ’s drive we come to the village Biertan. The imposing fortified church with three defensive walls, three gates and six towers justifies our short stay in the village. Halfway to Sibiu we visit a young restorer in the village of Altana. As a private initiative, he has founded a small multi-ethnic museum. He shows us his exhibition, including many Romanian, Hungarian, Saxon objects from the household, as well as those of Sinti and Roma. In addition, his full-time job is quite interesting – he is trying to save traditional buildings in the region. Over coffee and cake, he introduces his plans and answers the questions. Arrived in Sibiu you have a little time to relax in the hotel. In the late afternoon we drive to a nearby village Cisnadioara, where we see another example of a fortified church. The imposing structure impresses with the altar by Veit Stoss the Younger, which is definitely worth seeing. We also visit a Romanesque basilica. After that have a nice dinner, where we can exchange our impressions of the day.
Sibiu - European Capital of Culture 2007
Now is the time to explore the city of Sibiu more thoroughly – founded as Hermannstadt by the German settlers, the city is still the center of the “Transylvanian Saxons” – that is why its architecture reminds us of old German towns. Even the signs and the tourist information are Romanian and German labeled, although most German residents have left the city for Germany. During a walk through the town center you will get the impression of the European Capital of Culture in 2007. During a city tour you will see a big and a small city ring, the Bridge of Lies and the Evangelical Cathedral. Afterwards we drive to Sibiel, where we first visit the Museum of the Icons on Glass, the folk art from the 17th-19th century, which is typical of the Orthodox from Transylvania. Dinner prepares a Romanian farm family for you. So we are allowed to visit her at home and we also see what a typical farm looks like.
Brasov and the castles around the city
In the morning we leave Sibiu and make our way to Brasov. On the way we see the beautiful castles nearby. You will visit the world-famous Bran Castle. In this mighty fortress, the Dracula Castle, the chief of the vampires have made his mischief. Controversial remains the question of whether Prince Vlad Tepes, who is said to be the famous Dracula, in reality has ever visited the castle. However, the castle is perched on a rocky outcrop above an idyllic valley and offers a scary but somehow a pretty sight. Our further way leads through Prahova valley to Sinaia – “Pearl of the Carpathians”. In Sinaia we visit Peles Castle – a mixture of gothic and renaissance elements, probably the most beautiful in Romania – until 1914 the summer residence of King Karol the First and his favorite castle. Next to it is situated a beautiful monastery, built by the monks of the Sinai Peninsula in the 17th century. These monks also gave the city its name. In the late afternoon we reach Brasov. We have a little time before dinner to take a walk through the city center.
Black Church and the road to Moldova
Brasov is considered a city on the upswing. Thanks to its varied history, the largest city in Transylvania has much to offer. It was founded as the biggest southeastern bastion of Transylvania. The well-preserved historical center is surrounded by hills and shows a unified medieval cityscape. The baroque town hall stands on the triangular market place, rebuilt after the fire of 1698. Nearby is the Black Church from the 14th/15th century: The largest gothic sacral building in Eastern Europe is the symbol of Brasov. You can also see the church of St. Nicholas with a combination of Gothic and Byzantine style. Right after the tour in Brasov, we leave this city and head east towards the border with Moldova. Today, you can experience something that has been forgotten long since in a united Europe – border control. But here, too, border controls have become much looser in recent times. In the evening we reach Chisinau. At the late meal you will get acquainted with the local cuisine.
Welcome to the wine cellar of Europe
The local population calls the city “White Stone Flower” and the name itself is derived from “chisla noua” – “a new spring”. During the city tour, we try to understand what has inspired people to make such a comparison. We see the center with the main street Stefan cel Mare – the main artery of the Moldovan capital, see the government district and the Arc de Triomphe, walk through the Pushkin Park and the “avenue of classics” of Romanian-language literature, visit the Nativity Cathedral, Constantine and Helena Church, Armenian Church, Masaraki Church – the oldest building in the city. A must-have theme of each Moldova trip is undoubtedly wine. Wine-growing areas account for almost 25% of the country ’s total territory. Even on the geographical map, the country has the shape of a bunch of grapes. A stork with a bunch of grapes in its beak is the symbol of Moldova. Even if birth rates are not quite right due to the tense economic situation in Moldova, the grape brings a clear association with the land – an impressive 142 big and medium-sized wine producers, let alone innumerable private winegrowers. For the afternoon of this day we kept for you one of the most famous wine cellars of Moldova. The underground tunnel system is a true tourist attraction. Finally we are pleasing ourselves with wine tasting of different local flavours at this unique place. For dinner we go to the local restaurant with Moldavian cuisine and folklore show.
Old villages and the ancient Orhei
In the early morning we start north to the monastery Curci. The monastery owes its origin to a beautiful story of the conversion to Christianity of a robber clique. In the village of Butuceni we visit the Ethnographic Museum of traditional rural life. For lunch we drive to Trebujeni – a small village nearby. You will not only savor the Moldovan traditional cuisine, but also get a chance to visit a private household, which will give you an insight of the Moldovan lifestyle. Then we drive to the Orheiul-Vechi (Old Orhei) – a 40,000-year-old amphitheater where traces of numerous ancient civilizations have been found, including those of the Dacians, to whom the present-day Moldavians were related. You can also see here the Dacian Fortress. You will visit the ruins of a medieval town and the unique cave
monastery of the Assumption of Mary from the 13th century, which was carved into the rocks high above the river Reut. The river flows here in an S-shape through the plateau, whereby the up to 60m high slopes are perforated like a Swiss cheese. In the evening we will come to Soroca. Among other things, this town is known by the fact that it is the unofficial capital of Sinti and Roma. We take a walk to the so-called Gypsy Mountain and visit the Gypsy quarter, marveling at the many huge houses with all sorts of ornamentation. Our dinner will be held in local traditions, you will be introduced to the secrets of Gypsy cuisine.
Old believers and a gypsy village
After breakfast we explore Soroca. The main landmark of the city is, of course, the end of the 15th century built fortress, which is called the “real pearl of architecture”. Not everyone knows that the perfect design of the
facility, with its five defensive towers at an identical distance from one another, is considered the perfect castle in southeastern Europe. Legend has it that once the storks rescued the people in the fortress from starvation by
bringing the grapes to the inmates. On a rocky hill above Dnister rises the “Candle of Gratitude” – a new national symbol of Moldova. On the top you can read the inscription: “Wayfarer, stop! Light the candle of gratitude. If you ever in your life was grateful to someone – rise and pray and continue your journey“. After Soroca we reach the village Pokrovka – the old village of Old Believers in the north of the Republic. Here you can enjoy the national traditions, coal samovars and tea with raspberry jam, the ancient recipe of which is traditionally passed from generation to generation. Afterwards in Rudi we visit the monastery and the Trinity Church from the 18th century. Geography friends will be pleased to have seen the geodetic survey point after Struve. In the afternoon, we make our way to the Romanian border and reach in the evening Romanian town Suceava.
Most monasteries were built in the 15th-16th century by Stefan the Great and reflect the splendor of Moldavian culture. According to tradition, he has promised to build a monastery or church after every victory on the
battlefield. As a successful general, he has donated more than 40 places of worship and we see the most important of them on this day. Murals on the outer walls characterize most monasteries. Above all, they had an
educational function – to convey scenes from the Bible to people who were not able to read and write. The colorful frescoes have stood the test of time and the monasteries have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. Our first stop is Sucevita Monastery. Its military and religious buildings are quite impressive, with its wall paintings in bright colors, such as “Johns Ladder to Heaven”. It is no coincidence that Sucevita is a testament to Moldovan sacred art. Our next stop is the women’s monastery Moldovita, where you can experience the monastic life up close. The pearl in the crown of religious architecture is of course the monastery Voronet. The entire west facade adorns the mural “The Last Judgment”. Because of its extraordinary frescoes, it is still called “symphony in the blue” and “Sistine Chapel” of Romania. In the evening we arrive in the neighboring region of Maramures and stay in a hotel near Borsa. At dinner we share the impressions of the day.
Forest railway and wooden churches in Maramures
In the morning we offer you a special kind of activity – the journey from Viseu de Sus with the last forest railway of the Carpathians – a steam train with a prehistoric wood-fired locomotive ensures a leisurely motion on the water valley track. The route winds its way through bridges and tunnels, along the water flow into a wildly romantic Carpathian valley. The railway opens up a huge forest area, where there are no roads or villages, but bears and wolves are native to it. At the train station the travelers are offered a rich catering. In addition, visitors have the opportunity to marvel at the nature of the water valley on an observation platform. In the afternoon our journey continues through the northern part of Romania, through Maramures – a secluded, wooded and unspoilt village area in the far north of the country, along the Ukrainian border. Our way leads over the gloriously high passes, over a lonely serpentine road. On the way we visit two of many wooden churches in front of impressive mountain scenery in Bogdan Voda, Rozavlea, Barsana, Leud – outstanding examples of sacral architecture typical of northern Romania. Of course, wood is the most important building material in such an area. Moreover, the churches are often true masterpieces of wooden architecture, with their shingled, slender, wooden church towers built without metal nails. Carved wooden fences and richly decorated gates of the farmsteads are a real feast for theeyes. Inside, they are equipped like Orthodox churches. We enjoy dinner on a typical Maramures farm in Oncesti. The homemade local specialties make us even closer to the local customs and traditions.
Sighet and the Merry cemetery
In Sighet, on the grounds of the former prison, we visit the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. In the museum you will find an interesting collection of documents, photographs, objects and documents in about 50 exhibition rooms in the former cell site. With a member of the museum we talk about the Ceausescu regime and its consequences and its processing.
Our next program point is the “Merry Cemetery” in the nearby Sapanta – a special attraction. On the blue painted and patterned crosses is carved next to the portrait of the deceased even a shaking rhyme as an ironic obituary –
a true carnival of death. That was our last program point. It is time to say goodbye to Romania. Take home with you unforgettable impressions as well as the feeling of having experienced something special. You have spent an intense and eventful time and we hope you are firmly convinced that someday you will definitely want to come here again. You are always welcome!