Arrival in Bucharest, where you will be met by your private driver, who will be waiting for you just outside of Customs, after you pick up your luggage, to transfer you to your hotel in the center of the city.
Essential Romania - Transylvania (7 days)
This morning, you will be greeted by your personal English speaking driver-guide who will be waiting for you in the lobby of your hotel. You will start your journey through the heart of Transylvania and the area with a high concentration of fortified churches and towns – testimony to the Saxon colonization in the Middle Ages. Saxon merchants arrived here in the 12th – 13th Century to help fortify and defend the eastern borders of this region, which at that time was controlled by the Hungarian Kingdom. The Saxons founded several settlements, among which are the present-day cities of Sighisoara, Brasov, Sibiu, and Cluj-Napoka.
This morning, your driver-guide will take you north to Sinaia. Known as the “pearl of the Carpathians”, it is a popular ski-resort, located in the picturesque surroundings of the Prahova Valley at the foot of the fir-covered Bucegi Mountains. The resort allegedly got its name from a Romanian nobleman, who, after visiting the Mount Sinai in Israel in the 17th Century, came back and founded the Sinaia Monastery, which still exists today and is a popular tourist attraction.
Later today, you will visit what is considered by many one of the most beautiful castles in the whole Europe. Peles Castle is a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture. The former summer palace of King Carol, its architecture is resplendent with turrets, curlicues and painted frescoes on the walls. Completed in 1883, Peles' interiors are a magnificent display of elegant design and historical artifacts. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows, walls covered with Cordoba leather, Meissen and Sevres porcelains, ebony and ivory sculptures.
You will also visit the Sinaia Monastery, built in 1695 and housing religious objects, icons, rare books, pottery and porcelain ware from the 16th – 19th Centuries. This is still a working monastery, so you will be able to see the old monks living here and still wearing their traditional attire, who will be quite happy to show you around.
You will continue north-west and arrive at the medieval town of Brasov - one of the most historic towns in the Transylvanian region. Founded in the 13th Century as a German merchant colony, the town soon became a major medieval trading center. The Saxons built ornate houses and churches, protected by a massive defensive wall that still remains. You may decide to visit the Council House in the middle of the Old Town’s square. The building’s tower, called the Trumpeter’s Tower, was once a watchtower from which alarm was sounded in times of danger. After the great fire of 1689, set by the invading Austro – Hungarian army, the building was restored and completed as a Renaissance-style loggia dominated by a Baroque facade bearing the coat of arms of the town. The Counsel House was at that time the business and political decision-making center of the city. Nowadays it houses the Brasov Historical Museum, which focuses on the history of the Saxon guilds. Brasov also has some wonderful examples of Renaissance, Baroque and Romanian 19th Century architecture.
Have the evening at your leisure. You may decide to have dinner and wine-tasting at a local restaurant featuring traditional Romanian folklore show.
This morning, your guide will take you to continue your walking tour of the historic Brasov. You will visit the famous Black Church, the largest Gothic Church in Romania and indeed, in the entire Balkan region. It was built in the 14th Century as a three-nave basilica by German architects and masons commissioned by the Saxon community of Brasov. The current structure was probably erected on top of an older church which was destroyed during the Mongol invasion in the 13th Century. Following the damage from the fire in 1689, which also blackened the building giving it its current name, the Black Church was rebuilt with the help of masons from Danzig (today Gdansk in Poland), in the Baroque style.
The church’s massive structure is 290 feet long and 125 feet high, and has a six-ton bell - the largest in Romania, and an impressive 4,000-pipe organ, which is still played during weekly concerts, as well as a rich collection of Anatolian carpets donated in the Middle Ages by Saxon merchants.
This afternoon, you will continue your walking tour of Old Brasov with a stroll to its medieval citadel. Strategically overlooking the town and the plains to North, the Citadel was erected in the middle of the 15th Century as part of Brasov's outer fortification system against Turkish, Mongol, and Tartar invaders. Destroyed by the fire in 1618, it was later rebuilt by the citizens of Brasov, who added four massive stone bastions, which were at the same time gates protecting the entrances to the city. The only original gate to have survived from medieval times is the fairy-tale looking Ekaterina’s Gate, which also bears Brasov’s coat of arms. Interestingly, during the Saxon rule in the 13th – 17th Century, Romanians were not allowed to own property inside the fortress walls and had to settle in the surrounding areas. Romanians could only enter the town at certain times and had to pay a toll at the gate for the privilege of selling their produce inside the citadel. The citadel was abandoned later, when the advances of military technology made it an ineffective protection against modern cannons.
Later this afternoon, your driver-guide will take you to Sighisoara - the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, and one of the most charming towns in all of Transylvania. At present, the entire township is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument. This ancient town is still very much a functioning hub of the Transylvanian region.
ck-in to your cosy three-star boutique hotel located in the Old Town. This charming hotel’s rooms are appointed with real antiques and its prime location over the central square makes it a great place to stay. Enjoy an evening at your leisure. You may wish to have dinner today in the very house where Vlad Tepes was born.
This morning, your guide will take you on a walking tour of Sighisoara to include the medieval Citadel with 14 towers; the over 200 feet-tall Clock Tower – once the main entrance to the fortified city; and the Covered Stairway. We also recommend a visit to the History Museum, especially for its fascinating exhibit of Medieval Weaponry.
Driving south-west, you will reach the village of Biertan, one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, listed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. It is one of the most visited villages in Transylvania, being the place of the annual reunion of the Transylvanian Saxons, many of whom now live in Germany. Your driver-guide will take you on a tour of Biertan’s old center and its fortified church.
Later today, you will travel to Sibiu, which, together with Luxembourg, has been voted the European Capital of Culture for 2007. Known also as Hermannstadt, the city has been the center of Romania's German minority since medieval times. Even today, it contains Romania's largest German community and the Germanic feel of the area has been well maintained. Sibiu is one of Romania's cultural and tourism centers, attracting tourists due to its wonderful medieval charm, excellent views of the surrounding landscapes, great food, and stunning parkland.
Check in at your hotel, situated at the very heart of the historic center of Sibiu and have the rest of the evening at your leisure.
You will meet your driver-guide in the lobby of your hotel for the tour of Sibiu’s main historic and cultural sights. The city was founded in the 12th Century by German settlers, and was probably built near an ancient Roman settlement. In the 14th Century, Sibiu was already an important trade center, whose merchants and craftsmen were divided in 19 guilds.
During the 18th and 19th Centuries, Sibiu became the second and later the first most important city of Transylvania. After the Romanian Orthodox Church was granted independence from the Habsburg Empire in the 1860s, Sibiu became the Metropolitan seat. After the First World War, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved, Sibiu became part of Romania and the majority of its German population migrated to Germany.
Today, the city of Sibiu and its surroundings are one of the most visited areas in Romania, partly because of its medieval fortifications, which are still been kept in an excellent condition. You will walk around the Lower City, which comprises the area between the river and the hill, and was historically developed around the earliest fortifications. You will explore the rather wide medieval streets and the small, tucked-away squares. Sibiu’s architecture is rather rustic, consisting typically of two-storey houses with tall roofs and gates opening passages to inner courtyards. In this part of town you will also see Sibiu’s oldest church, dating back to 1386.
You will continue your tour with the exploration of the Large Square, which has been the city’s focal point since the 16th Century. On the corner of the square, you will visit the Brukenthal Palace, one of the most important Baroque monuments in Romania, built in the end of the 19th Century as the main residence for the Governor of Transylvania Samuel von Brukenthal. Nowadays it houses the main part of the National Brukenthal Museum, opened in 1817. Next to the palace is the Blue House - an 18th Century Baroque house bearing the old coat of arms of Sibiu on its façade.
You will also see the Council Tower, one of the city's symbols. This former fortification tower from the 14th Century was successively rebuilt over the years. Later today, you will also walk to the Small Square to see the Liar's Bridge - the first bridge in Romania to have been cast in iron in the 19th Century. Just to the right of the bridge is another symbol of the city - the House of the Arts, an arched building which once belonged to the Butchers' Guild. On the left side of the bridge is the Luxemburg House, a Baroque four-storey building, the former seat of the Goldsmiths' Guild.
Time permitting, your driver-guide will take out of Sibiu to the village of Sibiel to visit its icon museum, one of the best in the country. Located just next to the village church, the museum hoses a collection of over 700 icons richly painted on glass, as well as furniture and ceramics. If you wish, you can try a ride in a traditional horse-driven cart.
Return to your hotel and have the evening at your leisure.
Your driver-guide will meet you in the hotel lobby for your drive south to Bucharest. On the way, you will have a chance to admire the serrated peaks of the Fagaras Mountains, rising in the south.
En route, you may decide to stop in the town of Curtea de Arges (The Court of Arges) and visit the ruins of the Princely court, which originally comprised a church and palace, and are nowadays located right in the city center. Although little remains of the palace ruins, the church is almost completely intact. It was built in the 14th Century by the Wallachian prince Basarab, who adopted the Byzantine tradition of church patronage, making generous donations to the Orthodox monasteries, not only in Wallachia but throughout the Balkans. The court is considered to be the oldest monument preserved in its original form in Wallachia and among the oldest in all of Romania.
Continuing south, on the outskirts of Bucharest, you will visit one of Romania’s most significant palaces – the Mogosoaia Palace, built in the 17th Century within a large court and surrounded by a lake and forests and featuring traditional Romanian staircase balconies, arcades and columns.
Late afternoon arrival in Bucharest and check in at the luxurious five-star Athenee Palace Hilton hotel in the centre of the city. The rest of the evening is at your leisure. The Athenee Palace hotel boasts of a number of bars, cafes and restaurants catering to a variety of gastronomic requirements. We suggest you try the international menu of the open-air La Strada Terrace bar and restaurant for a relaxing dinner. The cost of dinner is not included in your trip.
Check out of your hotel and meet your driver for the transfer to the airport for your flight onward.
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A sample itinerary for FIT touring in Romania.
For 25 years, Exeter International has established itself as the leading deluxe specialist operator to Central and Eastern Europe, Russia & Central Asia. We use our intimate regional knowledge and expertise to create unique, often limited access travel experiences. Our multi-national, multi-lingual specialists craft authentic insider experiences, created with imagination. When you book with Exeter International you can expect the top guides in each city pre-reserved weeks in advance, matched to your preferences. Our specialists have also been recognized by the Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure top agent list since their inception.
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Russia requires visas of United States citizens and Exeter International will arrange for the invitation required for a visa upon
booking. Each traveler will be responsible for one passport photo, a completed visa form, one photo copy of the information pages of his/her passport, the invitation, and the visa processing fee. If the traveler would like, Exeter International will obtain all visas at additional cost. Each traveler is responsible for his/her own passport, which must be valid for six (6) months after the completion of the participant’s tour. Exeter International is not responsible for the refusal of a visa to any traveler by any consulate. In the event of visa refusal, any and all expenses/cancellation fees shall be borne by the traveler.
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Small Group Tours - Deposits ($500) per person, for group tours are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis and are non-refundable and nontransferable. We will hold your reservation for one week after you book your tour without a deposit. Some special programs (cruises and trains) may have different deposit policies.
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Payments must be made in Tampa, FL to Exeter International at least eight weeks prior to departure and are accepted by check, cash or credit card. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover Card for credit card payment. Please note that payment for any services a traveler wishes to add once travel commences must be made in United States Dollars to the Exeter International local representative. We cannot accept personal checks or travelers checks overseas.
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Exeter International will supply its travelers with personal transportation to and from all train stations, airports and ports, as described in the tour description. Baggage assistance is included for one piece of luggage per person, but tour participants should be prepared to handle their own bags at certain times during the tour. Please read carefully the Exeter International Travel Tips publication. We cannot guarantee air-conditioned vehicles in some cities. Touring and transfers will be by regular 4 passenger cars unless you have specifically ordered a
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Please note that due to circumstances beyond the control of Exeter International, the tour may not be deliverable exactly as described (i.e. theater scheduling, hotel occupancy, etc.), BUT Exeter International will substitute scheduled or advertised events, hotels, and restaurants with alternatives of equal or greater value and quality. All hotels, restaurant and airline space is subject to their management’s approval. Exeter International will make every effort to guarantee this package as is, but conditions will sometimes mandate minor changes to the program. Reservations are nontransferable.
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Up to 8 weeks prior to departure: Deposit is nonrefundable 8 weeks to 14 days prior to departure: 50% cancellation fee 13 days or less prior to departure: 100% cancellation fee Reservations made at Russian and non-Western hotels are nonrefundable within 30 days of departure. Travelers are liable for airline and hotel cancellation fees as stated in their agreements. For all cruise and train bookings, please refer to the cancellation policies outlined in the specific Terms & Conditions for that program. All cancellations must be received in writing. If Exeter International must cancel your trip, you will be fully refunded.
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All Exeter International tours are guaranteed departures unless specifically noted with a minimum group size in the tour description. In small groups (less than 8 guests), the guides will act as the tour mangers in each of the cities. For all groups larger than 8 guests a tour manger will meet the group upon arrival in the first city of the tour and travel with this group throughout the duration of the tour. Certain events and meals may be changed slightly for small groups, as described in the brochure.
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Your tour includes everything that is specifically stated in the tour description. Breakfast (usually buffet) is usually provided daily; lunch and dinner will be provided only as stated in the tour description. Meals always include tea and coffee. Alcoholic beverages and mineral water are not included in meals, unless specifically noted. Visa fees are not included in tour prices.
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