Duration: 4 days
Transportation: car or train+car
Day 1: Budapest – Oradea – Satu Mare (384 km)
Leave Budapest and travel to Oradea (4 hours by train). Rent a car in Oradea or hire a local guide. Travel northeast to Satu Mare. Overnight in Satu Mare. Sightseeing in Satu Mare: the impressive Secession buildings in the Great Square.
Day 2: Satu Mare – Sapanta – Botiza (151 km)
After breakfast travel east to the village of Sapanta. Sightseeing: the Merry Cemetery. Continue 12 miles east to the town of Sighetul Marmatiei. Discover Maramures’ villages such as Vadul Izei, Barsana and Botiza. In Barsana visit the workshop of master wood-carver Toader Barsan, who represented Maramures at the 2001 Smithsonian Festival in Washington, DC. Observe rural life, the traditional costumes still worn by the villagers, and the specific architecture. Overnight in a Maramures village
Day 3: Botiza – Oradea (285 km)
Sightseeing: some of the area’s wooden churches: Poienile Izei – famous for its representation of Hell on its main door, Ieud – featuring the oldest church in the entire region, Bogdan Voda and Surdesti – the tallest wooden church in the world (steeple 160 feet high). Ovenight in Oradea.
Day 4: Oradea – Budapest (250 km)
Take the train or drive from Oradea to Budapest. This itinerary can be extended with one or two days to include the Painted Monasteries in Bucovina.
Duration: 3 days
Best way of transportation: car
Day 1: Iasi
Fly in from Bucharest or from Vienna or take the express train from Bucharest to Iasi and rent a car. Drive to the centuriesold Cotnari vineyards. Take a wine tasting tour and try some of Romania’s finest sweet white wines: Grasa de Cotnari, Tamaioasa and Feteasca Alba. Enjoy dinner in a monastery and a Byzantine vocal concert by students at the Theological Institute of lasi. Overnight in lasi.
Day 2: Iasi – The Painted Monasteries Area
Drive northwest to Gura Humorului and discover the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Visit the three best-preserved 15th century monasteries: Moldovita, Sucevita and Voronet, the latter known as the “Sistine Chapel of the East.” Overnight at a hotel in Gura Humorului or in one of the many B&Bs (Pensiune) in the nearby towns.
Day 3: The Painted Monasteries Area – Iasi
Return to Iasi. Iasi is often overlooked by many visitors but the city continues to be one of Romania’s most important cultural centres and home to the country’s first university. In 1565, Iasi became the capital of the historic province of Moldova and for a short period of time, from 1859 until 1862, the capital of Romania. Iasi is among the very few cities in the world which have more than 100 Orthodox churches.
Duration: 4 days
Best way of transportation: car or train
Transylvania (Romanian: Ardeal or Transilvania, Hungarian: Erdély, German: Siebenbürgen, Latin: Transsilvania) is a historical region in the central part of Romania.
Day 1: Cluj-Napoca – Sighisoara (162 km)
In Cluj-Napoca, visit the Art Museum, housed in the 18th century Banffy Palace, to view collections of weaponry and Romanian paintings dating from the Middle Ages. Sightseeing: Old Town’s architecture, the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania, St Michael Cathedral, the Botanical Gardens. Drive/ take the train to Sighisoara. Overnight in Sighisoara.
Day 2: Sighisoara – Brasov (116 km)
Discover Europe’s best preserved medieval town. Spend the morning seeing the sights, such as the Clock Tower, the Guild Tower; Venetian House, Antler House, Scholar‘s Wooden Staircase, Church on the Hill, Hermann Oberth Square. Have lunch in the house where Vlad tepes (Dracula) was born. Travel to Brasov. Overnight in Brasov.
Day 3: Brasov – Sibiu (141 km)
Explore Brasov’s outstanding old town built by Saxons in 1400s. Travel from Brasov to Sibiu (train, bus or car). Overnight in Sibiu.
Day 4: Sibiu – Alba lulia – Cluj-Napoca (168 km)
Visit Sibiu’s Bruckenthal Palace and its rich art collections. Other attractions in Sibiu include Little Square (Craftsmen’s Square), Bridge of Lies, Goldsmith’s Square, the Orthodox Cathedral, several centuries- old churches and the City Hall Tower. Visit the nearby traditional village of Sibiel. Return to Cluj-Napoca.
Itinerary: Bucharest – Tulcea – the Danube Delta
Duration: 4 days
Best way of transportation: train or car to Tulcea, then boat
Day 1: Bucharest – Tulcea – the Danube Delta (313km)
Arrive in Bucharest. Transfer to Delta Nature Resort. The Delta Nature Resort is an elegant and luxurious retreat, recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the Top 10 eco-resorts in the world. Sunset boat trip along meandering channels of the Danube Delta while sampling local wines from the Sarica Niculitel vineyards, such as Aligote, Feteasca Regala and Pinot Noir. Relaxed dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, overlooking Somova Lake.
Day 2: the Danube Delta
After breakfast, head out, by boat, to Saon Monastery. Built in 1846, this religious retreat is home to some 40 nuns who run an organic farm on the banks of picturesque Lake Parcheş. Lunch, prepared by the nuns from local organic products, at the monastery. Return by boat to the hotel, via Delta channels teaming with dozens of species of birds, including the largest colony of white pelicans in Europe. Traditional Danube Delta dinner: Caviar and fresh fish from the Danube River and nearby Black Sea. On the menu will also be the delicious local salad, Salata Dobrogeana, and Saramura, an entrée prepared from broiled carp served with polenta and garlic sauce. A selection of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Muscat Ottonel wines from Murfatlar vineyards will be served to quench the thirst.
Day 3: the Danube Delta
After breakfast, explore some of the main channels and lakes of the Delta while fishing for carp, catfish, zander and perch. Hear the call of an egret, spot a group of pelicans lifting gracefully into the air or catch sight of other rare species, such as the pygmy cormorant or the red-breasted goose. For lunch sample the traditional fisherman’s soup prepared fresh in one of the villages en route. In the afternoon, visit the Danube Delta Natural History Museum in Tulcea where you will learn more about the Delta, the third most biodiverse in the world. Overnight in Tulcea.
Day 4: The Danube Delta – Tulcea – Bucharest (313)
After breakfast, departure to Bucharest for your return flight or continue your Romania Discovery Journey.
Arrange for your hotel to have a taxi pick you up at the airport and then experience the intoxicating energy of this heady, combustible capital: It’s a city on the move. Make time for the Cotroceni Palace (call ahead to book a tour), the National Museum of Art, and the small but gorgeous Stavreolpolous Church, where it’s also worth calling ahead if you’d prefer to learn something meaningful about Romanian Orthodox faith. It’s also worth checking out the world’s biggest example of architectural excess, Ceausescu’s megalithic Parliamentary Palace, but you’ll probably need to devote an entire morning or afternoon, thanks to a rather annoying queuing-and-waiting procedure. Try to stay at the Rembrandt, a fabulous little hotel in the midst of the historic Lipscani District, or — if you don’t mind forking out considerably more — check into the friendly, plush, no-nonsense K+K Elisabeta, right near the National Theater. At night, you’ll be spoiled for choice — classy restaurants are opening faster than it’s possible to keep track of, and there are dozens of bars that stay open until the wee hours. Start the night in the vicinity of the Romanian Athenaeum; if there’s a concert on there, try to catch it.
Day 3: Sinaia & Brasov
You can save time by catching the early morning train to Sinaia, where you can leave your luggage at the station before setting off for the guided tour of Peles Castle, a fantastic introduction to modern Romanian history and a splendid example of just how far interior design can go with a big enough budget. After the castle, you can visit the local monastery before collecting your luggage and hopping on the first available train to Brasov, about an hour away. Brasov is centered on a wide-open medieval public square, surrounded by lovely architecture. You can view the whole historic center from Mount Tampa, getting to the top in a cable car. Visit the world-famous Black Church; in summer, you might catch a concert showcasing the brilliant acoustics and showing off the church’s massive organ. But Brasov is great for just wandering around; there are lovely antiques stores, several fantastic restaurants, and great hidden alleyways. Don’t miss the historic Schei neighborhood. Be sure to reserve a room in one of the small hotels recommended in the Brasov section.
Day 4: Brasov to Sighisoara
Once you’ve had your fill of Brasov, take the train to the World Heritage citadel of Sighisoara. There’s not much to do, except soak up the ambience of a walled, cobblestone, hilltop city. Explore its Church on the Hill, and climb to the top of the Clock Tower above the museum. Taste tuica (fruit brandy) made by Teo Coroian, and eat in the restaurant occupying the house where the real Count Dracula was born.
Day 5: Sighisoara to Sibiu
Sibiu shared the title of European City of Culture in 2007 and got a thorough make-over in preparation — it’s a beautiful mélange of medieval and baroque monuments, with churches, museums and pedestrian squares galore. Take your time exploring, and don’t miss the great Transylvanian food at Crama Sibiul Vechi, which occupies a 500-year-old cellar.
Days 6-7: Maramures
If you don’t fancy spending 6 hours in a train, you can break the journey between Sibiu and Baia Mare — the main city in Maramures — with a stopover in Cluj-Napoca, a prosperous city with a large student population and modern aspirations; explore the cafes around the lively town square, and visit the church lording over it.
The trip into Maramures will take you back a hundred years or so. Arrange to stay with a local family for 1 or 2 nights to experience village life; with advance planning, DiscoveRomania will organize a driver to pick you up at the train station (or the airport) and can ensure that you have a guide throughout your stay in this, Romania’s most bucolic region. Explore some of the gorgeous wooden churches scattered throughout the region, then visit the Merry Cemetery at Sapânta and the anti-Communist museum in nearby Sighet.
Days 8-9: Moldavia’s painted monasteries
From Maramures, arrange to be driven all the way to Gura Humorului in the neighboring province of Moldavia, beyond the northern edge of the Carpathian Mountains. Spend what’s left of the day exploring a few of the best of the painted monasteries of southern Bucovina — Voronet, Moldovita, Sucevita, and Humor. Do whatever you can to spend the night at the beautiful green guesthouse, Casa cu Cerbi, in the tiny village of Voievodeasa, near Sucevita. The following day, spend time idling in the villages, and catch up with more of the monasteries.
Days 10-12: Danube Delta
End your Romanian tour by getting back to nature. The Danube Delta is now home to the smartest resort in the whole country: Organize well in advance for staff at the Delta Nature Resort to arrange the long road transfer from Suceava. A day spent exploring the Delta will charge your batteries and prepare you for the trip back to Bucharest and then home.