Romania & Bulgaria Encompassed 2020
|Tour Dates||01 Aug 2020 - 22 Aug 2020 (22 days)|
|Tour Price (Per Person)||Price to be announced|
|Spaces Available||Spaces available|
|Tour Fact Sheet|
|Max Group Size||12 travelers with 1 Out of Bounds leader and local guides/driver(s)|
Day 1: Bucharest, Romania
Arrival at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport. You will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. Evening at leisure. Overnight in Bucharest.
Day 2: Bucharest and Sinaia–Brasov
This morning we will discover why Bucharest has earned its nickname of “Little Paris” or “Paris of the East”. We will do a short walking tour in the areas accessible on foot in the historical center and have a panoramic tour of the major attractions like University Square, Romania Square, Victory Square, Arch of Triumph, House of the Free Press. We will also visit the Village Museum, showcasing traditional Romanian village life in one of the biggest and most impressive open-air museums in Europe; the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral – the center of the Romanian Orthodox Church; as well as the Constitution Square, which offers excellent views of the Palace of Parliament. In the afternoon we will transfer north to the Sinaia–Brasov area – in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, presenting spectacular mountain scenery and allowing us to discover the most famous castles of Romania: Bran and Peles. Overnight in Brasov.
Day 3: Brasov + Peles Castle & Bran Castle
Our first stop is the beautiful Peles Castle, built by the Romanian royal family at the end of the 19th century as their summer residence in a German-Renaissance architecture style. Next we shall visit Bran Castle, which dates back to 1377 and is most associated with the myth of Dracula, Bram Stoker’s famous character. Finally, we will tour the enchanting medieval city of Brasov with its stunning historic center area. The city was founded in the early 13th century by the Teutonic Knights and later developed by the Saxons. Overnight in Brasov.
Day 4: Sibiu via Sighisoara and Biertan
This morning we will venture first to Sighisoara, the most well-preserved medieval town in Romania. The Clock Tower, the house where Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) was born and the Covered Stairs are just few things really worth to visit in Sighisoara. Later we will visit Biertan and the fortified church: The architectonic ensemble from Biertan impresses by a harmonious matching in locality, by its esthetic and historic value and especially by the original substance preserved since the end of the 15th century, characteristics which determined its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Overnight in Sibiu.
Day 5: Sibiu & Timisoara
After breakfast we will tour the fortress town of Sibiu, a pedestrian-friendly city with two easily accessible levels: the Upper town, home to Sibiu’s historic sites, and the Lower town, lined with colorful houses on cobblestone streets and bounded by imposing city walls and defense towers overlooking the River Cibin. Later we will drive to Timisoara, where we will spend the evening.
Day 6: Timisoara & Cluj-Napoca
The first record of the city of Timisoara, built on the site of an ancient Roman fortress called Castrum Regium Themes, dates back to 1212. Over the years, Timisoara, the largest city in western Romania, has been influenced by many cultures. The Romans used it as an important crossroads fortress until the Tatars destroyed it in the 13th century. Conquered by Turkish armies in 1552, Timisoara remained under their protection until 1718 when the region of Banat came under Austrian rule for two centuries. The charm of this city, settled on the northern bank of the Bega River, lies in its distinct architectural character and vibrant cultural life. A progressive, cosmopolitan place, Timisoara was the first city in Europe to use electricity to illuminate its public streets. We will visit the Museum of Banat, in Huniade Castle, founded in 1872. It hosts the largest collection of archaeological objects. The ground floor houses the Neolithic sanctuary from Parta, is a unique monument in Europe. Next we will make our way to Cluj-Napoca in the afternoon, where we will have some time to briefly stroll the city and have the evening at leisure. Overnight in Cluj-Napoca.
Day 7: Cluj-Napoca & Maramureş region
Cluj-Napoca, the main city in the region of Transylvania, traces its origins back to the Dacian settlement of Napuca in the 2nd century A.D. We will spend a few hours exploring this fascinating city before beginning our drive to the old world region of Maramureş, where we should arrive in the late afternoon. Overnight in Maramureş.
Day 8: Maramureş
The northwestern Romanian region of Maramureş is home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. The inhabitants of this area have preserved, to an amazing extent, the rural culture and crafts of their Dacian ancestors. Woodlands still account for more than four-fifths of the land surface of Maramureş. We will be driving through the most scenic and pastoral areas in the region and will visit some of the local settlements, famous with their impressive wooded churches (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and wooded gates. Overnight in Maramures.
Day 9: Suceava via Maramureş Mountains Natural Park & Rodnei Mountains National Park
After breakfast we will venture out to Maramureş Mountains Natural Park, the largest protected territory in the Romanian Carpathians. In addition to its stunning vistas and natural beauty, the national park holds 8 amphibian species, 7 reptile species, 126 bird species and 41 mammal species within its borders. We will enjoy a couple of hours in the national park before carrying onto the nearvy Rodnei Mountains National Park, which was established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and is known for its amazing hiking trails and gorgeous mountainous backdrops. Finally we will continue to the Suceava area, where we will be based for the next two nights. Overnight in Suceava.
Day 10: Suceava area
Today is devoted to the UNESCO-listed, Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. We will visit at least two or three of these beautiful monasteries, highlighting the ones in Arbore, Sucevita and Moldovita. We will also do a sightseeing in Suceava, the former capital of Moldova. Overnight in Suceava.
Day 11: Tulcea
Today will be a long but interesting travel day as we drive across Romania some 450 km southeast to the famed and UNESCO-listed Danube Delta, where along the way we can enjoy the rural scenery and make several stops on the way for photographs and lunch. Dinner and overnight in Tulcea.
Day 12: Danube Delta
We will do a boat trip from Tulcea to Mila 23, where we will have a traditional fish lunch (Lipovan style) prepared in a local pension. On the trip we will see the main wilderness areas within this enormous wetland, including a lot of impressive birdlife, including White and Dalmatian pelicans, White-tailed eagles, different species of herons, egrets and other water birds. Overnight in Tulcea.
Day 13: Rousse (Bulgaria) via Srebarna Nature Reserve
Bidding farewell to the wonderful country of Romania, in the morning we will be driving about 3 ½ hours to Bulgaria, firstly south to Constanta, then heading west towards the Bulgarian city of Silistra, located on the Romanian-Bulgarian border. Here we will cross the border and have lunch in Silistra. Then in the afternoon we will visit the Srebarna Nature Reserve (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which holds the only breeding colony of Dalmatian pelicans in the picturesque wetlands along the Danube river stream, before the river have reached its delta. In late afternoon after lunch, we will then have a scenic two hour transfer upstream the Danube, to the city of Rousse. Overnight in Rousse.
Day 14: Rousse & Veliko Turnovo
In the morning we will do a short city tour in Rousse, the most significant Bulgarian river port and serving an important part of the international trade of the country. Rousse is known for its 19th and 20th century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture. It is often called the ‘Little Vienna’. In late morning we will transfer for an hour to Veliko Tarnovo, where we will spend the rest of the day. Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest towns in the country, as its history dates back to more than five thousand years ago. The most significant monument of culture in Veliko Tarnovo is the medieval fortress Tsarevets, situated on the homonymous peak, surrounded on three sides by the River Yantra. Excavations show that although Tsarevets is surrounded by a fortified wall, it was not a closed fortress, but a real medieval town. In the course of the day we will be able to visit also other landmarks in Veliko Turnovo. Overnight in Veliko Turnovo.
Day 15: Nessebar via Varna
After breakfast we will depart on a three hours drive east to the Black Sea coast, where we will spend most of the afternoon in the city of Varna. Situated on the northern Bulgarian Black Sea shore, Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria. Because of its history and its economic and cultural significance, it is often called the Sea Capital of Bulgaria. Here we will visit the Archaeological Museum, which impressive collection includes the finds from the Varna chalcolythic necropolis – the oldest golden treasure in the world found by now, dating back to six thousand years ago. In the late afternoon we will transfer south, following the coastline and reach the town of Nessebar, where we will be staying overnight.
Day 16: Nessebar & Rila Mountains
We will start our day with a walking tour around the old area of Nessebar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), situated on a small (850 m lg and 350 m wide) peninsula. The Old Town was declared an architectural-historical reserve of national importance as well. Later we will have a long drive west (400 km) to the northern foot of Rila Mountains, with stops on the way for photographs, relaxing and lunch. Overnight at hotel in Rila Mountains.
Day 17: Seven Rila Lakes
This morning we will take a chair-lift to reach the lakes. The Seven Rila Lakes are a group of lakes of glacial origin, situated in the northwestern part of Rila Mountains (which is the highest mountain range on the Balkan Peninsula). Each lake carries a name associated with its most characteristic feature. For instance the highest one is called Salzata (“The Tear”) due to its clear waters that allow visibility in depth. We will do an easy to moderate grading walk/trek around part of the lakes, as the walking distance will depend on the fitness of the tour participants. Overnight at hotel in Rila Mountains.
Day 18: Melnik via Rila Monastery
We will reach the Rila Monastery (UNESCO) in the morning and spend a couple of hours visiting this true wonder of Eastern Europe. This is a medieval monastery hidden in the mountain recesses and presenting magnificent murals and icons. This is one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments. Later we will reach the town of Melnik in early afternoon and spend the rest of the day exploring the region. Melnik is in the middle of the most popular vine-growing region in Bulgaria, famous for its local Broad-leaved Melnik vineyards and wines, which we will taste. If time allows we may also visit the nearby Rozhen Monastery, one of the ancient monasteries preserved in Bulgaria. Overnight in Melnik.
Day 19: Bansko & Pirin National Park
Today will begin with an easy three hour drive to the northern part of Pirin National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), where we will spend the rest of the day. This is one of the three national parks in Bulgaria, preserving unique ecosystems. We will visit the high mountain areas dotted with glacial lakes, spectacular rocky gorges and precipitous cliffs. We will be able to see some key symbolic species of birds here (like the Golden Eagle, Spotted Nutcracker, Common Crossbill and Black Woodpecker), as well as a very fair chance of seeing the Balkan Chamois. Overnight in Bansko.
Day 20: Beogradchik
Morning transfer (4 to 5 hours) to Beogradchik Fortress (UNESCO) in the northwestern corner of Bulgaria, where we will spend the rest of the day. The Beogradchik Fortress is built among the impressive Beogradchik Rocks – a natural phenomenon aged more than 200 million years. The Beogradchik Rocks gained global fame by being included in the vote for the new Seven Wonders of the World. Overnight in Beogradchik.
Day 21: Sofia
Morning transfer (for about 2 ½ hours) to the delightful capital of Sofia, where we will spend the afternoon. We will do a city tour in the central part of Sofia, looking and visiting many landmarks, including the oldest church in the city, the Saint George Rotunda. It is thought that the church was built in the 6th century, during the reign of Constantine the Great. Another important landmark here is the Boyana Church, a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church situated on the outskirts of Sofia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The church owes its world fame mainly to its frescoes from 1259. They form a second layer over the paintings from earlier centuries and represent one of the most complete and well-preserved monuments of Eastern European medieval art. If time allows we could also visit the National History Museum, which is one of the largest and richest history museums on the Balkan Peninsula. More than 700,000 cultural monuments are preserved inside it, representing the history of the present Bulgarian lands from the period 8,000 years ago to the present day. Overnight in Sofia.
Day 22: Departure
After an all-encompassing, three week tour of Romania & Bulgaria, we will head to Sofia Airport for our transfers out. End of tour.
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