Best of Bulgaria & Romania
Sofia and Bucharest, capitals of the two countries, display how dazzling is life nowadays as being the main centers of the political, economic and cultural in the region.
Dive into the medieval history, in the times of the Bulgarian Empire and discover the intriguing Rila Monastery, UNESCO World Site founded back in the 10th century.
Enjoy a flavor of Transylvania by visiting its castles and fortified churches, that served along many centuries as main strategic points in the way of the invaders that defied to conquer Europe. The road will take you to the wonderful city of Sibiu, the heart of Transylvania and former European Capital of Culture in 2007. You will be impressed by Sighisoara, one of the last inhabited medieval citadel in Europe, whose city center is very well preserved and part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Arrive to Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, transfer to our downtown hotel.
Day 2 : Sofia & famous Rila Monastery, 295 KM
Visit Sofia during our sight-seeing tour of this morning: enjoy the unique mixture of ancient, medieval and recent examples of the local architecture: the 1400 year old St. George Rotunda, famous for its original structure and unique frescoes, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the World, a symbol of Sofia, the 6th cen. St. Sofia Church that gave the city its name…
The Royal Palace which nowadays hosts the National Art Gallery. In the afternoon we travel to Rila Monastery where we visit the most impressive Bulgarian monastery, founded in 10th century and featuring extraordinary architecture, wall-paintings, and wood carvings. The Monastery is listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage site. Return to Sofia.
Day 3 : Sofia – Plovdiv – Veliko Tarnovo, 385 km
This morning we depart for Plovdiv, ancient settlement founded in 342 BC by Phillip II of Macedonia. Our visit in the Old town will include the Roman Amphitheatre and the Medieval Fortifications. In the afternoon we continue to the town of Kazanluk, an area known as the Valley of the Thracian Kings. Here we visit a replica of one of the oldest Thracian tombs listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Further to Veliko Tarnovo where we remain for this overnight.
Day 4 : Veliko Tarnovo – Sinaia / Romania, 350 km
Visit beautiful Veliko Tarnovo, former capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1396). The town is also referred to as the “City of the Kings”. You will be amazed by its stone houses, perched one above the other on the steep banks of the Yantra River. Our walking tour will include the Tsarevets Hill, where the Patriarchal Church and Royal Palaces are located.
After lunch we drive north to Russe where we cross the Danube into Romania. Continue to Sinaia, known as the ‘Pearl of the Carpathians’ due to its magnificent mountain scenery.
Day 5 : Sinaia – Bran – Sibiu, 195 km
This morning we travel to Bran where we visit famous Dracula’s Castle, the edifice that lives up to the Gothic fairytale image that Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula book evokes. The castle was created by the Saxons in the late 14th century to defend Brasov from invasion by the Turks and its interior displays rich Western European furniture which Queen Marie purchased in the 1920s when the castle was used as a royal residence…
We continue to the charming town of Sibiu that combines styles of the late Renaissance, Gothic, Classical and Transylvanian Baroque architecture. Sibiu has been likened to Nuremberg, but many of the houses are painted sky blue, red, apricot and pea green. Our tours of Sibiu include the evangelical and orthodox cathedrals and the Brukenthal Art Museum. The Gothic Evangelic Cathedral is a massive structure that was completed in 1520 and whose huge imposing tower dominates the surrounding skyline. It boasts Romania’s largest organ, which has around 6000 pipes, and is also home to the tomb of Prince Mihnea the Bad, the son of Vlad, who was murdered just outside the church. The Orthodox Cathedral is situated in the New Town, and is the second largest Orthodox cathedral in the whole of Romania. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century and is modeled largely on the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. Its lavish interior is embellished with all manner of Neo-Byzantine designs and frescoes. The Brukenthal Art Museum is one of Romania’s oldest and finest art galleries. It is housed inside the Baroque palace of Baron Samuel Brukenthal, a former governor of Austria, and was founded in 1817. It boasts an extensive collection of Romanian and western art, including the best of central European silverware, folk art, archaeological finds and Romanian icons.
Day 6 : Sibiu – Sighisoara – Prejmer – Brasov, 245 km
Today we continue with Sighisoara, a beautifully preserved medieval town set in rolling countryside. The city walls encircle cobbled streets lined with 16th century burghers’ houses and churches. The well-preserved medieval citadel dominates the New Town from its rocky massif, where the slopes support a jumble of ancient leaning houses. The citadel is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The most representative building is the gigantic Old Clock Tower, which dates back to the 13th century. Each day a different wooden figure emerges from the belfry on the stroke of midnight, and a drummer strikes every hour…
The interior of the Gothic Saxon Church of the Dominican Monastery has stark whitewashed walls, hung with colorful medieval carpets. After lunch we continue to Prejmer, the largest and best preserved fortified church in South East Europe and the eastern-most settlement of Transylvanian Saxons. The church was built by the Teutonic knights between 1212 and 1213. The very high and powerful surrounding walls (12 m high, 5 m tick) were built later in the 15th cen. and host 1 room for each village family who shelter here in case of attack. During almost 500 years of various invasions, the citadel was besieged more than 50 times but conquered only once, in 1611. Further to Brasov.
Day 7 : Brasov
Spend all day visiting Brasov; legend says that when the Pied Piper of Hamelin enticed the children away from the town and underground they emerged in Transylvania near Brasov’s main square, Piata Sfatului, situated in the heart of the medieval quarter. It is one of the finest Baroque squares in Romania. Here you will visit the 15th century Town Hall, with its quaint Trumpeter’s Tower on top, and the Lutheran Black Church. The church took almost a century to build (1383 – 1477) and is so-called for its soot-blackened walls – the result of a great fire started by the Austrian army that swept through Brasov in 1689. The Black Church is the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul, and its 7 tone bell is the largest in Romania…
You will then continue to the Orthodox St Nicholas’s Cathedral, which is easily recognized by its black spires, and then visit the adjacent Romanian School Museum, which displays some of the first textbooks written in the Romanian language and printed in Braşov (dating back to the 16th century).
Day 8 : Brasov – Sinaia – Bucuresti, 175 km
This morning we stop in Sinaia where we visit Peles Castle, a royal palace set in a large park landscaped in the English fashion. It was built in the late 19th century for Romania’s first monarch, King Carol I, and took 39 years to complete. Outwardly it resembles a Bavarian Schloss, in the German Renaissance style, with a host of turrets. It has over 100 rooms richly decorated in ebony, mother of pearl and leather, and each room is styled on a particular country. There are over 800 stained glass windows in the building whose rooms are full of Renaissance armour and weapons, Murano chandeliers and Persian carpets. Romania’s first cinema was established in one of the castle’s rooms…
Continue with Pelişor Palace located few hundred meters away; the palace was also built in German Renaissance style and work was completed in 1892. The feminine interior, designed by Marie, boasts beautiful art nouveau designs, Viennese furniture, Lalique vases and Tiffany glassware, and the Golden Room is perhaps one of the palace’s most delightful chambers. Continue to Bucharest.
Day 9 : full day in Bucharest
Bucharest is Romania’s cosmopolitan capital and a city well known for its wide Parisian-style boulevards and fine pre-World War I buildings. The Royal Palace, built in the early 19th century and the former seat of the State Council, houses the National Art Museum in its South Wing, including an area dedicated to Romanian Art and an impressive European gallery, boasting works by Rembrandt, El Greco and Breughel. The Palace of Parliament is a colossal building and the third largest building in the world after the Pentagon and the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet…
The Palace epitomises the megalomania that overtook Nicolae Ceauşescu in the 1980s. The interiors of the 1000 rooms are lavishly decorated with marble, walnut panelling and gold leaf, and there are approximately 4,500 crystal chandeliers. Only Romanian materials were used in the construction of the palace, which demonstrates the works of some of the country’s finest architects. The open air Village Museum of vernacular architecture was opened in 1936 by Royal Decree, and the vast park displays numerous houses and other structures from every region of Romania, illustrating the extreme diversity of folk architecture with heavily thatched peasant dwellings, wooden churches, dug-out homes with vegetables growing on the roof, windmills, tall farm barns and a bizarre subterranean house.
Day 10 : departure day
Travel to Bucharest Airport for your return flight.