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When the word Transylvania is mentioned it conjures up images of a mystic land steeped in history and legends, the home of Dracula, and it's this region that this unique Romanian short break gives a taster of.
Explore Tour Leader
3 nights simple guesthouse
1 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 15 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Bucharest, Romania's largest city that became its capital in 1832. It has gone through a period of urban renewal and modernisation and it is now a bustling city, at the centre of Romanian culture, art and media.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Bucharest at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today you need to arrive into Bucharest Henri Coanda International Airport (OTP), which is about 30 minutes' drive from the city centre. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. Due to a number of flights arriving into Bucharest later in the evening, our welcome meeting will take place on the morning of day two.
If you have free time on arrival then there's plenty to discover in the city's Old Town or there's a multitude of museums available to choose from including the National Art Gallery, National Museum of Romanian History, the Military Museum and the Peasant Museum, to name but a few.
Hotel Minerva (or similar)
The welcome meeting will take place after breakfast and we'll then head out on a city tour of Bucharest. A remarkable blend of turn of the century elegance and communist excess can be observed through its architecture. Situated on the Danube Plain and set amid a series of lakes and spacious gardens, remnants of more gracious days still exist to charm the visitor. We visit some of the older parts of the city to see some of the buildings that earned it the reputation as the Paris of Eastern Europe and will also pay a guided visit to the iconic Palace of Parliament; the magnificent but blatantly excessive palace of ex-President Ceausescu.
After our tour, we've some free time for lunch before boarding our minibus and heading out of the city to the Carpathian Mountains and the region of Transylvania. It's a journey of around three hours and a popular route on holidays and at the weekends for the residents of Bucharest looking for a short break. Before reaching our accommodation, we'll stop at a forest observatory for the chance to watch brown bears in their natural habitat. The Romanian bear population is one of the few strong and healthy populations remaining in Europe and the Carpathian Mountains are home to about 43% of all European bears (approximately 6,000 individuals). This region is therefore of key international importance in the conservation of brown bears and, due to increasing human-bear interactions, it's also the focus of much research into the effective management of bears and their habitats. Bears may be active at any time of the day, but generally they forage in the morning and evening and rest in dense woodland cover by day. We try to spot these bears from a hide at dusk when they come out to feed.
Afterwards we drive to the Transylvanian village of Moieciu, where we stay for the next three nights at the family-run Casa Zada Guesthouse. This small and simple rustic property offers traditionally furnished rooms over three floors, each with an en suite shower and toilet. What's lacking in the way of facilities is made up for by the warm welcome we'll receive from owner Steffi and the property's beautiful rural location. Most rooms have a balcony with views out over the surrounding fields and orchards to the Bucegi Mountains in the distance. Meals are served in the ground floor dining room and there is a kettle and tea provided on each floor. Steffi cooks us a late dinner this evening at our guesthouse of traditional Romanian fare.
Please note - the bear watching may need to take place on an alternative day depending on the local forestry department's advice. Also, since the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest is still an active government building it might not always be open to visitors or possible for us to go inside. If this is the case then instead we will visit Sinaia Monastery on day three and the Rasnov Citadel on day four.
Casa Zada Guest House (or similar)
After breakfast this morning we drive to nearby Sinaia, known as the 'Pearl of the Carpathians' because of its stunning scenery. Our first port of call is the wonderful Peles Castle. Built for the imported Hohenzollern monarch Carol I, Peles resembles a Bavarian chateau and is richly decorated with stained glass, Persian carpets, Renaissance weapons, ebony and mother of pearl. Afterwards we visit the adjacent Pelisor Castle, largely the creation of Queen Marie of Romania, with a fine Art Deco and Art Nouveau interior. Both are uniquely fabulous - see which one you prefer!
We return to Moieciu this afternoon and your Tour Leader will take all those interested and up for it for a hike in the Bucegi Mountains surrounding our guesthouse. The surrounding forest and woodland are protected as a nature reserve. After heading up through a steep section of meadow directly behind our guesthouse, the gradient later evens out and there are some fine views of Moieciu and the surrounding mountains which may be snow-capped in the Spring. The six kilometre circular walk will take around two hours altogether, with an overall ascent/descent during the course of the hike of approximately 300 metres. Decent walking shoes are recommended. If walking isn't your thing then you can relax back at the guesthouse or go for a short wander in the valley.
This evening (or possibly tomorrow evening, depending on the forestry department's advice) there will be the opportunity to enjoy another session at a forest observatory for the chance to watch brown bears. Your Tour Leader will arrange for transport and a guide and there is cost of €50 per person for this additional optional trip.
Today we visit the castle at Bran. The truth behind Dracula's Castle is even more fascinating than its myths. In the early 20th century it was the home of the remarkable British born Queen Marie of Romania, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Vlad the Impaler, the infamous 15th century ruler of Wallachia, never actually lived here and Bram Stoker never came near Transylvania! Perched on a crag in a valley between two high mountain ranges, the castle controlled an international trade route, but is now a rural backwater. Exploring the village, the castle and the museum gives us a chance to unravel fact from fiction.
Later this morning, we drive to the Medieval city of Brasov. Brasov is one of the most historic cities in Transylvania, and we spend the rest of the day exploring. The town is a gem of old buildings, cobbled streets and local atmosphere all clustered within the Medieval fortifications and overlooked by a magnificent 15th century Gothic cathedral. Founded by German settlers to protect the routes that made their way up to the high passes over the Carpathians, Brasov is an architectural delight. There are several churches dating from the 14th through to the 18th century and we shall include a visit to the Black Church as part of our tour.
Later this afternoon you may like to visit one of the museums, the First Romanian School or Saint Nicolas Church in the Scheii area (the old Romanian district of Brasov).
Departing Moieciu this morning we drive for around three hours to Bucharest Henri Coanda International Airport (OTP), where we will arrive at about 10.30am and this is where our trip ends. The earliest your flight can depart is 12.20pm.
If your flight is departing later in the day then you may choose to return to Bucharest city centre to visit some of the historic buildings or museums. Alternatively, if you fancy a change of pace, there is always the possibility of some shopping. Since the 1990s brand names and high-end stores have been pushing their way into the Romanian market. From high fashion boutiques to art galleries, shopping in Bucharest can fit any taste or budget. Stroll down Boulevard Victoria from Piata Amzei to the National History Museum of Romania for the shops or visit one of the many shopping malls favoured by the local rich and famous. If you wish to be dropped off in the city centre rather than remaining at the airport then please discuss this with your Leader. You can be taken to our hotel in Bucharest where you can store your luggage. To get back to the airport you will need to take a public bus or taxi.
Romania's climate is continental, temperatures being strongly influenced by the physical features of the Carpathians. Temperatures will fall from highs of 18°C (by day) to lows of 6°C (at night) in October; by January they will hover around freezing during the day and go down to -10°C at night.They will then rise to reach October temperatures again by April. Temperatures will generally be lower in the mountains than in Bucharest. Snowfall may occur at any time.
2 Pin Round
Moieciu: Additional nights bear watching in the observatory costs approximately €50 per person per night (includes costs of transfer from our accommodation and forest ranger). This should be paid in cash to the tour leader; GBP, EUR or local Romanian currency all accepted. Bucharest: On day five depending on your flight departure time, you might have the opportunity to go into the city centre after your trip ends at the airport. If you wish to be dropped off in the city centre rather than remaining at the airport then please discuss this with your Leader. You can be taken to our hotel in Bucharest where you can store your luggage. To get back to the airport you will need to take a public bus for approximately 7 RON (around €1.50)
We recommend you pack lightweight layers of clothing to accommodate a range of temperatures and both dry and wet conditions. If travelling in Spring or Autumn it can still be cold in the mountains, especially at night in the bear hide, so you should bring a warm fleece or sweater, woolly hat, gloves and a good windproof/rainproof well insulated jacket.
Comfortable walking bootshoes and trainers or other shoes for relaxing.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
We also recommend taking a water bottle, insect repellent, torch, sunglasses, camera and binoculars.
Hotel Minerva in Bucharest is a mid range property located approximately 30 minutes' walk from the centre of the Old Town, 30 minutes' drive from the airport. There's undeniably a slight vibe of communism at this establishment with its spacious and comfortable en suite rooms which have tea and coffee making facilities and Wi Fi connection. A buffet style breakfast is served each morning and Romania's first ever Chinese Restaurant is located here! We have graded this accommodation as Comfortable. In rural Moeiciu we stay at the family-run Casa Zada Guesthouse where you'll receive a warm welcome from owner Steffi. This small rustic property offers simply furnished rooms over three floors, each with an ensuite shower and toilet. Most rooms have a balcony with views out over the surrounding fields and orchards to the Bucegi Mountains in the distance. Meals are served in the ground floor dining room and there is a kettle and tea provided on each floor. Steffi cooks us a traditional and hearty Romanian supper on our day of arrival. The continental style breakfast consists of cereal and bread with homemade jams, meats, cheeses and eggs. We have graded this accommodation as Simple.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
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Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Romania: Visas are not required by UK, EU nationalities, Australian, New Zealand US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
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Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
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You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
During our stay at our guesthouse in Moieciu we will visit a bear observatory and spend an evening in a hide to try spotting these impressive wild animals. Our local agent is in regular contact with the wildlife authorities to find out which hides offer the best chance of seeing bears depending on the areas where they have been most recently spotted. There are 22 hides in the area and they accommodate 5 to 15 people at a time, so depending on the size of the group you may be split between different hides. If there are one or two particular hides where the bears are frequently being seen then the group maybe split, so that some of us go into the hides on one night then the remainder on the next in order to give everyone the best chance of seeing them. The transfer from our guesthouse to the hides will take between 20 minutes to one hour depending which ones we will be using. We will either have an early dinner before or a late dinner after our bear watching excursion. Depending on the time of year you will be in the hides for two to four hours and we generally enter them between 16.00 to 18.00 and leave between 19.00 to 22.00, so that we hopefully see the bears when they come out to feed. Once in the hides you must remain inside until the end of the excursion. There are no toilet facilities within the hides, but there will be the opportunity to stop at a service station for a bathroom break before arriving. In Bucharest when visiting the Palace of Parliament or Casa Poporului as it's also known, you must take your passport with you to be permitted entry. On all our trips to Romania we use minibuses to get around. Many of the roads in the Romanian countryside are twisty and narrow and the road surfaces can be poor in places, so by using these smaller buses it means that we're able to access areas that the larger coaches can't get into. The minibuses usually have around 20 seats with two next to one another and then a single seat on the opposite side of the aisle and four along the back row. The seats are comfortable and equipped with armrests and seat belts. There's normally a rack for day bags and coats above the seats and the main luggage is stored in the rear boot. Leg room is however less plentiful than on a full size coach. There are a few photographs of the type of minibuses used within the image gallery tab for this trip.
Nothing compulsory, although we recommend vaccination against tetanus, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Tick-borne encephalitis is recommended by some medical sources if travelling in certain areas of Eastern Europe, at specific times of the year. The Foreign Office currently recommend considerations of vaccination against rabies if travelling in rural areas of Romania. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.