Day 01: Arrive Bucharest (ROMANIA)
Upon Arrival at the majestic and historical capital city of Bucharest, we are welcomed and transferred to our hotel in the heart of the city. This evening we meet with our Tour Manager and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Bucharest (2 nights) (D) Day 02: Bucharest
We start this unique journey with a tour of the Romanian capital city, once nicknamed “Little Paris”. During the tour we visit the Parliament Palace, the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon and the open air Village Museum. Our tour takes us to the Romanian Athenaeum, the Metropolitan Church, the Opera House, the national Military Club, the Military Academy and the Triumphal Arch. Balance of the day is free at leisure. (B) Day 03: Bucharest/Cozia/Sibiel
After breakfast we head for Sibiu, once the richest town in Transylvania. Our route crosses the Transylvanian Alps through the scenic Olt River Valley; along the way we will visit the Cozia Monastery built in 1386. Arrive in the picturesque village of Sibiel where we will enjoy a hearty Romanian dinner at a local Farm House offering private facilities.
Overnight: Sibiel (1 night) (B, D) Day 04: Sibiel/Biertan/Sighisoara/Brasov
We start the morning with a comprehensive walking tour of Sibiu including visiting the Cathedral, where the son of Vlad the Impaler (another of Dracula’s monikers) was assassinated. We stop at the Brunkenthal Art Gallery before continuing to the Saxon village of Biertan where we visit the fortress church - a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The church hosts the largest wing altar in Romania and was used as the residence of the Lutheran bishop of Transylvania for over 300 years. Our next stop is at Sighisoara the best-preserved medieval fortified town in Romania and birthplace of Vlad the Impaler. We take a walking tour of the town and visit the famous Clock Tower Museum with its Torture and Weapons Rooms and stop in the house in which Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) was born in 1432. Later, arrive in Brasov in time for dinner and overnight at the Curtea Brasoveana hotel, situated in the medieval town.
Overnight: Brasov (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 05: Brasov/Bran/Brasov
After breakfast we drive towards the Small village of Bran, where we visit the spectacular Bran Castle, made famous by Bram Stocker’s novel as the residence of the vampire count. The Castle popularly referred as “Dracula’s Castle” was built on the top of a steep rock by the prince Mircea the Old in 1377. It was mainly to protect the border between Valachia and Transylvania. The day continues in the fairy-tale town of Brasov, founded in the 12th century. Sightseeing includes the Black Church where we admire the collection of Ottoman prayer rugs dating from 16th-18th centuries. At the museum dedicated to the first Romanian school in Transylvania, Professor Olteanu will present an engaging and informative talk about Romania’s past and present. (B) Day 06: Brasov/Veliko Tarnovo (BULGARIA)
Today we visit the marvelous Peles Castle, once the summer residence of the Romanian royal family. Later we head south, cross the Danube River and continue to Bulgaria to the medieval Veliko Tarnovo, former capital of the Bulgarian Empire.
Overnight: Veliko Tarnovo (2 nights) (B, D) Day 07: Veliko Tarnovo After breakfast we take an interesting tour of Veliko Tarnovo. Visit the medieval quarter of the town and the historical Tsarevets Hill, where remnants of the former capital’s glory can still be seen. Proceed to the picturesque village of Arbanassi. The village was originally founded by Albanians and it grew rich after Sultan Suleyman I, in early 1538, gave it to one of his sons-in-law. In this typical medieval Bulgarian town of stone houses and red tile roofs, we visit the Church of Nativity, the most richly decorated church in Bulgaria. Its interior is completely covered with colorful frescoes painted in the first part of 1600s. (B)
Day 08: Veliko Tarnovo/Etara/Kazanlik/Plovdiv Today we depart for Plovdiv stopping enroute for a short visit of Etara open-air museum. The museum exposes the architecture, life style and economic past of Gabrovo region during the revival period. Then we cross the Balkan Mountains through the Shipka Pass, famous for its historical significance. Later we stop in Kazanlik to see the UNESCO listed Thracian Tomb with its Hellenistic frescoes dating back to the 3rd century BC. Just after arrival in Plovdiv, we have a walking tour of the old town with its cobbled streets and typical national revival architecture. We will also visit the Ethnographic Museum, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Church of St. Konstantine and Elena – one of the oldest churches in Bulgaria.
Overnight: Plovdiv (1 night) (B, D) Day 09: Plovdiv/Rila Monastery/Sofia We depart Plovdiv on a scenic drive across the mountains to the Rila Monastery – one of the greatest centers of scholarship and religion in Bulgaria during the National Revival Period. Founded in the middle of the 10th century it played a key role in preserving Bulgarian culture and language during the centuries. The Monastery is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. We explore the monastery church with its amazing frescoes painted by the most famous Bulgarian finest artists from the 19th C. We then continue for Sofia, the Bulgarian capital.
Overnight: Sofia (2 nights) (B) Day 10: Sofia Morning we discover the Bulgarian capital during a walking city tour including Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St. Nicholas Russian Church and the Rotonda of St. George Church – the oldest building in Sofia, the National Theatre. Afternoon is free at leisure followed by a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 11: Sofia/DepartWe bid farewell as we are transferred to the airport/railway station. Ideal opportunity to do an optional tour of Chisinau (Moldova) or join one of the Bestway Tours European journeys. (B)