Fairytale Castles & Railways of Transylvania

Prices from £1,499

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2 Jun 2020 - 8 Sep 2020
Duration: 11 days
Ref: RERTRA1120
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Prices from £1,499
Single Supplement: £350
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DISCOVER A DIVERSE MIX OF CULTURE, NATURE & HISTORY

Join us on an exciting journey taking us by coach and rail into the heart of Transylvania. Uncover a tumultuous history as we walk through the streets of beautiful medieval cities. Discover a fascinating multi-cultural heritage and UNESCO world heritage sites. Venture into the wilderness aboard historic steam trains and explore timeless rural landscapes for a gentler glimpse into the ancient Romanian way of life. Surrounded by breathtaking nature, Transylvania’s fairytale castles lend an aura of legend and mystery to this magical tour.

INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

  • Return flights from London to Bucharest
  • Connecting rail & coach journeys
  • Ten nights’ bed & breakfast accommodation
  • Five evening meals in your hotel
  • A welcome dinner in a traditional restaurant with entertainment and a glass of wine
  • A traditional dinner in Sibiu with homemade wine and brandy
  • Candlelit dinner on the famous Carpathia Express Train
  • Traditional lunch in Moldovita with homemade blueberry brandy
  • A three-course dinner at Bran Castle Tea House and a glass of wine
  • Farewell dinner in Bucharest Old Town including entertainment and a glass of wine
  • Services of an experienced local guide and Tour Manager throughout

Your rail journeys:

  • Steam train ride through the Vaser Valley including a barbecue lunch
  • Steam train journey on the Mocanita to Moldovita and a visit to Moldovita Monastery

Plus the following excursions:

  • Entrance to the fascinating Sibiu Steam Train Museum
  • Entrance to the fairytale castles of Hunyadi and Peles and the fascinating Turda Salt Mine
  • Walking tours of Sibiu’s Old Town, Cluj-Napoca, Sighisoara, Brasov and a visit to Parliament Palace
  • Visits to the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta and Voronet Monastery
  • Panoramic tour of Bucharest
  • Discover the wooden churches of Barsana and Bogdan Voda Tour of Targu Mures
  • Entrance to the setting of Bram Stoker’s Dracula ‘Bran Castle’

Day 1: London – Bucharest

Today we fly to Bucharest where we’ll meet our local guide and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay. This evening’s dinner, including wine, will be served in a local restaurant where you can enjoy traditional entertainment.

Day 2: Bucharest – Calimanesti – Sibiu

After breakfast we transfer by coach to the town of Calimanesti and board the train for the first of our rail journeys. Sit back and enjoy views of the Olt River and beautiful scenery of the Carparthian mountains as the train heads to Sibiu, one of the largest cities in Transylvania. On arrival we’ll experience some locomotive history at Sibiu’s Steam Train Museum. Stroll between the tracks of the former roundhouse and turntable opposite the main station, now home to a collection of retired standard-gauge and narrow-gauge steam locomotives and engines. We continue to our hotel where dinner is served this evening.

Day 3: Sibiu – Sibiel – Sibiu

Founded by German colonists at the end of the 12th century, Sibiu is one of the oldest cities in Transylvania. Its Old Town has many famous squares and we’ll enjoy a guided walking tour through Grand Square, Small Square and Huet Square seeing the Brukenthal Museum, the Town Hall and its tower, Catholic and Evangelical churches, Luxemburg House and the Liar’s Bridge. Dinner this evening is in the village of Sibiel where we join the locals for a traditional dinner including homemade wine and brandy.

Day 4: Sibiu – Hunedoara – Alba Lulia – Cluj Napoca

Once the residence of Hungarian Kings, Hunyadi Castle is often called one the of the ‘Seven Wonders of Romania’. Built in a Renaissance-Gothic style, this fairytale castle, with towers, balconies and oriel windows, is a place where legends turn to life. After a fascinating visit we’ll journey to Alba Lulia, a city steeped in history with a star-shaped Citadel at its heart. Discover its importance from the Roman to the Habsburg Empire and the great union of Transylvania with Romania. Our next stop is Turda where we visit one of the world’s oldest salt mines dating back to the Middle Ages. Today the enormous mine is a museum telling the history of salt mining with a one-of-a-kind amusement park in its cavernous depths. Tonight’s dinner is served in our hotel in Cluj-Napoca.

Day 5: Cluj-Napoca – Baia Mare – Viseul de Sus

During the 18th and 19th centuries Cluj-Napoca was the capital of Transylvania when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Our guided walking tour takes in the two main squares where we’ll see the Catholic Cathedral of St. Michael, the equestrian statue of King Mathias Corvinus, the Orthodox Cathedral and National Theatre. We continue to the famous region of Maramures and enjoy a short panoramic tour of Baia Mare. In the small village of Sapanta we visit the ‘Merry Cemetery’ where the small wooden crosses are painted in bright colours with scenes from the life of the deceased. Tonight, we’ll enjoy a special candlelight dinner on board the Carpathia Express Train Restaurant at Mocanita Train Station before an overnight stay in Viseul de Sus.

Day 6: Viseul de Sus – Wooden Churches of Maramures – Bistrita

Today we board a narrow-gauge steam train for a journey on the last remaining forestry railway in Europe. Built in the unit track gauge of 760mm, which was the standard narrow-gauge lines within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the rail in the Vaser Valley winds its way through a fascinating wilderness passing over bridges and through tunnels along the river. Sit back and enjoy the wild, forested landscape native to both wolves and bears. We’ll enjoy a barbecue lunch before visiting the wooden churches of Barsana and Bogdan Voda, which are perfect examples of typical Maramures architecture. Tonight, we stay in Bistrita with dinner served in our hotel.

Day 7: Bistrita – Moldovita – Voronet – Bistrita

This morning we visit Moldovita Monastery, one of eight painted churches included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Its external walls, covered with frescos representing complete religious cycles, are a masterpiece inspired by 15th and 16th century Byzantine art. We then enjoy a leisurely ride through gorgeous mountain scenery on the newly-restored, narrow-gauge steam train that runs alongside the Moldovita River on a line originally built in 1888 to transport timber from the forest to the sawmills. After lunch with homemade blueberry brandy we’ll visit Voronet Monastery. Built at the end of the 15th century in less than 4 months, it is also known as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the East’ for its magnificent fresco ‘The Last Judgement’. This evening’s dinner is served in our hotel.

Day 8: Bistrita – Sighisoara – Brasov

One of the most interesting towns in Transylvania, Targu Mures is a fascinating mix of Romanian, German and Hungarian cultures. The baroque-style Apollo Palace, 18th century Old Prefecture building, Teleki Palace and Orthodox Cathedral are just some of the city landmarks we’ll see during our guided tour. Sighisoara was founded by Transylvanian Saxons in the 12th century. From its Clock Tower, the symbol of the city standing at what was the main entrance to the medieval fortress, we’ll walk through the cobbled streets of the citadel that was inhabited without interruption until today. After seeing the birthplace of Count Dracula and the Church on the Hill we’ll board a local train to Brasov. Dinner is served in our hotel this evening.

Day 9: Brasov – Bran – Brasov

This morning we visit Brasov, known as the ‘Crown of Transylvania’. We’ll explore the beautiful centre on foot starting in Council Square built by the Saxons. See narrow Sforii Street and the impressive Gothic-style Black Church seriously damaged by the great fire of 1689 that destroyed much of the city. Enjoy time at leisure for lunch before we drive to Bran and visit the castle widely known as being the place where Bram Stoker’s fictional creation Count Dracula is set. Built by the German Saxons in the 14th century, the castle became a royal residence in 1920 when it was gifted by the people of Brasov to Queen Maria of Romania. Dinner is served in Bran Castle Tea House built by Queen Maria as a reception for her guests.

Day 10: Brasov – Sinaia - Bucharest

Today we travel by rail to the mountain resort of Sinaia alighting at the Royal Train Station, which is also a stop for the famous Orient Express. Commissioned by King Carol I in 1873, Peles Castle served as the summer residence of the royal family until 1947. We’ll visit this masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, undoubtedly one of the most stunning castles in Europe. After time at leisure for lunch in Sinaia we continue by coach to Bucharest and a panoramic tour showing us the Arch of Triumph and Kisseleff Boulevard. At a local restaurant in the Old Town we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner with entertainment and a glass of wine to toast our holiday.

Day 11: Bucharest – London

After breakfast we include one final visit to Parliament Palace, before our tour comes to a close. Former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu’s creation, this building took 700 architects and 13 years to construct. This grand palace is the seat of the Romanian Parliament and is also the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. After a short visit we transfer by coach to Bucharest Airport for our return flight to London.

PROVISIONAL TRAIN TIMES

    Outward Journey

      Departs
      Arrives

    Return Journey

      Departs
      Arrives

Hotel Mercure Unirii, Bucharest (or similar)

Situated right in the heart of Bucharest on Unirii Square, the four star Hotel Mercure Bucharest Unirii offers fully equipped, modern rooms with air conditioning and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Hotel Golden Tulip, Sibiu (or similar)

The four star Hotel Golden Tulip is situated in the city centre of Sibiu, within walking distance from the old town. Rooms feature state-of-the-art technology, spacious bathrooms and large windows. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.

Hotel Golden Tulip Ana Dome Cluj, Cluj-Napoca (or similar)

Combining classic design with modern amenities, the four star Hotel Golden Tulip features spacious and relaxing rooms, magnificent urban views and a modern restaurant and lounge bar.

Hotel Gabriela, Viseul de Sus (or similar)

The three star Hotel Gabriela features fully equipped modern rooms, a wellness centre with indoor pool and spa facilities, plus an à la carte restaurant serving international cuisine and traditional Romanian dishes.

Hotel Metropolis, Bistrita (or similar)

The four star Hotel Metropolis is located in the centre of Bistrita. The modern rooms are air conditioned and amenities include a sauna, gym, hot tub and indoor swimming pool. The Metropolis Restaurant serves traditional Romanian and international cuisine and has direct access to a terrace on the Bistrita River.

Hotel Kronwell, Brasov (or similar)

The four star Hotel Kronwell features a stylish à la carte restaurant, state-of-the art facilities including an indoor pool, and free Wi-Fi. All rooms are en-suite with air conditioning and are tastefully furnished.