Dracula’s Romania: Take a Bite out of Transylvania
Just a whisper of Transylvania and the imagination conjures images of stirring landscapes of mountains draped with fog. Infamously associated with Dracula, Transylvania’s forested valleys and Gothic castles are the perfect setting for this dark yet enchanting story. Historians state that Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) travelled around this area a lot. Likewise, you will move through this region’s ancient forests and mountain passes, exploring its quaint villages and historic cities.
This fantastic tour leads you through the area’s highlights, while staying in wonderful accommodation. Although you’ll be exploring Romania’s history, you will also experience current local culture with a branding tasting. Furthermore, meet a local family and enjoy a home-cooked dinner. This is an exciting opportunity which will allow you to delve deeper into this bewitching corner of the world.
The tour begins in Romania’s capital city, Bucharest. It boasts interesting museums, wonderful parks and trendy cafes. While much of the centre is modern and garish, history is tucked away in quiet corners. Explore the Old Town’s splendid 17th- and 18th-century Orthodox churches and graceful art nouveau villas.
Once you head into Transylvania, your adventure in the land of Dracula really begins. Striking landscapes are abundant as your venture through the Carpathian Mountains. Transylvania is a tapestry of picturesque scenery, quaint villages and crumbling citadels. The towns of meandering cobblestone streets and medieval towers fulfil fantasies of Romanian beauty.
From the stony lanes and pastel-hued buildings of Sighisoara – Dracula’s birthplace – to the mysterious Bran castle, this area is rich in treasures. Explore this world of dark tales and allow its beauty to ensnare you. Surrender to the irresistible lure of Transylvania.
2018 & 2019 dates available on request
Suggested itinerary by air
Arrive in Bucharest
Welcome to Bucharest! Transfer and check-in at the hotel. Explore the Little Paris of the East together with your local guide and discover the town’s true gems such as the Arch of Triumph, the Romanian Athenaeum, the Palace of the Parliament and the Patriarchal Church. Take a stroll in the Old Town and see its highlights: the Stravopoleos Church, the National Bank, the History Museum, the Lipscani street and the Old Princely Court, known as Dracula’s residence, where it is said that Vlad Dracula kept his prisoners. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner in a traditional restaurant.
Depending on flight times, Bucharest sightseeing may take place on Day 8 prior to departure.
Journey into Transylvania
After breakfast, depart the capital for the legendary Transylvania. On the way towards Sibiu, make a stop at Poenari Fortress to dive into the legend of the bloody Count. Perched on a remote peak on the cliffs of the Fagaras Mountains, the 13th century ruined Castle of Poenari bears an uncanny resemblance to the fictional castle depicted by Bram Stoker as Dracula’s residence. Should you wish to access the citadel, you’ll need to climb the 1,480 concrete stairs. If that seems a bit ambitious, why not enjoy some refreshments in a restaurant below the fortress while enjoying the views? (This is a good option for groups where some passengers would like to climb the stairs and others would not. This stop can also be missed if deemed unsuitable.)
Continue to Curtea de Arges to visit the monastery – an impressive Byzantine-style church that dates back to the 16th century and houses the tombs of several Romanian kings. Admire the Moorish arabesques and ornate interior while learning of the many dark legends that surround the monastery’s construction. After the visit, travel to Sibiu. Check-in to your hotel where you will enjoy dinner tonight.
The Citadel of Sibiu
Enjoy a walking tour in idyllic Sibiu, the largest and wealthiest walled citadel built in Transylvania in the 12th century by the German settlers. The town has a wonderful medieval atmosphere and the pedestrian area is split over two accessible levels: The Upper Town and The Lower Town which are connected by The Stairs Passage. See the Grand Square, the Small Square, the Liar’s Bridge and the impressive Evangelical Cathedral. After the city tour, travel to the nearby ASTRA Village Museum, where you can admire traditional houses from all over the country. In the evening drive to the village Sibiel, where you will be welcomed by the traditional riders in a traditional way, with salt and bread. Meet one of the local families and enjoy a home-cooked dinner with lots of wine and brandy. Return to your hotel in Sibiu.
Hunyadi Castle and Alba Iulia
In the morning, depart for a day trip down history lane. The first stop is Hunyadi Castle in Hunedoara, the greatest Gothic-style castle in Romania. It was the residence of one of Transylvania’s greatest rulers, Iancu de Hunedoara, who upgraded it from fortress to the stunning castle we see today. Boasting an impressive drawbridge, a huge medieval ballroom, a beautiful interior courtyard and exceptional defensive structure, the castle is said to have been the place where Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned for a while, and legends declare it to be haunted by ghosts.
After leaving Hunedoara, visit the city of Alba Iulia – the memorable place of the Great Union of Romania. Visit the impressive Orthodox Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the oldest standing cathedral in Romania. Most importantly, take a tour of the Habsburg citadel, also known as Alba Carolina Citadel in the time of the Roman occupation. In the evening, arrive in Sighisoara, the town where Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) was supposedly born. Check-in and enjoy dinner in your hotel.
Sighisoara: Dracula’s Birthplace
Sighisoara dates back to 13th century. As one of the very few inhabited medieval fortresses in the world, it impresses visitors with its wonderful medieval atmosphere. During the walking tour admire the Clock Tower, the Church on the Hill and the Birth House of Dracula. It is said that Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Impaler’s father, lived in this house and that this is where the infamous Count Dracula took his first steps. The truth can only be discovered during the inside tour. Enjoy a tasting of Romanian brandies at local wine cellar, before departing to Brasov – the Crown of Transylvania. Check-in and enjoy dinner in your hotel.
Dracula’s Castle and Brasov
After breakfast depart towards Bran, to visit Bran Castle. Hidden in the hilly forest of Bran and surrounded by an aura of mystery and legend, the castle was built by the German Saxons in the 14th century and served as a customs between Transylvania and Wallachia for many centuries. In 1920 the castle became Royal Residence, offered as a gift by the people of Brasov to Queen Marie of Romania. Now world renowned for being the place where Bram Stoker’s fictional creation, Dracula is set, the castle is the most visited place in Transylvania.
Return to Brasov for a walking tour, starting at the Council Square (Marktplatz) which was built by the Saxons. One of the main highlights of the city is The Black Church, Romania’s leading Gothic church, that got its name after the Great Fire in 1689. On your tour you will also see the narrowest street in Europe: the Rope Street. In the evening enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants in the Old Town.
Peles Castle, the Princely Court and Snagov Monastery
Today visit Peles Castle in Sinaia. Considered by many one of the most stunning castles in Europe, it is a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture. Commissioned by King Carol I in 1873, the castle served as the summer residence of the royal family until 1947. From here, travel to the town of Targoviste to visit the the famous “Princely Court”, where Vlad the Impaler’s (Dracula) lived for 7 years as the ruler of Walachia. The palace is now in ruins with only parts of the walls still intact but next to the palace are a well-preserved watch tower and church.
The final stop of your journey in the footsteps of Dracula is the Snagov Monastery, near Bucharest, where the Count was murdered by the Turks and secretly buried by the monks. Arrive in Bucharest in the evening and after the checking in to your hotel, enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Enjoy some free time in the Romanian capital before your transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
Novotel Bucharest ****
Ramada Sibiu ****
Mercure BinderBubi, Sighisoara ****
Hotel Kronwell, Brasov ****
|2018 dates||Prices available on request|
|2019 dates||Prices available on request|