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Transylvania Tale

Turn back time and descend in to the dark ages on this tour of Dracula's country. Medieval castles stand beside heavily fortified towns frozen in time. From ancient Byzantine churches in one town to Ottoman Mosques in the next you will be charmed by the country so raw and real right in front of you.


Day 1: Arrive Budapest

Budapest, Hungary's stylish capital is known as the 'City of Spas' for its abundance of natural thermal springs.Straddling the Danube River, the city is comprised of two very different historic cities, Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank. Highlights here include Castle Hill, Matthius Church, Fisherman's Bastion, the Liberation Monument, the fabulous St Stephen's Basilica and the much photographed Parliament Building.Terror Haza (Terror House) is a popular museum recounting stories of espionage and atrocities committed during World War II and during the communist period. During your optional visit you can view very moving testimonial footage from survivors and visit old jail cells, torture chambers and interrogation rooms.The Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and features stunning decorations. You can also wander around Central Market Hall and enjoy the intoxicating sights and smells of'Budapest's pantry' and get an idea of Hungary's food culture - you can even buy chocolates by the kilo!The perfect place to relax after a day of sightseeing is in a traditional bath. The Szechenyi Medicinal Baths are one of the city's more famous Neo Baroque-style baths with indoor and outdoor pools, thermal pools, saunas and massages in a beautiful setting. After a nice soak you can visit numerous restaurants and bars to visit on Liszt Ferenc for an enjoyable evening's entertainment.

Day 2: Eger

We take the train to Eger, located on the hills of the Bükk Mountains. It has a number of historic sights including the Castle of Eger, the town's oldest and most famous attraction. Eger is also famous for its wines. You can enjoy traditional varieties of red and white wines including “Egri Bikaver” translated to Bull's Blood of Eger! From 1596 Eger had a 91 year long Turkish rule. Due to this, the town attract visitors to its number of thermal baths. Another popular site from this period is the Turkish minaret standing at 40 metres high. You can climb this for great views.

Day 3: Baia Mare

The day is spent exploring the fascinating Maramures region in North-western Romania, home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. We will visit the village of Barsana, where there is a thriving local tradition of woodcarving, with picturesque wooden houses fronted by giant, ornately-carved gates. There is also a monastery that offers great views over the Izei valley, where people still farm using traditional techniques. We also tour some of the beautiful wooden churches of the region that are well-known for their characteristic high roofs and tall, pointed steeples. We will make a quick stop at the very peculiar 'Merry Cemetery' of Sapânta, so called because the gravestones are painted in bright colours, hand-carved out of oak and adorned with an image of the deceased and a humorous epitaph in the local vernacular.We then head to Baia Mare, one of the most important mining centres of Romania with over 2000 years of gold and silver mining. The town is well preserved and the oldest house here dates back to 1440.

Days 4-5: Sighișoara

As we make our way to Sighisoara, we stop en-route for a few hours to explore the city of Cluj Napoca, Romania's second largest city after Bucharest. The city is one of the most important academic and cultural centres in Romania, and is home to the country's largest university and its famous botanical gardens. In 2015, Cluj-Napoca was named the European Youth Capital, and you can see the reflection of this in the bohemian cafes where many of the students and artists frequent.In the afternoon we head to Sighisoara. Located in the historic region of Transylvania, it was once a Saxon settlement established in the 12th century. Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the citadel has a very well preserved old town with a clock tower rising 64 meters above the city. Also worth visiting is the Orthodox Cathedral and Cornesti Church.

Days 6-7: Brașov

Surrounded on three sides by the Carpathian Mountains, Brașov was a perfect place for a medieval settlement and much of the Old City, founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211, has been restored. You can visit Râșnov Castle, the Brașov Citadel or wander up Rope Street, the narrowest street in Europe. Brașov also provides a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside of the Transylvania region, where the air is fresh and the people friendly. We visit the nearby Bran Castle which is marketed as 'Dracula's Castle' and is (supposedly) said to have been the home of Vlad the Impaler. We also explore the beautiful Pele's Castle and the fortified churches of Prejmer and Viscri, the latter of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 8: Bucharest

We continue our journey to Bucharest where you will have free time to explore the area and discover the contrasts of Romania's cultural capital. The architecture here is an eclectic mix of historical, communist period and modern styles and it even has its own Arc de Triomphe. Bucharest also boasts the world's second largest building, the Palace of Parliament, built under the communist regime.If you'd like to learn more about the traditional way of life of Romanian peasant farmers you can visit the Village Museum, an open air museum with around 300 traditional buildings filled with furniture, pottery and clothing collected from different regions of the country.

Day 9: Veliko Tarnovo

We head across the border into the Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo, famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Built on three hills, the city offers some great views of the surrounding churches and old imperial residences rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra River. On Tsarevets Hill are the palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral, and also a number of interesting cultural institutions such as the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Bulgarian Revival and the Constituent Assembly.

Days 10-11: Sofia

Bulgaria's capital Sofia offers a wealth of cultural entertainment, including Byzantine churches, museums full of ancient archaeological treasures, towering monuments and numerous mineral baths adjacent to the magnificent Mount Vitosha. Laid back and cosmopolitan, Sofia offers a thriving and diverse street life, including open-air cafes, busy markets such as the famous Ladies' Market, rattling trams and buskers all adding to the ambience. At the foothills of Mount Vitosha about 8 kilometres from the city centre you can visit the 900 year-old Boyana Church, considered among the masterpieces of medieval European painting, which features murals and frescoes dating back to 1259 AD, medieval architecture and monumental art. Also at the base of Mt. Vitosha is the splendid National History Museum, with antiques dating back to the Thracian period.Sofia also offers many beautiful gardens to relax in, such as Boris Gardens and the South Park, which starts just behind the Palace of Culture.

Days 12-13: Plovdiv

Enjoy breakfast in Sofia before taking a public bus to Plovdiv. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe going back 8000 years. The town is small and easy to walk around. Places to see include the Roman Amphitheatre, St Marina church and a mosque leftover from the Ottoman Empire. Each step you take in this town opens up another piece of history. While the seven tall hill that used to overlook the town have been reduced to just three, it is possible to walk the hills and the best time to do this is at sunset.Please note: Breakfast is not included at Plovdiv.

Day 14: Istanbul or Sofia

Istanbul is an enchanting fusion of East and West. Narrow alleys are flanked by wooden Ottoman houses while a nearby funky restaurant and bar strip in the down-town area pumps out Turkish pop. There are many great places to explore including, but not limited to, the Blue Mosque, St Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. The Blue Mosque, also known as the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet, is nearly 400 years old and still an active mosque that non-Muslims can visit for free outside of the five daily prayers. St Sophia (Hagia Sophia) was built 1,500 years ago and was the largest enclosed space in the world. The Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) is the oldest and largest closed bazaar in the world, housing around 3000 shops within 61 alleyways. It used to be the city's main trading centre of ceramics, jewellery and leather goods.We will arrive in the evening to sample some of Turkey's most delicious cuisine. As we arrive late we recommend you book additional nights accommodation in order to fully explore the city and any of the optional excursions listed below.Please note: For those who do not wish to travel into Turkey, there is the option to end in Sofia, Bulgaria instead. From Plovdiv you will return to Sofia by bus where there will be one night's accommodation instead. This option must be pre-booked with your Adventure Specialist in advance. This makes no difference to the cost of your tour.

Day 15: Depart Istanbul

Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.

What's Included

13 night(s) in hotels, 1 night(s) in a guesthouse 3 Buffet Breakfast(s), 7 Basic Breakfast(s), 2 Breakfast Box Tour of Maramures Region, Cluj Napoca Visit, Entry to Viscri fortified Church, Entry to Dracula's Castle and Peles Castle, Entry to Prejmer Fortified Church, Entry to Plovdiv Roman Amphitheatre Train, Public Bus, Private Vehicle

Tour Map

Tour Map - Transylvania Tale

Departure date Price per person Number of seats available
19/08/2018 GBP 1,291.15  
02/09/2018 GBP 1,291.15  
16/09/2018 GBP 1,291.15  
30/09/2018 GBP 1,291.15  
14/10/2018 GBP 1,291.15  
28/10/2018 GBP 1,248.65  
28/04/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
12/05/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
26/05/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
09/06/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
23/06/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
07/07/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
21/07/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
04/08/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
18/08/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
01/09/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
15/09/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
29/09/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
13/10/2019 GBP 1,316.65  
27/10/2019 GBP 1,248.65  
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