Romania: Culinary Fun, Culture & Transylvania Hiking

Trip Overview

Join us for our first adventure to Romania, in May 2018—and discover a land of magical folklore, of soaring mountains, emerald valleys, and storybook villages where colorful, time-honored traditions remain a way of life.

Your AdventureWomen journey begins in Bucharest, the country’s capital and largest city, founded in 1459. Its name comes from “bucur”—to be happy! Once nicknamed the “Paris of the Balkans,” large sections of the city were torn apart under its 50-year communist rule in the mid-1900s. When the government was toppled in 1989, the country invested much into reviving and restoring the lovely 18th and 19th century architecture. Adding to its transformation are flower-filled parks, a pedestrian-only center filled with cafés and shops, and a thriving cultural scene.

As we head north, we turn our focus to Transylvania, the geographical center— and heart and soul—of the country. We'll travel along leisurely country roads that wind past sheep-dotted pastures, through primeval forests, and into towns rich in medieval architecture and history. Our journey will take us up hillsides to imposing hilltop citadels—UNESCO World Heritage Sites—for stunning views across this ancient landscape. We'll hike old wagon trails in the pristine forests of the Carpathian Mountains  and ride on horseback through Romania's emerald meadows and past swift-flowing streams.

In Romania's fabled regions, time slows to the circadian, sunrise-to-sunset pace of the day. Stop and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Take time to focus your camera on the simple beauty of blossoms draped across a brightly painted wooden gate. Return the ready smile in the eyes of local villagers, whose standards of welcome and hospitality seem long lost in our busy world. Admire the centuries-old, Romanian artisan craftsmanship in embroidered cloth, in woven rugs, pottery, and wood carvings. And break (homemade) bread together at the daily table with local Romanians, where the cuisine and all the dishes reflect a long-standing "garden-to-plate" lifestyle.

Enjoy a memorable stay at the Zabola Castle Park and Estate, which dates back to the 15th century, and showcases Transylvania at its best. Its sprawling property encompasses a large swath of virgin pine forest in the Carpathian Mountains, while the sumptuous accommodations are reminiscent of the refined life of a country manor. As a special experience, you’ll be invited to visit a hand-built, wooden bear viewing hut in a forest thicket at twilight, followed by lovely candlelit dinner in the comforts of the estate dining room.

We continue deeper into Transylvania, through a region famous for its fortified churches, rolling landscapes, and picturesque villages that retain their unique and timeless traditions. We'll explore imposing fortresses — UNESCO World Heritage Sites—in ViscriSighisoara, and Biertan, famous for their stunning views across the ancient landscape. Wander among the rooms of Bran Castle, home to Transylvania’s most famous fictional resident, Count Dracula, and follow the cobblestone lanes through the charming 14th-century town that was the birthplace of the real Vlad the Impaler!

Three cities form the triangular center of Transylvania: Brasov, with this stunning town square crowned by a spired cathedral; charming Sibiu, whose unique houses are distinguished by arched windows that seem to follow you like eyes; and Sighisoara, one of the best-preserved walled medieval towns in all of Europe. We’ll spend time in each, discovering their history and cultural charms, and meet craftsmen like the Spoonman, who continue a rich artistic heritage. You’ll also be welcomed by a famous Romanian photographer who has photographed the landscapes and the craftspeople, and have the chance to learn about his long-studied techniques.

Romania’s culinary roots also run deep, and throughout our journey, you’ll help prepare and taste its bounty. In the village of Sona, join a locally renowned cook for a hands-on journey into the flavors of Romania. Her passion for traditional medicinal plants and herbs comes alive as she walks you through her garden of herbs and wildflowers, and you’ll put these to use in a short cooking class as you enjoy the surroundings of her lovely Saxon home. In another nearby village, meet a beekeeper whose astounding knowledge has resulted in hives that produce a variety of honeys from the surrounding meadows and forests. Sample the liquid gold under a grape arbor canopy.

Your Romania adventure is, ultimately, a feast for all the senses, and a chance to re-calibrate your sense of wonder. With its friendly, hospitable people so proud of their heritage, its urban capital rising to meet the future, and its exquisite unspoiled landscapes, Romania welcomes you.

Join AdventureWomen in the beautiful springtime in Romania and enjoy one of the last, truly authentic European travel experiences!

 

 

Main Attractions

  • Explore Transylvania’s exquisite countryside, medieval towns, and folkloric villages on hikes, by bicycle, and on horseback
  • Discover the rich tradition of handcrafts: weaving, embroidery, woodcarving, and pottery
  • Spend a fascinating afternoon with a community of Roma women
  • Experience life at an old-world mountain estate—from bear watching in a pine-log hut to a fireside dinner
  • Enjoy preparing a garden-to-table lunch; a workshop on medicinal plants; and a unique honey-tasting adventure with a famous local beekeeper
  • Join a renowned Romanian photographer in his studio and learn his special techniques and tips.
 

What You'll See and Do

  • Anthropology
  • Bear Viewing
  • Bicycling
  • Cooking Class
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Photography
  • Walking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Wine Tasting
  • Women-To-Women

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Romania: Culinary Fun, Culture & Transylvania Hiking

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Sunday, May 27, 2018 - Arrive in Bucharest

Bucharest is the capital and largest city, as well as the cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. Its architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and Art Deco), communist-era, and modern styles.

You will be picked up at Otopeni Airport in Bucharest by your guide and transferred to your hotel.

To get a glimpse of the beauty of Bucharest, walk through the city, visiting the Telephone Palace, the CEC Palace, and the Old Town.

Enjoy dinner at Caru cu Bere, one of the oldest and most iconic restaurants with a lively atmosphere in the Old Town of Bucharest, just a ten minute walk from your hotel.

Stop in at one of Bucharest’s wine bars where you can taste both local and international wines.
Dinner

Overnight: Epoque Hotel
http://www.hotelepoque.ro/

The Epoque Hotel is a contemporary architectural project developed with the deepest appreciation for “genius loci” – the history and spirit of the surroundings. The interiors are inspired by the Neo– Romanian architecture from 1900 until World War II, offering a fashionable interpretation of a historical style, with a strong hold on Romanian attributes.

Day 2

Monday, May 28, 2018 - Bucharest to Zabola
Begin your journey into fabled Transylvania, home to some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, unique castles, lush green countryside, and pine-clad forests. The complex culture of the region is a blend of Hungarian, Latin, and ancient Saxon (German) heritage, all reflected in the unique architecture, artwork, and colorful, localized traditions.

This morning, you can choose to tour Bucharest by car or on foot. Stroll down Victory Avenue to see view Art Deco architecture like the Telephone Palace, or buildings with an eclectic architecture like the CEC Palace, built in 1900. Stop for a coffee along  the way. Visit the terrace of the Palace of Parliament (the former People’s Palace built by the communist leader, Ceausecu), the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon.

Alternatively, you can discover Bucharest on your choice of themes tours: the Communism tour offers a look at life during its 45-year history; the Beautiful Decay tour explores the many historical buildings of Bucharest; the Alternative Tour takes you to see street art and learn about urban culture; and the Roma Craftsmen tour introduces you to Roma artisans who still do traditional metalwork.

Enjoy lunch on your own in Bucharest.

Drive to the small, mountain-ringed city of Brasov, a lovely showcase of medieval architecture. Visit the large town square at its heart to explore Rope Street—one of the narrowest lanes in the world—and the 15th-century Black Church. Or, stroll through town and take in the local scene from a sidewalk café.

Continue to the 300-year-old Zabola Estate, arriving in the early evening.

Settle in and enjoy a Transylvanian fireside candlelight dinner in a memorable atmosphere and spend the night on the property.
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight: Zabola Castle Park
http://www.zabola.com/

The Castle dates back to the 15th century. It is built on the remnants of an early fortified building which is suspected to have burned down in the liberation war of Transylvania. The entire property spreads over vast areas of Carpathian Mountains and forests. The Castle Park itself stretches over beautiful Transylvanian Countryside.

Day 3

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - Zabola
The Hungarian community of Zabola is part of the ethno-cultural region of Transylvania. The word means “bridle” and it relates to the battles fought here with the invading Tatars. In the end, the Zabola residents sent the Tatars packing—as if they had put invisible bridles around their horses to control and lead them away. The original Zabola estate was founded and named by Count Mikes, a freedom  fighter, in the 1690s.

Walk in the forests that surround the estate park this morning and get to know the gamekeeper. Dense virgin forests cover the Carpathian Mountains, which shelter a rich variety of wildlife. Deer, wild boar, bears, wolf, lynx, owls, frogs, and many other smaller animals all roam freely through the estate property and local forests.

Enjoy a picnic on the Hanging Terrace in the Carpathians, offering an exceptional view of the estate.

Head to a wooden hut in the forest this evening to watch for bears in their natural habitat. The Carpathians in Romania are home to over 45 percent of Europe’s brown bear population.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Zabola Castle Park

Day 4

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - Zabola to Viscri
The enchanting village of Viscri is known for its photogenic fortified (walled) church, originally built around 1100, and a designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Prepare lunch in a typical Romanian house today with Marcela Cosnean, an excellent host and cook. After eating the lunch you created, relax in Marcela’s courtyard with a cup of coffee or herbal tea. Learn more about traditional Romanian cooking this afternoon.

Continue to Sinaia, a charming mountain resort, to visit Peles Castle, the summer residence of the former Romanian Royal family. The multi-towered, wood and stone castle was built at the end of the 19th century in a beautiful valley shielded by the Carpathians.

Explore the village of Viscri, including the fortified church, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit local craftsmen and learn how they work with clay and iron in a centuries-old tradition.

Enjoy dinner in a local woman’s garden (weather permitting). She will cook traditional Saxon dishes using fresh ingredients picked from her garden.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Viscri 125
http://www.viscri125.ro/

This house on Viscri’s main street features Wood-beamed rooms decorated in an elegantly spare style, with Saxon touches such as rugs and floral paintwork.

Day 5

Thursday, May 31, 2018 - Viscri
Take in Viscri’s surrounding hills and meadows, as well as the authentic hand- tiled roofs of the houses and barns. Many traditional buildings have been salvaged and beautifully restored by local families over the past 20 or so years.

This morning, walk or bike through the forest towards Crit, one of the oldest Saxon villages in Transylvania.

Meet a renowned local beekeeper and provider of honey for the royal family. Learn how he takes care of his bees and savor a tasting of the many unique varieties produced in his hives.

Return to Viscri for the night and enjoy a traditional dinner.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Viscri 125

Day 6

Friday, June 1, 2018 - Viscri
Sighisoara—one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval villages—is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Eastern Europe, it is one of the few fortified towns that is still inhabited. In Eastern Europe, it is one of the few fortified towns that is still inhabited.

Spend the first part of the day visiting the fortified church, the Clock Tower with its incredible views, and the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler (the fictional Dracula’s prototype). Stroll through the narrow streets, shop, and enjoy the medieval fortress. Walk up to the famous wooden staircase to the upper part of the city, which students still climb to get to school. Spend time with the famous Spoonman; walk through his shop and gallery and learn how these beautifully crafted spoons and other wooden crafts come to life. Enjoy a short lecture about Romanian traditional wood carving, the motifs used, their meaning, and their presence in other forms of traditional art.

Enjoy lunch on your own.

Spend the afternoon with the Rroma/Gypsy community. Choose to visit a community of musicians, basket-makers, or Gabors (traditional Roma people). Meet three generations of Gabor women over dinner and learn about their changing role in the traditional culture.
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight: Viscri 125

Day 7

Saturday, June 2, 2018 - Viscri to Copsa Mare
Copsa Mare is a unique unspoiled Saxon village, close to Biertan, a famous UNESCO World Heritage site. It is in the center of the Transylvania Triangle formed by the historic cities of Brasov, Sighisoara, and Sibiu. This part of Romania is famous for its fortified churches, its pristine landscapes, and for its culture rich with tradition.

This morning, experience one of the greatest activities offered in the Transylvanian countryside: horseback riding across a magnificent landscape. Both beginners and advanced riders can join this ride through meadows and forests, or, if you prefer, you can walk or bike through the scenic countryside.

Enjoy lunch in Viscri before departing for Biertan.

Explore Biertan and its medieval Saxon fortifications included on UNESCO World Heritage list. The village is said to have the most beautiful fortified church in Transylvania. You can also see the house where, in ancient times, couples who planned to divorce were locked for two weeks, sharing a bed and one set of cutlery. It is said that in 400 years, only one couple still decided to break up after this “vacation.”

This afternoon, walk towards Copsa Mare, one of the smallest Saxon villages in Transylvania, and enjoy the best part of spring in Romania. Spend the rest of the day in the village or walking in the surrounding meadows. You can also continue your walk towards Malancrav if you want to spend more time outside.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Copsa Mare Guesthouse
http://www.copsamare.ro/

This guesthouse offers a perfect haven for relaxation and discovery in the heart of Transylvania. The rooms have been restored in line with traditional architecture, decorated with local furniture, and provided with the comfort of modern lifestyle.

Day 8

Sunday, June 3, 2018 - Copsa Mare to Sibiu
With its unique architecture and excellent art collections, Sibiu was chosen as European Cultural Capital in 2007. The city still maintains many of the medieval fortifications, and its buildings are decorated with unique, eye-like windows that seem to follow you as you walk.

Explore the beautiful Squares of the Upper Town. Start in the Great Square, the site of the Roman- Catholic church and the Brukenthal Palace, home to one of Romania’s most important art collections. Continue to the Little Square, which is linked to the Great Square by a passage beneath the Council Tower. Stop in Huet Square, dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral. You may also want to cross the Bridge of Lies, the oldest cast iron bridge in Romania, and the Stairs Passage, connecting the Upper and Lower Town.

Enjoy lunch on your own in Sibiu.

Visit ALEG, a local nonprofit that promotes gender equality and fights against gender-based discrimination and violence.

Enjoy dinner at Max Restaurant, located in one of the oldest houses in Sibiu.
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight: Levoslav
https://levoslav.ro/en/

This boutique hotel is in the former residence of the composer and conductor Jan Levoslav Bella. It is decorated with original works of art with musical themes. Renovated in 2008, it has a harmonious, sophisticated feel.

Day 9

Monday, June 4, 2018 - Sibiu to Bucharest
Head back to Bucharest today, trading the peace and tranquility of the Transylvanian countryside for the hustle and bustle of the city.

Visit a local market in Sibiu this morning. Enjoy lunch in town.

Drive to Sona, where you will meet another amazing cook and host who is passionate about traditional Romanian medicinal plants and spices. Walk with her to identify wildflowers that are commonly used in Romanian recipes, to make tea, or to use as spices. Enjoy a workshop on these plants with a short cooking class in the yard of her beautiful Saxon house in Sona.

Complete your trip in Transylvania with a visit to Bran Castle. Because Dracula is what Romania is most known for abroad, you have to visit his Castle. Bram Stoker chose the castle as Dracula’s house in his novel, but the real Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, was unlikely to have spent too much time of his life here, if any at all. Regardless, it is an astonishing place to visit with a fully equipped chamber of torture and a beautiful view of the internal courtyard and of the outside valley.

Have a farewell dinner with your new AdventureWomen friends. Reminisce over all of the memories you have made and celebrate an incredible trip!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Epoque Hotel
http://www.hotelepoque.ro/

The Epoque Hotel is a contemporary architectural project developed with the deepest appreciation for “genius loci” – the history and spirit of the surroundings. The interiors are inspired by the Neo– Romanian architecture from 1900 until World War II, offering a fashionable interpretation of a historical style, with a strong hold on Romanian attributes.

 

Day 10

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - Bucharest and Depart
Enjoy one last day in Bucharest before heading home.

Visit Espace Minoux, a cultural gathering place founded and owned by the famous Romanian photographer Razvan Voiculescu.

Take a photography workshop, learning from this master. While you are there, enjoy the stunning photography taken by Razvan during his years of travel around Romania. He will show you some of his techniques, and at the end of the workshop you will keep the photos you’ve taken and turn them into original postcards from Romania.

Say goodbye to your new AdventureWomen friends as you transfer to the airport for your flights home.
Breakfast, Lunch

 

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Romania: Culinary Fun, Culture & Transylvania Hiking

Traveling to Romania



Traveling to Romania

Arrive: Arrive at Otopeni Airport, Bucharest, Romania (OTP) on May 27, 2018 before noon.

Depart: Depart Otopeni Airport, Bucharest, Romania (OTP) on June 5, 2018 after 2:00pm.

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. Please contact us at:

(800) 804-8686 or (617) 544-9393
email: info@adventurewomen.com

 If you’d like to do anything prior to or following the AdventureWomen trip, we’d be delighted to help you arrange any trip extensions you’re interested in.

Note: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible booking last-minute registrants, we must release hotel rooms two to three months prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Passports and Visas

Citizens of the United States must have a passport valid for six months beyond your travel dates with at least two blank facing pages. If you do not have a passport, please apply now!

Health Considerations

We rate this trip as moderate. You should be able to hike for ten miles on rolling terrain. We have a partnership with FitForTrips, a company that will design an individualized fitness plan for you to ensure that you are prepared for the trip. Visit https://fitfortrips.com/partners/adventure- women/ for more information.

You should come with a flexible, adventurous, and enthusiastic spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor that adventure travel requires.

Money

Romania’s currency is Leu (plural: Lei). As of May, 2017, $1 = RON 4.16. Foreign currencies may be exchanged at banks or authorized exchange offices (called: “casa de schimb” or “birou de schimb valutar”). International airports and larger hotels also offer currency exchange services but the exchange rates are always better at the exchange offices. Credit cards are generally accepted in large cities, but not in rural areas. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express. ATMs are in larger cities only.

Suggested Gratuities: Gratuity suggestions are based on the group size. We will advise on suggested tips closer to departure, but it will be approximately $15-20 per person per day.

How to Register

Call the AdventureWomen office at (800) 804-8686 to determine space availability and register for this trip. We can complete your registration, including taking your credit card deposit over the phone. As a courtesy, we can hold your space for five days while you are making personal and travel arrangements.

If you prefer, you can register online by clicking "Sign Up for this Trip" on the trip page.

Please be sure to read the AdventureWomen policies before registering!

Forms and Final Payment

Once you book, you will need to fill out and return to AdventureWomen:

  • Information Form
  • Booking Conditions Form
  • Copy of Flight Information
  • Copy of Issuing Page of Passport (photo page)

Final payment is due to AdventureWomen in a cash form (check, money order, or wire transfer) on or before February 27, 2018.

 

 

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Romania: Culinary Fun, Culture & Transylvania Hiking

Included:

  • All hotel accommodations throughout the trip
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation
  • Fully-guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • English-speaking guides throughout the trip
  • One AdventureWomen Associate

Not Included:

  • International airfare to and from Romania
  • Optional activities as listed in the itinerary
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fees for passports, visas, or immunizations
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Romania: Culinary Fun, Culture & Transylvania Hiking

What To Bring

May is one of the nicest times of year to visit Romania. The days are warm and sunny (but not too hot!) and the nights are cooler. The average temperature will be in the mid-70s during the day and can get down to the high 40s at night.

It is spring, so be prepared for a few showers!

Clothing and Gear:

  • Duffel bag or small suitcase
  • Daypack
  • Rain cover for daypack
  • Medium-weight, waterproof hiking boots (make sure they are broken in!)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • 4-5 pairs hiking socks
  • 2-3 short sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 2-3 long sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 1 medium weight fleece sweater/jacket for cool evenings
  • 1-2 pairs of pants
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • 1-2 sets of nicer clothes for dinner
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Gore-Tex jacket
  • Gore-Tex pants
  • Hat for sun protection
  • 5-7 pairs underwear
  • 2-4 sports bras
  • Sleepwear

AdventureWomen Essentials:

  • Travel documents (passport, airline tickets, money)
  • 2-3 spare passport photos (in case of lost passport)
  • Write down/print out travel insurance number
  • Locks for your suitcase/duffel bag
  • Travel alarm clock with spare batteries
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries
  • Binoculars (8x40/42 models are excellent choices; center focus models are easiest)
  • Digital camera, memory cards, battery charger
  • Power adapters
  • Sunglasses, case, and strap
  • Spare glasses, contact lenses, cleaner, saline, etc.
  • Money belt or neck pouch
  • Your AdventureWomen insulated bottle (good for hot or cold drinks!)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Small packet of tissues
  • Tampons and panty liners (avoid plastic applicators)
  • Earplugs: We recommend Mack’s Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs. Available at most drugstores or at www.earplugstore.com
  • Assortment of stuff sacks and Ziploc bags
  • 1-2 bandanas/Buff
  • Reading material/journal and pens

Personal First Aid Kit:

  • Prescription medicine you usually take (in original containers)
  • Personal epi pen (if you need one, don’t forget to pack it!)
  • Bandages, Gauze, Ace bandage, blister prevention
  • Antiseptic wipes/spray
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Cotton-tipped applicators
  • Oral rehydration tablets/packets
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Mild laxative
  • Antacid
  • Cold remedies
  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen
  • Eye drops
  • Tweezers, scissors (travel size), safety pins

If you prefer to buy a complete kit, we recommend the Smart Travel first aid kit.


If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.