back to Romania

Romania

Romania’s Painted Monasteries & Medieval Castles

Staying in four and five-star hotels

Magical, mythical Transylvania, 'the last truly medieval landscape in Europe', takes you back in time to a world of Saxon villages and hilltop citadels. Discover the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, delve into the legend of Dracula at Bran Castle, and delight in the fairytale landscape of dark forests surrounding colourful towns and fortified church steeples poking through the treetops. Also with a visit to the Romanian capital of Bucharest, taking in the historic yet dynamic Old Town.

Visit the picturesque treasures, the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, these churches are one-of-a-kind architectural sites in Europe. Far from being merely wall decorations, the murals represent complete cycles of religious events. The purpose of the frescoes was to make the story of the Bible and the lives of the most important Orthodox saints known to villagers by the use of images. Their outstanding composition, elegant outline and harmonious colors blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Romania is home to stunning scenery, the Carpathian Mountains  Transylvanian Alps and gothic architecture which make a pilgrimage here refreshing and like stepping back to a time when life was simpler - the locals get around in horse and carts alongside everyone else whizzing around side by side with modern life. Join us to explore this wonderful experience.

Itinerary

  1. Travel to Romania - Bucharest panorama tour (D, DR)

    Morning: meet your Tour Leader at Heathrow Airport and check-in for your flight to Bucharest.

    Afternoon: arrive in Bucharest where you will be met by your Local Guide and escorted to your city centre hotel with an introductory panorama of Romania’s capital city, also known in the past as the “Little Paris of the East” founded in the year 1459 on the banks of the Dambovita River by ruler Vlad the Impaler.  Sights include the Arch of Triumph, Kiseleff Boulevard, Victoria Square home of the Romanian parliament. Continue down Victoria Boulevard, through Revolution Square where the Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was toppled. Other sites include Constitution Square, University Square and Unirii Square with the Patriarchal Church. After, check-in to your hotel for a two-night stay and relax before dinner.

    Evening: a short worship in the hotel followed by a welcome drinks get-together to get to know your fellow pilgrims. After, stroll together to enjoy dinner in an atmospheric local restaurant with water and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  2. Bucharest the Romanian capital (B, D)

    Morning: we commence with a short worship in the city's Anglican Church of the Resurrection. After, we visit the building formerly known as “The House of the People”, the second largest building in the world, after the Pentagon, covering 65.000 m² with over 1000 rooms, two underground parking garages and supposedly also a nuclear bunker. The construction required a million cubic meters of marble, over 700.000 tons of steel and bronze and 3500 tons of crystal. Later, discover the Village Museum, a living museum where you can see many reconstructed farmhouses and churches from all corners of Romania dating up to 300 years old.

    Afternoon: free to wander the old town of Bucharest known as Lipscani which from the Middle Ages to the early 19th century was the most important commercial area of the city and Wallachia. It is located near the ruins of the old Princely Court built by Vlad III the Impaler.

    Evening: dinner in a local restaurant with water and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  3. Curtea de Arges and Cozia monasteries – Sibiu (B, D)

    Morning: depart Bucharest and travel through the Wallachian Plains to Curtea de Arges. Located at the end of a boulevard with hundred of years old linden trees, Curtea de Arges Monastery is the most important pilgrimage and prayer place in the county of Arges, with the “Assumption of the Virgin” as its dedication day.

    Afternoon: continue towards Transylvania through the scenic Carpathian Mountains and make a stop in Cozia to visit the monastery one of the earliest Medieval edifices of great importance in Romania. Some original frescoes are still very well preserved and inside the church you find the tomb of the ruler who built the monastery in the year 1388, Mircea cel Batran. After drive to Sibiu to check-in to your hotel for a two night stay.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with water and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  4. Sibiu - Alba Iulia – local farmhouse dinner (B, D)

    Morning: walking tour of Sibiu where Noble Saxon history emanates from every art-nouveau facade and gold-embossed church. Renowned composers Strauss, Brahms and Liszt all played here during the 19th century, and Sibiu has stayed at the forefront of Romania’s cultural scene through its festivals of opera, theatre and film, as well as rock, jazz and more. The country's first hospital, school, library and pharmacy were all established here.

    Afternoon: continue to Alba Iulia and tour the Upper Town region, developed by Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor in honour of whom the Habsburgs renamed the city Karlsburg. The fortress, with seven bastions in a stellar shape, was constructed between 1716 and 1735 by two Swiss fortification architects. The first was Giovanni Morandi Visconti, who built two old Italian-style bastions. The second was Nicolaus Doxat de Demoret—nicknamed "Austrian Vauban". After 1720, the two architects radically transformed the medieval fortress shaped by the former Roman castrum into a seven-bastion baroque fortress, developing Menno van Coehorn's new Dutch system, of which the fortress of Alba Iulia is the best preserved example. Inside the fortress are The Union Hall with the National Honour Gallery, The National History Museum of Unification, the Princely Palace (Voivodal Palace), the Orthodox cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral, the Batthyaneum Library and the Roman Catholic bishop's palace.

    Evening: dinner in a local farmhouse in the village of Sibiel with water and tea or coffee included.

    symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  5. Biertan – Sighisoara – Targu Mures (B, D)

    Morning: depart Sibiu and head further into the heart of Transylvania visiting Biertan to visit the local fortified church, one of Romania's most important historical and architectural monuments listed by UNESCO. It was built in the place of an old basilica at the end of the 15th century with architectural elements from the late-Gothic and Renaissance style. Between 1572 and 1867 it was the seat of the Lutheran Evangelical Bishop.

    Afternoon: continue to Sighisoara, an inhabited medieval city listed by UNESCO. In the fortress, situated on a hill, there are 14 towers the most impressive and famous is the 64 m high “Clock-Tower”. You will see the Church on the Hill, the Covered Stairs, the Venetian House and the “House with the Deer”, “Casa Vlad Dracul” where the famous Prince Vlad Tepes was allegedly born. After, continue to Targu Mures and check-in to your hotel for an overnight stay.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with water and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  6. Targu Mures - Tihuta pass - Moldova (B, D)

    Morning: a relaxed tour of Targu Mures, first mentioned in the early 14th century, it was a cattle and crop market town called Agropolis by Greek traders. In the 15th century it had 30 guilds. Târgu Mureş is an important cultural centre in the heart of the Magyar and German minority area and was the administrative capital of the former Mureş Magyar Autonomous Region. There is a state theatre with Magyar and Romanian sections, a Szekler song and dance ensemble, a theatre institute, a technical university, and a university of medicine and pharmaceutics. The Teleki-Bolyai Library, founded at the end of the 18th century by Count Samuel Teleki, chancellor of Transylvania, contains a large collection of first editions and important manuscripts documenting Transylvanian history, as well as mathematical and scientific works. The Palace of Culture has magnificent stained-glass windows depicting historical scenes. It is a very underrated city!

    Afternoon: we continue north through the Tihuta Pass, which inspired Bram Stoker to write the novel Dracula, into the historic region of Bucovina, famous for its outer painted monasteries. As a first example you will discover the Moldovita Monastery, built in 1532 by the illegitimate son of Stephan the Great, Petru Rares. Among the furniture dating back from the Middle Ages here you will also see the throne of the former Moldavian ruler. After, continue to Radauti and check-in to your hotel for a two-night stay.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with water and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  7. The Painted Monasteries (B, D)

    Morning: spend the day visiting the most picturesque treasures of Romania, the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, these churches are one-of-a-kind architectural sites in Europe. Far from being merely wall decorations, the murals represent complete cycles of religious events. The purpose of the frescoes was to make the story of the Bible and the lives of the most important Orthodox saints known to villagers by the use of images. Their outstanding composition, elegant outline and harmonious colors blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape. This morning visit Sucevita and Humor monasteries both listed by UNESCO.

    Afternoon: after a break for lunch visit the jewel of all the monasteries the Voronet Monastery built at the end of the 15th century in a record time-three months and three weeks. The most important of the frescoes is 'The Judgement Day', painted on the whole western facade, that determined the monument to be called 'The Sistine Chapel of the East'. The scene, the simplest and the most dramatic composition, is processed in a characteristic Moldovan way: the souls carried to heaven are wrapped in Moldovan towels, while the souls doomed to the fire of Ghenna wear the turbans of the Turks, the Moldovan's enemies at the time.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with water and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drinkk

  8. Suceava - Neamt - Agapia - Piatra Neamt (B, D)

    Morning: depart for a morning stroll through Suceava, visiting the Saint John the New of Suceava monastery was built between 1514-1522, during the ruling of Bogdan III the Blind and Stefanita Voda, both sons of Stephen the Great. The building of the church is imposing and it follows the Moldavian architectural style. Inside of the church there is a shrine with the relics of Saint John the New, brought in 1402 by the king Alexander the Good from the White Fortress.

    Afternoon: continue to the Neamt Monastery, Romania's oldest and largest male monastery. Founded by Petru I Muşat, it doubled as a protective citadel. Ştefan cel Mare built today's large church in the 15th century, though some of the paintings date from Muşat’s time. The fortified compound houses a medieval art museum and a house museum dedicated to novelist Mihail Sadoveanu (1880–1961). The library, with 18,000 rare books, is the largest of any Romanian monastery. The last stop of the day is Agapia an active nunnery, housing 300 to 400 nuns in two locations. The main monastery, Agapia din Vale, stands at the western end of Agapia village. It was built in 1644 by Gavril Coci (Vasile Lupu’s brother). It has relaxing gardens and an impressive facade, but most come to see the interior frescoes painted from 1858-61 by Romanian master Nicolae Grigorescu. After, check-in to your hotel in Piatra Neamt for an overnight stay.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with water and tea or coffee included and a folklore show.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  9. Scenic drive through Transylvania - Prejmer and Brasov (B, D)

    Morning: a day of scenic driving starting by crossing the Carpathians back into Transylvania driving through the amazing Bicaz Gorges, along serpentine like roads. Stop at the Red Lake, which is the largest natural mountain lake in the country, its name coming from the reddish alluvia consisting of iron oxides and hydroxides deposited in the lake by the Red Creek.

    Afternoon: cross along the counties of Harghita and Covasna, inhabited by the Szeklers which is a Hungarian ethnic group, hearing about their history and customs, reaching Prejmer  to stop and visit the church, the largest Saxon fortified church in Romania, with it’s imposing 12m high and 5m thick walls, having over 500 rooms where the villagers could retreat in case of an attack. Late afternoon arrival in the city of Brasov founded in 1211 by the Teutonic Knights with a walk through the narrow streets of the old centre seeing the Black Church which is the largest gothic style religious edifice in Eastern Europe and the old city-hall. After, check-in to your hotel for an overnight stay.

    Evening: dinner in a local restaurant with water and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  10. Dracula's Castle - Sinaia - Bucharest (B, D, DR)

    Morning: drive to Bran which is known for its castle made famous by Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula as being the residence of the vampire count Dracula. Continue to Romania's most famous mountain resort of Sinaia, known as the “Pearl of the Carpathians”.  Visit Peles Castle, the former summer residence of King Carol the First of Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen, built in the late 19th century of wood, stone, marble and brick in the German Renaissance style combined with Italian and English Renaissance styles, German Baroque, the Rococo, the Hispano-Moorish and Turkish styles.

    Afternoon: continue crossing the Carpathians back south and along the Prahova Valley to reach Bucharest for an overnight stay with time to wander and relax before dinner.

    Evening: farewell drinks followed by dinner in a local restaurant with water and tea or coffee included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  11. Return to the UK (B)

    Morning: depart for Bucharest Airport, bid farewell to your Romanian Local Guide and trusted driver and then check-in for your flight.

    Afternoon: arrive at Heathrow and bid farewell to your Tour Leader and new-found friends.

Essential Information

Included excursions

  • Panorama tour of Bucharest
  • Guided walking tour of Bucharest Old Town District Lipscani
  • Monastery of Curtea de Arges
  • Guided walking tour of Sibiu
  • Visit of Alba Iulia and the fortress
  • Visit of the fortified church of Biertan
  • Visit of Sighisoara and the fortress
  • Visit of Moldovita painted monastery
  • Full day visiting the Bucovina monasteries including Sucevita and Humor
  • Visit of the Voronet Monastery
  • Guided walking to of Suceava and the Saint John the New Monastery
  • Visit of the Neamt Monastery
  • Visit Bran and Dracula's Castle
  • Visit Sinaia and Peles Castle

Optional excursions 

None! – all excursions and extras as listed above and below are included

Included extras

  • Hotel Porterage
  • Personal audio guiding system
  • Driver and guide gratuities
  • All hotel and restaurant gratuities

Included meals & drinks

Meals: a full buffet breakfast each morning and all evening meals. Five dinners are in the hotels and five in atmospheric local restaurants, one being in a local farmhouse and one hotel of the dinners including a folklore show.

Drinks: welcome and farewell drinks. We also include tea, coffee water and juices with breakfast and water as well as tea or coffee with all included evening meals. All other drinks will be at your own expense.

Our team in Romania

You will be met at Heathrow by our Tour Leader who will fly with you. On arrival you will be met and each day will be escorted by our knowledgeable Local Guide who will also offer local advice, hints and tips for you to get maximum enjoyment of your time with us. Also, our dedicated McCabe Faith leader is there solely for our guests and will arrange optional in the hotels as well as at some sites during your included excursions. They will escort all excursions and be available for any queries.

Your journey

The flights are direct to Bucharest from London Heathrow with British Airways.  Regional flights to Heathrow from some UK airports as well as flight upgrades, for that comfort and ease through the airport, can be arranged at a supplement. An overnight stop in London may be required which we can assist you with. Please enquire at time of booking.

Outbound journey

Flight BA0886 departs Heathrow: 09:05                      arrives Bucharest: 14:30

Return journey

Flight BA0887 departs Bucharest: 15:20                       arrives Heathrow: 16:40

Length of flight to Bucharest: approximately three hours and 20 minutes

Flight times are subject to change and confirmed with your final paperwork

Your hotels

BUCHAREST: MERCURE CITY CENTRE (4*) - Two nights & one night

Centrally located in Bucharest, just steps from the Romanian Athenaeum and Victoriei Avenue, the music-themed Mercure Bucharest City Centre is close to the Royal Palace and the National Art Museum all within walking distance. A few steps away, you can reach Victoriei Square, the central business district, and some popular museums. Antipa Museum and the Romanian Peasant’s Museum are right there. The Village Museum and King Michael I Park (Herastrau Park) are further down the Kiseleff Avenue.

Hotel facilities: fitness centre, bar and restaurant with a wide selection of Romanian wines.

Your hotel room: air-conditioning/heating, desk, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities, fridge, safe and complimentary WiFi.

Hotel bathrooms: bath or shower, hairdryer, slippers and complimentary toiletries.

 

SIBIU: RAMADA HOTEL (4*) - Two nights 

Conveniently located minutes from downtown, the setting near the Brukenthal National Museum puts one of the cultural centers of Europe at your fingertips. View the extensive collections of paintings and illuminated manuscripts at Brukenthal National Museum. Learn about the rich history of the area at the ASTRA Museum Complex, that chronicles different parts of Romanian heritage. Go on a shopping spree in Promenada Mall.

Hotel facilities: a panorama lift from which guests can enjoy views over the Old Town. The Atrium Restaurant and 2 elegant bars can also be found in this elegant hotel.

Your hotel room: air-conditioning/heating, desk, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities, fridge, safe, iron and ironing board and complimentary WiFi.

Hotel bathrooms: bath or shower, hairdryer, slippers and complimentary toiletries.

 

TARGU MURES: PRIVO HOTEL (4*) - One night

Located in a private and quiet area close to the Târgu Mureș city centre, Privo is a hotel concept where history and modernism complement each other to create an eminent style. Privo is a minimalist style haven for business and all-out relaxation where design creates a warm and welcoming dialogue with the historic ensemble formed by Villa Csonka and the surrounding park.

Hotel facilities: spa facilities, sauna, wine and champagne bar and restaurant.

Your hotel room: air-conditioning/heating, desk, satellite TV, fridge, safe, iron and ironing board and complimentary WiFi.

Hotel bathrooms: bath or shower, hairdryer, slippers and complimentary toiletries.

 

RADAUTI: GERALD'S HOTEL (4*) - Two nights 

Opened in 2007 The Gerald’s Hotel is the best and most modern hotel in Northern Romania and offers high class amenities and services to international travellers. The Gerald’s is located close to the municipal park and the City Hall of Radauti.

Hotel facilities: fitness centre, terrace bar, restaurant and on site laundry.

Your hotel room: air-conditioning/heating, desk, satellite TV, fridge, safe, iron and ironing board and complimentary WiFi.

Hotel bathrooms: bath or shower, hairdryer, slippers and complimentary toiletries.

 

PIATRA NEAMT: CENTRAL PLAZA HOTEL (4*) - One night 

Right in the city centre of Piatra Neamț, guests can find Central Plaza Hotel. The medieval Stephen's Tower is 650 metres from the hotel. Within a 5-minute walk, Piatra Neamț Train Station can be reached.It provides elegantly furnished rooms with free Wi-Fi and air conditioning. A pastry shop is located in the same building.

Hotel facilities: bar and restaurant.

Your hotel room: air-conditioning/heating, desk, satellite TV, fridge, safe, iron and ironing board and complimentary WiFi.

Hotel bathrooms: walk-in shower, hairdryer, slippers and complimentary toiletries.

 

BRASOV: ARO PALACE HOTEL (5*) - One night 

Opened in 1939, on the eve of the WW2, Aro Palace Hotel Brasov was designed by Horia Creanga, the nephew of Romanian well-known writer, Ion Creanga. The name of Aro Palace is inherited from Asigurarea Romaneasca (Romanian Insurance), that provided the money to finance the building.

Hotel facilities: indoor swimming pool, sauna, spa, fitness centre, bar and restaurant.

Your hotel room: air-conditioning/heating, desk, satellite TV, fridge, safe, tea and coffee making facilities, iron and ironing board and complimentary WiFi.

Hotel bathrooms: bath or shower, make-up/shaving mirror, hairdryer, slippers and complimentary toiletries.

 

Practical information

Entry requirements

British Citizen and EU Citizen Passport holders can currently enter Romania freely with no restrictions or other documentation required. Stays within Romania can be up to 90 days (can be spread over multiple visits) within any 180-day period.

Please note your passport must be valid for three months after your return from Romania. 

Full details of entry requirements and any required vaccinations will be detailed in your final paperwork 14 days before departure.

For the latest and most up to date travel advice including entry requirements please consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office travel advice website.

www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Health & wellbeing

Romania is part of the EU. For travel within the EU you should ensure that you have the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is free of charge.  You can apply for the GHIC card by calling 0191 218 1999 or applying on line at…

www.nhs.uk/ghic

The level of cover offered by the GHIC card varies by country visited and is only applicable in state-run health facilities. In some countries coverage may just be a partial contribution.

Adequate insurance cover will be required for all hospital emergencies and doctors’ visits.

Climate

In Romania the average daily minimum and maximum temperatures during your stay should be as below. The average number of days with rainfall is a maximum of seven days a month in June and six in September and October. Mornings and evenings can see temperatures be around 12 degrees below the daily maximum temperatures.

                             Bucharest          Brasov

October                  09 - 19                08 - 16

Clothing

Dress is casual throughout your time in Romania. You may wish to take one or two smarter items for the evenings. Casual clothing is recommended in the day-time with evenings being smart/casual. As this tour requires a certain amount of gentle walking, we suggest you take a pair of cushioned sole shoes. Sports shoes or trainers are fine. It is advisable to bring some warmer clothes and layers for the evenings as well as mountainous areas where the wind may reduce the temperatures.

Women should take a headscarf for churches and monasteries and everyone should ensure shoulders and knees are covered for buildings of religious significance.

Mobility

There is a certain amount of walking and a number of stairs involved on a daily basis during your time in Romania so please make sure you pack comfy footwear for this so that you are prepared. Your Local Guide will keep you updated on a daily basis with what to expect the following day. If you are finding it difficult to keep up then please make sure you tell your Local Guide who can help you to find places to rest and relax and then you can re-join the group at a later stage.

Some streets in towns and villages that you will visit will be cobbled. We suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with good grips or trainers. You must be prepared to be on your feet for up to 90 minutes without the necessity to sit down, walk up to one mile unaided and climb three flights of stairs.

The McCabe Educational Trust

The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on some of our pilgrimages. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £20 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Travel insurance

Ensuring that your holidays are appropriately protected is one of our main priorities. That’s why we have specifically chosen Holiday Extras as our *preferred travel insurance provider to ensure that you are protected before and whilst you are travelling. Holiday Extras offer McCabe Travel guests favourable rates for single trip, multi-trip and annual policies.

For more information or to obtain a quote click below for their website

https://www.holidayextras.com/travel-insurance

Or call them on 0800 083 3551 to speak to a friendly advisor.

Please quote AG628 upon calling to receive the best rates

Full financial security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website here

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