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Bucharest Spotlight

Duration
7 Days
Prices From:
US$ 1,394

Discover Romania’s expanding capital and quintessential slices of Romania’s past (with a dash of Bulgaria) on this privately-guided week-long tour. You’ll leave the tourist trails behind as you learn about dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and explore castles built by the Romanian Royal Family.


This 7-day Romanian vacation takes you to its energetic capital city, Bucharest, and includes excursions to nearby landmarks. It features first-class accommodations, private tours and one shared city tour, and is a great introduction to this Eastern European country. 

Your journey begins in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, that it too often simply a waystation for travellers heading into Transylvania. But the capital is a worthwhile destination in its own right. Begin your exploration of this rapidly-developing capital city with a shared city tour that takes you to many of the most renowned landmarks in town. Begin in Revolution Square, where former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu gave his final public address on live TV, only to be drowned out by a chorus of jeers. Next up is the gargantuan Palace of Parliament, the second-largest administrative building in the world and a tribute to Ceausescu’s ego. Continue to the Old Town to stroll alongside some of the antique holdovers of Romania from centuries past before ending the tour at the National Village Musuem, which recreates rural Romanian lifestyles in an open-air setting. 

Over the next few days, you’ll head on day trips out of Bucharest to explore castles and enjoy wine tastings. One day, head on a private tour of Peles Castle, a Neo-Renaissance palace built by King Carol I in the 1860s. Afterwards, enjoy a five-course lunch and wine tasting before touring Cantacuzino Castle on the way back to Bucharest. Another day, head into Bulgaria to explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First up is Ivanovo, a complex of churches, monasteries, chapels, and cave dwellings dating back to the 12th century. Then continue to Veliko Tarnovo, known for its colourful homes and Tsarevets Fortress, which watches over the town. 

After a day spent at leisure back in Bucharest, you’ll head on your final private tour. Swing by the monastery of Curtea de Arges, an example of cultural fusion in its architectural style and the resting place of the royal family. Continue to Poenari Castle, erstwhile home of Vlad Tepes a.k.a. Vlad Dracula, before reaching the Transfagarasan, a massive mountain road through the Carpathians known as Ceausescu’s Folly. Enjoy the mountain views and learn about the harsh labour conditions of the road’s construction before returning to Bucharest. 

At the end of your stay, connect back to the airport to return home. 


 

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Duration
7 Days
Prices From:
US$ 1,394

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Bucharest Airport to Bucharest Hotels

Duration3 Hours

K+K Hotel Elisabeta

K+K Hotel Elisabeta is in the center of Bucharest featuring a contemporary, modern design and rooms with elegant furniture, floor heating and free wired internet access.

Meal Plan Buffet Breakfast
Duration6 Nights
Accommodation

K+K Hotel Elisabeta

More Info

Location View map
  • starstarstarstar

    K+K Hotel Elisabeta



    K+K Hotel Elisabeta is in the center of Bucharest featuring a contemporary, modern design and rooms with elegant furniture, floor heating and free wired internet access.

    K+K Hotel Elisabeta is in the center of Bucharest featuring a contemporary, modern design and rooms with elegant furniture, floor heating and free wired internet access.

    Facilities

    • Bar
    • Business Centre
    • Conference Centre
    • Reception
    • Restaurant
    • Safety Deposit Box
    • Telephone
    • TV
    • Wellness Center

    More Details

Day 2

Shared Classic Bucharest City Tour with Palace of the Parliament and Village Museum

Welcome to Romania's capital, a city that sports its own Arc de Triomphe on an avenue that is, in fact, longer than the Champs-Elysees. On this shared classic tour of Bucharest, you'll see many of its highlights but might also discover why it used to be called 'The Little Paris of the Balkans'. And what a strangely beautiful city it is! The official meeting point of your tour is at the, perhaps curiously named, Benjamin Franklin Parking area in front of the rather more famous, and wonderful, Athenaeum. The scheduled meeting time is 09:30am. This is a full-day tour, however, because admission times to key attractions such as the Palace of Parliament can vary, the actual flow of this excursion can vary too. There will be a break for lunch (not included) before the afternoon visit to the National Village Museum, which is also the end of your tour.

Two of the obvious highlights you're going to visit are the Revolution Square, which was the starting point of the anti-communist revolt back in 1989. It was here that a crowd of over 100,000 people, specifically brought in to cheer Ceausescu, turned the tables by jeering him while on live television. It was to be his last public speech and he fled by helicopter from the roof of the building the following morning. The second one is the Palace of Parliament, the world's second-largest administrative building after the Pentagon. The massive building is 12 stories tall and has 8 underground levels, including an atomic shelter, linked to the main institutions of the city through 20 km (12 miles) of catacombs. Meanwhile, discovering Bucharest's Old Town is best experienced on foot, especially since it has become a charming, walkable quarter. Renovating the Old City took nearly a decade and between 2007-2011 but today you'll find delightful cobblestone streets, lined with quirky art and antique shops, bookstores, and a plethora of cafes, bars and clubs. The oldest landmark around here was the Old Court, the residence of medieval princes; its ruins are conserved as a museum since 1972. Another landmark, the CEC Palace, opposite the National Museum of Romanian History, hosts the headquarters of the CEC Bank and CEC Museum. It is one of the most impressive building in Bucharest while the Stavropoleos Monastery is one of those jewels you stumble upon as you explore this part of Bucharest. After more than 20 years of restoration work, it was reconsecrated in 2012. This is a very cultural city, offering plenty of theatre and opera, but also gorgeous lake and forest areas around the periphery.

The city center offers green spaces too and one of these is Bucharest's National Village Museum, your last visit of this tour. Located in the heart of the city in Bucharest's spectacular Herastrau Park, it is the second largest open-air museum in Europe. It was inaugurated in the presence of King Carol II in 1936 and, at the time, could claim to be one of the first ethnographic museums in the world. Sociologists and ethnographers led by Dimitrie Gusti helped to identify old houses from various Romanian regions that were then transported to Bucharest. Local craftsmen, brought to Bucharest, managed to rebuild 33 houses and household utility spaces, piece by piece to create this museum. The museum park covers approximately 10 hectares, aiming to provide a comprehensive picture of the architectural styles of traditional rural homes from across Romania; even though in the center of the city, it's an oasis of tranquility.

Upon completion of your tour of the park, your tour ends, and you will return to the original starting point.

Duration8 Hours
Day 3

Private Day Trip to Peles Castle with Lunch and Wine Tasting

Talk about Romanian castles, invariably, seems to bring moody, often outright eerie images into play, including misty clouds and bats circling around spiraling turrets. On this privately guided excursion, you will be introduced to something quite the opposite. Some time during the 1860s King Carol I of Romania visited the small village of Sinaia, nestled in a lovely valley with the Bucegi Mountains providing a dramatic backdrop. The King was suitably enchanted by the scenery and, on the spot, decided to build a palace. Peles Castle became the summer residence of the royal family and is, without question, among the most stunning castles in Europe with many attributes that are light, airy and even playful at times. It's about two hours from Bucharest and your driver-guide will make it a leisurely journey. You will have plenty of time to discover many magnificent pieces of art and wonderful exhibits in what is now a public museum. The 160-room palace is quite ornate, designed in a Neo-Renaissance style, boasting its own movie theatre and concert hall. King Carol I and his wife Elizabeth, the first royal couple to reside there, had very different interests which significantly adds to the enjoyment of a visit. While the King, an accomplished soldier, was proud of his extensive 4,000-piece collection of weaponry, the artistically inclined Queen adorned parts of the movie theatre with works of art by Gustav Klimt and other well-known painters. The first movie projection in Romania, allegedly, took place in this room.

After an enjoyable tour of the royal residence, a short twenty-minute drive takes you to Cantacuzino Castle to enjoy a fabulous five-course lunch (included) and a wine-tasting session that will introduce you to five perfectly partnered wines from the Prahova Valley. This is one of Romania's prime wine growing regions, best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, but also for Feteasca Neagra (Black Maiden), a local red grape. The castle itself is the material legacy of the Cantacuzino family whose origins go back one thousand years to the Byzantine Empire. It is also a reflection of the taste of its owner, Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, the richest man in Romania in the early 20th century. Until his death in 1913, he was one of the country's key political figures, holding office as the mayor of Bucharest, as well as President of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, among other appointments. A great example of the Neo-Romanian style, an original mix of Byzantine, late Italian Renaissance, Oriental, local peasant and 'Brancovenesc' style elements, it was decorated with expensive and rare materials, including sculpted oak doors and stained-glass windows imported from Venice. It will give you a rare glimpse of how life was back then for one of the most prestigious and richest families in the country.

After an enjoyable lunch, wine tasting and tour of the castle, your driver-guide will take you back to Bucharest.

Duration10 Hours
Day 4

Private Day Trip to Bulgaria with Veliko Tarnovo UNESCO Site

A privately guided day-trip into Bulgaria from Bucharest is a great opportunity to see part of a country that is getting a lot more attention as a top Balkan travel destination these days. It is going to be a long day and your driver-guide will meet you in your hotel lobby at 8 am. The Giurgiu-Ruse border crossing is about 100 km (60 miles) from Bucharest and once you are on the Bulgarian side in Ruse, you drive another 30 minutes through the beautiful valley of Rusenski Lom before you reach an amazing place called Ivanovo. It’s a complex of churches, monasteries, chapels and cave cells hewn out of the solid rock by hermits back in the 12th century. By the time of the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of Bulgaria in the late 14th century, the complex included around 40 churches among a total of around 300 cave sites. The majority have not been preserved, and out of the five remaining churches on the UNESCO World Heritage list, only one is open to the public today. The monastery complex owes much of its fame to frescoes that were created in the 13th- and 14th-century and the samples in the St. Mary Church are world-famous. Their artistic quality is exceptional, and, during your visit, you can see a rendition of The Last Supper that was painted 150 years before the one by Leonardo Da Vinci. From the Ivanovo complex, it's another 100 km (60 miles) before you reach the captivating city of Veliko Tarnovo, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. While lunch is not included in this tour, your driver-guide can suggest an excellent restaurant with a spectacular view of the famous Tsarevets Fortress. After lunch, it’s time to discover the city itself and tour the fortress. Many people are charmed by this place, as the images of the Yantra river meandering through the city, the cobblestone streets and all those colorful houses perched around the hills with their flower-decked façades are simply enchanting. Veliko Tarnovo was originally built on three hills and the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185-1396), which was then one of the biggest countries in Europe. Tsarevets was one of the three hills and home to the aristocracy. The fortress is, clearly, Veliko Tarnovo's highlight attraction and since there is only pedestrian access, you can peacefully wander around the ancient ruins and breathtaking ramparts. The Patriarchal Church sits prominently on top of the hill and from here the views onto the surrounding hills and the river and town below are simply magnificent. After a great day in Bulgaria, your driver-guide takes you back to Bucharest and your hotel.

Duration11 Hours
Day 5

Day at Leisure

Today is totally free and at leisure. You can take advantage of any optional activities available or simply relax.

Day 6

Private Transfagarasan Road Trip

This privately guided tour introduces you to an interesting piece of Romanian history by visiting Cuerta de Arges, one of its most magnificent cultural highlights, before taking you on a breathtaking journey along one of the country's most exhilarating roads, the Transfagarasan. You'll leave your hotel early in the morning and your first stop is about two hours away. Looking more like a mosque than a typical Orthodox church, the monastery of Curtea de Arges is a historical site and a wonderful example of how art and cultural influences can happily mix to represent the architectural grace of different religious faiths. Built by Wallachian Prince Neagoe Basarab, the consecration ceremony in 1517 was attended by the Patriarch of Constantinople, a testament to its religious importance. Sadly, earthquakes and fires wreaked much destruction on the edifice, and it was not until 1875 that serious reconstruction work commenced. Today it is a necropolis not only for its medieval founders, but also Romania's royal family, with both King Carol I and King Ferdinand I, as well as Queens Elisabeta and Maria buried here. The legend of Master Manole adds a tale of woe associated with the building. Prince Radu the Black hired Manolo and nine of his men to build the most beautiful monastery in the country. Curiously, the newly built walls crumbled every night and the prince threatened to kill the entire crew. One night, clearly desperate, Manolo had a dream suggesting that for the monastery to be built, a person loved by him or his masons would need to be entombed inside the walls. Manolo told his men and they agreed that the first of their wives coming to the castle bringing their lunch would be the human sacrifice. It was Manolo's wife.

Leaving Curtea de Arges behind, your journey takes you up the first part of the splendid highway up the Carpathian Mountains until you pass Poenari Castle, sitting on top of an isolated and eerie cliff, 2,800 feet above ground. Unlike Bran Castle, Poenari can lay claim to being one of the key residences of Vlad Tepes, who repaired and consolidated the original structure back in the 15th century. The fortress is, currently, under renovation and cannot be visited for some time to come.

Shortly afterwards, you'll reach the truly riveting part of the trip. The Transfagarasan, also known as Ceausescu's Folly, is one of the most spectacular roads in the world. It is roughly 90 km (56 miles) long and has more tunnels and viaducts than any other road in Romania. It's been written up in numerous magazines and the well-known British Television motor show Top Gear filmed here in 2009. They were, apparently, highly impressed. It was built between 1970 and 1974 by the military on orders from Nicolae Ceausescu. 6,000 tons of dynamite were used to clear a path for the road on the northern side of the mountains and 40 soldiers, apparently, lost their lives during construction. Many people claim that the loss of life was, actually, in the hundreds. The drive is spectacular, featuring numerous curves and switchbacks that provide brilliant views back from where you started your ascent and you should ask your driver to stop whenever a magic photo opportunity presents itself, which is virtually every two minutes.

You have a chance for lunch (not included) around an area called Valea cu Pesti and from there it's approximately an hour before you reach Balea Lake, a natural wonder in its own right with crystal-clear, icy water surrounded by gorgeous mountain peaks. This is the northernmost point of the trip and you can enjoy some time by the lake or going for a short hike, before you return to Bucharest.

Duration12 Hours
Day 7

Bucharest Hotels to Bucharest Airport

Duration3 Hours

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

Daily

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • Private airport transfers
  • 6 nights' accommodations
  • Shared tour of Bucharest
  • Private guided tour to Peles Castle with Lunch and Wine Tasting
  • Private guided tour to Veliko Tarnovo
  • Private guided Transfagarasan Road day trip

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.

DP BUCCITY7DRO
13 Sep 2021
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