I got back from my long awaited trip to Transylvania with Explore! a few days ago. This trip was my first tour with Explore, as well as my first trip on a multi-day group tour. I wanted to do this quick post about the trip itinerary and highlights, until I get around to writing the detailed blog posts for the individual days.
As mentioned earlier, this trip was organised by Explore, so unlike any of my previous trips, I didn’t set the itinerary. Nevertheless, it turned out great, and we saw and did a lot in such a short space of time.
- Day 1: Arrival in Bucharest
- Day 2: Walking Tour of Bucharest, and visit to Palace of Parliament. In the afternoon travel to Transylvania, where we stayed for the next 3 nights.
- Day 3: Visit to Peleș Castle and Peleșior Castle. Hike the Royal Path to Franz Joseph Cliffs. Bear watching at observatory in the mountains.
- Day 4: Morning visit to Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle). Afternoon visit to Brasov and Walking Tour
- Day 5: Travel back to Bucharest and head back to the UK.
Visit to Palace of Parliament in Bucharest: The Parliament of Romania holds the record for being the heaviest building in the World and the second largest government building (largest is the Pentagon). Over 80m above ground and 90m below ground, the work on the building started under Romania’s communist government.
Visit to Peleș Castle: Peleș Castle dates back to 1873 and was built as the summer residence for King Carol I and Queen Elisabeta of Romania. It is one of the best preserved neo-Renaissance Castles and was one of the first castles in Europe to have modern amenities – electric heating and lighting, lift, vacuum cleaners etc.
Franz-Josef Cliffs: The end point of the Royal Path hike near Peles Castle is the Franz Josef Cliffs. The cliffs are so named as this is the point where Romanian King Carol I took Emperor Franz Joseph to see the border of his empire, at the end of the 19th century. Fantastic views over Prahov valley!
Bears! We saw two European Brown Bears at the bear observatory near Timișu de Sus.
Bran Castle: Thought to be the inspiration behind Dracula’s castle in Bram Stroker’s Dracula, Bran Castle is a must visit for anyone who comes to Transylvania. The outside of the castle is very similar to what is described in the book, but inside is very different – more manor house than scary castle.
Brașov: A medieval walled town, with red roofs and cobbled streets, Brașov is one of the most beautiful towns of Romania. I found it very similar to Tallinn, but a lot less touristy.
Overall, it was a great trip, and the itinerary was packed full. The Explore tour leader and driver were both fantastic, and went to great efforts to make sure everyone had a great time. Explore specialises in small group tours (maximum of 12-15 people in each tour). There were 8 people on this tour, and they were all great tour companions.
Overall, I found Romania to be a really interesting destination, and the least touristy destination I have been to in Europe so far. Over the coming weeks, I will do more detailed blog posts about each day.
Have you been to Romania? What was your experience? Leave a comment below and let me know.