Located in the heart of Eastern Europe is Romania. A country famed for its delicious wines and fortified castles that have given birth to the legend of Dracula.
Join us as we embrace off-the-map experiences and discover the medieval traditions of this fascinating culture. Enjoy scenic hikes through the dense forests of Transylvania and explore the picturesque Carpathian Mountains.
Follow the footsteps of the first Saxons settlers as you wander Viscri, experiencing a horse drawn carriage ride through this beautiful Saxon style town. Discover what attracted royalty to Romania, and why a certain Prince of Wales decided to buy a house after just one visit. Still relatively unexplored, this is the perfect trip for those who are well traveled seeking a more diverse experience in an often overlooked part of our world.
Welcome to Romania! Upon arrival at Cluj International Airport you will be met by your guide and start your journey to the beautiful region of Maramures.
On your way to Breb, you will enjoy an amazing Lord of The Rings-like landscape while in Targu Lapus and stop to admire the beautiful virgin forest at Strimbu Baiut, the last secular virgin forest in Maramures and one of the forests that was entered the UNESCO Patrimony in June 2017.
Continue your journey to Hoteni, one of the few settlements in Maramures developed on the hills of Piedmont Gutâi. In the evening you will reach Breb, where you will have a traditional dinner and spend the night. (D)
2 night stay at Pensiunea Marioara or similar
Distance and Journey Time: Airport – Maramures and surrounds (160km) 3hr drive
Today you will be spending time visiting Maramures, an open air museum. The locals have managed to overcome hardship, living by two principles: live your life to the full and cherish, above all, the richness of the soul. You will start exploring this wonderful region with Breb. The houses and old wooden churches in Breb are nowadays part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The people here are warm and they will tell you about their life and even invite you into their house. For lunch, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy fresh products and delicious fruity liqueurs.
Your next stop is Sapanta, the world’s one and only Merry Cemetery and after dinner, there will be time for you to have a nice walk through Sighetu Marmatiei before arriving back to your accommodation. (B,L,D)
Distance and Journey Time: Maramures and surrounds (100km) 2hr drive
Today is an active day, trekking through the Iza Valley and continuing to explore Maramures with a visit to two ancient wooden churches that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Poienile Izei (Iza Meadows) and Barsana. Perfected across generations, the art of wood carving remains the chief craft of the local community, as you’ll see in an arts and crafts workshop.
After the presentation you’ll have the opportunity to taste the local products in one of the most picturesque and well preserved regions in Romania. Your journey will continue on to Botiza, the village known for its wool carpets, where you will visit a family that sews carpets. (B,L,D)
Overnight at Pensiunea Teodora Teleptean or similar
Walking Distance: Approximately 8.5km
Walking Time: Approximately 4-6 hours
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate, some parts with no shade. ↑207 ↓260m
Distance and Journey Time: (90km) 1.5hr drive
At the start, you will stroll through the villages. The first part from Botiza follows unsealed roads and paths.
This morning will begin with a big breakfast, as you replenish your energy from the day before and get prepared for the spectacular day ahead. Your guide will drive you to Borsa, where you will take a chairlift deep into the beautiful Rodna Mountains. Trek through the mountains and take in the wonderful Romanian countryside, a true highlight of your journey will be when you first witness the magnificent Stiol Lake, a glacier lake from which the Bistrita river springs. In the evening you will be transferred to Sucevita. (B,L,D)
2 night stay at Casa cu Cerbi or similar
Walking Distance: approx. 7.5km
Walking Time: Approx. 4-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate, mostly no shade
Distance and Journey Time: Rodna Mountains – Sucevita (230km) 4hr drive
The first half is through the forest, followed by a meadow that leads you to the lake in a gentle downhill decline.
Today begins in Sucevita, visiting Sucevita Monastery and Marginea Pottery Workshop will reveal the technique of handcrafting traditional black ceramics. You will have the opportunity to admire and purchase painted eggs with traditional patterns, as well as traditional blouses.
This will be followed by a visit to Voronet, a jewel of the UNESCO northern heritage whose frescoes, featuring an intense shade of blue, have become famous throughout the world. The exterior murals have preserved their hues despite centuries of inclement weather, but the ingredients used in preparing the paints are still a mystery.
You will be driven to Moldovita, in order to visit a second UNESCO Painted Monastery, and have a walk through the village. The visits at Sucevita and Moldovita Monasteries will be an unforgettably unique immersion into the medieval Byzantine art and monastic life. Today will also include a trek in a Hutsul village, before enjoying a relaxing picnic. On this particular journey, you’ll have the chance to interact with locals and craftsmen eager to share their lively stories and other truly amazing things. In the evening you will return to Sucevita. (B,L,D)
Walking Distance: Approximately 5 km
Walking Time: Approximately 6 hours
Difficulty: Moderate, half through forest, half open meadows ↑363 m ↓820 m
Distance and Journey Time: (130km) 2hr drive
Today you will experience “Nicolae Popa” Folk art museum in Târpeti, featuring an impressive collection of festival masks and traditional costumes, including biblical and Judaic references. If you wish to immerse more in the typical idyllic rural life of the region and to better understand the way the locals truly live, a visit with locals of the region can be organised.
Your guide will continue driving northwards, crossing the Bicaz Dam and around the east side of Lake Bicaz. When the sky is clear you can have some of the most stunning scenery in Romania – the lake with the ‘magic mountain’ Ceahlau Mountains in the background.
This afternoon, you will visit the Red Lake. The Red Lake is also known as ‘the Killer Lake’, partly because of the reddish, blood-like colour lent by the sediments carried by the river supplying it with water, and partly due to the legend saying that, at the time the mountain collapsed and formed the dam, a shepherd and his sheep were caught underneath. (B,L,D)
Overnight at Red Lake Inn or similar
Distance and Journey Time: (200km) 3hr45min drive
This morning begins with trekking through Hasmas mountains, crossing the Bicaz Bridge, the oldest construction in the region, built in 1926, which helped introduce tourism at Lacu Rosu. You will reach Suhard Lodge, following a trail on the south wall of the Small Suhard, in order to reach the belle view point, from where you can admire the beautiful area and with a bit of luck, you will be able to see the local black goats.
In the afternoon, return to Lacu Rosu, before transferring to Viscri, for a very tasty lunch with Mama Gerda, the woman who made Prince Charles fall in love with Romanian food. (B,L,D)
Walking Distance: Trekking through Hasmas Mountains Approximately 4.7 km
Walking Time: Approximately 2-3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate, parts through forest; · ↑365 m ↓369 m
Distance and Journey Time: Lacu Rosu – Viscri (160km) 3hr drive
The first 200m of the trek is on asphalt road, then we begin following a path which will lead us to a beautiful belleview point. Afterwards, we will follow a forest path and a 365m steep climb to the Suhardul Mic Plateau.
After breakfast, you will be introduced to a small village that was founded a millennium ago by the first Saxon settlers arriving from the area of Luxembourg. It is tucked away under the Transylvanian forests and sheltered from the busy roads, preserving its medieval charm. This is a place that once attracted royalty – the Prince of Wales. Charmed by the beauty of the area and by the simplicity of its life, he bought a house here and refurbished it, preserving its traditional style. Here you will experience a horse drawn carriage and wander through this beautiful Saxon village.
In the afternoon, you will head to Sighisoara, considered the only medieval fortress within UNESCO that’s currently inhabited. Walking up the winding cobble stone streets lined with historical buildings, reach the Clock Tower, a symbol of the city, atop of which you can admire the breathtaking views. The Tower shelters a museum of medieval weapons and the chamber of torture. After visiting the tower, climb the three hundred wooden steps up to the Church-on-the-hill, built in the XIV century. The remainder of the day will be free for you to explore Sighisoara. (B,L,D)
Overnight at Fronius Residence or similar
Distance and Journey Time: Viscri – Sighisoara (45km) 45min drive
Today you will visit the Biertan Fortified Church, first mentioned in 1283 in a document concerning the taxes demanded from the Catholic priests of Saxon settlements by the Superior Board of Alba-Iulia. As far back as the late 14th century, Biertan was mentioned as an oppidum (borough). In 1418 it received the Ius gladii (the right to be a sword bearer) and the right to organise a weekly Saturday market in the main square.
You will then begin your final journey back to Cluj, stopping along the way to have a visit and wine tasting session. The twinning of different nations (Romanians, Hungarians, Saxons) has led both vine cultivation and wine production to develop techniques and skills with amazing results. Considered to be the second motherland of the Traminer grape, Tarnave Vineyard owes this fact to the massive colonisation in the second half of the thirteenth century with Saxons from the Mosel–Rhine Valley who founded Seiden the German name for Jidvei. They seem to have gathered together the strong fragrance of pine resin, the smell of lime blossom, and the transparency and sweetness of acacia honey.
In the evening you will arrive in Cluj. (B,L,D)
Overnight at Hotel Opera Plaza Cluj or similar
Distance and Journey Time: Sighisoara – Cluj Napoca (160km) 2.5hr drive
Your last day in Romania will begin with a walking tour of the streets of the beautiful city of Cluj. The city seems to be destined for an intense and rich art scene, cultural events taking place almost weekly. To the bohemian atmosphere of Cluj contributes the picturesque architecture combining classical and baroque styles, mostly clustered around Union Square, in the heart of the city. Start in Cluj Napoca, the Union Square – festooned with Gothic and Baroque–style buildings. You will visit St Michael’s Gothic Cathedral and take a stroll down Mirror Street.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Distance and Journey Time: Cluj – Airport 20min drive
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.