About Beauty of Yesterday
Rediscover traditional countryside & folklore, experience wild Maramures & dramatic gorges, unique painted monasteries & Transylvania.
Activity code: ROBOY01
Duration: 11 Days
Our most popular small group guided tour to many of the lesser-visited parts of Romania's historic landscape will leave you wanting to see much more and wondering, perhaps, why you had not experienced Romania before. A holiday in Romania conjures up a heady mix of culture, history, natural beauty, legends, adventure, traditional food and fun…. come and see, taste, hear and rediscover Romania!
Romania is one of the most unexplored parts of Europe, tucked away in a remote corner where few visit and about which fewer still have much knowledge, beyond the connection with the myth of Dracula. Much of Romania is virtually untouched countryside and follows a way of life that has long been extinguished, or at the very least diminished into very small pockets, elsewhere in Europe; the centuries old folklore and traditions still thrive in its picturesque villages.
This tour, with our superb Romanian guide, takes you back in time, allows you to meet some of the friendliest people in Europe, many following traditional ways of life untouched by the modern world. Whilst you will cover a lot of the country the tour is relatively relaxed in its pace, helped by the small numbers and the knowledge, experience and flexibility of your guide. It is suitable for all ages and most ability types; much of the sightseeing is done on foot but we are able to use our transport effectively for those less able to walk long distances - there is also time available for others who prefer to explore a little more.
2022 departures - upon request.
The above departures are small group tours but we can arrange this holiday for any reasonable date between April and end of October as a Private Journey for a minimum of 2 persons.
The Beauty of Yesterday is our most popular small group tour; it has a well thought through itinerary and a superb local guide. Let us take you right into the heart of this fascinating country by sharing our knowledge and experience to offer not just important cultural sights, dramatic scenery and historic locations but the opportunity to spend quality time in the villages, often staying in rural communities as guests of local families, where local culture is at its strongest.
Flights can be booked to match exactly with this tour, please contact us for best current prices and full details or, of course, to arrive early or extend your stay. If you prefer to arrive into Bucharest we can arrange an overnight hotel and/or onward train or flights to the starting point of this tour.
Note on Rediscover Group Tours: Rediscover the World is committed to providing unique and carefully thought out small group tours that combine the highlights of the country together with some of the lesser-known wonders. Running a limited number of departures a year, we opt for quality rather than quantity. Our guides think about the whole experience and will use their experience to allow you into the homes of the locals and many of the lesser-known places that will make your trip unique. We believe that a small group size is imperative for this kind of travel and we therefore keep our maximum number to 12.
Arrival in Bacau [suggested flight - direct from London Luton] *.
On arrival you will be accompanied by our professional English speaking guide and transferred to Piatra Neamt, the capital of Neamt County, which due to its architectural and natural beauty earned the nickname 'Pearl of Moldova'. Dinner with traditional Romanian dishes at a guest house in Piatra Neamt.
* suggested alternative - arrival in Bucharest a day (or two) earlier and we will pre-book a train or private transfer to Bacau for you to meet up with the main group (available on request).
After breakfast we have a scenic treat for you ... a drive westwards into the Carpathians to visit the Bicaz Gorge and Ceahlau Mountains National Park. A picnic lunch at the Red Lake with an opportunity for a stroll alongside the lake. On your return to Piatra Neamt you will have time to visit the renovated main square and possibly take a ride on the cable car.
After breakfast the tour starts with a departure through the beautiful Moldavian countryside en route to Bucovina, the "Monastic Archipelago", housing the painted churches, a quite unique experience (protected by UNESCO as part of humankind's world heritage). On the way there will be also be stops to visit Agapia and Varatec monasteries. Agapia is one of Romania's largest convents with 350 nuns, well known thanks to its carpet and embroidery workshops (included in the visit). The Varatec Monastery is a rather new monastic settlement, which has a museum that hosts many valuable religious objects and books mostly made by the nuns.
The tour will continue its journey to Tarpesti, where you will visit the house of the popular artist Nicolae Popa, author of the famous ceremonial masks and enjoy a traditional lunch [with folklore for groups].
Today you will visit more of the world-famous painted monasteries:
* Voronet Monastery (UNESCO), founded in 1488 by Stephen the Great. It is the most accomplished sample of artistic achievement in Moldavian architecture and painting, known as the oriental Sistine Chapel.
* Moldovita (UNESCO) dates back to 1532 and has the aspect of a fortress with imposing towers and high, thick walls.
* Sucevita, the last and the most magnificent monastic achievement among the painted monasteries in Bucovina, looks like a real fortress with towers, buttresses and watch roads. Paintings on the Sucevita monastery have been well preserved both on the outside and on the inside.
During the day your guide will also schedule visits to the fascinating painted egg museum with a demonstration and the unique Black ceramic workshop.
After breakfast you will witness the dramatic changes between Moldavia and the next region of Romania - Maramures, the land of traditions and wooden churches travelling via the stunning, remote and beautiful Prislop Pass.
Later in the afternoon, there is a drive to Sighetu Marmatiei. Free time in Sighet for lunch where you may wish to visit the Museum to the Victims of Communism, located in the town centre at the former prison. Afterwards, time permitting, leave for a visit to the little village of Sapanta with its unique Merry Cemetery, famous for its colourful tombstones with paintings describing the deceased.
A fun day at a slower pace; you will experience the raw power of the steam train taking you from Viseu de Sus to Paltin Station up through the Vaser Valley. The railway line passes through the most spectacular landscape of the whole route, narrow, rock lined canyons, fast-flowing, sparkling mountain brooks and the colourful wildlife of the mixed forests. A picnic / BBQ lunch is laid on at Paltin (included).
Afterwards, the remainder of the day will then be devoted to the traditional villages, rural scenery and wooden architecture of the Iza Valley, home to villages known for their historical significance and their wooden churches. The history of Maramures is told through the wood of their churches - through the centuries, the area's foreign rulers did not allow the people living here to build long-lasting stone churches, so instead, the local carpenters raised beautiful wooden churches to communicate with God. The visit concludes Barsana Monastery, known as the "Holy Mother's Entrance".
After a fabulous home-cooked breakfast drive south through southern Maramures via Nasaud and through the mountain pass to Bistrita and into Transylvania proper. You will pass through Bistrita spotting the famous Coopers' Tower and its many churches en route to Targu Mures, the city of roses, which enjoys the best of both Romanian and Hungarian cultures. Targu Mures' top attraction is located at the south end of the main square: the Culture Palace, a flamboyant early 20th-century city hall, with an outstanding stained-glass window, housing some of the city's main local museums. Lunch can be taken at a Hungarian speciality restaurant in the city centre (our recommendation).
In the afternoon a gentle drive south to the incomparable Sighisoara, that most unique but typical, in the mind's eye, of Transylvania towns. After check-in at your hotel in the old town a walking visit to Sighisoara, one of the most beautiful and best-preserved mediaeval towns in Europe. Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this perfectly intact 16th Century gem with nine towers, cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches rivals the historic streets of Old Prague or Vienna for atmospheric magic. It is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), who inspired Bram Stoker's fictional creation, Count Dracula. Landmarks of Sighisoara are the famous Clock Tower, hosting the History Museum and the Torture Chamber with its impressive mediaeval arms collection; the Church on the Hill is a beautiful Gothic building which dominates the hill at the southern end of the citadel.
Dinner in a restaurant in the old town.
A visit of the mediaeval centre of Sibiu: the Great Square is the site of the Roman-Catholic church and the Brukenthal Palace, where you will find one of Romania's most important art collections. The square is linked to the Little Square by a passage beneath the Council Tower. The third square, Huet Square, is dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral.
Return to Sighisoara for dinner in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon you continue your tour with a visit of Brasov (100 km away), considered the heart of Romania, one of the most secure fortresses in Europe, the architectural defensive pile being made of massive stone walls, 32 defence towers and 4 fortified gates. During your Brasov tour you will visit the magnificent Black Church - the largest Gothic-style church between Vienna and Istanbul, and stroll around the old Council Square, lined with beautiful red roofed merchant houses. You can also admire the Black and White Towers, the Ekaterina's Gate, the Schei Gate and Rope Street - the narrowest street in Europe.
After a substantial buffet breakfast of delicious home produce you will have the opportunity to see the the famous Bran Castle [Dracula's Castle] and then on to visit the equally impressive but far less touristy Rasnov Fortress. Continue your trip through the Bucegi Mountains to the highest town in Romanaia, Predeal and then on to Sinaia. Visit Peles Castle, a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance, once the summer residence of the Romanian king. It is considered by many to be one of the most stunning castles in Europe.
After a lunch break (free time) a visit to the Rhein cellars, former Champagne "Supplier of Romania's Royal Court", and since April 2006 designated "Supplier of His Majesty King Michael the First".
Onward travel down from the mountains and along the plain to Bucharest.
After breakfast a city tour including a visit to the famous Rural Life Museum, a walk through the old part of the city centre to see some of the fabulous historic buldings that have survived into the 21st Century plus the Parliament Palace.
Transfer to Bucharest International Airport for your flight home or stay in Bucharest city centre for an extra night and more time* in this fascinating country.
Fully-inclusive small Group Tour - land-only price. Early booking price - valid until January 15th, 2016.
Single Supplement - (option for single sex room-share - NO COST): 145 GBP
Date range: , Option: Beauty of Yesterday - small group departure
|1 to 12 people|
All prices are per person
Fully-inclusive small Group Tour (land-only price).
Add-on for arrival one day early in Bucharest (includes private airport transfer, one night on B&B basis, 1st class train tickets for Bacau): £ 123 per person
Option for single-sex room share: £ 0 per person
Single Supplement: £ 195 per person
Beauty of Yesterday - small group departure - available on 01/06/20
|1 to 12 people|
Beauty of Yesterday - small group departure - available on 25/08/2020
|1 to 12 people|
All prices are per person
"Interesting age range in the small group. Alexandra was wonderful as the tour guide and driver, nothing was too much trouble. She dealt with the group very well and their demands. Her knowledge was considerable but she didn't lecture or offer too much in one go. She was willing and able to answer all the questions. The trip utilises local, often family hotels and restaurants. The visit to Libertea Bear Sanctuary assists the rescue and support of the rescued bears and wolves. The train trip to Piatra Neamt was an enjoyable way to start to see the country."
F Courtney, Australia, September, 2019
"The driver was brilliant and extremely considerate. He drove with care and consideration. The number of other guests was just about right (10). We thoroughly enjoyed the country and the trip was just what we wanted. The accommodation was better than expected overall. The hotel in Bucharest was excellent and the driver picked us up for the airport as arranged. Thank you."
K Parkinson, UK, June 2019
"I thought the tour (mostly peopled by those around 20 years older than me) was exceptional. They were an amazing group of people and Romania's heritage sites that I saw blew me away! In general my only comment about the tour is that we could have done with eating a little more lightly at lunch, or dinner - meals were great but a little overwhelming for most of us! Doina was particularly lovely, generous and worked terribly hard to ensure all eventualities were anticipated and smoothed along."
R Hellen, UK, June 2019
"Our recent trip to Romania was really brilliant. It was a good mix of culture, scenery and food and very enjoyable company. Our small group of ten shared a comfortable 18 seater minibus which allowed us flexibility with seating arrangements. The hotels and pensions we stayed in were generally of a higher standard than on similar tours. A particular favourite was the Casa Iurca in Sighetu Marmatiei with delicious food and a folklore show. This small town also delivered one of the most memorable experiences of the tour, albeit very sobering. Most of us elected to visit the Museum to the Victims of Communism. The museum was housed in a former prison and detailed a history of the communist regime from start to finish, a real must for anyone wanting to better understand Romania. Such seriousness was balanced with activities such as a visit to the Merry Cemetery and a relaxing morning in Viscri, the village supported by Prince Charles, where we went on a fun touristy ride in a horse and cart, visited a fascinating fortified church, all followed by a delicious meal. We both thought the scenery north of Piatra Neamt with its rolling hills and mountains was stunning. The villages in the three areas visited were quite different. Bucovina was characterised with covered wells outside many of the houses, Maramures with beautifully carved gates and Transylvania with roses lining the streets. Each of the three towns of Sibiu, Sighisoara and Brasov also offered quite different experiences. Finally our last night produced a surprise visit from a young bear which walked out of the forest and into the hotel garden. The Romanians sensibly got up and ran and the Brits tried to take photos. We started our holiday with 7 days divided between Bucharest, Constanta and a 3 night stay in the Delta where we spent 2 days with our own guide and small boat looking at birds. This private tour was impeccably organised by Rediscover and Aldo Travel and a very easy add on."
L Hellen, UK, June, 2019
"The flights, transport and accommodation were satisfactory. Hotel breakfasts ranged from excellent to sparse. All other meals (lunch and dinner in restaurants and hotels) ranged from good to excellent (the best, overall, I've ever had on a group tour, and everything was included). The itinerary made the most of the available sights and the pace was right. The tour leader was exceptionally good, in every way. The minibus was comfortable though lacking in legroom. The driver was excellent. Quite a few interesting sights were seen, and the scenery was wonderful in places. "
H Somerville, UK, Oct 2018
"Very good trip. Alexandra our guide was excellent, her knowledge was amazing! Bit of a mix up with one of the hotels but she did rectify it very quickly. Meals were a big surprise, so much of it a really good standard, enjoyed local wine and schnapps. Enjoyed the meals in local houses. For a poor country and relatively new to tourism they do very well. A few too many churches for us but enjoyed the visit to the village where Prince Charles bought a house, the train ride well all of it really."
S Beckingham, UK, Oct 2018
"Just to give some quick feedback: I absolutely loved my Romania holiday. Hold on to Aldo travel, you couldn't find a better partner in Romania! Rediscover did a great job, you were always quick to reply on any question and provided detailed information. There just isn't much to say when everything runs smoothly :-) "
G Kordmann, UK, Oct 2018
"As I sit in Bucharest airport waiting to return to London (and Spain) I want to say how much I enjoyed the Beauty of Yesterday Romania trip with your company. The very comfortable Mercedes bus with Christi as a very safe and competent driver who was so helpful and I personally very much appreciated him carrying the cases upstairs in the hotels.I was struck with the beauty, simplicity and generosity of Romania. The hospitality of Aldo Travel was amazing and very generous. Every lunch and dinner we had the most delicious food. There was nothing we extra that we needed. Alexandra was a totally delightful and very well informed guide, generous with her care and time to see that everyone was happy all the time.She had an amazing knowledge of not just Romania and the Orthodox Church and history of Romania but world history as well. Alexandra did ask us what we liked or did not like about the trip and I gave her my views which I think she agreed with. The hotel in Sighisoara was not to the standard of the other hotels and pensions and the Bran Castle had so many tourists it was an unpleasant visit. We all would have loved the opportunity to visit the Bear Sanctuary and I believe Alexandra is thinking about this for future tours.I absolutely loved Maremores area, and of course the amazing Bukovina. I would love to come back to Romania one day to see these remote and beautiful places again."
P Steele, UK, Sept 2018
"For anyone with an interest in this part of Romania, with its unique history, unusual ecclesiastical architecture, and its customs and traditions.... I can recommend this 10 day group tour by mini-bus with almost no reserve. There was so much to see and enjoy. The painted monasteries of Bucovina each different from the last, the journey along the Vaser valley on the forestry railway - slightly touristy but great fun , the splendid scenery on the Prislop Pass, the fortified Saxon churches of Transylvania, the larger towns, the villages with their traditional wood carving, the folk art - an almost inexhaustible list full of interest and intrigue. ...the food was consistently good with the accent on soups, grilled meats, fish, with peppers and aubergines in various forms and all usually served with polenta. Lunches were an unexpected delight often taken in intriguing and lovely rural surroundings, old village inns or tiny restaurants in private houses where there was usually no choice of menu but abundant helpings and always accompanied by home made slivovic and wine of varied quality as one might expect. We over ate of course – how could one not? The whole trip was undertaken by minibus – a modern 8 seater Renault – reasonably roomy and very pristine when we boarded on arrival at Bacau airport, where we were greeted by Alexandra who would be our guide and driver for the tour. And she turned out to be an absolute gem. Young , highly educated and speaking excellent English, there seemed nothing she did not know about her country, past and present – not that any of the six of us was in a position to doubt her explanations. She went out of her way to ensure we enjoyed ourselves, often making little detours for odd sites that were not on the itinerary which she thought we might enjoy. Furthermore she drove well and safely on roads where that could not always be taken as normal. And my one reserve? It was all too short! I was a little breathless at the end."
R M, UK, June 2018
"Our group loved the itinerary, pace and food stops. We LOVED our guide Mihai."
M Mellor, USA, October 2017