8. Bucharest: Transylvania and Dracula's Castle 2-Day Tour
Follow in the footsteps of the Count Dracula legend on a 2-day tour to Peles Castle and Bran Castle in the Transylvanian mountains. Wander the ornate rooms and gardens of former royal residences, and see Saxon houses that date back to the 16th century. The scenic drive takes you high up into the Carpathian Mountains where time has stood still at enchanting villages, and where Romanians head in the winter to ski at the mountain resort of Sinaia.
Day 1: Bucharest - Sighisoara
Following a pick-up from your hotel in Bucharest (or from Revolution Square at 09:00), cross the Carpathian Mountains en route to Sibiu, stopping at the Monastery of Curtea de Arges to explore the complex founded by Prince Neagoe Basarab in 1514-1517. During the summer (1 June - 15 September), the route to Sibiu takes the unique Transfagarasan Road across the Carpathians, climbing to an altitude of 2,000 meters at its highest point.
Upon arrival in Sibiu, enjoy a quick tour of the medieval city center. Then, drive to Sighisoara on the picturesque Tarnava Mare River. Marvel at the beautifully preserved citadel, and wander the enclosed walls and cobblestone streets of the Old Town. See Saxon houses that date back to the 16th century, and the 9 surviving towers, including the iconic Clock Tower. From the balcony of this former main gate to the city, enjoy beautiful views across the town and countryside.
Immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere at sights such as the former Church of the Dominican Monastery, where valuable relics include a fresco of the Saint Trinity, a carved altarpiece, and Oriental carpets.
Day 2: Sighisoara - Brasov - Bran - Bucharest
Today you will drive to Brasov to discover where Vlad the Impaler led his raids against the German Saxons. Explore the medieval city center on a tour of the Black Church, Town Hall, Black Tower, and Ecaterina Gate. Then, continue to “Dracula’s Castle,” located between the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains. More commonly known as “Bran Castle,” the important monument depends on the legend of Count Dracula for its reputation, but is also acclaimed for its beauty. Learn the history of the castle, from the 14th century to the day in December 1920 when the castle was donated to Queen Marie of Great Romania. Admire the fountains, lakes, and halt terraces of the former royal summer residence, and see the "Tea House" of Queen Marie.
Continue to the beautiful mountain resort of Sinaia, known as "The Pearl of the Carpathians." Here, you will visit Peles Castle, one of Romania's most exquisite palaces. Learn about the Romanian kings that used the castle as their summer residence as you admire its intricate façades and see wooden towers that reach for the sky. Discover the fountains and statues built by Viennese architects in the grounds, and imagine the balls, concerts, literary events, and theatrical performances of Romanian high society in days gone by. Wander the opulent interiors to find ebony, walnut and mother of pearl. Go to the terraces and grand outhouses of the castle complex, such as Pelisor Castle and Sinaia Monastery.
Venture inside the Monastery, built by the "Spatar" (a high ranking noble of the Valahian Kingdom), Mihai Cantacuzino following his pilgrimage to Mount Sinai. The monastery contains religious icons and rare books, as well as an exhibition of pottery and porcelain that dates from the 16th to the 19th centuries. There will be time to visit the 19th-century wine cellars from Azuga, built by the Rhein family, official suppliers to the Royal Court. Purchase some authentic still wines and sparkling wines of Romania, before transferring back to Bucharest in the evening.