- Marvel at the 15th to 17th century well-preserved painted churches of Bucovina, where biblical scenes and Moldavian legend are depicted in rich hues including Sucevita, Moldovita, Humor and Voronet
- Explore the sleepy backwater of Maramures, one of the most isolated regions of Romania, and discover its tall, steep belfried, carved wooden churches
- Have lunch with a local family, stay on a farm, visit a farmers’ market and discover their fastidiously observed folk traditions that keep a strong link with the past
London / Bucharest / Suceava
Morning departure from London Heathrow on a British Airways flight to Bucharest Airport arriving mid-afternoon.
Dinner at the airport. Evening departure on Romanian Airlines from Bucharest to Suceava arriving in the late evening.
On arrival, transfer to the comfortable 4-star Sonnehof Hotel, where one night is spent.
Suceava / Sucevita
Morning walking tour of Suceava town, once the capital of Moldova (1388-1565), and the gateway for visiting the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. See Saint George’s Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and also see the remains of the Suceava Fortress. Check out of hotel and transfer (with luggage) to Dragomirna monastery which was built during the first three decades of the 17th century, and is the tallest medieval monastery in northern Moldavia. It is also renowned in Orthodox architecture for its unique proportions and intricate details, mostly carved into stone. Continue to Varonet and visit Voronet Monastery, a 15th century jewel of late-Byzantine architecture set in a sweeping valley. Built by Stephen the Great, it is the most breathtaking of all the monasteries with its predominantly blue hues and celebrated Last Judgement mural.
Lunch at a local restaurant in Varonet. Continue to the 16th century Humor Monastery, which is now a small convent. Protected by a wooden stockade, the church was one of the first to be frescoed and its exquisite rich blue, green and reddish brown vignettes remain well preserved. Visit Manastirea Humorlului where beautiful rugs are produced and we can visit a wood carver’s shop.
Continue to Sucevita and check into the Casa Cu Cerbi guesthouse where two nights are spent. Dinner at the guesthouse.
Morning visit to the Sucevita painted monastery. Surrounded by wooded hills, the late-16th century monastery resembles a fortress with imposing walls and defensive towers. The church’s frescoes are predominantly purple, red and blue and green. Beautifully preserved, they depict Moldavian legend and biblical scenes including the striking Ladder of Virtue and unfinished Last Judgement. Optional horse and cart ride along the Voievodeasa Valley.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer to the charming village of Marginea, best known for the black earthenware and pottery produced here. This famous pottery uses ancient firing techniques to produce a distinctive black glaze. There is also a craft shop selling traditional and modern tapestries as well as local embroidered clothing. Continue to the Arbore painted church dedicated to St John the Baptist. The monastery and the commune are named after the boyar Luca Arbore who built the church in 1503.
Return to Sucevita. Dinner at the guest house.
Sucevita / Botiza / Hoteni
Depart (with luggage) to visit Moldovita painted monastery which was built in 1532 by Petru Rareș, who was Stephan the Great’s (in Romanian Ștefan cel Mare) illegitimate son. It was founded as a protective barrier against the Muslim Ottoman conquerors from the East. Cross the Prislop pass and head into Maramures. Visit Ieud wooden church dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin and the Poienile Izei wooden church. Both were built in the early 17th century, and are two of the eight buildings that make up the wooden churches of Maramures. They are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are also listed as historic monuments by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs.
Lunch at a local family’s home in the village of Botiza.
Continue to Hoteni village and check into Popica Farm, located in the foothills of Gutai Mountain, where two nights are spent. Dinner at Popica Farm with traditional Maramures music.
Hoteni, Breb, Sarbi & Budesti
Morning transfer to Ocna Sugatag and visit the farmers market where the famous English author William Blacker, who wrote ‘Along the Enchanted Way’ describes buying a scythe. Walk to Breb village and see where William Blacker stayed as well as its two churches, the Graeco-Catholic wooden church of the Holy Archangels and the Orthodox new church. Church plays a big part in village life and most villagers attend Sunday service dressed in traditional costume. The church of the Holy Archangels was built in 1531 in another part of the village called Copaciş and moved to its current site in 1626, going through reparations and modifications several times. The graveyard is unique due to its wooden crosses which use ancient symbols. The oldest preserved is the cross circumscribed by a circle, identified as belonging to the Celtic culture. The Orthodox new church has become a village emblem as it is visible from all major locations in the surrounding area. Construction began in 1989 and it took approximately 15 years to reach completion. Visit the local woodcarvers. Optional horse and cart ride.
Lunch at a local family’s home in the village. Visit Sarbi Village which is known for its whirlpools and working watermills, and a hydro-powered system for washing clothes, rugs and blankets. Sarbi is also home to some talented hat-makers and there will be an opportunity to visit a local workshop.
Visit the wooden church of Josani in Budesti village dedicated to St Nicholas and dating from 1665 before returning to Hoteni. Dinner at Popica Farm.
Hoteni / Coltesti
Depart (with luggage) to cross the Neteda pass and continue to visit Surdesti wooden church (UNESCO protected). Continue travelling south into northern Transylvania, heading north of Cluj Napoca to visit Bánffy Bontida Palace, also known as the Versailles of Transylvania, which is under complete restoration, supported by the Prince of Wales.
Picnic lunch. Continue travelling south, heading to the village of Rimetea, included in the World Heritage Site listing for the exemplary conservation of its houses and traditions. The village has also received recognition from Europa Nostra. The population of this village is a mixture of Austrians from the Eisenwurzel region, Hungarians and Germans who came to work in the mines rich in iron, gold, silver and copper.
Continue to the village of Coltesti and check into the small and traditional 4-star Conacul Secuiesc hotel. Evening wine tasting of local wines followed by dinner at the hotel.
Coltesti / Cluj Napoca / Bucharest
Depart (with luggage) southwards and visit Alba Iulia town which is historically one of the most important towns in Transylvania. It has been the capital, the site of a great Habsburg citadel, a religious centre and where Transylvania’s unification with the rest of Romania was celebrated in 1918 followed in 1922 by the Coronation of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, grand-daughter of Queen Victoria. The Alba Iulia citadel, designed by Italian architect Giovanni Morando Visconti, was built between 1716 and 1735, using the Vauban military architectural system—the largest of this kind in Southeastern Europe. The fortress is outstanding both for its architectural elements and for the beauty of its six gates, unique in European military structures.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to Cluj Napoca airport for a domestic Romanian Airlines flight to Bucharest arriving in the evening.
Transfer to the 4-star Residence Domenii Plaza Hotel where one night is spent. Late dinner at the hotel.
Bucharest / London
Morning tour of Bucharest. Visit the National Art Museum, located in the former royal palace in Revolution Square. It features notable collections of medieval and modern Romanian art, as well as the international collection assembled by the Romanian royal family. Continue to the Revolution Square and see the beautiful 18th century red brick Kretzulescu church, one of the oldest churches in Bucharest. Stop at the wonderful shop in the Museum of Romanian Peasants where you can buy everything from painted eggs to rugs before walking to lunch along the Calea Victoriei Boulevard and the beautiful Lipscani district with its smart cafes, antique shops and silversmiths.
Lunch at a local restaurant.
Transfer to Bucharest Airport for a British Airways late afternoon flight to London, arriving London Heathrow early evening.