Start Bucharest; upon arrival we will be greeted by an Exodus leader and transferred out of Bucharest to the small town of Vulcan in Brasov Country, Transylvania. This transfer is roughly three hours long but will be broken up with a short break en route.
Once we are happy and comfortable after the bike fitting, we set off for our first experience of cycling in this region. We begin on the flat, accompanied by views of the snow-covered peaks of the Bucegi Mountains. Today we also take time to visit the oldest flour mill in Romania, powered to this day by the river by which it was built. The tale of how it survived the communist period is also well worth our time.
Our goal is the town of Bucium however if the weather is favourable we may take a detour to a nearby cave that served as a place of worship over two centuries ago. At that time the local people – the Dacians – would have prayed to Zalmoxis, a popular deity in the lower Danube region. Little is known about Zalmoxis, thought what is known is based mainly on the writings of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.
We ride to the village of Lisa, with the ridge of the highest mountain range in Romania, the Fagaras Mountains, as our constant companion. There we visit a wool mill to see how woollen blankets and clothes are still being made using old methods. There is even a 100-year-old machine still in operation.
We then cycle to the village of Cartisoara and on to Carta itself and visit the Cistercian Monastery. The oldest buildings on the site date back to around 1205 and like many buildings in the area it has a fascinating history.Please note that on some departures our groups stay in the town of Cartisoara and will visit the Monastery in Carta on day 4. The distances of each day would, therefore, change by 5km.
Today’s ride starts with a crossing of the river Olt and continues along quiet country roads. We cycle past the fortified church of Richis as we make our way towards Biertan. Once in Biertan, we have a tour of the UNESCO listed fortified church set up on a hill overlooking the vineyards and surrounding fields. Building began in 1486 by the German Transylvanian Saxon community when the area was part of the Kingdom of Hungary.
As a late Gothic church, it stands out thanks to the concentric ringed walls and huge towers, and is often considered one of the most impressive of its kind in Romania. It achieved UNESCO status in 1993 and has numerous interesting buildings in the complex. The church contains some beautiful Renaissance pieces, while there are also three bastions, six towers and three rows of walls to ward of undesirables.
Today we have a beautiful ride through the countryside and remote villages of Transylvania. Following the river Tarnava Mare we pass hop fields and set our sights on Sighisoara. This truly is a place worth visiting, as one of the few medieval citadels in Europe that is fully inhabited. Another to feature on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites, we have a free afternoon to wander the streets and immerse ourselves in place so wonderfully preserved and faithful to its origins. There is even the house where Vlad Dracul, father of Vlad the Impaler, was born.
Today’s ride follows a lovely quiet country road through the Transylvanian hills to Apold village. After looking around the fascinating old town before we hop back on the bikes to continue our ride through small farming towns and pastures. The medieval church at Bradeni will provide the backdrop to our lunch spot. Today’s ride ends in the small town of Soars; here our accommodation will be split over four small family houses. This is a great opportunity to experience real Romanian rural life and get to know your hosts. Today’s evening meal is taken as a group at the largest guesthouse house and will be a traditional Romanian meal cooked by the family.
After breakfast, we ride out of Soars. The day starts with a short climb through the forest before a lovely stretch of road through several small towns takes us to Viscri. Here we have the opportunity to explore this lovely old town as well as visit Viscri’s well-known fortified church and meet the brickmakers and blacksmiths who helped restore the building. The church was restored with the help of the Prince of Wales Foundation in 1991 and is now regarded as one of the best examples of a fortified church anywhere in the world. There will be plenty of time to fully explore Viscri as we stay in the centre of town.
After breakfast, we have a private transfer to Bran Castle, situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. Bran castle is promoted as Dracula castle, where will make a detour for a photo stop of this spectacular building and hear its story.
Afterwards, we will hop back in the vehicle and continue our journey to Bucharest. On the way, if time allows, we will have another stop at the scenic castle of Peles, the summer residence of the former Romanian Royal family. We will have a short walk around its spectacular gardens. We arrive at Bucharest late afternoon.
Please note: Bran Castle is an extremely popular tourist destination and can be very busy. That’s why we consider it more convenient to have 2 shorter stops (Bran and Peles) and have the time to enjoy a stroll in Bucharest.
After breakfast we have most of the day to explore Bucharest; we can wonder the old streets and do some last minute shopping or visit some of the fascinating old museums and Palaces before the trip ends here.
- Cycle through ancient villages and isolated landscapes
- Visit UNESCO citadels and fortified churches
- Experience mediaeval Transylvania and modern Bucharest
- 6 days cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats)
- 80% tarmac roads, 20% hard pack dirt paths
- Scenic route, some climbs to be expected
- Group normally 4 to 14 plus leader, min age 16 yrs
- 6 nights guesthouses, 2 night hotel with en suite facilities
- E-bike hire available on request, supplement from £200,USD $273 or CAD $324
- Countries visited: Romania
- Cycling guide throughout
- Local bike hire with one pannier bag
- All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners
- All accommodation
- Flights from London (if booking flight inclusive)
Images courtesy of Exodus Travel
EXT – MVF