Day 1) 23rd August: Fly to Bucharest with Ryanair (only carrier to Bucharest from Dublin at the moment) arriving at 21.45 and transfer from the airport for an overnight stay in a three star hotel in Bucharest.
Day 2) 24th August: We will leave the hotel for a bus tour of Bucharest – it is the capital, and it would be a pity to stay here and not see it. Then we leave the city, and head for the hills of Transylvania. We will break our journey with a visit to a champagne vineyard, Azuga Cellar – suppliers to the former Romanian Royal family! We will see all the work that goes into those bubbles and of course, will need to sample them, to get a real appreciation of this! A light lunch is included here.
After our visit to the vineyard, we travel to the lovely old city of Brasov – a small city of about 300,000 people. This was a walled city and it lies underneath a nice little hill with a cable car to the top – well worth the €4.50 to travel up here. Brasov is a great mixture of modern and ancient. It has sophisticated shops, restaurants and bars, and our well located hotel is close to the city centre. Once we have checked into our hotel, our guide will take us on a walking tour of the city and then we have free time to explore the squares, cathedrals and probably the cable car. Dinner (included) will be held in a local restaurant and will give you a flavour of the local cuisine.
Day 3) 25th August: We will travel together to Piatra Craiuli National Park, approx. 40 minutes from the hotel. En route we pass through a number of local villages and our guides will give us an insight as to how life is for Romanians. Expect to see lots of solid wheeled carts at the side of the roads, loads of rail tracks and a curious mixture of modern and ancient in the local buildings.
The National Park is stunning. This is a place of gorges, steep slopes, mixed woodland and alpine pastures. Our first couple of kilometres are through these gorges as one group, before we separate into two groups.
One group will take an easier route through little villages, with the opportunity to sample the local cheeses in the farm shops – this will be a walk of approx. 10 km.
The other group can expect a wonderful walk up steep slopes – we are heading up to 1400m, through ancient woodland, on trails. Our destination is a very rustic refugio where we will enjoy our packed lunch and you can enjoy the views, have a beer or a cuppa, and feel like true continental hikers.
After our walk, we will head to the town of Bran, home to Dracula’s Castle. Drac fans can visit (admission €7) and enjoy one of Transylania’s most popular attractions. The shops here sell a range of local produce including the famous sheep’s cheese, wrapped in pine bark.
Return to Brasov and you can enjoy dinner and drinks at one of the great restaurants in this lively and sophisticated city.
Day 4) 26th August: We will check out of our hotel and head to the famous “Seven Ladder’s Gorge”. This is a very popular attraction, and it is what it sounds like! Seven metal ladders bring you up a wonderful gorge, beside little waterfalls. If this does not appeal to you, there will be an alternative route up the hill.
A packed lunch is also included for this hike and we will probably be walking for three/four hours.
After our hike we travel back to Bucharest, stopping off for a look at Peles Castle, viewing from the outside before continueing onto Bucharest and checking into our hotel.
Day 5) 27th August: Transfer to Bucharest Airport for our flight at 13.20