Transylvania. The name itself is enough to send an icy chill down the spine of even the most fearless adventurer. Now imagine being there, in person, when the clock clangs midnight… on Halloween! At odds with its creeptacular reputation, Romania ranks as one of Europe’s most charming and underexplored regions, beguiling visitors with its stunning Gothic architecture, enveloping forests and friendly people. But as idyllic as it is by day, the real fun happens at night—particularly Halloween, when we’ll treat you to a costume party in an authentic castle. Think you’re not afraid of the dark? You will be.
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Arrive at any time. As your fellow travellers are arriving throughout the day, there are no planned activities until your Group Meeting this evening, so check-in to the hotel (check-in time is approx 3pm) and enjoy the city.
Check the notice boards or ask at reception for the exact time and location of the group meeting, which usually starts between 6 and 7pm. After the meeting, you may like to head out for a meal at a local restaurant with your group and leader.
Romania's capital city is also its largest with 2 million people, a cosmopolitan mixture of Romanians, Gypsies, Turks, Arabs, Africans and Chinese. Among the most popular of the tourist attractions is the Palace of Parliament, built in the 1980s during the reign of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. It takes the prize for being the world's largest civilian building and was meant to be the seat of political and administrative power.
Bucharest's National Art Museum is worthwhile to check out, especially its Romanian medieval art collection. If you're interested in learning more about traditional culture, the open-air Village Museum has a collection of over 250 dwellings, workshops, churches, windmills and other structures from every corner of the country, demonstrating the diversity of Romania's folk architecture. The Museum of the Romanian Peasant houses a variety of textiles, ceramics and other artifacts of Romanian peasant life and is one of Europe's leading museums of popular arts and traditions.
Travel by bus into the Transylvania region of Romania, stopping off at the ruins of the Poienari Castle, once one of Vlad III the Impaler's main fortresses. Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, was also known as Dracula and spent much of his ruling years campaigning against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire and is known for being particularly cruel, impaling his enemies. He is estimated to have killed over 10,000 enemies.
The only way to reach the castle is to walk up over 1400 steps. A third of the castle collapsed down the mountainside in 1888, but the walls and two towers still remain, one of which is said to be where Vlad's first wife threw herself from in order to avoid being captured by the Turks.
After visiting the castle, continue on to the city of Sibiu, where you'll have an orientation walk. The city of Sibiu has played an important role in Romania's history and was the site of the first hospital, school, pharmacy, and paper mill, to name a few important milestones. It still retains its medieval charms in the historic centre, and you're able to explore the old city walls, defense towers, old squares and churches.
The Brukenthal Museum is the country's oldest, and it houses the art collection of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, once governor of Transylvania, including 15th and 16th century Transylvanian wooden religious sculptures and 18th century Romanian icons.
If you'd prefer to head out of town, there's an excellent open-air Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization set against a mountain backdrop. It includes authentic wooden houses and churches, offering great insight into Romanian rural life.
Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours
Travel by van to further west into Transylvania. Head to Hunyad's Castle for a halloween party you will not soon forget. Come in costume (or else!) and the guest with the best costume is awarded a special prize. You're invited to Count Dracula's spooktacular wedding at midnight; after the wedding, the party continues well into the night. Hunyad's Castle, the venue of the party, is rumoured to be one of the most haunted places in Europe. Do you dare to celebrate this macabre fest with the spirits that roam its halls?
Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours
We'll have a later departure time today so you can be sure to rid yourself of all of the Halloween demons you may have picked up at the haunted Hunyad castle.
Upon arrival to Sighisoara, enjoy an orientation walk to get your bearings in the birthplace of Vlad "The Impaler"—the man known to many as Dracula. The town was founded in the 13th century by the Saxons of Transylvania who were German craftsmen and merchants.
The small, fortified medieval historic centre has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site and is composed of a fortified site spread over a sloping plateau and dominated by the silhouette of battlements and needle spires.
If you're interested in the town's past, visit the history museum. There are a number of old churches scattered throughout the historic centre as well, along with a Saxon cemetery. The ground floor of the birthplace of Vlad "The Impaler" has been converted into a restaurant, and the upper floor is home to a museum of medieval weapons.
Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours
En route to the city of Brasov, stop off to visit the Prejmer Fortress, a fortified church built by the Teutonic knights church dating back to the 13th century and containing double walls and dungeons. Each family in the village had its own room in the fortress in case of attack.
Later in the day, explore the Bran Castle, sometimes called "Dracula's Castle", which served as a defense point to protect the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. The imposing castle is perched on a rocky bluff high above the town of Bran. Rumours abound regarding Vlad the Impaler's interaction with the castle. You'll have to visit to find out the truth.
After arriving to Brasov, cruise around town on an orientation walk with your Chief Experience Officer. The old part of town has a strong Baroque influence and is lined with beautiful red-roofed merchant houses. Of the many attractions, there is the large Gothic-style Black Church which houses the richest collection of Anatolian carpets in all of Europe and also a beautiful large square that is the heart of medieval Brasov.
Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours
Head back to the capital and visit the famous Neo-Renaissance Peles Castle en route. Sometimes called the most beautiful castle in all of Romania with its fairytale turrets and expansive surrounding green lawns, it was built in the late 19th century and is exquisitely decorated with statues, ceramics, porcelain, and stained-glass windows.
Enjoy an orientation walk upon arrival back to Bucharest to get a better feel for the sprawling city. Here you'll have free time to explore Bucharest's many attractions.
Estimated Travel Time: 5 hours
Depart at any time.
Trip Type — Small Group
Group trips average 12 travellers per departure, depending on the adventure. The maximum is usually no more than 16, but some can be smaller or bigger, depending on the trip. Check individual trips for details.
Physical Grading — 2
There'll be some light walking and hiking. Suitable for most fitness levels. Nothing too challenging.