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1 / 13

Bulgaria & Romania: The Black Sea Coast to Transylvania

13 days
Romania and Bulgaria harbor some of Europe’s best-kept secrets, from culturally rich Sibiu to the Black Sea coast’s golden beaches. Uncover Romania’s eclectic capital and “Dracula’s Castle,” travel through forested hills and quaint Saxon villages, then soak up the sun in Bulgaria’s under-the-radar resort towns and charming capital city of Sofia.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Maximum tour group size: 35 travelers

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 11 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 6 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 1: Travel day

Board your overnight flight to Bucharest today.

Bucharest 2 nights Hotel info

Day 2: Arrival in Bucharest

Included meals: Dinner

Welcome to Romania! Meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Bucharest

Included meals: Breakfast

Explore Romania's eclectic capital, discovering a range of architecture from the Art Deco to Bauhaus to neoclassical eras.

• See classical buildings on Victory Street, the city’s oldest boulevard

• Admire the ornate Triumphal Arc and Savings Bank

• Step inside Ceausescu’s palace, constructed under the communist regime

• Wander through historic and distinctive squares

Enjoy a free afternoon in Bucharest or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Historic Bucharest: Village Museum & Cruise $55*pp Details

One of the first of its kind in the world, Bucharest’s open-air Village Museum gives visitors a look into traditional Romanian village life. Here, follow your guide through the museum’s collection of original houses, relocated from all corners of the country. Discover thatched cottages, traditional farmhouses and charming windmills before you depart for a short cruise on Lake Herastrau to end your day.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $65)

Sibiu 2 nights Hotel info

Day 4: Sightseeing tour of Sibiu

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Travel into the heart of Transylvania to Sibiu, recently designated a European “Capital of Culture.” 

• Tour the Old Town, taking in the gates and walls that partially enclose the city

• Enter the Gothic Lutheran Evangelical Cathedral

• Cross the cast-iron Liar’s Bridge and Gothic bridges of Huet Square

• Gaze at European art from the 15th through 18th centuries at the Brukenthal National Museum

Day 5: Free day in Sibiu

Included meals: Breakfast

Spend the day exploring Sibiu on your own or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Medieval Transylvania $99*pp Details

Want to see where Dracula was born? Travel deep inside the heart of Transylvania and discover the medieval town made famous by Vlad Tepes. First, you’ll stop in the village of Axente Sever to see the 14th century fortified church built by the Saxons. Then, in the citadel town of Sighisoara, explore the old city, which has remained largely unchanged since the 17th century. Continue your explorations through the village streets, stopping at the City Council Square, the City Museum and Clock Tower before heading back to Sibiu.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $109)

Brașov 1 night Hotel info

Day 6: Brașov & Bran Castle

Included meals: Breakfast

With the Carpathian Mountains as your backdrop, make your way toward medieval Brașov, stopping for two guided tours along the way. 

• Stop in Bran for a guided walking tour of “Dracula’s Castle”

• Continue on a guided walking tour of Brașov’s historic center and enter the Gothic St. Nicholas Church

Bucharest 1 night Hotel info

Day 7: Bucharest via Sinaia

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Before journeying to Bucharest, visit the Black Church and the First Romanian School in Brasov, then make a stop in Sinaia to explore the well-preserved Peles Castle.

Varna 2 nights Hotel info

Day 8: Travel to Varna

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Travel to Călărași and then cross the Danube to arrive in Bulgaria. Visit either the village of  Silistra or historic Rousse for free time to explore before ending the day in Varna.

Day 9: Free day in Varna

Included meals: Breakfast

Spend the day exploring Varna on your own or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Coastal Beauty: Balchik & Kap Kaliakra $99*pp Details

Further your exploration of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, discovering what makes this region one of the most sought-after by Europeans. On your way to the coastal village of Balchik, you’ll encounter stunning seascapes. Cliffside views, sprawling beaches and an amazing diversity of sea birds will mark your journey to the small harbor town. Once there, you’ll visit the summer villa and botanical gardens of the Romanian Queen Maria, built in the early 20th century. After Balchik, continue on to Kap Kaliakra, a rocky peninsula jutting out into the Black Sea. From there, you’ll visit the museum and see the remnants of a medieval fortress. Then, end the day with a scenic drive, traveling back along the coast to Varna.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $109)

Veliko Tarnovo 1 night Hotel info

Day 10: Travel to Veliko Tarnovo

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Make your way to Veliko Tarnovo, a forested city that ranks highly among Bulgarian weekend getaways, and admire a few landmarks along the way.

• Stop to see the Madara Rider stone carving, a UNESCO World Heritage site 

• Explore the city of Schumen and the remnants of its fortress 

• Visit the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki

Sofia 2 nights Hotel info

Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Veliko Tarnovo

Included meals: Breakfast

Take some time to soak in the local sights on a walking tour of Veliko Tarnovo before continuing on to Sofia.

• Meander among the Samovodska Charshia district’s cobbled streets

• Explore the Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets Fortress, once a citadel

Day 12: Sightseeing tour of Sofia

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Discover Sofia, one of the European Union’s newest and most walkable capitals.

• Pass the parliament building, Viennese-style royal palace and national theater

• Admire the golden Ottoman domes that distinguish Sofia’s skyline

• Step into the city’s oldest structure, the St. George Rotunda

• See religious icons at the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a large Eastern Orthodox cathedral

• Continue to the Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine cathedral 

Celebrate your trip with fellow travelers at a farewell dinner in Sofia.

Day 13: Departure

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or continue on to Belgrade, Serbia.

Add Belgrade, Serbia $549 pp

The Serbian capital is home to many architectural relics that hint at its storied past—first settled in the 4th century by Celtic tribes, it was later populated by Romans before becoming a Serbian stronghold through the Middle Ages up until the Ottoman invasion. Today, it is a standout cultural hub of south eastern Europe.

Belgrade 3 nights

Day 13: Travel to Belgrade

Included meals: Breakfast

Make your way to Serbia, stopping en route in the historic city of Niš, long a gateway between East and West.

Day 14: Sightseeing tour of Belgrade

Included meals: Breakfast

Experience the sights of Belgrade, from the panorama of Republic Square to the shops and cafes of Knez Mihajlova street, on a guided walking tour.

• Enter the Kalemegdan Fortress

• View the Cathedral of Saint Sava and Tito’s Memorial

Enjoy a free afternoon in Belgrade or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Traditional Serbian Dinner $65*pp Details

Experience a traditional Serbian dinner in the heart of Belgrade. Sample Serbia’s signature dishes, such as grilled meats, a cheese plate and bread-and-cheese pie while being serenaded by guitar players performing the local Tamburasi-style folk music.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $75)

Day 15: Free day in Belgrade

Included meals: Breakfast

Take time to explore the city on your own or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - A Day in Novi Sad: Sightseeing & Wine Tasting $109*pp Details

Start your day with a visit to Fruška Gora National Park, taking in the incredible landscapes and sweeping green countryside. Then, tour one of the ancient Serbian Orthodox monasteries in Fruška Gora. Take some time to relax with a stop in the wine region of Sremski Karlovci, where you'll learn about the wine and honey production of the Zivanovic family. Once you’ve had your fill of wine and honey, enter the impressive Petrovaradin Fortress on the way to Novi Sad, the second-largest city in Serbia. Enjoy free time in Novi Sad for lunch, followed by a sightseeing tour of this culturally rich city.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $119)

Day 16: Departure

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Brașov, Romania
  • Varna, Bulgaria
  • Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Belgrade, Serbia
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Passport & visa requirements

In order to enter Bulgaria and Romania (and Serbia on the tour extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of your return home. U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of your return home. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements. 

Baggage allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. Contact your airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height).  Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

Clothing & packing tips

To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).    

Health

There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Bulgaria and Romania. Especially during the summer months, take proper care for sun exposure. While no vaccinations are required for entry into these countries, be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and overseas travel recommendations.       

Cuisine

In Bulgaria, expect to indulge in lots of fresh vegetables due to the area’s warm climate and amazing growing conditions. Lettuce may not always be in the mix, but salads will be an integral part of every meal. Another mainstay is the soup known as chorba. Among the most popular is the tripe variety, which Bulgarians use as a hangover remedy. You’ll also find lots of yogurt dishes, including a delicious cold soup called tarrator (a blend of yogurt, cucumber and dill). Pork is the country’s meat of choice, and you’ll find it in countless combinations of soups, stews and mains. If you have a sweet tooth, round out your meal with a kazanlak (the country’s take on the doughnut). And, when clinking glasses with your fellow travelers, be sure try some of the local spirits, such as rakia or menta. Romanian food takes much of its influence from the Balkans, Hungary and Turkey. Throughout the country, sour soups called ciorbas are available in endless varieties and are the perfect kick-start to any meal. Along the Black Sea coast, fresh fish is prevalent, but the area’s true culinary delight is a dish known as salata de vinete, a salad made from grilled, mashed and finely chopped eggplant, sunflower oil and chopped onions.

Transportation

Round-trip flights arrive in Bucharest, Romania and depart from Sofia, Bulgaria (or Belgrade, Serbia on the extension). All other transportation is by private motor coach. While most destinations on your tour are accessible on foot, some cities may require some use of public transportation. Buses serve most cities and surroundings. Taxis are also available. Make sure the meter is running and always ask for a cab number and receipt.

Electricity

Bulgaria and Romania operate on the European standard 220 volts. An adapter is advised.

Time zones

Bulgaria and Romania are three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST) during the spring and summer months. When it’s noon in New York, it’s 7pm in Bulgaria and Romania.

Currency

The Bulgarian lev, Romanian leu and Serbian dinar are the currencies you’ll be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually found in Bulgaria and Romania. We advise using a combination of small amounts of cash (for arrival and emergencies), as well as ATM/debit cards and credit cards, both of which are accepted in Bulgaria and Romania. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.   

Tipping

At the conclusion of your tour, it's customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalency of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.

See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.

Have you been on tour with us? Visit My Account to submit a review.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/7/2014

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: MT

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Balkans

This tour went from Bulgaria to Romania. This was a good direction. Romania is more interesting than Bulgaria. It is best to end in Romania; Bulgaria would be a letdown if the tour ended there. I enjoyed Bulgaria. Sofia is a drab city but has some interesting old churches and public buildings. We liked to other tour stops in Veliko Tarnova with the church on the hill. A small choir performed in one of the churches and they were wonderful. Scaffolding covered the large rock carving at Madara and even if it hadn't, I'm not sure it was worth the stop. In Varna we really liked the botanical garden. Even late in the season it was spectacular. The local guide was very good with a sense of humor. Then we went out to Kap Kaliakra and had good views of the Black Sea. But the next day was when the tour really got even better as we entered Romania. Our tour guide was a Romanian, Sebastian , and he was really good in Romania. He could tell us about the history, both long ago and the more recent of the past 50 years. Liked his tour of Bucharest, his home town and residence. We visited an open air museum of old Romanian buildings collected from all over the country and brought to Bucharest. They were well labeled in English and the information was very nicely laid out. Unfortunately, most of the buildings were closed because of the lateness of the season. In the afternoon we toured the national legislative building (Ceaucescu's Palace) the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon in terms of area. Then on to the Carpathians and Transylvania. Sibiu was a beautiful little city. Compact and with beautiful buildings. The highlight was the visit to an old pharmacy museum and an art museum, the Brukenthal. Lots of beautiful works in the collection. In Sighisoara we saw and had lunch in, the house where Vlad the Impaler was born. Climbed an interesting clock tower and museum. Then up the hill to a church. Interesting inside because of the guide who told us the history. We also visited an old forties church which had some interesting stories. And the banners hanging inside representing different guilds were several hundred years old and the originals. Our last stop was in Brasov, but first we stopped in Bran and visited Vlad's castle. Lots of steps and used by Queen Marie, so a lot of rooms had her influence. Liked the secret staircase. In Brasov saw the Black Church which had an interesting history but not much to see on the inside. Had a very fun lecture by Professor Oltean about education in Romania. Saw many of the books that were first printed in Romanian. As we walked to the hotel we passed Europe's narrowest street. On our way back to Bucharest we stopped at Peles Castle in Sinaia. I want to live there. It was incredibly beautiful and the local guide was very good. Unfortunately there are not any good books or pamphlets for sale in the gift shop that go into detail about the rooms or have good pictures. Pay the fee to take your own pictures.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 9/23/2014

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: ID

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Amazing Experience

I was very pleased with every aspect of this tour. It was far better than I imagined it would be and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned about the history of both Bulgaria and Romania. Sebastion did a fantastic job of ensuring we were well cared for at each stop along our route, and offered a couple of wonderful "added" opportunities for us to enjoy.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 8/12/2014

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: MO

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Unique Tour

The group was small and the bus large! The tour director had a good sense of humor and a lot of knowledge about a part of the world most Westerners don't choose. We especially found Romania interesting, the people friendly, and the scenery beautiful. We enjoyed best seeing a working small farm in a village.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 5/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 10

From: CT

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Off the Beaten Path

The reason I went on this tour was that it is not a major tourist destination, as compared to much of Europe. From the shores of the Black Sea to the Mosques of Istanbul, this was a great experience. GoAhead has again put together a very informative and interesting adventure. I learned a lot about how the past history, recent and ancient, influences what we see today. I do wish we had more time to spend at both Bran Castle and Peles Palace. While Brasov was an interesting place, we could have spent less time there and more at Bran (Dracula's) Castle. I found Bucharest to be more cosmopolitan than I had imagined. Overall, a very worthwhile trip!

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 5/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 11

From: DC

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Go Ahead Does it Again!

This was a great experience from start to finish. I never thought I'd see countries that were forbidden in my youth. The people were warm and friendly everywhere and the sights--ancient and modern--truly impressive!

3 / 5

3 / 5

Traveled On: 5/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: AZ

Tour Director: 3 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Ill-done optional and extension

Overall, the tour was good and I enjoyed it. However, there were two areas that I definitely feel need adjustments: 1. The first was the Bulgarian Folklore Dinner. The evening would barely have been worth half the price. The food was average at best and the 'folklore evening' quite disappointing - four dancers who performed about half hour to 45 minutes and were decidedly mediocre. I would NOT recommend this optional to anyone, and it has made me wary to reserve further optional folklore evenings on tours. 2. The second disappointment was the manner in which the day of Bran Castle was conducted. Dracula's Castle is a huge draw for travelers to that area, and we were quite excited for it. However, on that day, we spent several hours 'exploring' an old school and two churches, and having lunch in Brasov. That would be okay except we only had 1.5 hours at Bran Castle. Barely enough time to have the castle tour, with no time to wander on our own or to spend leisure at the (almost) first real souvenir shops. We could, and should have spent a great deal less time in Brasov with the school and churches, then had lunch up at Bran Castle; there are plenty of restaurants available, and we would have had plenty of time to enjoy the castle and the castle tour and the shops. There is only other thing I will say. Which is why did the tour extension to Istanbul happen? Every tour I have taken, this one included, states that the extension requires a minimum of 10 travelers. What happened on this extension?

 

Dear Alice, It was such a pleasure speaking with you last week and hearing more about your experience in Bulgaria and Romania! As we discussed this is a fairly new tour for Go Ahead and your feedback is greatly appreciated as we continually look to hone our tour itineraries and ensure the most enjoyable, memorable and cultural experience is had at your destination. You highlighted some really great areas of opportunity to make this tour even more wonderful. I agree that Bran Castle is an important part of this itinerary and more time there for lunch and shopping is certainly a change that we can look to make moving forward. As for the extension of the tour in Istanbul- you are correct in your knowledge that we typically need a minimum of 10 travelers for an extension to actually take place but in certain cases Go Ahead may have the ability to run the tour with less than the usual minimum and if we can do so we certainly will. Our goal is to accommodate your travel plans as you have made them. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to share your review online and for speaking with me last week. We would love the opportunity to travel the world with you again soon! Best Wishes, Nicole

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | June 30, 2014

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 3/18/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: MN

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Paul

Paul did an excellent job as he shared many of his personal experiences and when nothing had been planned he was able to plan an activity. I have found many tour companies add too much free time and there is only so much shopping a person can do.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 3/18/2014

Number of Past Tours: 8

From: TX

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Still needs some work but good

First, the good, and then the not so good! Tour Director Paul is by far the best, most interesting, and knowledgable tour director that we have had after 8 tours with GAT. For those who might be booked on future tours and have the honor of having Paul as a tour director, consoder yourself very fortunate It has been said that communism can devistate a country for years after it has been abolished. These two countries are perfect examples. Even though communism has been gone for some 25 years, the reminants in every aspect can be redily seen in both the cities and it's people. Now for the not so good! Too much travel and bus time. Itinerary needs some tightening up. Some of the church stops can be either eliminated or replaced with other attractions. I noted that in the national museum in Sofia, our group, despite other visitors who were in the museum at the same time, were constantly watched by what appeared to be a minder. I must add that we even had a local tour guide aside from the Go Ahead tour guide. I found no valid excuse for this conduct on the part of the museum employees given the above listed accompanyment of our group and the fact that the few other museum goers were on their own with no minder. Again, another museum in Sibiu, several of the group were treated very rude by a museum employee. Again, no excuse whatsoever. Certainly, if a venue such as a museum has ill feelings for select tourist, then they should let the touring firms know in advance in order that such firm can avoid these locations. If a tour / hotel advertises that the room has air conditioning, then it should be provided rather than the front desk telling the guests that it will "be fixed" when it is known that such is not provided or cannot be used. In sumation, I can certainly appreciate that GAT is expanding it's tour selection to post communist countries such a Romania and Bulgaria. However, it must be understood by both the tour company and the tourist that perhaps memories of the past may still exist in these regions and in the minds of it's people. For this reason, visitors from certain areas of the globe may get a taste of distrust from the locals, especially in the hotel and tourist oriented venues. Flight itineraries must be carefully looked at especially for seniors. Less than one hour is not enough time to get from one end of Amsterdam airport to the other. Missed ones flight in many of these countries can be a very costly and streeeful venture!!! As stated above, this tour, as interesting and educational as it is, still needs further evaluation in the areas of places that will be visited and itinerary related issues. It boils down to the fact that we visit these areas of the world not as political representatives but as learners of other cultures. Our visit is in good faith and friendly curiosity to these countries.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/1/2013

Number of Past Tours: 7

From: TX

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Transylvania Time Trip

The fall foliage in Romania was lovely and the Carpathians were topped with snow. The scene is set for harvest. And the harvest is by hand! We encountered farmers with hand scythes, rakes, hoes and shovels. The stalks (corn or hay) was carried by horse-drawn wagons to barns or stacked in sheaths in the field. Rarely did we see mechanized farm equipment. Romania is still quaint and charming . the Saxon fortified towns were beautiful.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/1/2013

Number of Past Tours: 11

From: CA

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Romania and Bulgaria

While both countries were fantastic I really enjoyed Romania. Medieval fortified churches, Castle Bran, Gypsy towns, Soviet era factories, horse drawn carts in daily use and a chance to talk to local people. The entire trip was very informative. I learned a lot.

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