Romania & Bulgaria: Transylvania to the Black Sea Coast

13 days Multi-country
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

Tour group size: 18 - 35 travelers

Tour pace: You will walk for about 2.5 hours daily across uneven terrain, including paved roads and cobblestone streets, with many hills and stairs.

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

Map of Romania, Bulgaria & Serbia

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 The People’s Palace, built under the communist regime of 

Nicolae Ceausescu

• Wander through historic and distinctive squares

Enjoy a free afternoon in Bucharest or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Historic Bucharest: Village Museum & Cruise $55pp* 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 $99pp* 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 and First Romanian School museum

Bucharest 1 night Hotel info

Day 7: Bucharest via Sinaia

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Before journeying to Bucharest, visit the Black Church 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

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 $99pp* 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: Veliko Tarnovo via Schumen

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Make your way to Veliko Tarnovo, visiting Schumen Province en route. 

• View the UNESCO-recognized Madara Rider, a centuries-old rock carving depicting a knight on horseback

• Enjoy free time for lunch in the city of Schumen

• Visit the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki, just outside Veliko Tarnovo 

Later, uncover Bulgaria's medieval past on a walking tour of the historic Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets Fortress.

Sofia 2 nights Hotel info

Day 11: Travel to Sofia

  Included meals: Breakfast

Travel to the city of Sofia, and enjoy free time to explore when you arrive.

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 Starting from $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 $65pp* 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 $109pp* 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
  • Sibiu, Romania
  • Brașov, Romania
  • Varna, Bulgaria
  • Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Passport & visa requirements

  • This tour visits Romania and Bulgaria (plus Serbia on the tour extension). In order to enter these countries, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry. 
  • We recommend having at least one blank passport page for entry stamps.
  • There is no visa required for U.S. or Canadian citizens.
  • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.    

Tour pace

  • You will walk for about 2.5 hours daily across uneven terrain, including paved roads and cobblestone streets, with many hills and stairs.
  • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
  • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at times.
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team. 

Transportation & arrival information

  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead arrive in Bucharest and depart from Sofia (or Belgrade on the tour extension). A Go Ahead representative will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival. 
  • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead for an additional cost.
  • All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.   

Baggage allowance

  • Airlines have varying weight restrictions on baggage. 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 baggage 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 transfers, which may include train connections or flights. 
  • One carry-on bag of 45 total inches (length + width + height) is also permitted.
  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

Clothing & packing tips

  • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rainwear.
  • A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is recommended for sightseeing.
  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
  • It is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).

Health

  • There are no major health risks associated with traveling to any of the countries on this tour. 
  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov
  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.
  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead at least 30 days prior to departure by logging in to goaheadtours.com and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.

Cuisine

  • Romanian food takes much of its influence from the Balkans, Hungary and Turkey. Throughout the country, sour soups called ciorbă are available in endless varieties and are the perfect way to start any meal. Along the Black Sea coast, fresh fish is prevalent, but the area’s true culinary delight is salata de vinete, a salad made from grilled eggplant, onions and sunflower oil.
  • In Bulgaria, fresh vegetables are often readily available due to the area’s warm climate and salads will be an integral part of most meals. Other mainstays are chorba, a bean soup and tarator, a cold cucumber soup. Pork is the country’s meat of choice, and you’ll find it in countless combinations of soups, stews and mains. When raising a glass with your fellow travelers, be sure to try some of the local spirits, such as rakia or menta.
  • On the tour extension, Serbian food typically incorporates influences from central Europe as well as flavors borrowed from the East. Meals usually center around meats like pork, lamb and goat. Serbians also love pastry, often in the form of varieties of pie.   

Electricity & air conditioning

  • All destinations visited on this tour operate on the European standard 220-240 volts and use Types C or F plugs with two small, round pins.
  • We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter.  
  • The strength of the air conditioning in European hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel. 
  • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.

Connectivity

  • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. In more remote locations, internet access may be limited and is not guaranteed.
  • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. 
  • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.

Time zones

  • Romania and Bulgaria are two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).    
  • On the tour extension, Serbia is one hour ahead of GMT and six hours ahead of EST.
  • When it’s noon in New York, it's 6pm in Belgrade and 7pm in Bucharest.   

Currency

  • You will use the Romanian leu in Romania and the Bulgarian lev in Bulgaria (plus the Serbian dinar in Serbia on the tour extension).
  • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. 
  • We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed. 
  • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. 
  • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
  • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.

Tipping

  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $7USD/CAD to $10USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver.
  • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. 
  • Tips can only be paid in cash. 

Purchasing excursions on tour

  • Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on your tour. 
  • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa or MasterCard as payment for optional excursions. 
  • Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged. 
  • Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.

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

Tour Date: 9/28/2016

Number of Past Tours: 8

From: NH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Very Enjoyable Experiencece

My wife and I didn't know what to expect. so we were pleasantly surprised with the cities, country side and the people.Our tour director, Sebastian combined historical Romania and Bulgaria with the different periods of history. We especially enjoyed his view on the Communist times. There are many good tour directors at Goahead but I would rate him as one of the best. Food was not only good but extremely reasonable, Hotels were located near town centers and very nice. One should be prepared to climb a number of stairs.Its fascinating to see Roman ruins, German architecture, medieval towns and that ugly Soviet block apartment buildings all part of the landscape.

 

Hi Matthew! We’re glad to learn that you were pleasantly surprised by your experience in this region. We appreciate your feedback on the various aspects of the trip, such as your Tour Director, the hotels, and the meals. We agree that it’s fascinating to see Roman ruins, German architecture, and more along the way! Thank you for reviewing your tour. We look forward to your next one!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | November 02, 2016

4 / 5

4 / 5

Tour Date: 7/13/2016

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: MO

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

My First Trip Away from the U.S.

I have never been out of the country and my Aunt convinced me to go on this unique tour. Romania is really an awesome experience. Northern Romania (Brasov, Transylvania) was my highlight, I would have liked an extra day there. We also had amazing tours of the castles and towns. Seriously, Romania should be a must for a traveler. I was not a fan of Bucherest, but having Sebastion as our Tour guide made it better. Also, a funny and unusual taxi experience. Next, Bulgaria is a puzzle worth attempting. Varna is a beach town, with lovely views, Viliko Tarnova the historical middle city and Sofia, the Capitol that blends the ancient with the new. The supplied guides in Bulgaria were dry and never stopped reciting. The summer home of the Queen of Romania was a great add-on. Finally, Serbia was not that exciting...however, the hotel was part of the positive experience. Beware there is a lot of walking on this tour. Difficult walking. Hours of it. Be prepared. I would add some pre-tour reading to enjoy the countries. Read about Marie of Romania (the last Queen of Romania), former Romanian President Ceausescu, and Tito. Thanks, GoAhead, everything went smoothly. Sebastion took wonderful care of us. And there were the perfect unexpected gems. I went to places I would never have visited and did things I never would have expected (plum brandy, anyone?)

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 5/11/2016

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: GA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Lots to see!

The sights in Romania and Bulgaria were beyond my expectations. We also had an excellent tour leader in Sebastian. He always went out of his way to see to the needs of all tour members. Both countries are also quite reasonable as they are not yet on the euro currency. Highly recommend this tour.

 

Hi John! We're so glad you enjoyed exploring these beautiful countries. We're also happy to hear that your Tour Director went above and beyond for your group. Thank you for recommending this tour, and we hope to welcome you on another trip soon!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | June 14, 2016

4 / 5

4 / 5

Tour Date: 10/7/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: CA

Tour Director: 3 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Truly beautiful Countries

We booked this tour to go off the grid so to speak,it's a great value with some great qualities and of course with each tour there are thing's to look at before going,not a tour for someone going to Europe for the 1st time,medium paced tour,anyone with a walking disability should not go on this tour,lot's of stairs,there is also a lot of time on the coach too,about 700 miles without the optional tours,Sebastian our director lives in Bucharest so that's a advantage,he's very calm and took time to answer questions and was available to solve small issues on the tour,you have to listen close because his accent is thick and he will tell a long story with a simple question,lot's of overtones regarding the dictator and his demise in 1989 which was expected,it still effects everyone there today,our bus driver Daniel was safe and fantastic,the hotels were 4 star using a European rating and were in the city centers which is so important to us,you could walk anywhere or take a cab,very clean and the staff at each hotel spoke English and the breakfast's were mostly good with a couple locations having some cold food,the dinners included on the tour we can only say 1 was great,the others were cold and bland,the cities on tour were magical,although Bucharest was very very crowded and traffic was a nightmare,but other than that,Brasov,Sibiu,Varna were highlights,we would prefer 1 more night in Brasov,and take the day for a long ride with maybe a stop for lunch in Bucharest and then onto Varna,it would be worth it Brasov was amazing,Draculas Castle better known as Brans Castle was ok,very crowded,lot's of hype but he was only there for a short time,Transylvania and the whole story of Vlad is very interesting,it's worth it,there is free time and the optionals are good,we think 1 or 2 should just be part of the tour with the cost made up in the tour price,time goes by so fast and anything that's organized makes the most of your time,the one thing that stood out to us is the excessive amount of churches that were on the tour,we respect all beliefs and the right to worship,we just felt there were way to many on the tour and many more sights to see,the most important thing is our flight's went so smooth which is vital to a stress free trip,good airlines,KLM and Tarom and Air Bulgaria,only thing I would say is buy a economy comfort seat,the 747 is cramped on KLM,so all in all the tour is a good value and you will come home and feel different about the world and yourself,Happy Travels!

 

Dear Ellen, Thank you for traveling with Go Ahead, and for taking the time to write this thoughtful review full of highlights and suggestions! We work hard to have a wide portfolio of tours that speak to the many varied interests of our travelers, and we are very glad that you found what you were looking for in this itinerary. We understand that this is a tour that accomplishes a great deal, and that there are some long transfers in order to do so. These are regions with stunning countryside with storied pasts, and we have learned that some of our travelers find the bus rides to be highlights in their own right. We do our best to select restaurants and menu items that reflect the local culture and cuisine. We regret to learn that you felt the food was bland, and we will keep an eye on the ratings given to these meals by your fellow travelers to ensure that they are up to our very high Go Ahead standards. Thank you again for your review, and for sharing your insight into this tour. We hope to welcome you onto another Go Ahead tour soon!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | November 09, 2015

4 / 5

4 / 5

Tour Date: 9/9/2015

Number of Past Tours: 32

From: NH

Tour Director: 2 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Surprised by the Beautiful Cities

The cities that we visited in Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia exceeded my expectations. They all had lovely architecture, pedestrian walkways with cafes and shops, interesting museums, delightful neighborhoods, very inexpensive restaurant meals. Our hotels were well located within walking distance of the city centers. Hotels were top notch as were the breakfasts offered at each. Our Tour Director was kind and knowledgeable, however....he talked too much. He could speak non-stop for hours while we traveled by bus from one location to the next. There was a lot of free time on this tour. For me this was not a problem as I was with a group of eight friends. However, it may not be fun for a "single" traveler on his or her own. I liked having the free time to explore ...to go to museums....or out for meals. But, it would not have been the same if I was winging it on my own. Thirteen of us continued on to Belgrade, Serbia. I recommend this extension.

 

Dear Kathy, Welcome home! We are so pleased that the beauty of the cities you visited exceeded your expectations. We are a company that has its roots in international educational travel, and our Tour Directors revel in the opportunity to share their deep knowledge with our travelers. We regret to learn that you felt your Tour Director may have talked too much during transfers, but we do hope you and your fellow travelers gained some insight into the local cultures you visited. Thank you very much for sharing your experience on-tour with Go Ahead, and we hope to travel with you again soon!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | October 20, 2015

4 / 5

4 / 5

Tour Date: 9/9/2015

Number of Past Tours: 33

From: NY

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Too much dracula hype

This tour was interesting for the seasoned traveler, and those wishing to learn language and culture. It had no real stand out place. It was enjoyable, but somewhat more lock-stepped than the usual Go Ahead tour. The extension was way overpriced for the type of service we received, i.e. small transfer vehicle, small sightseeing vehicle and out dated hotel. The best part was the location of most hotels, so that you could walk all over.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 9/4/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: NY

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Excellent history of the Balkans

This was a splendid experience in the Balkans, which we knew very little about. Our guide, Sebastian was knowledgeable, helpful and attentive. We learned so much about the countries we visited and had a good overall introduction to the history and life in Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia. The tours, churches, fortresses and other places we visited were superb.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 10/1/2013

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: NJ

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Bulgaria & Romania

This was an excellent and very interesting tour. Both countries are beautiful and have wonderful sites to visit. I would recommend very good foot support in the way of shoes. Some of the sights were challenging to visit-- a walking stick would be useful.

 

Hi Margaret! Thank you for taking the time to review your experience. We’re happy you found this to be an excellent and interesting tour. We agree that both countries have a lot to offer, and we’re so glad you had the chance to visit! You make a great point about wearing good shoes, and this tip can really apply to all our tours. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We hope to welcome you on tour soon!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | February 08, 2016

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 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

Tour Date: 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.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Tour Date: 10/1/2013

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: FL

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Bul/Rom

The tour was very good - all spots on itinerary were very interesting to visit. Many of the spots visited were challenging to reach, and one needed a lot of stamina and climbing ability to achieve the goal. The hotels were great, and the food was good. It is not a tour for everyone, but we enjoyed it.

2 / 5

2 / 5

Tour Date: 9/17/2013

Number of Past Tours: 5

From: NM

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Too much time on the bus

Comments on our recent Bulgaria and Romania tour. We were dissatisfied with the tour in many respects: the main one being "too much time on the bus". The round trip between Sibiu and Brasov was unnecessary and should be eliminated with an overnight stay in Brasov . Specific comments: The logistics were poor as evidenced by the last minute change in the Sofia hotel. We were arriving a day early and had made a reservation at the original hotel and thus had to spend a half day switching hotels. Then, the information about us was not forwarded to our tour leader. She had our names but nothing else. We are part of the tour and our information (city & state) should have been given to her. The radios arrived late and our Sofia tour guide had a soft voice and needed the radio to be heard. The fiasco on the last day with the road to the Peles Castle in Sinaia being closed was poor advance planning.. Local tour guides: We thought the local guides were generally poor. You need to point out to them that the attention span of tourists is only 5 or at most 10 minutes. The only one we thought to be effective was the one in the Bran castle. She had a distinctive voice and kept her presentations to 5 minutes. The most egregious was the one in Veliko Tarnovo who went on & on so that we found that the significance of the fortress was lost in her torrent of words. We noticed that she appeared to be talking with her eyes closed. The stays in Sofia and Bucharest were too short; both should be 3 nights. The way it was now there was no time to visit the cities on our own and both had several interesting museums presenting the cultures of the two countries. To fit in the extra nights, the stay in Veliko should be eliminated with the tour of fortress being shortened and the stop at Madara Rider skipped. As we noted above the 3 night stay should be reduced to 2 with a stay at Brasov replacing it. We were disappointed in the optional Black Sea excursion in that we didn't get to see much of the Black Sea coast. The supposedly scenic drive back from Kap Kaliakra was hardly that. Too much time was spent on the bus during the Translyvania tour. Were there any fortified churches closer to Sibiu to make the bus time shorter?

Show More Reviews