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Romania & Bulgaria: Transylvania to the Black Sea Coast

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

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 $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
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  • FEB
  • MAR
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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: 10/1/2013

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

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 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

Traveled On: 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

Traveled On: 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

Traveled On: 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

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!

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