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Pedaling the Heart of Transylvania
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Bicycle Tours in Romania: Pedaling the Heart of Transylvania

Discover Transylvania on this ride through a land reminiscent of times past. Although Romania is scheduled to join the European Union in 2007, the rural countryside we explore is still years behind the rest of Europe. As Romania's younger generation works on modernizing their country, we still have the chance to pedal through traditional farmlands maintained using traditional tools and horse drawn carts. There is much more to Romania than peaceful bucolic scenes; we'll also explore the Medieval fortress town of Sighisoara, the reputed birthplace of Count Dracula; the Palace of Culture, which celebrates the cultural diversity of Targu Mures; and Sibiu, selected by the European Union as one of two "European Capitals of Culture 2007". Join us and experience the complex contrasts of this fascinating country.

Day 1: Bucharest

Highlights: Arrive today in the capital of Romania, fly to Baia Mare

Come a day or two early if you have the time and explore the capital of Romania. Like much of the country, the city presents complex contrasts between historic monuments and attempts at modernization. Add to that the influence of Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose twenty-five year reign of terror still weighs heavily on both Romania and Bucharest, and you will find a fascinating city. Meet at our meeting hotel in Bucharest at 2 pm for introductions and then an informal walking tour through this interesting city bearing contrasting urban scenery from Oriental inns to classical French small palaces. We'll have a light dinner after our walk together and then head off to the airport to catch our evening flight to Baia Mare.

Day 2: Barsana Monastery

Highlights: Barsana Monastery, wooden churches of Maramures

We transfer to Barsana monastery this morning. After checking in we'll fit bicycles and suggest an afternoon loop ride. We are in the heart of rural and remote Maramures here. Take time this afternoon to visit the famous wooden churches near our monastery. Dinner is together this evening in our lodge. Distance: your choice up to 60 km.

Day 3: Loop ride from Barsana to the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

Highlights: The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, Sighetu Marmatiei

Our ride today takes us to the famous "merry cemetery" of Sarpanta. Take time to visit the cemetery and we'll pedal on to Sighetu Marmatiei for lunch together in a traditional local restaurant. We'll be back in Barsana for dinner together this evening. Distance: about 80 km (50 miles).

Day 4: Ride from Barsana to Baia Mare

Highlights: Budesti Wooden Church, traditional landscapes of remote Transylvania

Today's ride takes us through some of the most remote and traditional parts of Transylvania. Yes, there are some hills but the views make it all worthwhile. We are in Baia Mare this evening, the capital of Maramures County and the historic region of the same name. Distance: 70 km (43 miles).

Day 5: Baia Mare - Jibou

Highlights: Ferry crossing of the Somes River, traditional villages

Our ride today is easy as we follow the Somes River due south from Baia Mare. At one point we cross the river on a ferry powered by the natural flow of the river. Later, as you pedal you expect to start into the hills at any moment but our road finds a gap in the mountains and continues flat the entire distance. So there is no rush today. You'll have time to stop and explore, to photograph farmers at work in their villages, and to enjoy lunch from one of the many small grocery stores along the way. Distance: 61 km (38 miles).

Day 6: Bicycle from Jibou to Cluj Napoca

Highlights: Historic capital of Transylvania, beautiful rural landscapes

Our destination today is one of the most important cultural and historical cities in Transylvania. Long considered the traditional capital of Transylvania, it remains an important intellectual and cultural center. Take time to wander the historic city center this afternoon and to enjoy the monumental architecture in the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals. Cluj also has the Transylvania Ethnographic Museum. Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 79 km (49 miles).

Day 7: Bike from Cluj Napoca to Targu Mures

Highlights: Rolling hills, farm villages and horse drawn carts

You'll find yourself in the heart of traditional eastern Europe today where time seems to stand still. Collectivized agriculture never caught on in this part of Romania and the farm village or individual farmstead remains the core of this agricultural economy. During haying season you'll see entire families cutting, drying, and gathering hay by hand. Horse drawn carts seem to be the primary means of conveyance in this rural area. Distance: 107 km (66 miles).

Day 8: Targu Mures Loop

Highlights: Rural villages, Targu Mures Palace of Culture and Medieval Fortress

Much of Transylvania is still inhabited by ethnic groups of Hungarian origin. Our ride today takes us into the countryside around Targu Mures. Take your time, stop for lunch in one of the villages along the way and plan on taking time this afternoon to explore Targu Mures a bit. The Cultural Palace, newly restored, celebrates the variety of cultures present in town. Be sure to visit the Medieval Fortress just up the hill from the city center as well. Dinner is on your own this evening. Distance: 0 - 62 km (0 - 39 miles).

Day 9: Bicycle from Targu Mures to Sighisoara

Highlights: Beautiful landscapes, small villages, the Medieval fortress town Sighisoara

The landscapes of Transylvania continue to delight as we pedal by farm villages, the Armenian cathedral in Dumbraveni, and up a slight hill and into the Medieval fortress of Sighisoara. Dating to the 14th century, the walled town of Sighisoara is one of the best preserved in eastern Europe. Here you will also have a chance to dine in the Casa Vlad Dracula, reputed birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Dinner together this evening at our hotel. Distance: 89 km (55 miles).

Day 10: Bicycle from Sighisoara to Sibiu

Highlights: Sibiu, Cultural Capital of Europe in 2007

Our ride today takes us through more beautiful countryside to the historic, walled city of Sibiu. Settled by Germans from Saxony in the 11th century, Sibiu was a multiethnic center until after World War I with the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Selected by the European Union to be one of two European Capitals of Culture 2007, Sibiu worked hard to earn this title and has activities planned throughout the year for the occasion. Distance: 101 km (63 miles).

Day 11: Sibiu loop ride

Highlights: Villages with fortified churches

Our loop ride out of Sibiu today explores several villages gathered around fortress-churches built over the centuries by the German settlers in the area. We'll be back in town in time to visit Sibiu this afternoon and to celebrate the completion of our ride through Transylvania with a final dinner together. Distance: 84 km (53 miles).

Day 12: Tour ends in Sibiu

Highlights: End in Sibiu

Our tour ends after breakfast today. You may want to continue traveling to Timisoara, which has an international airport, or head back to Bucharest, the capital. Whatever you choose, we have only begun to scrape the surface of what this wonderful country has to offer.
  • Highlights
    Transylvania, Sapanta's Merry Cemetery, Budesti wooden church, Historic towns of Cluj Napoca and Sibiu , Medieval fortress of Sighisoara (birthplace of Count Dracula), Barsana Monastery, Bucharest
  • Includes
    11 nights accommodation, 12 days; 7 dinners; internal flight to Baia Mare
  • Countries
  • Begin/End
    Bucharest / Sibiu
  • Arrive/Depart
    Bucharest / Sibiu
  • Total Distance
    603 - 749 km (375 - 465 miles)
  • Daily Distance
    62 - 107 km. (39 - 66 miles)
  • What to Expect
    Rural roads, some climbing most days but no serious mountains; ten riding days with two optional rest days
  • Rating
  • Notes
  • Terms
Please call 1-800-685-4565 or e-mail us for the dates for this tour.

Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.

Map Key

Green pinStart
Yellow pinCity (on route)
Red pinEnd
Other city dotCity (not part of route, provided for reference)
I loved meeting local people, being invited, into their homes. The countryside and all the local activities: carts , horses, sheep. This is my second trip and I found it just as fasinating as the first time.
Helen H., Clarkston, WA
I can't pick a favorite experience - the great farm scenes, fortified churches, wooden churches and old walled cities. It is like stepping back 100 years or so in time.
Caroline D., Concord, NH