Enjoy an in-depth experience of the Danube's Iron Gates, a series of spectacular gorges separating the Carpathians from the Balkans, the place where the mountain and water harmonized perfectly, unfolding along the biggest and oldest canyon a river has made in Europe!
During our trip, we will venture too in Semenic National Park to go looking for a natural wonder renowed for its beauty in the world - Bigar Waterfall!
We will also admire the colossal rock sculpture of Decebalus (the last king of Dacia) - World's Largest Rock Sculpture on a River's Bank, visit Targu Jiu ("The City of Brancusi") and Horezu town (the core of Romanian pottery), discover some of the oldest and most mysterious ruins in Romania - Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa (the capital of the Roman Dacia) and the Watermills Park from Eftimie Murgu - the largest complex of water mills in South-East Europe, included in the UNESCO patrimony!
We will start our tour heading to Sibiu, passing through the Carpathian Mountains via the famous Transfagarasan Road* into Transylvania. On our way, we have a short stop and visit Curtea de Arges Cathedral, then at the Vidraru Dam, located on the bank of Arges River, along Transfagarasan Road - "the best road in the world" according to Top Gear team in 2009! The road is one of the most spectacular routes in Romania, reaching the maximum altitude of 2,042 m close to the Balea Glacier Lake. So, prepare your camera for some breath-taking shots!
Optional, you can enjoy lunch in a special location, at the on-site restaurant & terrace at the Balea Glacier Lake.
In the evening, arrival in Sibiu, one of the loveliest and best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, where we will spend our first night. The city gained in 2007 the title of "European Capital of Culture", while in 2019 the title of "European Region of Gastronomy". We will explore the city in a walking tour, including: the Big Square and Little Square, Huet Square, Iron Bridge, the Council Tower, the Evangelical Church and the Orthodox Church.
Accommodation in Sibiu medieval city, in a centrally located 4* hotel. Optional dinner in a local restaurant.
*Between 1st of July and 30th of October, the Transfagarasan Road is usually open and we can also visit Curtea de Arges Monastery on the route; when the weather conditions do not permit it and the road is closed, we will change our route to Olt River Valley and visit Cozia Monastery instead.
After breakfast, we drive inside the mountains, very close to the wild Retezat National Park, in the scenic land of Hateg, where we will find the ruins of Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa - the capital of the Roman Dacia, a great destination for history enthusiasts.
We continue driving across the Carpathians during the afternoon.
The end of today will be in one of the most spectacular regions in Romania - Almaj Mountains, the place where Danube's Gorges are born, part of the Iron Gates Nature Park! The area is a rare mix of biodiversity, geological attractions, traditional villages and multicultural heritage, being also a favorite place for many aquatic birds.
For the next 3 nights, we will overnight right on the banks of the Danube, in one of the most popular towns here: Eselnita (or Dubova, or Berzasca). The sights are breathtaking and allure you to relax and contemplate!
During the following days, we will focus on the scenery, relax admiring the masterpieces created by the bustling river's waters, take a river boat trip to admire the cliffside carvings, caves and landmarks, see Cazanele Dunarii ("Cazanele Mici" and "Cazanele Mari" - the 2 places where the Danube "squeezes" through the mountain creating a dramatic view), the amazing Decebalus rock sculpture and the famous Bigar Waterfall.
If you are a foodie and a fish lover, you will also be able to enjoy fresh fish in this area! Don't miss the local's specialty - the fish sour soup / "ciorba de peste" and other delicious culinary recipes.
Overnight for the following 3 nights in a 4* pension in Eselnita (or Dubova, or Berzasca towns, depending on accommodation availability), right on the banks of the Danube. Optional dinner at the pension.
Breakfast "with a view" in the morning, then we head to Orsova where we will start our relaxing day with a boat trip to the Iron Gates.
We cross the narrow Danube Gorges and the large basin by boat, admiring the incredible natural treasures of "Cazanele Mari" (the "Big Gorges" next to Ciucarul Mare peak) and "Cazanele Mici" (the "Small Gorges" next to Ciucarul Mic peak). During the cruise, catch sight of the Tabula Traiana, a Roman plaque memorializing Trajan's epic military road; and the massive cliff-face carving depicting the face of Decebalus, the last king of Dacia, who fought against the Roman emperors Domitian and Trajan to preserve the country's independence. At 42.9 m in height and 31.6 m in width, it stands as The World's Largest Rock Sculpture on a River's Bank, according to the World Record Academy!
During the boat ride, we can also stop and visit two caves that are only accessible via the Danube: Ponicoava and the Veterans' Cave (optional; to be agreed at the spot with our boat driver). For Ponicoava Cave, the entrance is very spectacular, we simply go with the boat straight from the Danube inside the cave; while for Veterans' Cave, we will have to hop off the boat and climb some stairs up to the cave.
Then, we will visit the St Ana Monastery, located on Dealu Mosului, in Orsova city; built in the 60's, the monastery overlooks both the city and the Danube, so we will be able to enjoy a great bird's eye view of the river, from the top of the mountain.
Finally, we return back to Eselnita, to our pension. Time to relax as you wish, by the pool, enjoy an optional dinner and overnight.
In the morning, enjoy your breakfast, then we will head to one of the most unique waterfalls around the world - Bigar Waterfall!
Part of Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National park, the waterfall is located in Aninei Mountains, exactly on the 45th north Parallel. The small streams running on moss and soft grass that miraculously grows on rock create an unique scene you will never forget! Once you see it, you will understand why Bigar Waterfall has been ranked #1 most beautiful in the world by the World Geography Atlas and has achieved international fame as one of Romania's top attractions.
Only 15 km away, we will discover another fascinating place - the Watermills Park from Eftimie Murgu, UNESCO Patrimony. The chain of watermills adorns Rudaria River on a distance of about 3 km, representing the largest and most spectacular in South-East Europe! The 22 watermills from Eftimie Murgu, are a rare attraction in Romania; more than an open-air museum, these watermills are still used by locals to grind their cereals, following faithfully the tradition of their ancestors. If lucky, we might also find some locals at the spot, grinding their grains, an unique opportunity to witness a timeless tradition!
We end the day back to our pension, with a relaxing time by the pool, remembering the beauty of this day and enjoying the last sunset on the banks of the Danube. Optional dinner at the pension and overnight.
After breakfast, we drive along the Southern Carpathians back to Bucharest.
On our way, we will make a stop in Targu Jiu, known as "The City of Brancusi". The city holds one of the greatest cultural treasures of Romania! We will admire the open-air monumental sculptures of Constantin Brancusi, one of the most famous European sculptors born just short distance from Targu Jiu, Romania. The main attractions of the city: the impressive Endless Column - among the most famous monumental works of art in the world, the Gate of the Kiss, the Chairs' Alley and the Table of Silence.
We will also visit the town of Horezu, considered one of the most representative places in Romania in terms of traditional crafts and folklore! Since 2012, the Horezu pottery is included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list for its extensive tradition of colorful, mosaic-like Romanian ceramics. Once arrived here, we won't miss either the beautiful 17th century Horezu Monastery, one of the most representative buildings in the Brancovenesc Style, included too in the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1993.
Optional lunch stop in a local traditional restaurant called "Doi Cocosi - The Two Roosters".
Arrival back in Bucharest at the end of the day.
PRIVATE TOUR by car/minivan
890 EUR/pers (group of 2 persons)
670 EUR/pers (group of 3 persons)
590 EUR/pers (group of 4-7 persons)
+ 120 EUR/pers SGL room suppl
*the tour can be organized even for 1 solo traveler