Romania Winter Photo Tour during Christmas and NY holidays
Scenic self-drive tour of Romania
Explore Romania’s picturesque nature and rural charm
12 Days
A self-drive tour of Romania is the perfect opportunity to discover the country’s diverse cultural heritage and beautiful landscapes at your own pace. You’ll drive on scenic high-altitude roads, enjoy golden sunrises in spectacular locations, and admire imposing medieval settlements. There’s so much to explore!

This tour is designed for photography lovers of all levels and it can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in nature and scenic landscapes. You don’t need a professional camera or other fancy accessories, just a phone is enough to capture the beauty of Romania.

Highlights of the Scenic self-drive tour of Romania
  • Drive on the spectacular Transfagarasan and Transalpina roads
  • Let yourself be introduced to the beauty of the Apuseni Mountains
  • Get lost wandering through the cobbled streets of Sibiu
  • Step back in time in charming Viscri village
  • Capture imposing castles and unique fortified churches

The tour is planned to start and end in Western Romania so you can also reach Romania by car of public transport from Europe (including by train). Also, Timisoara and Cluj airports are small airports but with direct connections with big European cities.

The tour can be changed to fit your preferences, interests, or place of arrival and departure.

 

Suggested Itinerary
Day 1  
Your scenic Self-drive tour of Romania starts in Timisoara, the largest city in the western part of the country and an important entry point for those coming from Central and Western Europe. Timisoara is also home to a small airport connected to various cities in Europe.

You will pick up your rented car and drive to your hotel. Depending on the time of your arrival, you can have a walk in the city center and admire the beautiful Baroque and Secession architecture of Europe’s 2021 Cultural Capital.

Accommodation in Timisoara.

 

Day 2 

In the morning you will head towards Bigar Waterfall, a one-of-a-kind, very picturesque attraction. The water falls in countless small streams over a rounded rock covered in a green carpet of moss.  You will drive through Resita and you can make a stop at the open-air Steam Locomotive Museum, where different steam locomotives are exhibited, most of them having been built entirely in Resita, which was once a thriving industrial town in this part of the country.

Bigar Waterfall

Photo source: Flickr | Levente Nuber

You will then head towards the Danube Gorges, a beautiful natural area that offers a unique landscape which you will uncover in the following days. Optional, on the way you can visit a collection on 22 traditional watermills that are still used by the local community to grind cereals, the way people did centuries ago.

Accommodation in the Danube Gorges.

Drive time: 5h

 

Day 3 

The third day will start with an impressive sunrise shoot on the shore of the Danube Gorges. You’ll get to capture the rushing river as it cuts through the Carpathian Mountains and the small villages scattered along the opposite Serbian shore.

You will then travel by car and make various stops in scenic spots to enjoy the views. You can visit Mraconia Monastery and admire the statue of the king of the Dacians, Decebal, which is the biggest rock sculpture in Europe, reaching a height of almost 55m.

Clisura Dunarii

Photo source: Cazanele Dunarii

There are two options for how to spend your afternoon:

Option 1:  You can have a 2–hour hike to a viewpoint overlooking the Danube and the Romanian and Serbian shores, you will be on top of the Danube Gorge and you will see the river winding through it.

Option 2: You can drive on Cernei Valley and enjoy the great panorama of the mountainous region around. Depending on your interest, you can have an optional hike to a remote village where access is only possible by climbing a handcrafted 20m wooden stair pinned to the vertical mountain.

Accommodation in the Danube Gorges.

Drive time: 1h (option 1) or 4h (option 2)

 

Day 4  

The fourth day of your Scenic self-drive tour of Romania will be a transition day, as you’ll head towards Transylvania region.

You will pass by the largest hydroelectric dam on the Danube River, the “Iron Gates”, which has two power stations belonging to both Romania and Serbia. You will then drive on Transalpina, the highest road in Romania. You can have stops on the route to admire or photograph the picturesque views, to do some hiking or enjoy your meal outdoors. We spotted wild wolves twice in a year on this road.

Transalpina

Photo source: Flickr | Tinu Coman

The road will continue until you reach Sibiu, a charming medieval town in the center of the country.

Accommodation in Sibiu (self-catering apartment).

Drive time: 9h

 

Day 5 

Today you will enjoy the only guided tour included in the itinerary as you explore Sibiu’s Old Town.  You will visit its three historic squares, capture its well-preserved architecture and find out about its interesting history. The guide will also hold an orientation session for the rest of the trip as you will explore Transylvania. A bit of background and insight into the history and local culture should be welcomed.

In the afternoon you will travel nearby, where Cisnadioara Fortress is located. It is the oldest Roman basilica from Romania, dating back to the 13th century and it sits on top of a hill. You will photograph it from a distance, with the Carpathian Mountains in the background.

You’ll come back to Sibiu for a blue hour shoot. As evening settles in, you will find plenty of opportunities to practice street photography.

Accommodation in Sibiu (self-catering apartment).

Drive time: 30’

 

Day 6  

It’s time for another scenic drive on one of Romania’s famous roads, Transfagarasan. Named by Top Gear “the World’s Best Road Trip”, it offers spectacular views and an exciting experience as it zig-zags through the mountains. Starting in Sibiu, you will go up the northern side and past the highest point at 2000m,, until you reach Cota 1200 on the south side. Along the way you can make stops to capture the landscape or go for a 2h roundtrip hike to a 2400m high peak.

Transfagarasan Road in summer

You will then come back on the same route and head towards your next destination, Viscri village.

You can have an optional stop in Fagaras to shoot the fortress, an impressive monument surrounded by a moat.

Accommodation in Viscri.

Drive time: 4h

 

Day 7 

Viscri village is one of the few places in Transylvania where you can still experience the traditional way of life. Here, people still get up before dawn, feed and milk their animals and take them out on the streets, from where they are then led to the nearby fields to graze. You can meet villagers traveling by horse carts or chickens freely roaming the streets of Viscri. This morning buzz is fascinating, so you will get to see it early in the day!

Ciurda de la Viscri

Following that, you will travel to one of the nearby hills and capture a panoramic view of Viscri. The colorful historical houses are perfectly lined up and the impressive Fortified Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site, rises above them all from the center of the village.

The fortified Church of Viscri in the distance

In the afternoon, you will take part in a unique experience as you will travel by horse cart, the way locals do, to a sheepfold. Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations still practiced in Romania and you’ll get to learn about its importance, see how shepherds live, how they milk their sheep and how they make cheese. The local cheese called “telemea”  will remind you of Feta cheese, they are actually related.

Accommodation in Viscri.

Drive time: 30’

 

Day 8 

It’s time for one of the highlights of your Scenic self-drive tour – Bran Castle, perhaps Romania’s most famous attraction. We’re going to give you a spoiler –  it is not Dracula’s Castle – but it’s understandable why it gained such a reputation. The castle is perched on rocky cliffs and surrounded by dense forests, which creates a mysterious atmosphere around it. The best shots are got if taken from a distance, but interesting compositions can be obtained from the path leading to the castle, too.

Verde de Bran

Close to Bran, you will have the chance to discover Transylvania’s picturesque natural surroundings. The landscape is dominated by the impressive Carpathians, while in the valleys you will see winding roads and scattered wooden barns.

The last on the agenda will be spotting bears in the wild from a hide. Romania hosts an impressive population of wild bears, the largest in the EU and to keep them from going to the populated areas feeding areas are established from them. You will go with a specialized guide to such a spot and wait in silence for them to come.

Gallery - Birds, bears and wildflowers

You will travel back to Viscri, where you will spend the night.

Accommodation in Viscri.

Drive time: 4h

 

Day 9

Transylvania has much to offer, so there are various ways in which you could spend this day:

Option 1:

You can wake up early, leave Viscri behind and head for a sunrise shoot at Rupea Fortress, one of the oldest and best-preserved medieval sites in the country. It is built on top of a hill and spreads out on three levels, making for a very interesting photography subject. Following that, you can drive towards Bicaz Gorges, an impressive zig-zagging route that cuts sharply through the Carpathians and offers spectacular views. You will come back to Viscri for the night.

Drive time: 6h

Option 2:

You can explore one of the many nearby towns or villages. Not-to-be-missed is Sighisoara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that takes you back to medieval times with its narrow cobbled streets, colorful houses and the well-preserved defensive towers. Other off-the-beaten-track options are Crit or Mesendorf villages, both home to remarkable Fortified Churches and an ageless heritage of the Transylvanian German Saxons.

Sighisoara

Drive time: up to 1h 30’

Option 3:

You can just spend the day relaxing at your guesthouse or walking or biking in the meadows around Viscri.

Accommodation in Viscri.

 

Day 10

Today you’ll leave Viscri early morning in order to catch the sunrise in one of the best photography locations of Romania, Biertan. The village is set in a valley and from its center rises an imposing Fortified Church, an architectural monument of impressive dimensions.

Biertan

Next on your self-drive itinerary through Romania is Rimetea village. Here you’ll get to learn about the authentic rural heritage of the Hungarians living in Transylvania. In the afternoon you can do some hiking in the area, either to Coltesti Fortress, a spectacular ruin, or to the Szekler Rock (3-4 km hike or even longer), both options offering amazing views of the picturesque scenery.

Rimetea village

Depending on availability and your preference, you can spend the night in a beautiful mansion located in Rimetea or in a private village made up of wooden houses located high in the mountains.

Accommodation in the Apuseni Mountains.

Drive time: 4h

 

Day 11

This day will be spent discovering the picturesque landscapes in the Apuseni Mountains They might not be the highest in the country, but they have a bucolic charm that makes them unique. You will have one last sunrise shoot, in an area with traditional barns, rolling hills and fine mist.

Mountainous landscape of Romania

After that, you can enjoy a hike in the mountains – you might come across scattered villages or forgotten hamlets of the Motzi people.  Or you can descend into one of the numerous caves the area is so famous for. Scarisoara Cave, the biggest underground glacier in Romania, is worth a visit.  We’ll provide concrete directions to each of those places.

Accommodation in the Apuseni Mountains.

Drive time: up to 4h

 

Day 12

This is the last day of your Scenic self-drive tour of Romania. You will head towards Cluj-Napoca, where you will leave the rented car and travel back home.

If your departure is later into the day, you can make a few stops on the way to Cluj. You can spend some hours admiring the natural landscape of Turda Gorges, or you can go down in a salt mine, a place of exotic appearance that will not only add some fantastic shots to your portfolio, but will also have benefic effects on your health.

Turda Salt Mine

Drive time: 1h 30’

 

Why travel with us

Suggested Itinerary Viewed On Map
Suggested Accommodation

Casa del Sole 4* – Timisoara

Situated close to the center, Casa del Sole was opened on the initiative of a family willing to offer excellence and high quality accommodation to Timisoara’s visitors. The 26 rooms are clean and comfortable each one having a beautiful Italian style which is predominant in the hotel. The two restaurants have a large variety of international food but focus more on the Italian cuisine, the first one displaying an elegant and romantic style and the second one being more traditional. On sunny days you can relax and enjoy a drink on the charming terrace or have a swim in the outdoor pool.

Conacul Secuiesc 4* – Coltesti

Located at the foot of Piatra Secuiului hill, in a wonderful landscape, surrounded by greenery, Conacul Secuiesc is a modern hotel built in a Hungarian traditional style specific to Coltesti and Rimetea villages in Transylvania. The 23 rooms are comfortable, decorated with beautiful hand-painted furniture and traditional rural decorations. The rural experience will be completed by enjoying local home-cooked meals in the restaurant accompanied by local wines and the local palinca (strong fruit brandy).
Raven's Nest

Raven’s Nest 3*

Raven’s Nest is a private village located in a spectacular natural landscape in the Apuseni Mountains. The three houses, now restored, date from the 18th-19th centuries and offer comfortable accommodation in double or twin rooms decorated in a traditional style. The guests can enjoy the available facilities like hammocks, an open-air cinema or a terrace built on rocks from where they can admire the beautiful sunset over the Transylvanian mountains. The restaurant serves authentic food made from local ingredients, which is paired with excellent wines and artisanal beers.  

Viscri 125 – Viscri

The 11 rooms of this rural guesthouse are located in traditional German Saxon buildings specific to this area and older than 100 years. The rooms are charming, comfortable and lack TV and internet access so you are encouraged to disconnect from the outside world. They offer set menus cooked from local ingredients and mostly by following traditional recipes. Walking out through the front gate you’ll feel like stepping back in time while exploring the village. Through the back door you will get to the hammocks area where you can relax or walk through the wildflower fields in the summer months.
About The Tour in the context of COVID-19
The Scenic self-drive tour of Romania focuses on exploring the country’s beautiful and calming nature, as well as avoiding crowded places.  In order to limit interactions with other people (tourists, guides and drivers) as much as possible, it is planned as a self-drive trip.

For the same purpose, we also included at least two nights of accommodation in each place (with the exception of Timisoara, the starting point of the tour), even though this means longer driving time between attractions. You’ll usually stay in small villages or towns, with few rooms and few closed spaces (hallways and lounges).

With the exception of breakfast, meals are not included so you can choose whatever is to your liking. You can order takeout, eat outdoors or in the safety of your own room.

Even though some attractions are included in the itinerary (such as Bran Castle or the Fortified Churches), rather than visiting them on the inside, we suggest admiring them from a distance, as they are located in beautiful surroundings.

As of now (June 22) Romania has had 24 045 cases of infections and 1512 deaths. Starting with June 15, citizens from 22 countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Croatia, The Swiss Confederation, Estonia, Finland, Metropolitan France (European territory of France), Germany (except Kreis Gutersloh which is a yellow area), Greece, Ireland, Iceland , Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary) can visit Romania without having to self-isolate for 14 days. Check this website for up-to-date information:   https://reopen.europa.eu/en/map/ROU.

Scenic self-drive tour of Romania: Included Services
  • Personalized booklet containing information about the places you will visit and useful tips along the way such as addresses, exact locations and the best time of the day to take a picture or alternative locations. We’ll also suggest meal locations (outdoors and take-away) and parking indications where necessary.
  • Accommodation for 11 nights in standard double room
  • Rented car on the above itinerary: Dacia Duster or similar (4×4, manual transmission). One car for 3-4 people. Partial insurance is included. 150 EUR will be blocked on your card and it will be released if the car is returned without damages.
  • Guided tour in Sibiu on Day 5 for 2h
  • Meals: breakfast is included in all locations with the exception of Sibiu
  • Permanent phone assistance during your stay in Romania, including for medical inquiries (what to do and where to go if needed)

Services which are not included in the tour price

  • Entrance tickets to tourist sites
  • Meals, except those included above. On average you can pay for a meal 10-15 EUR
Prices

Even if this tour is planned as a self-drive private tour, on request it can be changed to a guided tour. See prices below. 

Group Size

Price per person – Self-drive

Price per person – Guided

6 persons
5 persons
4 persons
3 persons
2 persons
1120 EUR
1200 EUR
1020 EUR
1100 EUR
1340 EUR

1350 EUR 

1500 EUR 

1750 EUR 

2025 EUR

2800 EUR

Single room supplement: 350 EUR.

In case of a guided tour, for 4, 5 or 6 people, we will be using 2 cars, one driven by one of the tourists. 

Terms of Payment:

An advance payment of 25% should be made to confirm the tour. 50% needs to be paid with at least 10 days before the tour starting date. The rest of 25% can be paid after your arrival in Romania (by the third day at latest)

Cancellation terms:

If the tourist willingly cancels participating in the package tour the following penalties apply:

  • 10% if the cancelation occurs with more than 15 days before the start of the tour (including cancellation that occurred because of COVID-19 or restrictions imposed by Romania or the tourist’s country of provenience); this covers bank transfer costs and minimal agency administrative expenses
  • 25% of the package tour price if the cancelation occurs within 6-14 days before package tour start date; (including cancellation that occurred because of COVID-19 or restrictions imposed by Romania or the tourist’s country of provenience);
  • 50% of the package tour price if the cancelation occurs with less than 6 days before package tour start date or in case of no show (including cancellation that occurred because of COVID-19 or restrictions).
Traveler’s Reviews

Monique from Australia
“From setting up the trip, the team was an absolute pleasure to deal with; nothing too hard to change/add to ensure we had the best experience! Everything was provided that we needed well ahead of time and during the trip. This was the best of both worlds – the flexibility to do a self guided exploration of this beautiful country with the backing of this fantastic company to pre-book all of the basic logistics for us – allowing us to truly enjoy every part of the trip! Thank you again to the team – I would highly recommend to anyone wanting an unforgettable experience to see Romania.”

 

Steven from UK
“They organised a self-drive tour through Transylvania for us and it couldn’t have been better. Organizing the tour was a breeze with easy communication to ensure we got exactly what we wanted to out of our trip. We were provided a comprehensive itinerary and guidebook which was extremely useful and made everything easy. The accommodation was great, a combination of hotels and local Guesthouses that provide a real look at the Romanian culture. I can’t recommend enough their services!”

 


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