This tour follows the Christmas Markets organized in Eastern Europe during the month of December. You will travel through 2 countries: Hungary and Romania. Start the tour with Budapest, capital of Hungary. Discover the story of the city and explore the charming Christmas Market from the city center. Continue to Romania and admire the stunning mountain scenery and the picturesque villages, meet warm and hospitable people, taste the local food, visit medieval citadels, impressive castles and beautiful cities and explore the Christmas Markets from Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Brasov and Bucharest.
Type: private tour, cultural tour
Distance: 1300 km / 810 mi
Countries: Hungary, Romania
Accommodation: 4-star hotels and B&Bs
Group of 2-3 persons – € 1659 / person sharing a double room
Group of 4-8 persons – € 1269 / person sharing a double room
Single Supplement: € 200
Arrival in Budapest, capital city of Hungary where the tour starts. Pick-up from the airport and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free. In the evening, meet the tour leader and the rest of the group.
Overnight in Budapest.
Today you will discover the city of Budapest, capital of Hungary, considered the most beautiful city in Eastern Europe. Built along the Danube River, Budapest occupies both banks: the West hill (Buda) and the East plain(Pest). According to a local joke, people of Budapest can be easily divided into those who live in Buda and those who want to live in Buda.
This being said, you will start your visit of the city with Buda, crossing the Danube river over the famous Chain Bridge, one of the most known landmarks of Budapest, built in 1849. Guarded by two lions at each end, the bridge became a symbol of freedom in 1989, when people demonstrated against the communist regime.
Built for the first time in the 13th century and defended by thick walls, Buda Castle was many times modified. It became a real castle in the 14th-15th centuries during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg. After the Turkish invasions from the 15th century, the castle was rebuilt in the 18th century by King Charles and his daughter Empress Maria Theresa. Affected by the Second World War, it was renovated and it was brought to its former glory.
Further on, you’ll admire the beautiful buildings of the Castle District and you’ll reach Matthias Church, the first parish church of Budapest. The church was built for the first time in the 13th century but it was many times modified.
Right next to the Matthias Church one can see the Fisherman’s Bastion, built in 1905. The edifice, a combination of neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque styles, attracts the visitor’s attention with its seven towers, which symbolize the seven tribes that came to Hungary in 896. Return to Central Pest and see from the car Deák Square, Elizabeth Square, Basilica, Opera, Andrassy Boulevard, Liszt Ferenc Square, the Heroes’ Square and the City Park.
At noon, enjoy lunch in a typical Hungarian restaurant and head to the Palace of the Parliament, the largest building in Hungary and still the highest building in Budapest. Inspired from the design of London’s House of Parliament, the Hungarian building is constructed in the Gothic Revival style, having a central dome and a symmetrical façade which displays statues of Hungarian rulers, Transylvanian leaders and famous military figures. The Palace was inaugurated in 1896 but the construction was completed later on, in 1904. Saddly, Imre Steindl, the architect of the building, went blind before its completion.
The visit inside the Palace of the Parliament lasts about 45 minutes, during which you will admire great ornamental stairs, frescoes on the ceiling, stained glass, busts, official conference halls like the Assembly Hall of the House of Representatives, and the original Holy Crown of Hungary, which has been displayed in the central hall since 2000.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
The rest of the day is free.
Overnight in Budapest.
BUDAPEST – EGER – DEBRECEN
You will spend the third day in Hungary, as well. You will leave Budapest and head to the small town of Eger, another beautiful city of Hungary. Here, you will stop for a short walk in downtown so that you can discover this charming town full of history, beautiful buildings and good restaurants. Enjoy lunch and then continue your journey to the last stop of the day, Debrecen, the second largest city in Hungary. For centuries Debrecen was known as the “Calvinist Rome”, since Catholics and members of other churches were not allowed to settle within the city walls. In the afternoon, explore the city and find out the story of the major attractions: Petőfi Square, Piac Street, The County Hall (one of the most beautiful Hungarian buildings built in secession style), the picturesque commercial houses, Gambrinus passage, the First Savings Bank, Kossuth Square, and many others.
Overnight in Debrecen.
DEBRECEN – ORADEA – CLUJ NAPOCA
In the morning, leave Debrecen and prepare to cross the border and to enter the second country of the trip, Romania. You will visit first Oradea, a charming city located in Western side of Romania and popular for the thermal baths. It has a long history, being mentioned for the first time in a document in the year 1113 and declared a town in 1235. Combining the features of the modern age with the architecture of last centuries, Oradea is indeed a place to visit. Enjoy a short panoramic and walking tour of the city and admire the Fortress of Oradea; the Baroque Palace (built between 1750-1789 as a replica to Belvedere Palace of Vienna); “The Church with Moon” Christian Orthodox church, built in the 18th century, in a baroque style with neoclassical elements; and the Central Library, boasting a beautiful mixture of architectural styles: baroque, rococo, and Renaissance.
Continue the journey and prepare to enter the legendary land of Transylvania, the one that Prince Charles of Wales used to speak about: “Transylvania is the last corner of Europe where you see true sustainability and complete resilience. There’s so much we can learn from it before it’s too late.”
The last stop of the day will be in Cluj Napoca, one of the oldest cities in Romania, dating from the Romans’ time. After checking in at the hotel, you will start a short walking tour of the small historic center of Cluj and admire the Matthias statue, the Catholic Cathedral, the main squares and the beautiful architecture of the buildings located along the streets.
Overnight in Cluj-Napoca.
CLUJ NAPOCA – TURDA – SIBIU
In the morning, leave Cluj Napoca and start to explore the legendary land of Transylvania. The first stop is at Turda Salt Mine, considered to be the most beautiful and modern salt mine in Romania, very well appreciated abroad, as well. The first excavations here date back from the 13th century (one of the oldest salt mines in the world) and after 1932 this huge underground space was used as a bomb shelter during WWII and even as a cheese storage centre. Nowadays, one heads down more than 90 metres to discover the history of the salt mine and salt excavations in Romania, but probably the most important is the thematic park which, once you reach it, gives you the feeling of being in wonderland. You will find here an underground lake with rowing boats for the visitors, an amphitheater, a bowling alley, ping pong courts and even a Ferris wheel. In 2012, Turda Salt Mine was very close to becoming the Batcave for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Maybe the next time!
Prepare to leave this science fiction land and get back on the ground to continue your adventure in Transylvania.
You will travel to Sibiu, the last stop of the day. You will be impressed for sure with this beautiful Medieval city, founded by the Saxon colonists in 1190. Hermannstadt, under its German name, is considered to be the most beautiful city in Romania no matter the season. You will explore the city on foot and admire the Small Square with the famous Liars Bridge, the Large Square surrounded by beautiful buildings which will make you feel like you turned back time. You will also see Huet Square with the most impressive building of Sibiu, the Evangelical Church featuring the tallest tower in Transylvania and the largest organ in South-Eastern Europe.
In the evening visit the Christmas Market from Sibiu. Inspired by Viennese Christmas markets, this was the first one in Romania, opened when the city was elected the European Capital of Culture in 2007. It was organized in the Small Square with small stalls, a small stage and an area dedicated to children, having several mechanical attractions installed there. One year later, the market was held in the “Large Square” with a larger number of stalls and a bigger stage where Christmas carol concerts were held. Soon after Sibiu, other Christmas markets were organized across the country. In 2012, Sibiu Christmas market was included in top “15 Of the Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe”. So many reasons to feel like a child again and explore the Christmas Market with the proper sense of responsibility.
Overnight in Sibiu.
SIBIU – SIGHISOARA – BRASOV
Today, you will get even deeper into the typical Transylvanian scenery.
Head to Sighisoara and visit the charming Medieval citadel (UNESCO Heritage),one of the oldest medieval citadels in Europe which are still inhabited. Also founded by the Saxon colonists from Transylvania, the citadel of Sighisoara is a place you should not miss while in Transylvania. Once you get inside, you feel you have entered a medieval movie set and expect at any moment to see a princess walking next to a knight along the narrow cobblestone streets. Take a walk in the citadel and discover its story. Visit the Clock Tower and enjoy from the top the beautiful panoramic view of the whole citadel, admire the walls of fortification and the towers of defense, climb the Scholar’s stairs and reach the beautiful Evangelical Church on the Hill.And, of course, discover the house where it is believed that Vlad the Impaler, known as Vlad Dracula, was born.
Head then to Brasov, another typical Saxon city, known as Kronstadt, the city of the Crown. Enjoy a short walking tour of this medieval city, founded in the 13th century. You will see the Council Square guarded by the symbol of the city, the Council Tower, visit then the Evangelical Black Church, the largest Gothic worship place in Eastern Europe, discover one of the narrowest streets in Europe, the Rope street, and finally admire the beautiful mountains which surround the city.
Explore then the Christmas Market from here. The fair offers visitors the chance to buy from the local producers handicrafts and gifts: figurines, candles, toys, wood carvings, Christmas tree ornaments and masks etc. Everything takes place in the old city center, the Council Square, at the foothills of Tampa Mountain.
Dinner in Brasov at a traditional restaurant.
Overnight in Brasov.
BRASOV – BRAN – SINAIA – BUCHAREST
Prepare to leave Transylvania and enter another historical region of Romania, called Wallachia. Before doing this, have a short stop in Bran village. Here you will find out the story of the legendary Count Dracula and visit Bran castle which became so famous thanks to the Legend of Dracula.
Continue then to Sinaia, a beautiful mountain resort, known also as the “Pearl of the Carpathians.” Visit here Peles Royal Castle, considered one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. Peles represents the former summer residence of the first royal couple of Romania, Queen Elisabeth and King Carol Ist. As you will visit the castle, you will admire the unique interior design (an interesting mixture of cultures, the specific touch of the royal couple) and you will be surprised by the modern facilities of the castle for the last half of the 19th century (electricity, vacuum cleaner, electrical elevator and central heating). Peles Castle is also the place where you will find out the story of the Royal couples of Romania and their importance in the history of our country. After the visit spend some time in the small garden of the castle admire the mountains surrounding the estate.
In the evening, head to Bucharest, the capital city of Romania.
Overnight in Bucharest.
The day starts with a tour of Bucharest. The capital of modern Romania since 1859, Bucharest is by far the largest city, boasting a rich history, amazing buildings, a vivid life, large green parks in the central area, and a large number or restaurants, but also many contrasts. Bucharest is a city of everything.
The tour will include the famous Revolution Square where thousands of people put an end to a 45-year long vicious regime. Get to understand the communist horrors and sufferings an entire nation had to endure. Around the Revolution Square there are many impressive buildings such as The National Art Museum, The Kretzulescu Church, The Central Library University and several others. You’ll be given explanation about each and every one. You won’t leave this area before visiting The Romanian Athenaeum, the symbol of Bucharest.
In the old town you’ll get to roam on its quaint little streets packed with restaurants, bars, buildings with outstanding architecture and old inns.
The tour of Bucharest continues with the famous Parliament, also known as the House of People. Built at the request of Ceausescu, the former communist leader, the building became the largest administrative construction of Europe.
After lunch you’ll be taken to the northern part of Bucharest. On the way you’ll enjoy a driving tour. You’ll admire the large and green boulevards, the impressive private houses and several monuments such as the Aviators’ Statue and the local Arch of Triumph.
The Village Museum is the last stop of the day. Inaugurated in 1936, this outdoor museum boasts old traditional houses representative of the whole country. In a short period of time you’ll be able to admire different architectural styles and many other stories.
The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the Christmas Market from Bucharest organized in The University Square. Here people can buy traditional objects from painted ceramics, carved wood, icons and embroidery to different costumes and masks, wooden toys, musical instruments and hand-painted decorations. But, probably the most “delicious” gifts will be the traditional food, much of it being cooked and served at the spot (traditional warm Romanian food, sponge cake, mulled wine, gingerbread, hot cakes, fruit jam, honey, syrup, etc.). We strongly recommend to leave your diet on holiday when you visit the Christmas Market. Also, some of the craftsmen will allow the curious to admire their talented hands making jewelry, glass or traditional embroidery. There will also be great concerts and folk bands which will keep a warm atmosphere in Santa’s village.
Overnight in Bucharest.
In the morning free time in Bucharest and transfer to the airport.
End of the tour.
- Private airport transfers in Budapest, Hungary and Bucharest, Romania
- Transport by modern car/minibus
- Accommodation for 8 nights in 4-star hotels and B&Bs
- Licensed English-speaking tour guide/driver
- Entrance fees to sites included in the program
- Flight ticket
- Hotel extras (telephone, mini bar, etc)
- Drinks (other than water)
- Other meals except breakfast
- Photographing or filming fees at the visited sites
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses