Step back in time and immerse yourself in bygone rural traditions on this 9-day tour of the Bucovina and Maramures villages. These two regions of Romania have carefully preserved their proud heritage, which you'll experience through plenty of cultural activities. You'll discover brightly painted monasteries, intricate woodwork, and fascinating multi-ethnic customs as you explore this pretty part of the world.

Highlights

  • Hike the forests and pastures of the Romanian countryside
  • Visit the stunning painted monasteries of Bucovina
  • See the beautiful wooden churches of Maramures
  • Explore Romanian villages and learn folk traditions

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bucharest Night Train
Day 2 Moldoviţa village and monastery Moldovita
Day 3 Vintage steam train ride and country hike Moldovita
Day 4 Hutsul crafts and Suceviţa Monastery Sucevita
Day 5 Travel to Maramureş Botiza
Day 6 Explore Maramures Breb
Day 7 Hike in the Gutai Mountains Desesti
Day 8 Merry Cemetery and Cluj-Napoca Cluj-Napoca
Day 9 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bucharest

Bucharest
The busy capital city, Bucharest

Welcome to Romania! You'll arrive in the capital city of Bucharest, perhaps with some time to explore. Check out the enormous Palace of the Parliament, wander around the parks and gardens, or hit the national museums. In the evening you'll meet your guide at the train station for an overnight train journey to Bucovina in the northeastern corner of the country.

Day 2: Moldoviţa Village and Monastery

Moldovita Monastery
The beautiful Moldovita Monastery

Settle into your guesthouse in the morning and enjoy a hearty breakfast. Then get ready to venture deep into Bucovina. You'll hike uphill to a forest and then on to a shepherd's hut, if the moving patterns of the flocks allow. Then continue through the fir forest to a valley, where you'll find the Moldovita Monastery. This Romanian Orthodox site dates back to 1532 and is one of eight UNESCO-listed churches in the area with colorful frescoes painted on the exterior walls. Walk about 3 miles (5km) back through the village of Moldovita to your lodgings, or take the local bus if your feet need a rest.

Day 3: Vintage Steam Train Ride and Countryside Hike

The Bucovina countryside
The Bucovina countryside

You're in for a treat this morning with a ride on an old-fashioned steam train chugging through the forests and along the Moldovita River. Your hike will begin when you step off the train into the idyllic countryside. Walk around the rolling hills and green pastures, dotted with sheep. Get a sense of the peasant days of yore - it's not uncommon to see farmers using horse-driven carts in this part of the country. You'll spend a second night in Moldovita.

Day 4: Hutsul Crafts and Suceviţa Monastery

The Hutsuls are known for their intricately painted eggs

This morning you'll meet the Hutsul people and learn about one of their most distinctive art forms: egg painting. The Hutsuls are an ethnic Ukrainian group that has long inhabited this area of the Carpathian Mountains. They're known for their unique dialect and colorful, intricate craftsmanship - including their stunning painted eggs. Then you'll go on a 7-mile (11 km) nature walk through the woods and fields. Finally, you'll visit the Sucevita Monastery, which boasts particularly well-preserved, vibrant frescoes. Spend the night in the village of Sucevita.

Day 5: Travel to Maramureş

Traditional weaving in Maramures
Traditional weaving loom in Maramures

Today you'll spend the morning traveling to the Maramures region to the west. When you arrive, you'll visit the oldest wooden church in the area, which dates back to the 14th century. Then go on a 5-mile (8km) hike to your guesthouse for the night in a nearby village. Along the way, you'll explore the deep forests and picturesque villages. You'll spot plenty of wooden churches and structures as well. If you reach the village of Botiza before dinnertime, you'll meet with a woman who is one of the last locals to practice traditional weaving. Otherwise, you will visit her the next morning.

Day 6: Explore Maramures

Barsana Monastery
The spectacular Barsana Monastery

You'll explore more of Maramures today, walking around the fields and forests from village to village. Hike for about 8 miles (13km), breathing in fresh country air and enjoying the scenery. You'll also visit the Barsana Monastery, one of the masterpieces of traditional Maramures wooden architecture. Spend the night in the village of Breb.

Day 7: Hiking in the Gutai Mountains

Gutai Mountains
Rooster's Crest rock formation in the Gutai Mountains

Challenge yourself today with a hike to a volcanic rock formation called Rooster's Crest in the remote Gutai Mountains. This 6-hour, 11-mile (18km) trek will take you between high mountain pastures, forests, and lakes. Then visit the UNESCO-listed Desesti, one of the most impressive wooden churches in Maramures. It features stunningly vibrant interior frescoes and exquisite craftsmanship. 

Day 8: "Merry Cemetery" and Cluj-Napoca

Merry Cemetery, Sapanta
Sapanta's "Merry Cemetery" has brightly painted headstones

Travel to the village of Sapanta this morning and wander around the burial ground nicknamed the "Merry Cemetery." Filled with brightly painted headstones that tell the life stories of the dead with tongue in cheek humor, this cemetery offers a truly unique glimpse into rural life. Then continue on to the memorial for victims of Communism in the city of Sighetu Marmatiei, located in the prison where political opponents of the regime were held.

After lunch, you'll be driven south to the university city of Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania, for a change of pace. This Hungarian-style cosmopolitan city has bohemian flair, with tons of cafes, gorgeous Baroque and Gothic architecture, and rip-roaring nightlife. There are plenty of museums, art galleries, and gardens to keep you busy.

Day 9: Departure

Cluj-Napoca
The bustling student city of Cluj-Napoca has bohemian flair

After breakfast, you have a few different options for onward travel. You can fly or take the train straight back to Bucharest. If you have some extra time, you could add on a couple days and make a detour to the incredible medieval cities of Sighisoara and Brasov.

Map

Map of The Villages of Romania's Bucovina and Maramures - 9 Days
Map of The Villages of Romania's Bucovina and Maramures - 9 Days