People of Maramures, Romania

The Hillside Tour

7-day tour

Remoteness, highlands, togetherness and ancient crafts all share a name in Romania: the North, with two distinct but equally well-preserved traditional countryside regions: the Maramures and the Bukovina. Both take pride in their UNESCO-listed monuments, whether it is about the carved wood churches of the former or about the painted monasteries of the latter. Yet, beyond these undoubtedly magnificent sights, we invite you join us to meet the people with their unique stories to share, whether it is about carpenters, egg painters, musicians or potters.

Type: private tour, cultural tour
Distance: 2200km / 1367mi
Country: Serbia, Romania
Accommodation: 3-star hotels and superior B&Bs

Note: where mentioned, hotels and guesthouses are samples. They can be replaced with similar comfort ones according to availability and itinerary changes (if such changes are agreed upon).

 

As a private tour, this tour is available at any moment. We kindly inform you that you have to take in consideration the schedule of the sights included in the program and the official national vacations. Please, contact us for more details.

How large the group is?

Our groups are never larger than 7 people.

How can I book a tour?

You just send us an email, tell us which tour you want to book, the period and the number of people in your group.

How can I pay?

We will send you a secure payment link. You can use your card, Visa or MasterCard only.

Do all the rooms have private bathrooms?

Yes, all the time. We use only clean hotels or superior B&Bs.

Is a Schengen visa available in Romania and Bulgaria?

Yes, a Schengen visa can be available.

Daniel Les
Coming from a painter and potter’s family, Les learnt his craft in his childhood, and then thought of giving it a personal go. He therefore combined local pottery with sketch-like design and added in plenty of imagination. The result can be seen all around his house in Baia Sprie: figurative art pottery, with a plethora of different characters creating a whole world where day-dreaming seems to be the local language. The idea of having these characters emerged from Les’ home village, the neighbours, friends, relatives and acquaintances he had down there, fact that provides the ‘community’ with a real world touch. And then, surrounded by all these clay figures, Les decided to give something back to those coming from afar, so he started teaching and explaining both pottery and his own take of the world. As he himself puts it:
‘Stop for just a moment… because when you really want to see what is going on around you, you need stop from whatever you are doing. […] May God help us not forget that we are but a clod of clay and that we too can be moulded provided we allow ourselves to be moulded’.

Day 1
LAND OF THE MERRY

– Arrival at Satu Mare SUJ Airport or Cluj CLJ Airport (upon re-opening, Baia Mare BAY Airport will be a better option, requiring considerably shorter transfers)
– Transfer to Baia Mare and walk in the central square featuring a few interesting medieval buildings, and also to Stephen Tower, the remains of a 14th century church
– Transfer on to Baia Sprie nearby

Accommodation at the 3* guesthouse run by Daniel Les
Note: accommodation for nights 1-3 can also be set in a single property, either at Daniel Les’ or in the Barsana Monastery guesthouse, but longer transfers will be required for Day 2.

Baia Mare, Maramures, Romania
Baia Mare, Maramures

Day 2
THE CLAY VILLAGE

– Pottery demonstration and basic skill learning from Daniel Les
– Transfer and visit to the 1721 wooden church in Surdesti
– Drive across scenic traditional villages: Breb, Calinesti, Valeni
– Visit to Barsana Monastery, with several buildings traditionally set in carved wood on a wide pasture
– Walk into the village and visit to Master Barsan’s workshop, exploring his carved wood skills

Accommodation in the monastery guesthouse

Surdesti, Maramures, Romania
Surdesti, Maramures

Day 3
THE AFTERWORLD

– Optional: morning service attending at Barsana Monastery
– Transfer to Sapanta Merry Cemetery, where, starting with Stan Ioan Patras, a local artist, people have decorated the beloved ones’ tombstones with scenes from their lives, respectively funny epitaphs, tradition originating in the local belief that death is just a stage and it therefore should be welcome with a cheer, not with a grief
– Transfer to Sapanta Monastery, featuring the tallest wood steeple in the world
– Transfer to Sighet and walk downtown
– Optional: visit to Elie Wiesel’s birth house
– Optional: traditional lunch / dinner at the rustic Casa Iurca
– Drive back to Barsana

Accommodation in the monastery guesthouse

Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Maramures,
Merry Cemetery, Sapanta

Day 4
ACROSS THE CARPATHIANS

Across the Carpathians
– Drive across the region with side trips to further explore the wooden architecture in Ieud and Poienile Izei
– Drive across Prislop Pass and down upper Bistrita Creek, through vast firtree forests
– Optional: picnic off Prislop Pass (a short walk North of the pass)
– Stop in Ciocanesti to explore the local tradition of turning knitting patterns into decorative plasterworks for houses
– Drive to Frasin

Accommodation in a 3* guesthouse on a hillside overlooking the village, at the
treeline

Poienile Izei, Maramures, Romania
Poienile Izei, Maramures

Day 5
A BIBLE IN FRESCOES

– Tour of four of the painted monasteries: Moldovita, Sucevita, Voronet and Humor
– Visit to Master Magopat’s black pottery workshop in Marginea
– Optional: stop in Vama and visit to Letitia Orsivschi’s collection of painted eggs; if in
town, possible egg painting demonstration done by Letitia.
– Drive back to Frasin

Accommodation in a 3* guesthouse on a hillside overlooking the village, at the
treeline

Marginea, Bucovina, Romania
Marginea, Bucovina

Day 6
FORTRESSES OF YORE

– Drive up the Transrarau, a relatively recently paved mountain road crossing the Rarau and providing, from its highest point, an easy walking option to the impressive Pietrele Doamnei (En. Lady’s Cliffs) springing off the tall fir forest towards heavens
– Drive down on the other side of the mountain, to Chiril and then plying the scenic Bistrita River towards the large Izvorul Muntelui Reservoir. Drive on to Targu Neamt
– Visit to the former seat of Moldavian kings in Targu Neamt Fortress, complete with its breath-taking suspended access walkway
– Optional (time-allowing): stop at the legendary Hanul Ancutei for a traditional meal and, possibly, wine tasting from their generous reserve.
– Drive on to Iasi, the de facto cultural capital of Moldavia

Accommodation in Iasi, 3 or 4* hotel, with the option of staying in a property designed by Gustave Eiffel

Bistrita River, Romania
Bistrita River, Romania

Day 7
OF WEST AND EAST

– City tour of Iasi including the impressive Neo-Gothic Palace of Culture (visit not included, allow 2 hours for this option), the historic Trei Ierarhi Church, Golia Monastery and the National Theatre.
– Transfer to Iasi IAS Airport for flight out

Included

 
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off (one per group)
  • Transport by modern car
  • Accommodation, 6 nights, 3* hotels and guesthouses
  • Breakfast
  • Licensed English-speaking tour guide/driver
  • Entrance fees to sites included in the program
  • Road, bridge and ferry charges according to route

 

  • Not Included

     
    • Flight ticket
    • Hotel extras (telephone, mini bar, etc)
    • Drinks (other than water)
    • Other meals except breakfast
    • Photographing or filming fees at the visited sites
    • Tips
    • Travel insurance