East European Discovery Northbound - Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus

East European Discovery Northbound - Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus

If you want to follow Count Dracula steps, uncover the secret of one of the least visited countries in Europe and face the truth about communism’s inheritance in East Europe - this trip is a chance to make it all at once. Four East European countries: Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus, invite you to an adventure through past and present.

Romania, with its nature, preserved medieval castles, ancient churches and vivid culture is one of the most interesting countries in Europe. The beauty of the Carpathian mountains and the ancient Dracula’s castle in Transylvania are widely known, but the country has much more to show.

Moldova is the least visited European country with less than 12 000 visitors per year. Become one of the few travellers stepping intoTransnistria - a breakaway republic in eastern Moldova, where Soviet values are still upheld and people fight for independence. Moldova offers also unspoiled nature and great wine for every taste.
Ukraine is Europe’s second biggest country, after Russia. See the palace where Lev Tolstoy once lived and the square, where Ukrainians were fighting for independence after the end of the Cold War.

Belarus is still undiscovered destination for many travelers. The capital city Minsk is an example of the monumental Stalinist architecture, but the countryside offers different views. We will visit two of the most famous castles - Mir and Nesvizh, know for their beauty and history.

Highlights:
♦ Dracula’s castle - the best known castle in Transylvania and one of the most popular attractions in Europe
♦ Peles Castle - an exquisite piece of architecture, served once as Romanian Royal family’s residence
♦ The Black Church – the biggest church between Istanbul and Vienna
Milestii Mici - the largest wine "underground city" in Europe, which takes place in Guinness World Records
♦ Lviv’s historic center
♦ Pripyat - the ghost town where Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened back in 1986
Kiev-Pecherska Lavra – known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
♦ Maidan – Kiev’s Independence Square
Nesvizh Palace – Considers as one of the most beautiful castles in Eastern Euroe. listed by UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Itinerary:

Day 1. Bucharest - Sinaia - Brasov
Meeting our guide in the lobby of our hotel in Bucharest at 09.00 am and drive to Sinaia. We cross the Carpathians toward Sinaia where we visit the fabulous Peles Castle, an exquisite piece of architecture and one of the most spectacular castles in Europe, with its arm and armoury collection, unique for its richness and diversity. The Castle served as the summer residence of the Romanian Royal family. Continue to Brasov. Arrival at Brasov, formerly Kronstadt, founded by the Saxon colonists, as the South gate of Transylvania. Walking tour through the old town centre, including the Black Church – the biggest church between Istanbul and Vienna; the Council Square, the Hirscher House/16century, - the baroque style buildings from the Austro-Hungarian time and Ekaterina Gate of the Old Citadel. It is also worth mentioning one of the oldest Orthodox Churches in Transylvania, where you can admire the beautiful frescoes of the chapel. Hotel in Brasov.

Day 2. Brasov - Bran - Lacu Rosu
Lunch in a local restaurant in Bran and visit to the famous medieval castle (the "Dracula's" Castle) built as a fortress for the citizens of Brasov in 1377, as a defence to the city. Prince Vlad used the Castle as a general headquarters during his incursions in Transylvania. In 1922, Queen Mary of Romania changed the castle into Royal residence, the best known castle in Romania. Stop at Prejmer for visit to the fortified church, also included in the UNESCO World Heritage.

Day 3. Lacu Rosu - Voronet
We visit the jewels of Bucovina: Voronet also called “the Sistine Chapel of the East”. Drive through the Moldavian villages, visiting Tarpesti – the home of the delightful “Neculai Popa” Museum, unique in the world, where colourful masks and folk costumes are displayed.

Day 4. Voronet - Suceava - Iasi
Drive to Bucovina –the “upper land” with the unique painted monasteries, belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage. We include a visit to Sucevita monastery, the largest of the monasteries in the Bucovina region, with massive towers and stone walls protecting the inner buildings, which are decorated with portraits of historical legends and biblical scenes. Arrive Iasi, walking tour to Roznoveanu Palace, Vasile Alecsandri National Theatre, Saint Nicholas Church (built by Stephen the Great), Metropolitan Cathedral and Church of the Three Hierarchs

Day 5. Crossing Moldova border to Chisinau (Moldova)
Drive to the border with Moldova, and continue to Chisinau. If time permits you can enjoy a walking tour of the city's main sights including the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ's Nativity, Presidential Palace, Parliament building and the Holy Gates, which are known as Moldova's 'Arc de Triomphe'. Excursion and wine tasting at Milesti Mici - the largest wine "underground city" in Europe (length - 200 km), which is listed in Guinness World Records. It has more than 200 km of limestone tunnels, 55 km of which are used for storing wine. Overnight hotel in Chisinau.

Day 6. Chisinau - Tiraspol (Transnistria)
Drive to Transnistrian “capital” - Tiraspol.

Stop at Bender Fortress on the way. Continue to Tiraspol where you will have the opportunity to travel back in time to USSR. Transnistria is a thin strip of land wedged between Moldova and Ukraine. It is home to more than 500,000 people and has a parliamentary government, a standing army, and its own currency. It has all the trappings of an independent nation—but isn't. you won't find it on many maps, and not a single member of the United Nations recognizes its existence. You will start by visiting the Lenin monument and tanks left from the Second World War. The city seems to be a ghost of the Soviet past.

Day 7. Tiraspol - Odessa (Ukraine)
Today we head Northeast to Odessa which is just 105 km away from Tiraspol.

Odessa is a port city in Ukraine, which is the fifth largest in the country. It is situated on the Black Sea coast. Its population is 1 012 500 people. Officially the city was founded in 1794 as a Russian naval fortress. The name Odessa is borrowed from the Greco-Roman colony of Odessos in Thrace, at the request of Empress Catherine the Great. In the modern city you can see examples of Mediterranean architecture under the influence of French and Italian masters. The palace, owned by Lev Tolstoy's family, is one of the typical representatives of this school. Most buildings are built of white limestone, a deposit from which is close to the city. Charming examples of architecture are the Opera and Ballet Theater, the National Marine University, the Palace of Chess and the Archaeological Museum. If you come to Odessa, you should not miss the Seaside Boulevard, Suvorov Street, Tschichin Bridge, the French Boulevard and the Museum of Maritime History.

Day 8. Odessa
Free time to explore the city. Optionall tour to Odessa Catacombs.
Abandoned mines have been expanded by local smugglers and used by them as hiding places and warehouses. Today's so-called "catacombs" are a very popular tourist attraction.

Day 9. Odessa - Kiev
Early departure from Odessa as we have a long day driving in front of us - 470 km to Kiev.
Stop near the city of Pervomaysk, where we will visit the Strategic Missile Force Museum, which in the past was an actual nuclear weapon launch site. We will see the most powerful Cold War Soviet missile - the R-36M2 'governor' bomb, which was nicknamed 'Satan' by the Americans.
Arrive Kiev in the evening.

Day 10. Kiev
Free day or optional tour to Chernobyl.
The large restricted area where the tragic event of the Chernobil nuclear disaster took place in 1986 is enigmatic and indeed one of a kind place to explorer. This excursion will give you a glipse towards abandoned city of Pripyat, where nature has already started conquering back what once used to be streets, hotels, schools etc. With your Geiger counter in hand, you'll have the chance see the new dome of the exploded nuclear reactor from only a few meters distance.

Day 11. Kiev - Lviv
Sightseeing tour of Kiev in the morning before we continue to Lviv. 
Some of the most famous Kiev attractions include: the Kiev-Pecherska Lavra Monastery, the Monastery of St. Michael with his gold domes, the churches of St. Sofia and St. Andrew and many others. In addition, the National Opera, the Kiev Youth Theater, the Golden Gate, the Independence Square. In the early afternoon we take off to Lviv. The journey will take about 5 hours in comfortable train and we will arrive in Lviv in the evening for an overnight.

Day 12. Lviv
We will start the day with a walking tour in the city of Lviv (Lemberg - German, Lwów - Polish) Lviv - the city known as the most beautiful in Ukraine. it's architectural layout is a collection of numerous styles and epochs. East of the modern part of the city is the Old Town. The points of interest are: Renox Square; the Ivan Franco National Theater - one of the masterpieces of world architecture; the Roman Catholic Cathedral - one of the most remarkable Gothic buildings dating back to the end of the 14th century; the Baroque Cathedral. Currently Lviv is a city buzzling with life and culture. Literally every cafe or restaurant is like a small interactive museum full of curiosities to discover.

Day 13. Lviv - Minsk (Belarus)
Free time in Lviv in the morning, before we continue our journey to Minsk. Flight to Minsk. 

Day 14. Minsk. Nesvizh and Mir Castles.
Short sightseeing tour of Minsk in the morning before we continue to Nesvizh and Mir Castles.
First we visit the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nesvizh Castle, which has been home to the Radswill Family for over 400 years. The fortresses construction began in 1584, but it's been extended and changed over the years and now features a mix of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism and Neo-Gothic architecture. The estate also contains the largest landscape gardens in Europe and a number of ornamental lakes.

After some free time to have lunch and explore Nesvizh we drive on to the beautiful Mir Castle, which is also UNESCO-Listed. Creation of the fort began at the end of the 15th century and again a number of different architectural styles can be seen. The castle is one of the most splendid in Europe and was reopened to the public in 2010 after being extensively restored to its former glories. Back to Misk for overnight.

Day 15. Departure


Price Includes:
14 nights in standard hotels 2** and 3*** - rooms with private facilities and breakfast
wine tasting on day 5
all transport in AC coach and Penguin tour leader
train ticket Kiev - Lviv
local English speaking guides in Moldova/Ukraine/Belarus

Not Included:
International flight tickets
entrance fees
tips
personal expenses
drinks and meals not mentioned
flight ticket Lviv-Minsk
insurance

Additional Services:
Flight ticket Lviv-Minsk: ca. 120 EUR pp (to be confirmed at booking)
1-day trip to Chernobyl: 120 EUR pp
catacomb tour in Odessa: 15 EUR pp


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East European Discovery Northbound - Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus (Rated 4.7 / 5 Based on 408 Reviews.)
Group Size
6-22
Reservation System Code
BLKNORTH
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