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Tour Company Recommendations to visit Romania

We are taking a river cruise that begins in Bucharest in October 2023.

My husband & I are looking for a tour of Romania before the cruise begins. After some research it appears that there is plenty to see outside of Bucharest.

Road Scholar has a tour that is only scheduled for September 2023. RS does not offer a tour.

I found a company called RG tours, but I can't tell if they are legitimate.

I see on Trip Advisor that there are plenty of days trips from Bucharest.

Or is this something we could do on our own?

Any advice and information is much appreciated.

Posted by
2507 posts

Odysseys Unlimited has a 17 day tour of Bulgaria and Romania in September. The tour starts Sept. 8. I am not sure if that would work for your dates.

Posted by
771 posts

If you are interested in the Odysseys tour, their prices include roundtrip airfare from Boston. You can call them and get the land-only price.

We've taken one tour with Odysseys, and loved them. We are scheduled for their Costa Rica tour in February. They do a lot of local, cultural experiences.

Posted by
7 posts

I tool an amazing tour in Romania this April with Touring Romania and wonderful guide George Trandifir. He guided a tour for Adventures with Sarah, a new tour company started during the pandemic by a former Rick Steves tour guide and cohorts. He does mostly private tours and I encourage you to take a look at his website.

Posted by
2651 posts

I just talked to Odysseys Unlimited about this tour last week. The land only for the May departure I am considering is $4295.

In addition, before COVID cancelled our travels, I had a trip set up with Mihai of I Travel in Romania: https://www.itravelinromania.com/

I found him doing a ton of research. Here’s his TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294458-d10121227-Reviews-I_Travel_in_Romania-Bucharest.html

Keep in mind that I haven’t traveled with him yet but I’ve stayed in contact with him. He’s a really great person. He offered our deposits back during COVID but I let him keep them. When the war with Ukraine started, I reached out to him to see if we could help him help anyone in need that arrived in Bucharest.

He was right in the middle of setting up an apartment to house a family in need from Ukraine. They took in a family of four and he kept me updated on that. I told him to use my deposit to outfit the small apartment they were carving out from their house.

He emailed me a few weeks later to say he hadn’t used my deposit yet but that he had seen a news story that made him want to plan something special. He had seen a story on the Bucharest news about Ukrainian orphans being housed in Bucharest and he had the fantastically crazy idea to take them to the zoo for the day and then over to McDonalds. He even arranged a big bus for the transport.

And so my trip deposit went to that crazy day!

Does any of this mean Mihai is a good tour guide? Well, I guess not - but he’s clearly a fabulous human being. And then his TripAdvisor reviews are spectacular.

So I offer this idea up. Someday I’ll tour with him - I’ve got a lovely 9 day private trip all sketched out with him. But for my May trip - I’m traveling with my daughter, hopefully, and she’ll do a lot better on a group tour on a big bus due to carsickness issues - and thus the phone call to Odysseys Unlimited.

Posted by
27439 posts

I traveled around Romania independently in 2015. It's a fascinating country. Rick has done a video on Romania, which you can watch on this website.

Public transportation is slow, and English is not particularly widely spoken, though I think the younger generation is likely to do better than middle-aged folks. Romanian is a Romance language, but it has been surrounded by Slavic languages for a long time, so if is not as similar to French, Spanish, Italian or Potuguese as one might expect.

Traveling independently in Romania requires something of an adventurous spirit. For example, as of 2015 there was a strange requirement for some bus trips that the passenger make a seat reservation by phone before the trip, then buy the ticket from the driver right before departure. You couldn't make the reservation online, and you couldn't simply go to the bus station ahead of time to make the seat reservation or buy a ticket in advance. The procedure was very odd and quite cumbersome for foreign visitors. I figured there was little likelihood of finding an English speaker answering the phone for a Romanian bus company, so I got help from a couple of Romanians.

I wanted to see Maramures and Bucovina, two rural areas where it was clear public transportation alone wasn't going to be adequate. I joined a two-day, small-group tour of Maramures organized by the Retro Hostel in Cluj-Napoca. It was excellent. The driver/guide's first name was Florin; his regular job was as a history teacher. At one time he was listed on either Get Your Guide or Tours by Locals. The last time I checked, the Retro Hostel still had a long list of tour offerings on its website. You don't have to be staying at the hostel to take one of those tours, and I wouldn't be surprised if the hostel was wiling to connect you to one or more suitable guides so you could have a private tour. The hostel's tours run on demand, rather than on preannounced dates. Most tourists don't have schedules flexible enough to hang around Cluj-Napoca, waiting to see which tours will run. Costs in Romania are very low, so a private tour should be an affordable option.

The one-day small-group tour of Bucovina I booked through a random Romanian travel agency was not outstanding, but it got me to the area I wanted to see. It departed from Suceava.

I believe there are some interesting museums in Bucharest, but I found the city not particularly visually appealing. Ceausescu amused himself by knocking down as many historic buildings in the capital as possible and replacing them with ugly, shoddy new construction. You have to move around the city a lot to find the scattered remaining nice buildings. It's a different story in many of the other Romanian cities. I thought Sibiu, Sighisoara, Brasov, Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca were all lovely.

Posted by
99 posts

Thank you everyone for the helpful information. I'll begin my research and let you know what we decide.

Posted by
41 posts

Several years ago we did a private tour of Romania with Daniel Gheorghita of Covinnus Travel (covinnus.com). He too spent time with Rick Steves. We saw and experienced so much. Romania is a lovely and interesting country. Covinnus also does group tours and day tours out of Bucharest.

Posted by
4 posts

We are doing this exact same thing this October. Day 1 "cruise" starts on a Tuesday, so we decided to fly in to arrive on a Saturday (evening by the time we arrive in Bucharest), giving us 3 days to tour a little bit on our own until the formal Uniworld program begins on Wednesday. I found Dan Nica, I believe from this website. His pricing seemed quite reasonable and included overnights in Brasov and Sighisoara, also visiting Sibiu before returning for a city tour in Bucharest. When we return, I can follow up and let you know how it went. If you did want a longer tour and the dates work with your cruise, we've travelled with Odyssey a couple of times and highly recommend. My sister & her husband on doing this cruise with AMA Waterways in 2023 and they plan to do the provided pre-trip to the Romanian countryside with AMA.

Posted by
18840 posts

I will overlook the fact that Romania isn't Beyond Europe .... close, but not quite.

Here is my guy. Used him a couple times over the years and smuggled him his first SLR camera. He went on to have his photography published (National Geo. I think). RS used him some years back as well. But I met him before he was famous 🤣

Daniel Gheorghita
Covinnus Tours
https://covinnus.com/
[email protected]

Posted by
320 posts

Exodus Travels has a tour to Romania. I quite like this company. Did their Prosecco Hills trip and loved it.

Posted by
99 posts

Hi all,
Thanks again for taking the time to share your experiences. I look forward to more trip reports and recommendations.

We have decided to take a tour as the planning logistics are more than I want to do and this way my DH won't have to spend anytime driving. KB reading your trip report was really interesting, thanks for sharing the link.

I have checked Odyssey Unlimited and the time of their 2023 tour doesn't line up with our cruise.

James E - I didn't know what the correct category would be for my request. Fortunately I am getting responses.

We have two recommendations for Covinnus Tours. They have a wonderful website and several options. Now we have to decide which tour works for us. Will also be looking at the other tour company options.

October 2023 will be here before we know it!

Thanks again. I hope others find your information helpful too.

Posted by
18840 posts

I was teasing about the posting category. Tell Daniel that James from Texas says "hey". When the trains went on strike he was good enough to drive us to Budapest. I think his first trip out of Romania. Great holiday. He will plan any tour you want so don't worry if tge canned tours don't work for you. Spoke to him few months ago. Great guy.

Posted by
99 posts

No offense taken James E. of Texas!

Thanks again for the tour recommendation and a bit of your experience with Covinnis.

I love hearing that he can work with us if one of his planned tours doesn't work with our schedule.

I will tell him that you said hello.

Posted by
4 posts

We just returned from our cruise and enjoyed our private tour pre-cruise with Dan Nica. We got his contact information from Rick's site: http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/bulgaria-romania-local-guides/

Dan's email: Dan Nica [email protected]
He is a wealth of knowledge for all of Romania. Our tour with Dan began with a Sunday morning pick-up from our airport hotel (we arrived late Saturday night). He drove us in his personal car for the entire trip. We started with Peles Castle, a stop at a winery for lunch and tour of their cellars. We really like touring wineries and specifically requested a stop at as many wineries as possible, but Transylvania is not wine region so this was the only wine stop we made. From there we continued to Bran Castle, and overnighted in Brasov. The following day we traveled to the fortress churches and ended up in Sighisoara. On day 3 of touring we were returning to Bucharest with a few stops, with the main stop being Sibiu. We also engaged Dan for a city tour of Bucharest. Uniworld's included tour was a bus overview, so we really enjoyed our trip out to the village museum. We walked a bit and his explanations were much better than the ones on the bus the next day. His pricing was very reasonable. Please let me know if you have more questions.