Eastern Europe Overland Experience


Eastern Europe Overland Experience

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 32 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive Krakow (Poland)

Arrive in Krakow and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, the rest of the day is at leisure for you to explore the town. Overnight in a comfortable mid-range hotel in Krakow.

Day 2 – Krakow – Auschwitz – Krakow

After breakfast you may choose to join an optional excursion to Oswiecim, the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp; an eerie and haunting place that drives home the terrible atrocities which took place here during World War II. If you do not wish to take this tour then your morning will be at leisure. This afternoon we explore the old town of Krakow (UNESCO), one of the most famous old districts in the whole of Poland (BL)

Day 3 – Krakow - Wawel Royal Castle - Wieliczka Salt Mine – Krakow

This morning we visit Wawel Royal Castle (14th Century) one of the most historical and culturally important sites in Poland. This afternoon we visit Wieliczka Salt Mine (UNESCO) dating back to the 13th Century and which only ceased operation in 2007. Overnight in a comfortable mid-range hotel (BL)

Day 4 – Krakow – Zakopane – Krakow

After breakfast we journey for around 2 hours south to the foot of the Tatra Mountains in the Podhale region to visit the town of Zakopane, where we will explore its distinct architecture. Later we return to Krakow. Overnight in a comfortable mid-range hotel (BL)

Day 5 – Krakow – Warsaw

This morning we journey to Warsaw (approx. 5 hours). After checking in to the hotel this afternoon we will explore Warsaw Old Town (UNESCO). Highlights include the Royal Castle, St John’s Cathedral, Old Town Market Square and the mermaid. Overnight in a comfortable mid-range hotel (BL)

Day 6 – Warsaw – Zelazowa Wola – Warsaw

This morning we journey for around 1 hour to the village of Zelazowa Wola, notable as the birthplace of Polish-French pianist and composer Frederic Chopin. We shall enjoy some of the picturesque Masovian landscape and visit the birthplace park and museum dedicated to Chopin. Back in Warsaw this afternoon we visit Lazienki Park. Overnight in a comfortable mid-range hotel (BL)

Day 7 – Warsaw – Brest (Belarus)

This morning we visit the museum dedicated to Chopin in the city centre, covering the history and works of the pianist and composer. This afternoon we transfer to the train station for train to Brest (Belarus). The journey should take around 5 hours. Overnight Hotel Vesta or similar (BL)

Day 8 – Brest - Belovezhaskaya National Park – Brest

This morning we take a tour of Brest’s main sites including the imposing fortress, which played a significant part in the Second World War and is an important site in Belarusian history.  After lunch we transfer into the wilderness to Belovezhaskaya National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the largest forested areas in Europe. You will experience some of the most picturesque places in the park to enable you to appreciate the splendour of this wilderness. Overnight in Brest in a comfortable hotel (BL)

Day 9 – Ruzhany - Grodno

Today we transfer to Grodno and en-route we stop at Ruzhany to see the remains of the Sapega family palace. After lunch we arrive in Grodno and explore the city. Overnight in a comfortable hotel in Grodno (BL)

Day 10 - Belarusian Farmstead

Today we travel to a traditional village where we spend time meeting local people and learn about the old customs and crafts that are still practiced today. We explore the surrounding area for an insight into rural Belarus – a real highlight of the trip. Later we stay overnight as guests of local families in their homes and have the opportunity to sample home cooked Belarusian dishes and experience traditional music and dance.  Overnight at farmstead accommodation (BLD)

Day 11 – Mir Fortress – Nesvizh

Transfer to Mir, a small town 90km to the South-West of Minsk. We visit one of the country’s most important, as well as beautiful, sites – the stunning 16th century fortress – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then transfer to Nesvizh and visit the Radzivills Palace, with its beautiful buildings, monasteries and 16th century houses. Overnight Mir Prasad or similar. (BL)

Day 12 – Minsk

This morning we transfer to Minsk. On arrival we begin our exploration of some of the key sights of Minsk. We visit Independence Square with its collection of Stalinist buildings, Victory Square and the Island of Tears, a monument to the fallen soldiers in the Soviet campaign against Afghanistan, the Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War, as well as the old town. Overnight Hotel Planeta or similar. (BL)

Day 13 – Minsk – Dudutki – Minsk - Kiev (Ukraine)

This morning we travel to Dudutki and spend time meeting local people and learning about their enduring customs. Later we return to Minsk and take a late afternoon flight to Kiev. On arrival transfer to your hotel. Overnight Hotel Rus or similar (BL) 

Day 14 - Kiev

This morning you will have some leisure time before meeting your guide for Ukraine around Noon. This afternoon we explore some of the key sights of Kiev, including the ancient ‘onion-domed’ St Sophia Cathedral, its bustling main boulevard Kreschatyk, and the Golden Gates, the only remaining section of ancient Kiev’s original fortifications. This evening we may have the opportunity to visit the opera, if you wish (depending on availability and dates of performance). Overnight Hotel Rus or similar. (BL)

Day 15 - Kyiv Pechersk Lavra – Lviv

This morning we visit the Lavra cave monastery complex, with its stunning churches and underground tunnels. Later you will have some leisure time before we board the overnight train to Lviv. Overnight on board the train in shared sleeper accommodation (2 people per cabin) (BL)

Day 16 – Lviv

Early arrival into Lviv where we have a little time to freshen up before heading out to explore the city. Lviv is renowned as one of the most picturesque cities in Ukraine and its historic centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We take in some of its highlights including the Opera House, the Dominican Church and the fascinating Lykachivsky Cemetery, one of the oldest graveyards in Europe. Overnight Hotel Dnister or similar. (BL)

Day 17 – Kamyanets-Podilsky – Ivano-Frankovsk

Drive to Kamyanets-Podilsky, an attractive town dramatically situated on a rocky island in the River Smotrych. We visit the 11th century castle, one of the most impressive in Ukraine, as well as the old quarter with its colourful buildings. We then head to Ivano-Frankovsk where we spend the night. Overnight Nadiya Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 18 – Ivano-Frankovsk – Carpathian Mountains

This morning we take a brief tour around Ivano-Frankovsk, the economic centre of the Carpathians before we head into the mountains. We stay on a local farmstead in Verkhovyna, a picturesque and very typical Carpathian village which is a superb base for exploring the mountains and the intriguing communities that live here. Overnight stay on a local farmstead (BLD)

Day 19 – Rural Ukraine

We spend today enjoying some walks in the beautiful natural surroundings of the Carpathian Mountains. Overnight on the local farmstead (BLD)

Day 20 - Chernivtsi – Chisinau (Moldova)

This morning we leave our hosts and drive to Chernivtsi, situated in the foothills of the Carpathians. We will spend a few hours exploring some of the interesting buildings and monuments in the town and after lunch travel to Chisinau in Moldova. Overnight Hotel Jolly Alon or similar (BL)

Day 21 - Chisinau - Capriana Monastery - Hincu Monastery - Codrii - Chisinau

After breakfast we begin a walking tour of the capital, visiting key sites including the Arc de Triomphe, the cathedral, and the Moldovan Parliament. We then head to the village of Capriana to view its 14th century monastery. We will continue on to the Codrii Nature Reserve where we can take a leisurely walk around the reserve and visit the museum of Nature. Later we return to Chisinau. Overnight Jolly Alon Hotel or similar. (BL) 

Day 22 - Cricova - Orheiul Vechi - Butuceni

This morning we drive to the vast underground tunnels of the wine cellars of Cricova, and take a train through the tunnels, before enjoying a taste of some of the wine. We continue to Orheiul Vechi, an impressive monastery complex set amidst dramatic scenery. We will visit the traditional village of Butuceni and have lunch in a rural pension, which includes national Moldovan dishes and home-made wine. This afternoon you will have some leisure time in the Orheiul Vechi region to sample daily life in the Moldovan countryside. Transfer to Chateau Vartely winery for your overnight in traditional Moldavian style houses. (BLD)  

Day 23 - Butuceni – Bendery - Tiraspol

Cross the border into the breakaway republic of Transdniestr. Head to the city of Tighina, or Bendery, where you can explore the 16th century fortress and visit the on- site museum. We will visit the War Memorial before continuing onto the capital, Tiraspol. We will have lunch in a traditional restaurant and after lunch we take a walking tour of Tiraspol, where we will spend the night. Overnight Russia Hotel or similar. (BL) 

Day 24 - Tiraspol - Causeni - Et Cetera

This morning we begin with a visit to Causeni town to see its 15th century church, covered with antique frescoes (the church is currently closed for restoration but we can walk around it sub). In the event of bad weather we will instead visit the Martha and Maria Monastery, dating back to the beginning of the 20th Century, built in a fine architectural style. We then move onto the small family winery of Et Cetera, where we will be given a tour by the winemaker himself, with the opportunity to taste some of the award winning wines. We will then enjoy lunch prepared by the family before returning to Chisinau where the afternoon is at leisure. Enjoy a farewell to Moldova with dinner in a traditional Moldovan restaurant. Overnight Jolly Alon Hotel or similar (BLD) 

Day 25 – Into Romania – Albita – Iasi – Vama

We depart Moldova today and cross the border into Romania at Albita and continue to Iasi. We explore the capital city of the Moldova region. Continue to another historical region of Romania, Bucovina (the land of beech trees), an oasis of Romanian spirituality, housing the famous painted monasteries (Voronet, Moldovita, Sucevita, Arbore and Humor) included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Overnight in Vama village in a traditional guesthouse where we will enjoy a traditional dinner prepared by our hosts (BLD)

Day 26: Vama – Moldovita – Sucevita – Marginea – Voronet – Vama

This morning travel for around 30 minutes transfer to Moldovita Monastery. This wonderful masterpiece of the Moldavian Gothic is adorned with exterior lively painted frescoes dating back to the beginning of the 16th century. We also visit an egg painting workshop where we can see a demonstration of the special technique required in this extremely delicate operation; and also see an exhibition of these local treasures. Continue to Sucevita where we visit to the local monastery, the last and the largest ever covered in exterior frescoes. Continue to Voronet monastery – with exterior frescoes dating from the 15th century, considered the Sistine Chapel of the East, known for its unique vibrant azure colour called “Voronet blue”, this is the most famous painted monastery. Later in the afternoon we return to our traditional guesthouse in Vama (BLD)

Day 27: Vama – Tarpesti – Agapia – Lacu Rosu

We leave Vama for Tarpesti village and the house of the peasant artist Nicolae Popa, a self-taught archeologist, ethnographer and collector. Mr. Popa died in the autumn of 2010 in his 92nd year of life, but his family is carrying on his legacy. We have lunch prepared by his family and we visit the Popa museum displaying the works of the artist and his collections. This afternoon transfer to Agapia monastery, with paintings of the most famous Romanian painter, Nicolae Grigorescu. Later this afternoon we reach Lacu Rosu – The Red Lake. If time allows we can take an easy walk. Overnight in a local guesthouse or a mid-range hotel (BL)

Day 28: Lacu Rosu – Sighisoara – Viscri

This morning we transfer to Sighisoara – a medieval citadel included in the UNESCO heritage list, inhabited continuously since its settlement by the German colonists. Here we will take a tour of the citadel and then continue to Viscri village (Deutschweisskirch). This is a Saxon village included in the UNESCO heritage list, one of the villages in Romania where the Prince of Wales owns a traditional house. In Viscri we “check-in” at a traditional peasant house, renovated to accommodate guests and then you will have a traditional dinner prepared by the hosts and accompanied by homemade brandy and wine. Overnight in a traditional peasant house (BLD) (Bathrooms are shared between 2 people)

Day 29: Viscri

After breakfast visit the fortified church in the village and then take a ride in a horse pulled cart through the local area, meeting some local craftsmen and watching them work. After a picnic lunch we return to the village with some time to relax in the peaceful atmosphere. Overnight in a traditional peasant house (BLD) (Bathrooms are shared between 2 people)

Day 30: Viscri – Prejmer – Bran – Brasov

This morning we journey to Prejmer to visit its 15th century Gothic style fortified church (UNESCO). Continue to Bran village where we visit Bran castle linked with the legend of Dracula. Continue to Brașov, one of Transylvania’s major cities, which we will spend some time exploring. Overnight in a comfortable mid-range hotel (BL)

Day 31: Brasov – Prejmer – Bucharest

We leave the Transylvania region and head towards Bucharest. We will travel through the beautiful Prahova valley and cross the Carpathians from Transylvania into the Walachia region. We stop in Azuga and visit the Rhein wine cellars dating from 1879 where we can indulge in some tasting. Continue to Sinaia in the mountains where we take a leisurely walk before continuing to Bucharest. On arrival in Bucharest we take a short city tour before a farewell dinner this evening where you can reflect on a unique overland adventure through Eastern Europe. Overnight in a centrally located comfortable in Bucharest (BLD)

Day 32: Bucharest – Tour End

Today you can enjoy some leisure time (no guide) before your transfer to the airport for your onward flight (B)