Scenic drives of Romania – self-drive tour
Drive on the most spectacular roads of Romania
Besides its multiculturalism and quaint countryside, Romania is home to beautiful mountains crossed by spectacular roads, some of them being at more than 2000 m altitude. Get in the car and discover the most scenic drives of Romania for 15 days and make sure you don’t miss the other highlights of the country. This self-drive tour will take you to the castles and medieval towns of Transylvania, the famous painted monasteries of Bucovina and the quaint life of Maramures people. On your way you will travel through beautiful mountain passes and enjoy the scenery of Romania’s nature. The preferred time for this tour is July- 1st of October as some of the roads are closed outside this period due to unfavorable weather in the mountains.
Highlights of the Scenic drives of Romania – self-drive tour
- Drive on Transfagarasan and Transalpina, the highest and beautiful roads of Romania
- Cross the Carpathian mountains through charming mountain passes
- Explore the medieval towns and castles of Transylvania
- Discover the unique painted monasteries of Bucovina
- Step back in time in rural Maramures
- Let yourself be introduced to the beauty of Apuseni mountains
This is a private and self-drive tour. It will be organized for you only, so you will not be part of a larger group.
Start your fly-drive tour “Scenic Drives of Romania” by picking up the rented car from the airport and traveling to the hotel located in the center of Bucharest. Depending on the amount of time you have left, you can enjoy a dinner and rest or you can start exploring the city.
Overnight in Bucharest
Drive time: 30’
You will start the day by traveling to Brasov, in the region of Transylvania. On your way you will cross the Rucar-Bran pass, having very nice scenery and some of the tallest ranges from the Carpathians left and right.
Then you will visit Bran castle, the most famous castle of Transylvania because of its association with Dracula. In fact, it is a beautiful medieval castle located on a hill, overlooking the beautiful area of Bran. We will advise you where to go to have the best views of the castle from distance and you can also have a picnic there.
Brasov has a beautiful location between mountains and while here you can explore the old town with the Romanian and German-Saxon quarters, see the defensive walls and towers and visit the Gothic Black Church. If you will get to the city early enough, you can take the cable car and go up on the Tampa Mountain from where you will have a beautiful panorama of Brasov. To get to Brasov we will recommend you a less traveled route going through the mountains and you will descend down towards Brasov having beautiful views of the town as you approach it,
Overnight in Brasov
Drive time: 5h
In the morning you will visit the bear sanctuary from Zarnesti, where around 100 bears are enjoying a safe and natural habitat. They were rescued from improper living conditions and maltreatment and along with the visit to the sanctuary you will hear some of the bears’ stories. It is the largest such bear sanctuary in the world and one of the best animal sanctuaries around the globe.
Then you will travel to Rasnov where you will visit a well-preserved fortress built in the 14th as an escape fortress for the surrounding villages.
On the way to Peles castle you will pass by another mountainous area with spending views and you can stop at Azuga to admire the scenery.
Peleș is a picturesque Neo-Renaissance castle set in a beautiful location, surrounded by forests and mountains. It was the summer residence for the royal family of Romania and it impresses with its intricate outdoor and interior decorations.
Overnight in Brasov
Drive time: 3h
Today you will explore Viscri, one of the best-preserved German-Saxon villages in Romania. You can start with a walk through the village so you can get a feel for the rural life of Transylvania. Make sure you visit the old fortified church which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and pass by the blacksmith to see how he is carrying on the old blacksmithing craft, still very useful in rural Transylvania. Also, you can pass by the bakery to see how traditional bread is made in this area.
In the afternoon you can enjoy a walk in the countryside or you can explore the surroundings of Viscri on bike or horseback.
Overnight in Viscri
Transfer time: 1h
You will start the day with a visit to Sighisoara, one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. You will walk on the cobbled streets and admire the colorful historic houses and then you can enjoy a drink at one of the small cafes. For a great view of the citadel you can climb the covered stairs to the church located at the top of the hill.
Then you will take the car and head to Ruginesti. On your way, you will cross the Bicaz gorges which have very beautiful scenery, as the road passes by a stream who shaped a zig-zag line in the limestone mountains.
Overnight in Ruginesti
Transfer time: 4h30’
On the sixth day of your fly-drive tour “Scenic drives of Romania”, you will travel from Ruginesti to Vama village, in Bucovina region. You will pass once again through a place with beautiful scenery, called Transrarau mountain road. You can also have a stop at Pietrele Doamnei (the highest point on the road) where you can do some hiking in the surrounding mountains.
In the afternoon you can enjoy some relaxing time or explore the village and surroundings.
Overnight in Vama
Drive time: 5h
Today you will visit some of the beautiful painted monasteries of Bucovina. You can start with Moldovita Monastery, one of the tallest churches in the region. Its architecture is a mix of Gothic and Byzantine elements and the frescoes show Biblical scenes in bright colors.
Optional: You can have a detour before going to Moldovita so you can pass through a mountain pass near Sadova, an interesting place to see as the mountains slopes are covered with small wooden storage buildings for hay.
In Moldovita you can also visit the Lucia Condrea Egg Museum. Here you will be introduced to the Romanian Easter celebration as you will see over 5000 exhibits painted in different traditional styles.
As you travel to Sucevita you will pass again through a natural mountainous park (Pasul Palma/Ciumarna).
Then you can visit Sucevita Monastery known for its large number of paintings and very well-preserved frescoes. You will also be able to admire the monastery’s collection of religious artifacts and icons.
Voronet monastery is the most famous of the painted monasteries and, because of its beautiful paintings and frescoes, it is called “the Sistine Chapel of the East”. Its frescoes feature an intense shade of blue, the composition of the paint remaining a mystery even to this day.
Overnight in Vama
Drive time: 2h30’ or 3h if going to Sadova
You will leave Bucovina behind and move to the next region, Maramures. You will cross the mountains through Tihuta pass so you will be able to enjoy another scenic drive. You can stop at the top of the pass and do some hiking in the area.
Another option to cross the mountains is through Prislop Pass, which will also take you through forests and a 1400m high pass.
After your arrival in Baia-Sprie, you can have a relaxing time or enjoy the rest of the day at the Blue Lake (Lacul Albastru) located nearby. Going to the lake it involves some walking. You will spend the night at the guesthouse of a famous potter from the region.
Overnight in Baia-Sprie
Drive time: 4h30 if going through Tihuta Pass, 4h if going through Prislop pass
You will spend the day in Maramures region so you have multiple options. You can explore Breb village, a beautiful village where you can witness the quaint way of life of local people, you can visit a wooden church specific to the region such as the ones from Budesti and Desesti, or you can enjoy some walking in the countryside around Breb village.
There are also unique places to see, such as Barsana monastery, a beautiful wooden monastic complex or the Merry Cemetery where the crosses are lively decorated with paintings and poems telling about the life of the deceased. There is also the Memorial of the Victims of Communism, where you can learn about the communist times in Romania as the museum is located in a former communist prison.
On this day as well you will cross the mountains twice, once on a road with many hairpin turns and the second time through alpine meadows where in the summer you can stop and pick up blueberries and raspberries.
Overnight in Baia-Sprie
Drive time: depends on the places you will visit (2-4h)
It is time try some pottery! Today your host will teach you how to make a pot from clay and you will also be able to visit his fascinating workshop.
Cluj-Napoca is the largest city from Transylvania, a former fortified medieval town. Here you can explore the old center, visit Unirii Square, the King Matthias Corvinus birth house, Saint Michael’s Church or some of the museums. If you want to spend a relaxing time you can opt for the Botanical Garden or Central Park. Another option is to go to Cetatuia Hill from where you will have a nice panorama of the city.
In the afternoon you can visit Turda Salt Mine, an impressive place where you can row a boat on an underground lake, take a ride on a Ferris wheel or play soft sports while breathing the salty air.
Overnight in Coltesti
Drive time: 4h
You can start the day with a walk in Rimetea or Coltesti, two villages of Hungarian heritage where there is an effort to preserve the traditional architecture of the houses. The villages are set at the base of a mountain so the landscape is very beautiful as well.
You will spend the rest of the day in the surroundings of Sub Piatra, which is located in beautiful scenery, close to Apuseni Mountains. You can visit one of the many caves the Apuseni has, such as Scarisoara, Poarta lu’ Ionele or Vartop but you can also do some hiking as there are many interesting trails in the area, Huda lui Papara being one of them. Near the guesthouse you can go out for sunset and sunrise shooting which is usually very spectacular in this area with mountain scenery, barns mist, trees, shadows and a monastery in the valley.
Overnight in Sub Piatra
Drive time: depends on the activities you will do (up to 4 or even 5 hours if you decide to go to Vartop and Scarisoara caves)
Today you can visit Alba-Iulia fortress, a Vauban star-shape citadel and the largest in this part of Europe. The town has a special importance to Romanians as in 1918 it was here where the Romania as we know today was established.
A not-to-be-missed attraction during your self-drive tour is Transalpina road, the highest road in Romania and the one of the most beautiful ones in terms of scenery. In the evening you will drive in the valley of Transalpina where is located the guesthouse where you will spend the night.
Overnight in Obarsia Lotrului
Transfer time: 4h
In the morning you will continue your drive on Transalpina, this time going up in the mountains until Ranca. You can have a stop at the top of the road so you can admire the scenery, do some hiking or enjoy a snack.
You will then head towards Sibiu, a charming town built by the German-Saxons in the medieval times. You can wander through the narrow streets and cobbled squares of the old town, you can visit the Evangelical Cathedral but also some of the museums.
Overnight in Sibiu
Drive time: 4h
From Sibiu you will leave towards Bucharest. On your way you will drive on Transfagarasan road, being the most famous route from the scenic drives of Romania. You will drive on the Northern side up to the highest point and then down on the South side, all the time enjoying the amazing views.
Once in Bucharest, if you have some time left you can explore the Old Town of Bucharest, a vibrant place with plenty of historical sights, museums and small cafes and shops.
Overnight in Bucharest
Drive time: 6h30’
If your flight is later in the day, in the first part of the day you can explore more of Bucharest. You could visit the massive Palace of Parliament, built by former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and the the world’s second-largest administrative building. Other recommended attractions are Herastrau Park, Ceausescu’s Home, the Village Museum, Stavropoleus Church and the Natural History Museum.
Your tour of Romania ends here, so you will drive to the airport where you can drop off the car and take the flight back home.
This “Scenic Drives of Romania” tour is a tailor-made trip and we can accommodate your own interests and adapt the tour to your specific preferences. Therefore, we can shorten the tour or we can add other places of interest, such as the Iron Gates on the Danube (also a great drive) together with Beusnita Waterfall in South-western Romania or Saint Ana Lake in Transylvania. As presented here, this is a self-drive holiday but we can also organize it as a guided tour.
Bella Muzica 3* – Brasov
Bucovina Lodge 4* – Vama
Casa Luxemburg 3* – Sibiu
Conacul Secuiesc 4* – Coltesti
Hotel Capitol 3* – Bucharest
Raven’s Nest 3*
Viscri 125 – Viscri
Scenic Drives of Romania – self-drive tour: Included Services
- Trip planning. This will include a personalized self-drive booklet with vouchers for accommodation, detailed information about the places you are visiting, directions, useful contacts and recommended things to see and do along the way
- Accommodation for 14 nights in standard double rooms with breakfast included
- Rented car on the above itinerary: Dacia Duster or similar (4x4, manual transmission)
- Pottery lesson
- 7 dinners: 1 in Viscri, 2 in Vama, 2 in Baia-Sprie, 1 in Sub Piatra
- 1 lunch: in Viscri
Services which are not included in the tour package price:
- Entrance tickets to tourist sites, except those mentioned above. Per person you are likely to spend up to 60-80 EUR
- Meals, except those included above. On average you can pay for a meal 10-12 EUR
The prices are calculated for a self-drive private tour for groups of the sizes mentioned below. If you are interested in a guided tour, please send an inquiry for the prices.
Price per person – EUR
Price per person – USD
Monique from Australia
“From setting up the trip, True Romania Tours team was an absolute pleasure to deal with; nothing too hard to change/add to ensure we had the best experience! Everything was provided that we needed well ahead of time and during the trip. This was the best of both worlds – the flexibility to do a self guided exploration of this beautiful country with the backing of this fantastic company to pre-book all of the basic logistics for us – allowing us to truly enjoy every part of the trip! Thank you again to the team – I would highly recommend to anyone wanting an unforgettable experience to see the ‘true Romania’”
Steven from UK
“They organised a self-drive tour through Transylvania for us and it couldn’t have been better. Organising the tour was a breeze with easy communication to ensure we got exactly what we wanted to out of our trip. We were provided a comprehensive itinerary and guidebook which was extremely useful and made everything easy. The accommodation was great, a combination of hotels and local Guesthouses that provide a real look at the Romanian culture. I can’t recommend enough their services!”