Bulgaria & Romania Discovery
Discover Bulgaria, with its mix of East and West, rugged mountains and Black Sea coast; and Romania, home of crenelated castles and fabled Transylvania. Experience a folkloric performance and a cooking class in Sofia. Discover culturally rich Plovdiv and take in the Black Sea resort of Varna. Witness history at five Bulgarian UNESCO sites. In Romania, explore Bucharest, lovely Sighisoara, and legendary Bran Castle, once believed to be Count Dracula’s lair. Encounter UNESCO’s Transylvania historic site of medieval villages. Visit exquisite Peles Castle and Snagov Monastery, Vlad the Impaler’s reputed burial site.
We arrive in Bulgaria’s capital and largest city today and transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, we have no group activities or meals planned. Dinner tonight is on our own.
We meet our fellow travelers and tour director at this morning’s briefing about the journey ahead. Then we set out on a tour of this historic city, beginning with visits to the huge neo-Byzantine Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the medieval Bulgarian Orthodox Boyana Church, a UNESCO site. Over lunch at a local restaurant, a historian will discuss the impact of Thracian-Roman culture on the region. We return to our hotel late afternoon; tonight, we enjoy a welcome dinner. Grand Hotel Sofia (B,L,D)
Today’s excursion features the Rila Monastery, founded in the 10th century and rebuilt in the mid-19th century after a fire. A symbol of Slavic cultural identity, the monastery is now a UNESCO site. We return to Sofia late this afternoon. Tonight’s dinner at a local restaurant features traditional folkloric music and dancing. Grand Hotel Sofia (B,L,D)
En route today to Plovdiv, we stop along the way for a cooking class and lunch of Bulgarian specialties, including the local pastry-like bread banitsa. Then we continue on to Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s cultural capital in the historical region of Thrace. Late afternoon, we reach our hotel and dine together tonight. Grand Hotel Plovdiv (B,L,D)
We set out this morning on a walking tour of Plovdiv’s charming old town, with its cobbled streets and beautifully restored houses. Set on three of the city’s seven hills, the old town features remnants of its Roman past, including the well-preserved theater (ca. 1st century ce), which can hold as many as 7,000 spectators and is still in use today. Following our tour and lunch in old town, the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration and dinner on our own. Grand Hotel Plovdiv (B,L)
Today we travel to the Black Sea resort of Varna, stopping en route in Nessebar, “Pearl of the Black Sea” whose ancient city is a UNESCO site. While the site retains traces of its occupation by a variety of civilizations over the millennia, most of the ruins that we explore today date from the Hellenistic period. After time for lunch on our own here, we continue on to Varna and our hotel. We dine together tonight. Graffiti Gallery Design Hotel (B,D)
At the same time modern and historic, Varna offers visitors a laid-back respite, as we see on this morning’s tour. Highlights include the Roman baths and a visit to the Archaeological Museum, with more than 100,000 artifacts from Northern Bulgaria’s multi-cultural past. Then the remainder of day is at leisure in this seaside resort, perhaps to stroll the landscaped grounds of the waterfront Sea Garden; visit Varna Cathedral, modeled after grand Peterhof palace in St. Petersburg; or simply to relax on the beach. Graffiti Gallery Design Hotel (B,D)
Along the way to Romania today, we visit two Bulgarian UNESCO sites: the late 7th-century rock relief carving of a horseman on the Madara Plateau; and the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo (ca. 12th century), with their brightly-colored frescoes dating to the 14th century. We continue on to Bucharest, arriving late afternoon and dining together tonight. Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel (B,L,D)
We see the highlights of the Romanian capital on our city tour that features a visit to the Soviet-era 1,100-room Palace of Parliament, after the Pentagon the world’s second-largest government building. We also tour the National Village Museum, with Romanian monuments, buildings, and artifacts dating from the 17th to early 20th centuries. Dinner tonight is on our own in this lively city. Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel (B,L)
Today we encounter two vibrant vestiges of Bucharest’s once-thriving Jewish community: the Coral Temple, a copy of Vienna’s Great Synagogue; and Bucharest’s Great (or Polish) Synagogue, built in 1847 and now the city’s oldest remaining temple after most were destroyed during the Communist era. Following an afternoon free for independent exploration, tonight we enjoy dinner and a wine tasting at a local restaurant. Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel (B,D)
This morning we journey by train to Brasov, where we board a coach for the medieval walled town of Sighisoara in Romania’s forested – and storied – Transylvania region. Upon arrival we take a walking tour of the Historic Centre, the best preserved in eastern Europe and a UNESCO site. Then we check in at our hotel and dine together tonight. Sighisoara Hotel (B,D)
In nearby Biertan today, we visit the elaborate fortified church (ca. 15th century) then continue on to the early 14th-century storybook village of Malancrav, where we enjoy a traditional lunch cooked over an open fire. Back in Sighisoara, we have free time to enjoy this lovely town as we wish before tonight’s private organ concert. Dinner is on our own. Sighisoara Hotel (B,L)
We depart this morning for the stunning medieval town of Brasov, ringed by mountain peaks and dense forests. Our city tour here includes the First Romanian School, a museum housing rare books and Romania’s first printing press; and the famed Black Church, southeastern Europe’s largest Gothic church. We check in at our hotel mid-afternoon and dine together tonight. Aro Palace (B,L,D)
Legend comes to life today as we visit towered and turreted Bran Castle, built in the 14th century atop a 200-foot high rock and once believed to be the lair of Bram Stoker’s fictional Count Dracula. We tour the castle, now a museum, then continue on to the fortified church of Prejmer. Prejmer is part of UNESCO’s Transylvania historic site. After returning to Brasov late this afternoon, we’re free for dinner on our own. Aro Palace (B,L)
Returning to Bucharest today, we stop in the mountain resort of Sinaia, “Pearl of the Carpathians,” where we visit exquisite Peles Castle, the former summer home of Romanian royalty. Then we head to Snagov Monastery, perched on a tiny island on a lake near Bucharest and, legend has it, burial site of infamous Vlad the Impaler, said to be the inspiration for fictional Count Dracula. We continue on to Bucharest, where tonight we toast our Balkans adventure at a farewell dinner. Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel (B,L,D)
Cost and Details
San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Denver: $5,992
Chicago, Los Angeles: $5,797
Boston, New York: $5,592
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $597, which are subject to change until final payment is made.
Land Only: $4,795 (airport transfers not included)
Single Room Supplement: $995
Airline upgrades on round-trip Trans-Atlantic flight:
Business Class - $3,795 per person (upgrades are subject to availability and pricing is subject to change). Upgrade prices are in addition to the costs above.
Included in Tour Price
Round-trip air transportation from listed cities; all flights within itinerary; 15 nights’ accommodations Deluxe, Superior First-Class, and First-Class hotels; 35 meals: 15 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners; Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees; Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director; Educational lecture program/study leader with a minimum of 15 guests; Additional Commonwealth Club representative at 20 guests; Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip, including shore excursions; Luggage handling for one bag per person; Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
Not Included in Tour Price
Airfare when purchasing a Land Only package; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, and meals not specified; airport transfers when purchasing a Land Only package; communication charges; optional sightseeing; gratuities to your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and shipboard personnel, which are at your discretion (suggested gratuities: $10-$15 per day, per traveler); optional sightseeing or shore excursions; and travel protection insurance.
This is a moderately active tour and participants must be able to keep up with an active group of travelers. For the safety and enjoyment of each participant and the group, participants must be able to:
- Walk on average 2-3 miles at a steady pace.
- Walk in cities and towns at a steady pace for approximately 2-4 hours of touring.
- Be able to walk on cobblestone, gravel, and pavement. Some walking excursions require good balance as you walk over cobblestone sidewalks/roads and uneven pavement.
- Stand for up to approximately 2 hours at a time each day.
- Walk up and down stairs without handrails, without the assistance of another person. Get off and on tour vehicles without assistance
Throughout the journey, you are guided by a local tour director and guide. Additional guest speakers and an embassy briefing add to what you'll learn on this fascinating trip.
Terms and Conditions
Cancellations, Refunds and Changes
If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your written notification. Refunds for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges:
Cancel 95 days or more before departure: full refund
Cancel 94-65 days before departure: 50% of tour price
Cancel 64-30 days before departure: 75% of tour price
Cancel 29-0 days before departure: No refund.
If a guest makes any changes to their reservation within 94 and 30 days prior to departure, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. will apply a $100 per person administrative fee, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by third parties. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason, you will be charged the single supplement. No changes are allowed within 30 days of departure. Upon reservation, you must provide your full legal name as it appears on your passport as well as your date of birth and gender. In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.
We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a worldwide membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit our membership page or call (415) 597-6720.
We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance, which is available for coverage of expenses in conjunction with cancellation due to illness or accident. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event you must cancel your participation in the travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Information will be sent upon registration and can be viewed Travel Insurance Services website
The liability of the Commonwealth Club, as sponsor, and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc., as tour operator, is strictly limited. Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. purchases transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The Commonwealth Club and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts and tickets issued are subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, cruise line and other independent suppliers. We will make every effort to operate our tours as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will select alternative accommodations of the same or better quality.
Health and Medical Issues
We request that you be in good health to participate in this tour. There is a considerable amount of walking, and you must be able to get on and off motorcoaches and all boats on your own. We regret that we cannot offer individual assistance; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you. Please note that our itineraries cannot accommodate wheelchairs. We reserve the right to remove anyone whose physical or mental condition, in our opinion, compromises the operation of the tour or detracts from the enjoyment or safety of the other passengers. In that event, Odysseys Unlimited and the Commonwealth Club assume no financial responsibility for any unused portion of the tour.
Air Transportation – Important Information
Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. includes in its tour price round-trip economy air from designated gateway cities as shown and contracts with those airlines the company feels provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates. You will receive your preliminary air schedule approximately 2½ months prior to departure. Please note that seat assignments on your international flight are usually done at airport check-in. Odysseys Unlimited is unable to guarantee any seat assignments. Due to the nature of tour operator tickets, other restrictions apply, including, but not limited to, frequent flyer mileage accrual, stopovers, alternate travel dates, upgrades, and airline taxes and fees. If you prefer to make your own travel arrangements, Land Only is available on most tours. Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase non-refundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes. If you choose to make your own flight arrangements for an alumni tour and not use those provided by the tour company, we recommend that you do not do so until making your final payment to the tour company confirming details of your trip’s scheduled departure. However, if you choose to make your own flight arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes in this tour.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols: The well-being of our guests and staff members on tour will continue to be our highest priority. To maintain a healthy environment for travel, we will be establishing and adhering to a detailed set of health and safety protocols for all facets of your tour. We are committed to following the guidelines of the State Department, CDC, WHO, and authorities of respective countries regarding travel to a particular destination. Detailed protocols for this tour, based on conditions at the time, will be provided approximately 115 days prior to departure.
Commonwealth Club of California-CST# 2096889-40
Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. CST #2077973-40