ABOUT THIS JOURNEY
Join us on a 5-night, supported and guided journey, on bikes and on foot, through an extraordinary land that has been called ‘an outpost of medieval Europe.’ The medieval Saxon villages of southern Transylvania are set in a bucolic landscape in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Over four days on the move between Richis and Viscri you will cross meadows and high pastures and weave your way along cart tracks and through ancient oak and beech forests. Along the way you will enjoy wonderful hospitality in local homes, visit remote UNESCO villages and fortified churches, sleep in beautiful traditional houses and witness a rural way of life that has changed little for centuries. Above all, you will have the opportunity to move at your own pace through a land of staggering cultural and natural beauty.
"Superlatives are over-used but Transylvania deserves such language. It is a truly remarkable and unique place and certainly one of the most beautiful and interesting places I have ever been. And it gave me some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike. I have met charming, passionate and friendly people... and all this before one considers the history, landscape and abundance of unspoilt nature. I could go on... thank you!"
Tom Salvesen (36), May 2018
We believe that travel is at its best when flexible and so we ask that you treat the itinerary described below as a guide to how you will spend your time with us rather than as a rigid framework. You will have experiences, see places and meet people that we haven’t listed here. Equally, there may be occasions when we cannot, for good reason, fulfill every detail in this itinerary. Finally, please treat distances as estimates because we will sometimes make route changes in the hope of giving you the best experience possible.
Friday 4 May - Arrival
For those arriving on the recommended flight (download brochure for details), we will provide a free transfer to Richis (3 hours), a tiny village in the heart of Saxon Transylvania. There you will have a late dinner and stay in the former priest’s house adjoining the fortified church.
Saturday 5 May - Richis To Malancrav
Morning Cycle - 27 kms (tarmac backroads)
Afternoon Walk - 3.5 hours
We will show you some of our favourite things in Richis before leaving on bikes - with the choice of two routes - for Biertan, where you will visit its UNESCO church. From there it’s a short ride over the hill to lunch in Copsa Mare, one of the most beautiful villages in the region.In the afternoon you will walk over a series of forested ridges to Nou Sasesc and on to Malancrav. There you will stay in Apafi Manor, a sumptuous 15th Century Hungarian mansion that has recently been restored to its former glory. Some of the group will stay in charming Saxon houses nearby.
Sunday 6 May - Malancrav to Sighisoara
Morning Cycle - 28 kms (tarmac backroads)
Afternoon Cycle - 13 kms (forest tracks and meadows)
This evening you will end up in Sighisoara’s celebrated citadel, the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. After visiting the fortified church in Malancrav, home to some of the best frescoes in Romania, you will spend the morning cycling to Stejareni, where you will have a picnic in a meadow. From there it’s a climb up to Breite, a protected Saxon-planted oak forest that sits on a ridge above Sighisoara and takes you all the way to the citadel. In the evening you will have a wonderful Transylvanian feast prepared by our friend Monica. You will stay at Fronius Residence in the citadel.
Monday 7 May - Sighisoara to Crit
Morning Cycle - 18 kms (narrow forest trails and meadow)
Afternoon Cycle - 19 kms (narrow forest trails and forest roads)
We will give you an insight into Sighisoara’s history as you walk the old city this morning. Then you will embark on a lovely ride on trails to Saschiz for lunch with our friends Anca and Charlie, a Romanian/French couple who were among the first members of Slow Food Transylvania. It’s more trails this afternoon until a long descent on forest roads into Crit. Dinner is in the simple home of Rozi, Nicu and family. Nicu cooks a mean barbeque and their orchard is in a lovely spot.
Tuesday 8 May - Crit to Viscri
Morning Walk - 2 hours
Afternoon Cycle 20 kms (narrow forest trails & meadows)
Before you leave Crit you will have the opportunity to meet Mr. Pandrea - the man who provides much of Highgrove’s honey - and his bees. Then it’s a lovely walk to Mesendorf, descending into your host’s orchard for a spectacular lunch. In the afternoon it’s an incredible ride, high up with sweeping views of some of Transylvania’s most beautiful landscapes. Viscri 125 is your home for the night.
Wednesday 9 May - Departure
Morning Cycle - Optional
Viscri is one of the region’s most beautiful villages and there is plenty to see including the wonderful UNESCO fortified church and some traditional tile-makers. After a morning spent in Viscri we will take you to Mosna for lunch at the home of Willy Schuster, a Saxon with a passion for all things organic. It’ll be an inspiring end to your time with us, as we say goodbye and send you on your way to Sibiu airport.
N.B. You may opt for a pre-breakfast bike ride with one of our guides today. If you do, you are likely to be rewarded by magnificent views over hills shrouded in mist. It’s normally one of the best times of the day to ride in this part of the world.
SUPPORT, GUIDES & HOST
A support vehicle will accompany you throughout your time with us. Your bags will be taken ahead each day and the vehicle will often - although not always - be on hand to give you a lift if you really need one.
We know that guides can make or break a trip like this, which is why we are so pleased to have developed, over the past few years, a fantastic local team of guides with skills and interests ranging from European history and anthropology to conservation and, of course, cross-country cycling. They all live locally, speak great English, love sharing their region with our guests and, we’re sure, will become your firm friends by the time you leave us. In addition to two local guides, the group will be accompanied by a member of The Slow Cyclist team from the UK who will act as host during your time with us.
We often receive feedback from guests who say how much they enjoyed not thinking about money throughout their time with us. That's because we include almost everything in the cost of the trip - even unlimited wine and beer at meals. Below you will find a detailed breakdown of what is - and is not - included. You will also find information about our bikes as well as any extras we offer.
- Airport transfers (for recommended flights)
- Support vehicle
- Slow Cyclist host
- English-speaking expert local guides
- 5 nights’ accommodation
- All meals, snacks & soft drinks
- Wine & beer at meal times
- All activities & entrance fees
- Bicycle & helmet hire
- 100% financial security through Travel Vault
- Visas (if required)
- Travel insurance
- Personal costs
The variety of terrain means that hard-tail (front suspension) mountain bikes are the best tool for the job. We also have access to a number of fantastic electric mountain bikes which open the countryside up to
those who may not otherwise be able to visit. The cost is £250 per bike for the duration of your time with us. Availability and sizes of electric bikes are limited so please book early.
Lodging is based on twin sharing. Singles are not required to pay a single supplement although if you would like to ensure your own room for the duration of your stay, you must do so by paying a supplementary fee of £250.
Below are a selection of questions we have been asked about our Transylvanian trips over the years. Many are addressed in the trip brochure too, which can be downloaded via the button near the top of this page.
+ Is this journey for me?
Of course, we think this journey is fantastic, but it’s not for everyone. We like to think of our guests as ‘curious travellers with a bit of juice in their legs.’ Sometimes we ride hard but often we’re distracted by the food, history and people that make much of the world so special. So, our trips are about more than just cycling. We give you time to delve into a region’s history and the chance to spend time with its people. When you see something interesting, we encourage you to stop and take it in rather than race by. In every group we welcome to Transylvania there are novice and experienced cyclists, and those at every level in between. Our guides are skilled at spotting your ability and confidence level and react accordingly. This is your holiday and we’re here to make it a memorable one. Transylvania is a hilly place and the distances we cover, although not huge, are still not inconsiderable. So although you don’t need to be Chris Froome to complete this journey, you should have good general fitness and be comfortable riding a bicycle on dirt roads and paths, up and down hills. Lastly, there will always be someone travelling at your pace, so if some of the group are slightly faster, that’s fine. Route extensions and shorts-cuts are often possible and a support vehicle is often - but not always - on hand if you need it.
+ Why should I see Transylvania with The Slow Cyclist?
Quite simply, because our team - consisting of local guides and UK management - know the Saxon villages of Transylvania better than anyone, and have the contacts, knowledge and passion to give you the best holiday of your life. Since 2014 our Founder, Oli Broom, has spent much of his time living in Transylvania: walking, cycling, making friends and discovering its myriad charms. For six months in 2016 his home was a simple 18th Century Saxon cottage in the tiny village of Mesendorf. Above the house, rising towards endless oak and beech forests, were ten hectares of orchard - plums, pears, apples and walnuts – in a wildflower meadow of staggering intensity. Many of our guests have lunch in that orchard, cooked by Monica, a friend and great supporter of The Slow Cyclist. It is people like Monica - friends of ours whose lives have been spent in the forests, meadows and villages of Saxon Transylvania - who bring this very special place to life for our guests and, we believe, help make for such a wonderful experience.
+ What is the terrain like?
The cycling terrain will consist of quiet tarmac roads, gravel roads, cart tracks, meadows and narrow purpose-built forest trails. The trails have been sensitively designed, built and maintained by some of our local team over the past few years. They connect several villages - often taking steep hills out of the equation - and enable us to travel through incredible landscapes in all weather conditions. For some of our guests the trails take a little getting used to, but cyclists of all ages and abilities often find them to be the cycling highlight of their visit.
+ How fit do I need to be?
Transylvania is a hilly place and although on some days we offer easy and harder routes, if you are considering coming cycling with us you should have a good level of general fitness and be happy cycling up and down hills off- and on-road.
+ What is the accommodation like?
We aim to use accommodation that enhances your overall experience, rather than simply providing a roof for the night. Sometimes this means staying in one of the best guest houses in Transylvania and at other times it means staying with a local family. Rest assured that you will always be comfortable and well looked after.
+ Is Transylvanian food and drink good?
Transylvanian food is simple, fresh, delicious and the very definition of organic. We love it! Sometimes you’ll eat out in the open, at other times in private homes, traditional kitchens and small guest houses. Romanian wines are under-rated and you will taste several fantastic labels during your stay (we carry a great supply with us as we travel). You will also be served plenty of homemade wine and plum and pear brandies. During the day we provide local fruits as well as delicious energy slices by UK-based GB Chew. Allergies and other food preferences are all taken care of at the time of booking.
+ What will the weather be like?
It's tough to be sure. As an example, the 21st June 2015 was 3°C. The same day in 2016 was 39°C. However, you are pretty much guaranteed sunshine and rain whatever time of year you visit Transylvania because it has a temperate climate. Spring usually bursts in late April, when typical daytime temperatures are around 15-20°C. Things warm up towards summer: 15-25°C is typical in May and June but it can be much cooler or hotter. In July and August temperatures of 30-35°C are not uncommon. Autumn begins in September. By early October daytime temperatures tend to be around 15-20°C. Except in the height of summer evenings are cool. Rainfall is not uncommon at any time of year although July to October are the driest months.
+ What do the different seasons bring?
We begin our season in early May when the landscape's colours change on a daily basis. The region emerges from a long winter very quickly, and by the middle of May the wildflowers tend to be at their best. Rhubarb is a big local favourite at this time of year and you'll see plenty of elderflower being harvested (one of the villages you visit provides a large amount of elerflower cordial for the UK brand Bottle Green). The best of the flowers remain until late June. In September and October orchards and vineyards all over Transylvania are packed with apples, pears, plums, walnuts, grapes and all sorts of other fruits. Our guests always love picking as they pedal along. By late September/early October the autumn colours are stunningly beautiful and if it's dry, the days are beautfully clear. Our season ends in mid-to-late October, depending on the weather.
+ Do you visit Prince Charles' house?
Prince Charles used to have a house in Viscri but these days he has a guest house in an ethnic Hungarian region about two hours away. It's very remote and peaceful. We send a number of our guests there before of after their time with us.
+ What other things can I do in Romania?
Many of our guests spend more time in Romania either before or after their adventure with us. So whether you would like to hike in the Carpathians, see bears in the wild or explore the painted monasteries of Bucovina, we can help. We know and work with various experts in their field who can add serious value to your time in the country.
Supporting the Community
Over the past two years we have donated just over £2,000 to charities that preserve the beautiful Saxon buildings you will see. In 2018 we will again be donating a small amount from each trip. For more information please email email@example.com