Our expertise lies in the Saxon villages of southern Transylvania, dating from the 12th Century and set amid a bucolic landscape in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Quite simply, this tiny corner of Romania is like nowhere else on the continent, an outpost of medieval Europe that is home to remote UNESCO fortified churches, rich wildflower meadows, beech forests and high grazing pastures, bears, wolves, beautiful traditional guest houses and a rural way of life that has changed little for centuries.
CYCLE AND WALK IN AN UNTOUCHED EUROPE
APRIL TO OCTOBER
Transylvania, part of modern-day Romania since 1918, may be famous as the home of Bram Stoker’s Dracula but you’re best off ignoring vampire tales and indulging in the food, wine, history, landscapes and people that make it a pedalling and walking paradise. Each year, from April to October, we invite our guests to get way off the beaten track and into local homes to experience the very best of this magnificent land, either on scheduled journeys or in a private group, as they cross remote meadows and high pastures, weave along cart tracks and through ancient oak and beech forests to the next charmingly situated guest house.
“ It was such a wonderful, extraordinary time you gave us all, one I will never forget. Every single surprise you organised for us was not better than the last but of equal thrill. It goes without saying we never expected such comfortable beds, hot water, delicious food and all the flowing wine you provided. ”
“ What a superb holiday and experience we had with The Slow Cyclist - top of our list of fantastic holidays. Thank you for making this so wonderful in every way. You really do seem to think of everything. A bonus to come home feeling very fit and healthy even though we got through a good quantity of food and wine along the way! ”
Julian & Catherine Taylor
WHAT WE OFFER
You can experience Transylvania with us in a number of ways and taking a look at the options below is the first step towards deciding the best option for you. When you’re ready, drop us a line and we will happily answer any questions or send you sample itineraries.
JOIN A TRIP
Between April and October each year we schedule a small number of 5- and 6-day fully supported and guided journeys and put together groups of up to 12 guests. We would love you to join us. All offer a mix of cycling and walking – the perfect way to explore the varied landscapes of the region – with flexibility built in so that those feeling more – or less – energetic get precisely the holiday they want.
We specialise in crafting unique, flexible, expertly guided cycling and walking journeys for small groups of friends. As with all our journeys, expect wonderful gourmet picnics in wildflower meadows, warm hospitality in local homes and plenty of surprises as you meander your way through this special region we know so well. Our customary attention to detail and high quality service has been winning us rave reviews since the very first private group we welcomed in 2015.
WALKING IN TRANSYLVANIA
Transylvania is a magnificent place to walk, with landscapes ranging from ancient oak reserves to mountain meadows, high grazing pasture to alpine forests. Our depth of local knowledge means we’re able to offer exceptional walking experiences for those who want to see the best of the place, but for whom the thought of a few days on two wheels does not appeal. Available for private groups only.
Each summer we host a series of pared-back journeys on scheduled dates for guests in their 20s and 30s. Our signature attention to detail remains but we abandon a few luxuries to offer a journey that feels more like a soft expedition-style adventure. We are leading a series of these in July 2019 and if you’re up for the adventure please get in touch to apply for a place.
CELEBRATIONS & CORPORATE
Since 2015 we have organised and hosted milestone birthday parties, corporate team breaks and family parties for groups ranging from 10 to 60 people. These tend to work best out of a single location, with activities including cycling, wildflower walks, bear watching, cart journeys, cooking, photography and beekeeping all possible, and lunches, dinners and parties in incredible outdoor settings all preferable! Whether you would like to hire a manor house or take every bed in a village, we will create an incredible bespoke event for you and your friends or colleagues.
Although we focus primarily on the Saxon region of Transylvania, we do help many of our guests extend their stay in Romania by offering bespoke experiences around the country. From a stay at Prince Charles’ house in Szerklerland or walking with a botanist in the Carpathian Mountains, to visiting the painted monasteries of Bucovina or spending a night in a bear hide, we are perfectly placed to help you get the most out of your time in Romania.
HISTORY OF SAXON TRANSYLVANIA
Transylvania formed the eastern-most reaches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, when it was absorbed into modern Romania. It may be famous as the home of Bram Stoker’s Dracula but we suggest you leave your fanged preconceptions at home. Transylvania is home to some of Europe’s most beguiling and wild landscapes. The Saxon Villages of Tarnava Mare, cradled in the horseshoe of the Carpathian Mountains, were first colonized by Germans – or Saxons – from the 12th Century, when King Geza II of Hungary asked for protection from invading Ottomans and Tatars. The Saxons built fortifications; the most important towns were duly strengthened and smaller communities started by fortifying their church. Up to a quarter of a million Saxons remained for more than 800 years but the population began to decrease after World War II, when many returned to Austria and Germany. The migration continued under Ceausescu and today fewer than 35,000 Saxons live in Transylvania. They speak a dialect that is distinct from modern German and follow many of the religious and cultural customs that their families did for centuries. Their ancestral villages are shared with new neighbours: Romanians, Hungarians and Gypsies are breathing new life into abandoned houses, fields and vineyards and the result is an exhilarating fusion of cultures. It is a land of architectural, cultural and natural riches, where traditions, food and family are celebrated and visitors are welcomed with genuine warmth.
“ I can't begin to tell you quite how much I enjoyed my holiday. With your knowledge of the countryside and attention to detail you have created something really special. I can't think of a single thing I would change. Transylvania is so beautiful and I was completely captivated by your friends and their hospitality and all the places we stayed in. ”
“ There is nothing more thrilling than arriving in a quiet, untouched village and chancing upon a gypsy horse and cart, trotting to deliver milk to the dairy, or laden with hay. These are experiences which cannot be manufactured and that I will always treasure. You and your team delivered such experiences in spades. ”
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