The story of the Transylvanian Saxons begins in medieval times, soon after Transylvania was conquered by the Hungarian Kingdom. At that time, years of fierce fighting with the Tartars left the area defenseless in the wake of future invasions, so in the 12th century king Geza II invited German colonists, to whom he granted numerous privileges, to settle here and defend the southern and eastern borders of Transylvania and of the kingdom. The industrious Saxons thrived and prospered over the course of eight centuries founding Siebenburgen, the land of seven legendary citadels and numerous other towns and villages. Nowhere else in Europe will you find such a high density of fortified churches in such a small area, than in southern Transylvania. In fact every rural settlement founded by the Saxons has a church strengthened with defensive walls.
ABOUT SAXON TRANSYLVANIA
Things took a turn for the worse for Romania and its people when the communists took over the country after the second world war. The country was in turmoil and no matter if you were Romanian, Saxon or Hungarian you were stripped off of your properties. After communism fell, the mass exodus of the Saxons followed in the 90s. The vast majority decided to pursue happiness elsewhere, move to Germany and to leave Transylvania and Romania behind. This cycling tour is about their lost world, their heritage and about the ones trying to preserve it and bring it back to life. And although most of them have left a quarter of a century ago, the mark they left over the 8 centuries of inhabitance is visible all around. It includes everything from the iconic architecture of the villages to the wonderful fortified churches and the specific cuisine and traditions.
DAY TO DAY
The tour begins with a 30 minutes transfer from your accommodation in Sibiu to Mârșa, a small industrial town in Sibiu county. The 2 km cycle path to Avrig will give you plenty of time to get accustomed to the bikes, and if the group wants, we can have a first refreshment or coffee break at the Orangery located in the park of Avrig’s Brukenthal Palace. The day will continue with a winding road climb, which will reveal the majestic range of the Făgăraș mountains, and with a beautiful descent as we enter the Hârtibaciu Valley area and its rolling hills, which is perhaps the last intact rural medieval landscape in Europe. We’ll ride to the village of Hosman to discover its fortified church before our lunch at 'Moara Veche', in the same village. After lunch, we'll continue our ride through the Saxon villages of the Hârtibaciu Valley, and in the late afternoon, we'll arrive at Alma Via, our host for the first two nights of this tour. You will love the lush garden where you can relax with a glass of lemonade or a beer while waiting for our first dinner together.
Approximately 66 km (41 miles) with 535 m (1,750 feet) of climbing
The day starts with a 15 km ride to Biertan and with a visit of the fortified church of which sits high on a hilltop in the center of the village. It is the most famous of all Saxon fortified churches, surrounded by three rings of walls and guarded by seven guild towers. We will then jump on the saddle again and cycle to Mosna at a bio-farm for a gourmet lunch, coffee and desert. The two or three hours spent here are among the highlights of the tour. All ingredients are sourced on the farm so think of fresh and matured cheeses, edible flowers, mouthwatering meat and vegetarian dishes, in other words a visual and culinary delight. After our visit to the bio-farm in Mosna we’ll return to Alma Vii.
Approximately 41 km (26 miles) with 558 m (1,830 feet) of climbing
Today’s ride takes us to Veseud and to our favorite accommodation of the tour. Midway through the distance we’ll stop by our friends at the Equestrian Center in Apoș, for a coffee break. After this, you will discover how the fish scale looking roof tiles, so characteristic to southern Transylvania, are handmade. We will visit the traditional tiles making workshop in Apoș, which was opened by the Prince of Wales foundation, with the purpose of helping the traditional houses restoration projects from the area. From Apoș we will cycle to the small town of Agnita and from there, after two climbs and two beautiful long descents, we will arrive in Veseud.
Approximately 47 km (29 miles) with 405 m (1,330 feet) of climbing
Today we will cross the wildest area of the whole tour, in what is a classic cycling day, through unspoiled nature, colourful flower meadows and green forests. There will be no planned visits and we’ll have three sustained climbs, one of them on gravel. One by one we will pass through the high plateau between Săsăuș and Șomartin, which offers great views of the Carpathian range, cross the incredibly remote villages of Șomartin and Bruiu and make our way across Cincu, before we reach tonight’s accommodation in Cobor.
Approximately 66 km (41 miles) with 660 m (2,165 feet) of climbing
Last cycling day and at the same time the shortest and easiest of the tour. Even though we have two climbs in the first 14 KM of the day we will arrive in the picturesque Unesco village of Viscri around lunch time. One of the benefactors of the village is His Majesty Charles III, who in 2006, after buying and restoring some of the 18th century Saxon houses in the village, became the promoter of sustainable tourism in Transylvania. Following lunch we will visit the charming fortified church of Viscri, with its white washed walls. Then in the evening, you'll be able to witness one of the most iconic spectacles of rural Transylvanian life when the cattle return to the village from grazing, a perfect ending for your trip.
Approximately 41 km (25 miles) with 330 m (1080 feet) of climbing
After breakfast you will be transferred by car back to one of the following cities of your choosing: Sibiu, Brașov or Sighișoara.
€2630 per person for groups of 2 people
€2120 per person for groups of 3 people
€1690 per person for groups of 4 people
€1570 per person for groups of 5+ people
Single supplement - €150
Deposit - €200
What is included?
- English-speaking local guides
- Fully equipped bike
- All accommodation and meals
- Fruits, nuts, snacks, and water during riding
- Assistance car
- Car transfer on the last day to Sibiu, Sighișoara or Brașov
- Tickets and donations
ACCOMMODATION & FOOD
Accommodation is provided in double or single rooms with private bathroom in small and cozy village guesthouses. The heart filled hospitality of our hosts will make you feel at home everywhere we’ll spend the night. All guest houses are unique and have beautiful gardens in which you can relax after a day’s riding. For single rooms there’s a single occupancy supplement.
FOOD & DRINK
Delicious and tasty locally sourced food is cooked by all guesthouses. Breakfast and a three course dinner are included in the tour package. The traditional Romanian spirits like plum or sour cherry brandy are complementary on the house while drinks like wine and beer can be bought separately at each guesthouse. Vegetarian options are also available upon request.
LUNCH & COFFEE BREAKS
Lunch is included in the tour package and in most of the days we will break for a freshly cooked lunch and coffee at a special venue where other activities are included as well. A packed lunch is provided on the other days and whenever refreshments breaks are needed we’ll make it happen, as your holiday will be enjoyed at your own pace. Fruit, cereal bars and water are available anytime.
6 DAYS & 5 NIGHTS - 5 DAYS OF RIDING
AVERAGE DAILY DISTANCE
52 km (32 miles)
AVERAGE DAILY ELEVATION
498 m (1,630 feet)
261 km (162 miles)
2,490 m (8,160 feet)
Transylvania is hilly and that’s why any trip in this region implies some climbing, but the effort will be lavishly rewarded by the wonderful landscapes, colourful flower meadows and tranquil villages where life flows at a very slow pace. Every day there will be some short and rolling hills and a climb which will require more effort to conquer. But don’t worry as the descents are always beautiful and rewarding. For the elevation profile and for the number of kilometers/miles covered on a daily basis, see the day to day itinerary.
On all our tours we aim to find quite secondary roads, so that you’ll fully enjoy your vacation without the noise of big and busy roads. With few exceptions, we only cycle on asphalt and on this particular tour there are only 22 kilometers (13,5 miles) on which we’ll ride on gravel.
* At times, from various reasons, the routes, the activities listed in the daily breakdown or the guesthouses we sleep in may slightly change. Our guides will always try to replace them with similar or higher standard services in order to provide the same trip experience.