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 starts from Sibiu with a pleasant ride on a forested cycle path, which will give you plenty of time to get accustomed to the bikes, before making our way into the countryside. We will spend the day cycling through the Saxon settlements around Sibiu and our first stop and visit will be at the hilltop fortress of Cisnădioara, which offers a splendid panorama of the surrounding villages and of the Făgăraș mountains. Shortly after we will visit the impressive fortified church of Cisnădie, protected by a double wall. Later on we’ll have a well deserved refreshments break at the Orangery located in the park of Avrig’s Brukenthal Palace. The day will finish with a winding road climb, which will reveal one more time the majestic range of the Făgăraș mountains, and with a beautiful descent to our first guesthouse in Nucet. 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 54 km (33 miles) with 480m (1,600 feet) of climbing
Today we enter the Hârtibaciu Valley area and its rolling hills, which is perhaps the last intact rural medieval landscape in Europe. It will be a busy and very interesting day, with great cycling and lots of highlights as we venture deeper and deeper into the countryside. We’ll ride to the village of Hosman to discover its fortified church before our lunch and coffee break at the fascinating Interethnic Museum of the Hârtibaciu Valley in Alțâna. Our host and friend Ștefan, a passionate restaurer and the owner of the museum, will share captivating stories about the people of Transylvania. Although you might not want to leave the museum and its charming, rural setting we’ve got another surprise for you, as very close to the end of the day we will meet another dear friend of ours in Richiș. Alex is one of the last local wine producers, in a micro region which was once famous for its terraced wineries. We will enjoy some of his best wines and then head to the Unesco village of Biertan, located just a short spell away and which will be our home for the next two nights.
Approximately 56 km (35 miles) with 270m (900 feet) of climbing
The day starts with a visit of the fortified church of Biertan 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 for a loop ride 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 Biertan, passing through Mediaș, a lovely medieval town which was one of the seven fortified towns of Siebenburgen.
Approximately 53 km (33 miles) with 550m (1800 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 beautiful lunch and coffee break. After lunch 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 51 km (32 miles) with 440m (1400 feet) of climbing
After breakfast you will be transferred by car back to Sibiu.
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.
AVERAGE DAILY DISTANCE
53 km (33 miles)
AVERAGE DAILY ELEVATION
435 m (1,427 feet)
214 km (132 miles)
1,740 m (5,700 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 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) on which we’ll ride on gravel.
€940 per person for groups of 2-3 people
€790 per person for groups of 4-6 people
Single supplement - €100
Deposit - €150
For the scheduled tours the price is €790 per person regardless of the number of participants.
What is included?
- English-speaking local guides
- Fully equipped bike
- All accommodation, meals and snacks
- Sandwiches, fruits, nuts, snacks and water during riding
- Assistance car
- Car transfer in the last day to Sibiu
- Tickets and donations