Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine

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Has anyone taken a land tour to these countries? Would appreciate name of tour company and experiences. Thank you. CTS

To the best of my knowledge, there is no tour that goes to all three of these countries on the same tour. You can find tours that do both Bulgaria and Romania in the same tour, but not Ukraine. Companies that offer Ukraine tours often combine them with Belarus and Moldova.

Travel Concepts International (TCI)/Serious Traveler http://www.serioustraveler.com/ offers separate tours to Bulgaria and Romania that you can either do separately or back to back with each other. I recently completed their Romania tour (June 22-July 3, 2011), which I was satisfied with, and plan on taking their Bulgaria tour next June. This company offers the most in-depth tours to Bulgaria and Romania that I know of, which is why I chose them. Plus they stay in 4 or 5 star hotels and almost all meals are included.

In fall 2009 I was in Romania and Bulgaria with Adventures Abroad http://www.adventures-abroad.com/, but I did not feel that I saw these countries in enough depth. For instance, Adventures Abroad's Romania tour did not go to the Maramures region with its quaint wooden architecture and its Bulgaria tour did not go to the Black Sea Coast towns of Varna and Nessebar, which I felt was a significant omission, hence the reason for wanting to go back next year with TCI/Serious Traveller.

Kutrubes Travel http://www.kutrubestravel.com/tours-balkans.html also offers separate tours to Romania and Bulgaria, as well as a tour that combines both countries. Their Romania tour itinerary is similar to (although not identical with) that which I took with TCI. Kutrubes is cheaper in cost than TCI, although Kutrubes offers fewer meals, stays in 3 or 4 star hotels (one notch lower than TCI), and the cost is based on the number of people who ultimately book the tour. That wouldn't work for me because I need to know exactly how much the tour is going to cost from the get go. I would not recommend Kutrubes for Bulgaria -- in my opinion their tour is not in-depth enough.

Amongst the many tours offered by MIR Corporation http://www.mircorp.com/tour_buro.asp, which did a fine job with their Five Stans tour that I took about 4 years ago, is a combined tour to Bulgaria and Romania. However, you would need to be willing to pay top-dollar as it is expensive.

As far as Ukraine is concerned, the aforementioned Adventures Abroad has a tour to Ukraine and Moldova that is offered twice a year (summer and fall) that I have been trying to take 3 times now and each time it has been cancelled. I had a deposit down on its Sept. 17, 2011 departure, but was informed yesterday that it was cancelled due to insufficient number of participants. Their July 2011 departure had enough people to operate and is presumably currently in progress, but I couldn't take it because it conflicts with my current tour of Ireland. Seems like each time Adventures Abroad's Ukraine tour has enough people to operate I can't take it because it conflicts with something else I'm doing and when I am available to take it, the tour gets cancelled.

Kutrubes Travel offers a tour to Ukraine, but there is a $750 difference between a minimum of 2 travellers and 8 or more travellers.

MIR Corporation has an 8 day tour of Ukraine, which in my opinion is not in-depth enough (for instance, it does not go to the charming old Hapsburg city of Lviv where I have genealogical roots), a minimum of 2 people are needed in order for the tour to operate, and the price is not cost-efficient.

None of the 3 companies mentioned above for Ukraine spend enough time in the important city of Kiev. Each time I have tried to book the Adventures Abroad tour to Ukraine I have added 4 extra nights in Kiev on my own before the tour starts.

If anyone else knows of a good land tour company to Ukraine that I have not mentioned here, please let me know because I would be interested myself.

Ada Green (currently in Galway, Ireland with ITN advertiser Journey Through Ireland's Come Back to Erin Tours)

I traveled independently in Romania and Ukraine (see http://wilhelmswords.com/eur2006/index.html), but I will visit Bulgaria this September on a Rick Steves tour.

In addition to the companies Ada lists, I'd look at http://www.bestway.com and http://www.intrepidtravel.com for Bulgaria and Romania. http://www.exploreworldwide.com goes to Ukraine and Moldova.

Thank you both for your comments. Ada, really appreciate you taking time out of your Ireland trip. We just returned from Ireland. It was great. CTS

I too wanted to take the Adventures Abroad trip to Ukraine and Moldova, but as you said, it was can celled for Sept.2011. Is anyone else offering Ukraine and Moldova hat you know of? I am not adverse ti going to Belarus as well if that too is offered. I can be contacted at edl825@sbcglobal.net. Will be in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in October with AA.

Hi.

I travelled in Romania and Bulgaria with a friend about 10 years ago. We arranged a car and driver / guide in advance in each of the countries, with the driver from Romania driving us to meet up with the driver in Bulgaria in Veliko Tarnovo, and stopping to see the World Heritage painted Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo on the way. In both countries, I also easily made arrangements with the same people to visit other places prior to and after my friend's arrival and departure. If I remember correctly, I found the names of the drivers in ITN; over the years many people have written in to recommend certain people.

I would really recommend travelling in such a style -- you can decide what you want to see and travel at your own pace, allotting extra time in places that particularly interest you. You can even take time to stop when something special comes up -- my friend and I were invited to a wedding in Northern Romania.

As for the Ukraine, I went to it and Moldova with the company Explore, which I travel with very frequently.

The itinerary is: http://www.explore.co.uk/holidays/itinerary/moldova-crimea-and-kiev?vid=817

In addition to going on the tour, which was very nice, to see more of the country I also made arrangements to arrive early and stay on longer in Kiev and Lviv. I also very easily made arrangements once there to travel from Kiev to Lviv to meet up the group, stopping to sightsee at some interesting places along the way using public trains and buses. The people at the accommodations I stayed at were extremely helpful in assisting me in making arrangements -- one very lovely extremely helpful couple who run a very nice guesthouse in Kolomiya used to live in the US.

I hope the above info is useful.

Thank you to Karyn and thursdaysd for recommending the tour company Explore for Ukraine and Moldova. I looked at the itinerary at http://www.explore.co.uk/holidays/itinerary/moldova-crimea-and-kiev?vid=817 and it seems to be even more appealing than the one offered by Adventures Abroad, plus it has more departure dates than the latter. Unfortunately it's not offered in Sept. 2011 to replace the cancelled Adventures Abroad tour, but will consider it for June 2012. EzyEd, perhaps you might want to do the same.

For what it's worth we have taken a wonderful private tour in Romania with Compass Travel Romania Inc., http://www.tours-of-romania.com and it was one of the best ever. We're seasoned travelers and getting close to 70 countries from Iceland to Mauritania and Venezuela to Fiji. In the last years we gave up the group travel (unless it's up to a maximum of six) and focused on private tours which we found inexpensive and offering better value for money than any group tour.

We took their Romanian Rhapsody Tour and added an extra night in Bucharest before our early morning return flight. We felt we've seen Romania in depth. We simply decided on the date we wanted and connected it to our Tuscany trip.

The company offered an English speaking tour guide and a large air conditioned minivan at disposal for the duration of the eleven days of the tour. We lucked out with the guide. Excellent command of English. While the company prides itself with exclusively working with the best freelance tour guides on (their) market, we found that to be true to the extent of the guide being a wealth of information, leading the tour without much fuss and going beyond his call of duty to make the most of our trip.

The high points were many but we found the Maramures home stay, home cooked dinner and folklore show (they put that together for us only) to be the best. We met with people in their own homes or in local markets. We have seen how they live. We went to both remote villages and large cities including a sophisticated capital: Bucharest. The tour included the most of Transylvania, Maramures and Bucovina with a full day trip (and lunch) of the frescoed churches there.

Another highlight was the tour of Gypsy village in Central Transylvania. We were told (and later read) Gypsies rarely open their homes to any non Gypsy. We were fortunate to witness their life and learn about this totally unknown ethnic group.

The tour offered hiking opportunities which we took in both Maramures and around Sighisoara.

Pricewise it was a steal. For 12 nights with 11 breakfasts, three dinners and two lunches we paid just under $2,200 a head while other tour companies were charging an extra 20 to 40 percent on shorter and definitely less in-depth itineraries. We had all the admissions included and so were the airport transfers.

The Romanian Rhapsody Tour can be found here http://www.tours-of-romania.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=articl...

The company has tours of Bulgaria, of various lengths as well as small group tours to combine Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.