We invite you to explore Maramureș, the region divided between Romania and Ukraine and tour both sides to experience the similarities and differences.
Day 1 – arrival and pottery basics
Getting to Maramures region and meeting your first local hosts: a very talented potter and his wife from Baia Sprie. From him you will learn the basics of pottery, at first by observing him work and then trying it yourself, with his support. His pottery style can be called figurative ceramics, creating human and animal shapes alongside bowls, pots, vases; for the beginning you will start with a bowl and maybe a vase, something easy to make.
Day 2 – making your bowl and painting ceramics
On this day you can practice pottery more and hopefully you will create your own bowl that you can take away as a souvenir. You can also try painting ceramics, using your imagination and a brush. In the afternoon you can go for a stroll, the village is set at the foot of the mountain.
Day 3 – Learning about traditional occupations
Morning transfer to Breb village, the base for discovering the historic side of Maramureș, as locals call it. During a stroll in the village you you’ll meet a cooper, a woman weaving and a blacksmith. In the afternoon you can choose to hike on the nearby hills or help with farming activities.
Day 4 – steam train ride
Maramureș experience is not complete without a narrow-gauge steam train ride on the spectacular Vasser valley; the ride will definitely confirm the feeling of being back in time. On the way back to Breb you can pass by Bârsana, a calming and energy filling monastic place on top of a hill overlooking the green valley.
Day 5 – simply being a peasant
Starting early morning you can join locals in mowing hay with a scythe or simply gather dried hay and pile it up, it will be used in the winter for feeding the animals. If you want more of it, you can go with a horse-drawn cart, fill it with hay, bring it to the village and make the haystack there, it takes longer but that is the proper way to do it.
Day 6 – From Romania to Ukraine
Last breakfast in Transylvania and depature to the Săpânța Merry Cemetery, it will help you understand the locals’ view on life and death. Then visit the Memorial of the Victims of Communism - learning how communism regime treated the opposition can be a moving experience. These two places will give a good insight into the values of the community and what they have been through in recent history.
Cross the border from Sighetu Marmatiei (Romania) to Solotvyno (Ukraine) and then transfer to Rakhiv. This village is the heart of Carpathian Biosphere Reserve and home to unique culture of Hutsuls – highlanders who can be found in both sides of the border. Enjoy your afternoon with the local shepherds, who spend their summer in the mountains tending sheep and making delicious cheese (locally called brynza). You’ll have a chance to experience their simple lifestyle: collect the sheep to the sheepfold, milk them and participate in making the traditional cheese.
Day 7 - Hiking in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve
Today you’ll set off to explore the vast natural beauty of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve and hike through primeval beech forests that are included in UNESCO World Heritage List. Your hiking target will be Mountain Petros (2020 m).
Enjoy the fresh breeze of clean air, discover the meaning of local medicinal herbs and pick up fresh berries and mushrooms along the route.
Day 8 - Hiking in Carpathian Biosphere Reserve
After a delicious breakfast in the nature, continue your hike to Mountain Petros and enjoy the beautiful views of Ukraine’s highest mountain range. On your way back visit the Museum of Ecology, where you can learn more about the environmental protection and challenges in the Reserve.
Day 9 - Learning to decorate eggs and other crafts
Transfer to the village of Kosmach. Today you will spend a relaxing day in Ukraine's most artistic village, where each house is home to a local artisan, skilled in traditional Hutsul and Ukrainian crafts. You’ll have a chance to pick up a craft of your choice and learn making beautiful art works. You can try carpet weaving, wood carving, pottery making and wicker weaving, and even making traditional musical instruments.
Kosmach village is also famous for its traditions of Easter egg painting and you can join one of the local artisans and make your own souvenir to take home!
Day 10 - Cycling along Hutsul villages
Get back to the active vacation by hitting this moderate cycling route along the Hutsul villages in Carpathian Mountains. On your way you’ll get to visit beautiful intricately crafted wooden churches, noisy and colorful local bazaars and simply enjoy the views of Carpathian Mountains.
Day 11 - Learning how traditional food is made
Hutsuls are famous for their distinctive food culture, and you’ll have a chance to try making some of the local delicacies under the watchful eyes of your local host family. Early morning go to the field to collect fresh vegetables and fruits. On your way back stop at the local bazaar for some grocery shopping.
Go to the nearest forest to pick up some mushrooms and berries for desert and drink. Then indulge your culinary talents by learning how to make the famous Ukrainian borș, practice forming dumplings and spend your afternoon by the fire, making delicious Hutsul banosh - porridge made with corn flour, Hutsul cheese, and home-made sour cream.
Day 12 – Arriving in Lviv
Today you will travel to Kolomyia – Hutsul's cultural capital, where you can enjoy the town’s beautiful architectural gems, winding streets, and cozy coffee shops.
The town boasts two museums: Museum of Hutsul Culture and the Museum of Easter Egg (Pysanka) which hosts a unique collection of Easter eggs, traditionally painted using wax technique. To date, the collection has more than 6 thousand Easter eggs!
Finishing your journey and taking a train to Lviv
If this sounds interesting please send us a inquiry through the button on the upper right side or email us at info@ViaTransylvania.com, we will be glad to hear from you.
Or you can take a look at other suggested itineraries for holidays in Transylvania and Romania that can be further tarilored.
Maramures is a remote region almost equally divided between Romania and Ukraine. Being a region surrounded by mountains, isolated and hard to access and conquer throughout history, the local culture is unique and has been preserved as centuries passed.
Wood being the most important resource, it was used to build houses, carve wonderful wooden gates and build wooden churches – now part of the UNESCO World Heritage. People are joyful here and you can tell it by the vividly decorated clothes they wear and the pleasure with which they welcome guests. Another proof is the Săpânța Merry Cementary, normally a sad place, here life is celebrated as people pass away and funny poems are written on very colorful tumbstones.
Maramureș is Romania's richest in traditions region and Christmas here is a like a fairytale.
Generally built on wooden foundations, massive and beautifully carved, the wooden churches in Maramureș are a proof of the influences exercised by the Roman and Gothic art. They delight through the shape of the eaves with shingle roofs that look like fish scales, high domes and wooden pillars on the porch adorned with numerous symbolic images of geometric, floral or zoomorphic nature. The paintings that decorate the interior of these churches illustrate religious scenes, aspects of local life or folk costumes.
These wooden jewels created by anonym artists were included on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999. (Bârsana, Budeşti, Deseşti, Ieud, Plopiş, Poienile Izei, Rogoz, Şurdeşti)
Many traditions and customs are still preserved here and they are passed down from generation to generation. The most important traditions are the wood carving, weaving, and making hats.
Wood carving is the primary craft and occupation for men, as we are in the land of wood. It is practiced by many peasants who not only carve wooden gates and other wood objects but they also build wooden churches and even their own houses.
Women are mainly busy with making woven textiles for their families, houses and churches. They make carpets, towels and bed throws in vivid colors. Every respectable house in Maramures has a guestroom where they keep the daughter’s dowry.
The hats that complete the folk costumes are manufactured by traditional hat makers from straw and wood shavings. Every hat is differently decorated; there are those with colorful beads and flowers for the weddings and those simple and sober for funerals.
Pottery: with some interest and dexterity it normally takes 3-4 sessions (30-45’ each) to be able to make a decent object. The basic things you will learn are to center and then “grow” the object, the potter will of course help you. Normally it take 2 weeks for an object to dry and then it is burned in the oven to gain resistance, taking it still “wet” will mean it will not be very resistant but you can take it as a souvenir anyways. Since wet objects cannot be painted, if you want to decorate one, you can use on already made and burned.
Picking berries: the months when you can find berries are June, July and August.
Picking porcini mushrooms: they can be found in the forest in June, July, September and October after rains.
Bear watching: it is normal that feeding areas are made for wild bears and since in the region a nature and heritage conservation project is implemented, a bear observatory was built. For safety reasons the forest ranger will accompany you to the observatory where you should a few hours before bears might appear. Bears’ senses are very developed and they will smell any uncommon scent like perfumes and can be reluctant to approach. Also they can be easily scared by noise and go away. They come more often to the feeding areas in spring and autumn, in summer there is plenty of food in the forest and they might not pass daily by the feeding area. So if you go to the bear observatory it is not certain that you will see the wild bear brown.
Maramureș is located in northern Romania, on the border with Ukraine. The airport that serves Maramureș is Baia Mare where Tarom flies from Bucharet. Through Bucharest you can connect with any SkyTeam Alliance airline (KLM, Air-France, Alitalia, Air Europa, Czech Airlines) or other airlines flying there.
Cluj-Napoca airport is also an option, having more flights than Baia Mare airport. From Cluj-Napoca we can arrange transfer for you or you can take a train or bus to Baia Mare (4 hours).
|Price per person
After further tailoring, as needed, and agreeing on the final trip plan and price, to make a reservation you will need to pay 150EUR/person. 4 weeks before the trip start date, the full amount should be paid. Payments are done through bank transfer upon receiving an invoice.
Please be in touch with us to confirm the dates before booking your flights if the case.
We will suggest a rural guesthouse in each location owned by locals and which preserves local heritage. In Baia Sprie and Breb rooms have private bathrooms; please specify any preferences you have. We will check availabilities once you contact us for a specific date and book rooms after you have made the advance payment. In Ukraine you will stay in guesthouses owned by local families, on day 9 you can stay in a makeshift camp on the mountains.
The easiest will be to suggest guesthouses where English or French is spoken, next in line are Italian and Spanish.
Meals are cooked by traditional recipes and most ingredients come from local farmers. The food is very tasty as it is grown through traditional farming methods.
Normally you will be picked up from Baia Mare but if wanted we can help you transfer from any place in Romania.
Your journey will finish in Lviv, Ukraine. It is possible to travel on this itineraries starting from Lviv and ending in Romania, please inquire about this possibility.
Once arrived in Baia Mare we will arrange all local transfers between villages and for day trips. You will not need to rent a car yourself unless you really want to. To Lviv you will arrive by train.
For more information please check terms and conditions.
2013 © Via Transylvania Tours