Alternative Europe Tours: The Ice Hotel

Alternative Europe Ice Hotel

There’s some pretty epic alternative Europe tours that you could experience and one that we’re championing is Romania’s Ice Hotel. With the good folk at Untravelled Paths, you could Ski Romania, visit the stunning town of Brasov and visit Dracula’s castle after staying the night in an actual Ice Hotel. If that’s not an alternative European tour we don’t know what is.

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Saxon villages in Romania

Saxon villages in Romania. Romania’s significant Saxon (German) heritage is evident in Southern Transylvania, home to hundreds of well-preserved Saxon towns and villages. Saxons from the Rhine and Moselle Rivers regions came to Transylvania during the mid 1100s.

The Transylvanian Saxions in 1848 The Germans of Transylvania, commonly called the Saxons, settled in the 12th and 13th centuries between Orastie and Brasov in the southeast and northeast of Bistrita. They were given special royal privileges in the Andrean Diploma in 1224.

After the collapse of the Ceaușescu regime in 1989 and the fall of the East German communist government, many continued to emigrate to unified Germany. As a result, today, only approximately 12,000 Saxons remain in Romania. Nowadays, most Transylvanian Saxons live in either Germany or Austria.

Southern Transylvania is the realm of some of Romania’s last remaining Saxon villages – but change is coming. The best holidays work in close quarters with organisations determined to conserve communities and their traditions while easing them out of the cycle of poverty that has a stranglehold on rural Romania – via a schedule of meadow hikes, painted monastery tours, and cottage cooking lessons.

The church in Viscri is built for battle. Tower-topped walls have watched out for invaders since the 12th century. With each century passed, another layer of armour has been added – bastions, a second wall, labyrinthine corridors – to shrug off marauding armies. The houses along the single dusty road seem to know that Viscri’s time of war is long over. Cows sip peaceably from troughs hollowed out of toppled trees, and a woman in a floppy sun hat leans on the gate of her vegetable garden. The sign outside lets you know that it’s a B&B, but otherwise, you’d think it was just another of the low-slung pastel houses that are the tell of medieval Saxon villages all over Transylvania.

Romania Valley Winter Tour