Since I’ve been filming new TV shows in Bulgaria and Romania, people have been asking if I plan to start running tours or writing guidebooks to this underappreciated corner of Europe. We do have a Bulgaria tour, but currently, we don’t have plans to produce more on these two countries.
However, during our filming, we enjoyed the support of several wonderful guides I’d heartily recommend. Guiding in these countries is inexpensive and — particularly since most travelers are steep on the learning curve here — particularly helpful. Hiring these guides is an exceptional value that adds understanding and enjoyment to any trip.
Throughout Bulgaria, our guide and on-screen sidekick was Stefan Bozadzhiev of Lyuba Tours. Exceptionally knowledgeable, well-connected, and simply fun to travel with, Stefan manages and guides our Rick Steves Best of Bulgaria in 12 Days Tour. This may be the most underrated of our 40-plus tour itineraries — and if you have a couple of weeks to spend in Bulgaria, this tour is definitely your best bet. But for a shorter or independent visit, see if Stefan or one of his colleagues is available to guide you: lyubatours.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Romania, we worked with different guides in each part of the country. I’d recommend each one for their area of specialty, but most of them also cover the rest of Romania as well.
In Bucharest, two equally great guides are Dan Nica (tourguidesromania.com, email@example.com) and Ana Adamoae (guidedtoursbucharest.wordpress.com, firstname.lastname@example.org). Both offer insightful tours that make it easier to appreciate Romania’s bustling and intimidating capital.
For Transylvania, we worked with Daniel Gheorghiţă, who runs Covinnus Travel (covinnus.com, email@example.com). Daniel was knowledgeable, with a sharp sense of humor and a knack for understanding — and putting us in touch with — exactly the experiences we were seeking.
In Maramureș, at the rustic and remote fringe of Romania, a guide is particularly helpful for navigating the extremely traditional culture — which comes with a big language barrier and plenty of cultural treasures that demand insightful explanation. Teo Ivanciuc was our man in Maramureș (www.maramurestour.com, firstname.lastname@example.org). Teo was supremely knowledgeable, tireless in helping us sniff out meaningful experiences, and a passionate ambassador for his home region.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to include the famous painted monasteries in Bucovina in our new show. However, through our scouting we met Ciprian Slemco, who runs Hello Bucovina (hellobucovina.com, email@example.com). If you’re headed to Bucovina, Ciprian (“Chip” for short) helps bring the precious folk art to life.
A heartfelt thanks to Stefan, Dan, Ana, Daniel, Teo, and Chip for all of their help as we’ve worked hard to introduce their countries to American audiences. Our crew loved filming in these places, and our hunch is that the new shows (premiering this fall on public television) will spark some serious interest in Bulgaria and Romania. I have a feeling these guides will be plenty busy…