DiscoveRomania, Str. Paul Richter 1/1, 500025 Brasov (tel. 0722/74-6262; www.discoveromania.ro), is an excellent tour company that is also a founder member of the Association of Eco-Tourism in Romania (www.eco-romania.ro); hands-on owner Laura Vesa has a range of interesting and varied packages for travelers keen to discover the "real" Romania. To this end accommodations are generally with local families in small villages, and Laura can plan your visit around special festivals and events to deepen the experience. Nature lovers should inquire after the tour that combines 3 days animal tracking in the Carpathian Mountains with a night in a Moldavian wine-producing village and 2 nights in the Delta, in the fishing village of Uzlina.
Also putting together tours, this time for a clientele seeking sophisticated lodgings and looking for a touch of class and potentially specialized interests -- like Jewish heritage, for example -- is Eduard Popescu of Medieval Tours, Bd. Magheru 32-36, sc. C. ap. 17, 010337 Bucharest (tel. 021/326-6268 or 0721-161-323; www.medievaltours.ro). Eduard will not only tailor-make a tour that will bring Romania to life in an especially memorable way, but he'll also go above and beyond the call of duty to attend to special requests and unique interests. Fond of seeking out the undiscovered and not afraid to say it how it is, Eduard injects his tours with great charm and humor -- if you want to discover the grown-up version of Romanian history and get under the country's skin whilst seeing its most alluring sights, this is an especially satisfying option.
For adventure tours and mountain activities, Apuseni Experience (tel. 0259/47-2434; www.apuseniexperience.ro) is one of the best outfits in Romania, based in the city of Oradea.
One of the best-known companies for Romanian exploration is U.K.-based Transylvania Uncovered, 1 Atkinson Court, Fell Foot, Newby Bridge, Cumbria LA128NW (tel. +44-1539-531258; www.beyondtheforest.com), which offers dozens of specialized trips, such as the new "Secret Transylvania" tour. You might want to avoid their more gimmicky offerings, such as the "Ultimate Halloween Dracula Tours," however. The company offers different travel and flight options, so you can match trips to your budget, and accommodations range from top hotels to stays on organic farms. Luxury travel outfit Abercrombie & Kent (tel. 1-800/554-7016; www.abercrombieandkent.com) offers a 13-day "Highlights of Romania & Bulgaria" tour. U.S.-based Quest Tours & Adventures (tel. 1-800/621-8687; www.romtour.com) has specialist tours to Romania, ranging in duration from the 2-day "Touch of Transylvania" tour to the 11-day "World Heritage" tour.
The online Romanian Travel Guide (www.rotravel.com) is a resource for virtual planners with links to local tour operators; you can book discounted accommodations at discounted rates through this service.