Top Seven Caves from Apuseni Mountains You Should Visit

If you’d like to go on a hiking tour in Romania, check our active tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

Romania sets a veritable European record when it comes to its number of caves, over 12,000. Apuseni Mountains, the lowest part of the Carpathians, are particularly famous for this impressive landscape with 1,500 caves that attract lots of visitors even if only few of them are open to the public.

Caves in Apuseni Mountains

The rest are mysterious places explored only by scientists. In this region you’ll not only find unusual caves formed in limestone rock, but also ancient underground glaciers. With no further introduction, here is our first-hand tried suggestions of the seven caves from Apuseni you should visit.

Scarisoara Cave

If it’s your first time exploring the caves from Apuseni, then you should start with a visit at the most famous of them. Scarisoara is located at an altitude of 1,165 meters and has a length of 720 meters. The cave is famous for its 4,000 years old glacier, the largest underground glacier in Europe with a volume of 80,000 cubic meters.

Caves in Apuseni Mountains

The entrance is made through an immense 60 meters wide portal. The temperature in the cave is 0 degrees Celsius, and it’s recommended to have warm clothes even if you visit it during the summer. Two areas of the cave are not open to the public.

Location: Garda de Sus, Alba County    Access: from DN75, by a minibus from Garda de Sus, or by following the mountain routes from Garda de Sus or from Padis

The Bears’ Cave

The Bears’ Cave is also an excellent idea if you want to visit the caves from Apuseni Mountains. This 1,500 meters long cave is named after its numerous bears’ skeletons, including a complete one, the remains of the cave bears that lived there 17,000 years ago.

Caves in Apuseni Mountains

The cave impresses also with its remarkable stalagmites and stalactites. The Bears’ Cave has three galleries, the Bones Gallery, the Candles Gallery and Emil Racovita Gallery.

Location: Chiscau, Bihor County    Access: from DN76 and DJ763 Chiscau

Focul Viu Cave

Focul Viu Cave, the Living Fire, is an ideal place for curious tourists looking for adventure and the amazing places that the interior of the mountain offers.

Caves in Apuseni Mountains

The cave has two rooms, the Great Hall with a height of 46 meters, a length of 68 meters and the 25,000 cubic meters glacier, the third in the country, and the Small Hall that has several formations of stalagmites. The name of the cave is given by the flash reflections from the afternoon when the sunbeams break through the ceiling of the cave and reveal the stalagmites in a vivid way, giving the impression of a fire.

This cave is no longer open for visitors.

Location: Glavoi, Bihor County    Access: by following the mountain routes from Padis

Poarta lui Ionele Cave

Another important cave from Apuseni Mountains is Poarta lui Ionele, 810 meters long, with an imposing 15 meters tall entrance. The name of the cave is linked to a local legend according to which a girl from a nearby village found a boy named Ionele hiding there.

Caves in Apuseni Mountains

Photo by Mira Kaliani/Calatorii la Singular

The cave has also a temporary lake that is spectacular to see in winter, and shelters a protected species of bats.

Location: Garda de Sus, Alba County    Access: DN75, by minibus from Garda de Sus; by mountain routes from Garda de Sus

Vartop Glacier Cave

Vartop Glacier Cave is another must-see natural attraction from the underneath of Apuseni Mountains. Ice and limestone combine and create incredible formations in this cave that also conserves three footprints from the Neanderthal. The cave is located at an altitude of 1,200 meters and has a length of 340 meters while the ice block in its interior has 1,600 cubic meters. The temperature is about 4 degrees and it’s recommended to have your own lantern to admire better the beauty of the cave.

Location: Arieseni, Alba County

Access:  DN75; then following the mountain routes from Garda de Sus, Arieseni

Coiba Mare Cave

Another cave you should put on your wish list when you visit Apuseni is Coiba Mare. This cave has a memorable entrance, 47 meters long and 74 meters wide.

Caves in Apuseni Mountains

Photo by Mira Kaliani/Calatorii la Singular

It has impressive galleries and an underground river that disappears after 386 meters and appears at Izbucul Tauz, a narrow cave that remains unexplored because of its dangerous waters. It’s recommended to have special equipment and to avoid visiting this cave in winter.

Location: Garda de Sus, Alba County    Access:  DN75; then following the mountain routes from Garda de Sus

Cetatile Ponorului Cave

Cetatile Ponorului should be on the list of every tourist who goes to Apuseni Mountains. It’s a natural citadel sculpted by waters, having the biggest cave entrance in Romania.

The cave has three impressive portals and is 5 km long. In the cave you’ll find underground waters that appear and disappear when you least expect. But the adventure begins when you’ll have to escalate curtains segments using chains. We definitely recommend having proper equipment to visit this cave.

Location: Padis, Bihor County    Access: Route 763 BIHOR; then following the mountain routes from Pietroasa, Padis

Visiting the caves from Apuseni Mountains is the perfect start for an adventure tour in Romania. But, don’t forget to go prepared with the right type of equipment and use local guides whenever you can. Remember that not all caves are open, many are too fragile or insufficiently prepared to host visitors.

If you’d like to go on a hiking tour in Romania, check our active tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

About the author

Andra is a tour guide, amateur photographer and travel writer who promotes Romanian destinations and ecological behavior. You can find Andra Tudor on Twitter

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