The Carpathian Mountains: The Wildest Side of Europe

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer. You can find Diana on LinkedIn

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The Carpathian Mountains stretch for more than 900 km across Romania. They shelter the largest track of unfragmented forests left in Central Europe and 45% of the big carnivores’ population of the continent.

Fagaras Mountains

View from Negoiu Peak

The Carpathian Mountains have three groups: the Eastern, the Southern, and the Western. Each group has distinct landscapes because of their different rock structure, but they’re just as incredible to hike.

You can choose from hundreds of trails, according to your preferences, fitness level, and hiking or climbing experience. You can also go rafting, caving, horseback riding, mountain biking, or wildlife watching.
Carpathian Mountain

Piatra Craiului National Park

Hiking in the Carpathians is a unique experience because of their diversity, wilderness, and breathtaking landscapes. Moreover, it gives you the chance to visit remote rural communities that conserve lifestyles lost elsewhere in Europe. It’s this old sustainable lifestyle of the nearby villages that conserved their wilderness.

However, the Carpathians face dramatic changes. The main threats are illegal deforestation, poaching, and a lack of sound environmental policies for their protection.

1. The more remote Eastern Carpathians

This is the longest group of the three, but also the most remote. You can explore it on foot, by bicycle, or by horse riding. Either way, you’ll have a great time.

Protected areas

Calimani National Park, Rodnei Mountains National Park, Ceahlau National Park, Maramures Mountains Nature Park, Cheile Bicazului-Hasmas National Park, Putna Vrancea Nature Park

Don’t miss the spectacular Bicaz Gorges where you’ll find some of the most difficult rock-climbing trails in the country. For short hikes, try Ciucas Mountains, Rarau Mountains, and Creasta Cocosului.

Carpathian Mountains

Ceahlau Mountain

2. The popular Southern Carpathians

Also known as the Transylvanian Alps, this high-altitude group offers challenging adventures for passionate hikers, climbers, and mountain bikers.

Don’t miss the tour of Piatra Craiului ridge, the longest and highest limestone ridge in the Carpathians. Hike in the Fagaras if you want to reach the highest altitude in the country on Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 meters).

Explore Retezat National Park, for many the most impressive wilderness in the Carpathians. The area has over 80 glacial lakes, tens of peaks over 2,000 meters, rare flora, and iconic wildlife species.

Take a two days tour in Cozia National Park and discover surprising landscapes. Go on one-day hikes in Bucegi and Iezer Papusa Mountains, and don’t miss the off-the-beaten-track Sureanu Mountains.

Cycle or ride on the longest and highest mountain roads in the country, Transalpina and Transfagarasan.

Protected areas

Piatra Craiului National Park, Fagaras Mountains, Retezat National Park, Buila-Vanturarita National Park, Cozia National Park, Gradistea Muncelului-Cioclovina Nature Park, Bucegi Mountains, Parang Mountains

nature in Romania

Taul Tapului, Retezat Mountains

3. The idyllic Western Carpathians

This group has the lowest altitudes, but they overcompensate with their traditional villages, many caves, and karst formations. The best way to explore this group is by foot, bicycle, or horse riding.
Stop in the small villages of the Trascau Mountains to enjoy the slow rhythm of traditional life.

Visit the largest windmill park in South-East Europe, in the village of Eftimie Murgu. There, locals still use 22 traditional water mills to grind their grains.

If you like caves you’re in the right place because in Apuseni you’ll find more than 400 caves, gorges, and karts formations. Among the most famous are the Wind Cave, the longest in the country, the Bear’s Cave, and Meziad Cave. In Scarisoara Cave, you can see the biggest underground glacier in Romania and the second largest in Europe.

Protected areas

Apuseni Mountains Nature Park, Cheile-Nerei Beusnita National Park, Cernei-Domogled National Park, Semenic-Cheile Carasului National Park


Stairways to Inelet, Cernei-Domogled National Park

In the end

Sustainable tourism is one of the few options for protecting the wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains by giving local communities alternative sources of revenue. Next time you go hiking, keep in mind that your behavior makes things better or worse. Use only local accommodations, don’t hunt or scare wild animals, don’t litter, and always keep to the marked trail.

Discover the hiking routes from the Carpathians with this great guidebook The Mountains of Romania.



  1. Fred Fishman says:

    I have been thinking of taking a tour to the Carpathian Mountains, specifically that part where the village of Hust or Hust Podcarp is located. This is where my father is from. Perhaps you can give me information about the place and your tours. Thank you.
    Best wishes,

  2. Hello,

    Do you know the part of the Carpathians where the village is located? We can only find a reference to a village Hust in Ukraine.

    All the best

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