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

The Carpathian Mountains shelter the largest track of unfragmented forests left in Central Europe and 45% of the continent’s big carnivores’ population. This wilderness makes it one of the best nature destinations in Europe.

Fagaras Mountains

View from Negoiu Peak

Hiking in the Carpathians is also one of the best things to do in Romania, a unique experience if you love adventure. Even better, it gives you the chance to visit remote rural communities with lifestyles lost elsewhere. It’s this old sustainable way of life that helped conserve the Carpathians’ wilderness. However, the mountains face dramatic changes. The main threats are illegal deforestation, poaching, and a lack of sound environmental policies for their protection.

Choose to be a responsible tourist, and uncover the Carpathians on foot, keeping to the marked trails. Don’t rent dirt bikes or ATVs that only hurt the biodiversity and scare the wildlife.

Discover also the best hiking destinations if you’re based in Bucharest.

Over 900 km of mountains

The mountains stretch for over 900 km across Romania, divided into 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, based on your preferences, fitness level, experience. You can also go rafting, caving, horseback riding, mountain biking, or wildlife watching.

1. The remote Eastern Carpathians

This is the longest group of the three, but also the most remote if you land in Bucharest. Still, don’t let the distance discourage you.

Hiking tips

You’ll find many easy hiking trails, like those from Ciucas, Rarau, and Creasta Cocosului, and long difficult routes in Rodnei and Calimani.

Don’t miss the spectacular Bicaz Gorges where you’ll find some of the most difficult rock-climbing trails in the country.

Hiking areas:

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

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.

Hiking tips

Include on your list Piatra Craiului with their longest and highest limestone ridge in the Carpathians. Hike in the Fagaras if you want to reach the highest altitude in the country (2,544 meters).

Travel west to the Retezat Mountains for the most impressive wilderness. The area has over 80 glacial lakes, tens of peaks over 2,000 meters, rare flora, and iconic wildlife species. Plan a multi-day trek to cross the biggest part of the park.

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.

Don’t wait for your kids to grow up. There are many family-friendly hikes in the Carpathians.

Hiking 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

Hiking tips

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.

Hiking areas:

Apuseni Mountains Nature Park, Trascau Mountains, 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.

If you’d like to go hiking in Romania, check our adventure tours. More tours on



  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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