Top Seven Caves from Apuseni Mountains You Should Visit

Andra Tudor
Andra Tudor
Andra is passionate about art, filmmaking, photography, nature, hiking and, of course, traveling. You can find Andra Tudor on Twitter and Instagram

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Romania sets a veritable European record when it comes to its number of caves, over 12,000. Apuseni Mountains, the lowest-altitude part of the Carpathians, are especially famous for an impressive landscape of 1,500 caves that attracts many visitors even if only a few of them are open to the public. The others remain mysterious places explored only by scientists.

Caves from Apuseni

In this region, you’ll not only find unusual caves formed in limestone rock, but also ancient underground glaciers. With no further introduction, here are our first-hand tried ideas of the seven caves from Apuseni Mountains 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, located at an altitude of 1,165 meters, with a length of 720 meters. The cave is best known for its 4,000 years old glacier, the largest underground glacier in Europe with a volume of 80,000 cubic meters. 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.

Caves from Apuseni

Location: Garda de Sus, Alba County

Access: from DN75, by a minibus from Garda de Sus, or 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. The cave impresses also with its remarkable stalagmites and stalactites and has three galleries: the Bones Gallery, the Candles Gallery and Emil Racovita Gallery.

Caves from Apuseni

Location: Chiscau, Bihor County

Access: from DN76 and DJ763 Chiscau

Focul Viu Cave

Focul Viu Cave, or the Living Fire, is an ideal place for curious tourists looking for adventure, but, unfortunately, it’s no longer open for visitors.

The name of the cave is given by a phenomenon that happens in the afternoon when the sunbeams break through the ceiling of the cave, lighting the stalagmites in such a way that it gives the impression of an actual fire. The cave has two major spaces, the Small Hall covered in stalagmites and the Great Hall with a height of 46 meters, a length of 68 meters and a 25,000 cubic meters glacier, the third in the country.

Caves from Apuseni

Location: Glavoi, Bihor County

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

Caves from Apuseni Mountains

Photo by Mira Kaliani/Calatorii la Singular

Location: Garda de Sus, Alba County

Access: from DN75, by minibus from Garda de Sus, mountain routes from Garda de Sus

Vartop Glacier Cave

Vartop Glacier Cave is another must-see natural attraction from Apuseni Mountains. Ice and limestone combine and create incredible formations in this cave that also conserves three footprints from the Neanderthal age. The cave is located at an altitude of 1,200 meters and has a length of 340 meters while its glacier has 1,600 cubic meters. The temperature is about 4 degrees, bring a warm jacket and a flashlight to better see the cave.

Location: Arieseni, Alba County

Access: from DN75, 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. It has impressive galleries and an underground river that disappears after 386 meters and appears again 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 it in winter.

Caves from Apuseni

Photo by Mira Kaliani/Calatorii la Singular

Location: Garda de Sus, Alba County

Access: from DN75, 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 5 km long natural citadel sculpted by waters, having the biggest cave entrance in Romania. In the cave, you’ll find underground waters that appear and disappear when you least expect it. But the adventure begins when you’ll have to escalate its walls. We definitely recommend having the proper equipment and a knowledgeable guide.

Location: Padis, Bihor County

Access: 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 hire local guides whenever possible. Remember that not all caves are open, many are too fragile to receive visitors.

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

guidebook Cicerone

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