Travel Experiences and Places to Visit in Romania in 2019

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

If you want to explore more of Romania, try one of our private tours. More details on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

2019 is one more year to experience unforgettable adventures in Romania. We’re thrilled to plan this year’s places to visit in Romania with Janneke from Roamaniac, a courageous and amazing Dutch lady who spent the last couple of years hiking most of the Carpathians and traveling across our dear Romania from one border to the other.

Equus Silvania

Photo source: https://equus-silvania.com

If you’re familiar with how solo travel in Romania can often become a lost in translation encounter even for locals, you’ll appreciate this awesome lady as much as we do.

We open our places to visit in Romania in 2019 with what Janneke wrote on her favorite nature destinations from Romania.

Nature

Retezat Mountains: gorgeous and versatile

Location: Retezat National Park, Hunedoara County

The Retezat is one of Romania’s most gorgeous and versatile mountain ranges. It lies in the Land of Hateg, considered the cradle of Romanian civilization. Not only will you find the ancient capital of the Dacians here, Sarmizegetusa Regia; the Romans also decided this was their favorite spot and made Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana their capital. This is the perfect base if you want to head into the Retezat.

Retezat Mountains

View towards Gales Lake

Photo source: http://roamaniac.com

The Retezat is known for its many glacial lakes and is home to the biggest one in Romania, Bucura Lake. This is an excellent starting point for many exhilarating hikes. Don’t miss out on the circuit to Gales Lake via Peleaga and Papusa Peaks and a clambering section called Portile Inchise, meaning ‘closed doors’. You will get rewarded with the best the Retezat has to offer: peaks over 2,500m, scrambling, sections with cables and gleaming lakes. There even is a skull-shaped one!

Continue reading about Retezat.

Maramures Mountains: adventure and alone time

Location: Maramures Mountains, Maramures County

The Mountains of Maramures form the natural border between Romania and Ukraine. Less well known than their southern neighbor, Rodnei Mountains, they are pristine and wild. If you are looking for adventure and alone time this is where you go. Although the trails are marked and maps are available, few people seem to have found their way here.

Maramures Mountains

Cyclist in Maramures Mountains

Photo source: http://roamaniac.com

Start your hike in the remote village of Repedea and make your way up to the splendid Vinderel Lake. Pitch your tent there and hike up to Farcau Peak, then head back to the lake for a night in perfect peace – and perhaps have a swim in the morning. From here you can either head back to Repedea or continue east towards the Vaser Valley, where you can jump on the narrow-gauge steam train. The full length of the ridge can be traversed in four to five days.

Vinderel Lake

Vinderel Lake, Maramures Mountains

Photo source: http://roamaniac.com

Continue reading about Maramures Mountains.

Buila-Vanturarita National Park: exploring the ridge from Cabana Cheia

Location: Buila-Vanturarita National Park, Valcea County

A close contestant with the Retezat, Buila-Vanturarita is a much lesser known and smaller mountain range. Many Romanians haven’t even heard about it! It is, in fact, Romania’s smallest and youngest national park and lies to the southwest of the Fagaras, to the west of the Olt River.

Buila-Vanturarita

Hiker resting in Buila-Vanturarita

Photo source: http://roamaniac.com

Make your way to Cabana Cheia first, preferably via Brana Caprelor, ‘the goat’s trail’. Without a doubt, this is the loveliest mountain hut in all of Romania. The rooms are cozy, there are bookcases and a bath, a trampoline, a hammock and a living room with a fireplace. From here, you can explore the amazing limestone ridge and come back on the same day. It will take you over the peaks that give these mountains their name and through a section called ‘the atomic bomb’. Expect a total ascent/descent of almost 1,500m and a lot of clambering. And great satisfaction.

Continue reading about Buila-Vanturarita.

Ramet Gorges: wading through a river in Trascau Mountains

Location: Trascau Mountains, Alba County

It’s a hot day and you want to hike. What else do you want? Water! A hike through the Ramet Gorges in the Trascau Mountains near Cluj-Napoca and Alba Iulia will offer you plenty. Because yes, you will actually wade through the river that created the gorge, for a distance of about two kilometers. Don’t worry, there are cables and footholds when the water gets too deep. Despite the challenge of the water, this is a very accessible hike for families with children too.

Ramet gorges

Janneke crossing Ramet Gorges

Photo source: http://roamaniac.com

If you have a car it is possible to drive up all the way to the gorge, but it is much more fun to start in Salciua de Jos and hike through incredibly flowery hills and tiny hamlets. This will give you a good idea of how people live here. After traversing the gorges, you can visit the famous Ramet Monastery and stay at Cabana Ramet.

Continue reading about Ramet Gorges.

Experiences

Horseback riding in Transylvania

Location: Sinca Noua, Brasov County

If you want to uncover rural Transylvania in an original way, there’s maybe no better alternative than from the saddle. Whether you’re an experienced rider or you’re just getting on a horse for the first time, the rolling hills, pastures and forests of Transylvania will prove to be an irresistible vacation option.

Equus Silvania

Photo source: https://equus-silvania.com

We warmly recommend the services of Equus Silvania for memorable horseback riding adventures in the region, from one week long programs that cover 200 km of trails to winter rides and gourmet rides that add an extra bit of local flavor to the experience.

Equus Silvania Retreat is based in Sinca Noua, only 50 km from Brasov and 100 km from Sibiu.

Visit the Bear Sanctuary from Zarnesti

Location: Zarnesti, Brasov County

The Libearty Sanctuary from Zarnesti is a unique project in Romania. One of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Europe, dedicated to saving captive brown bears, this is the remarkable result of years of hard work and dedication of the Association Milioane de Prieteni.

Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary

Bears playing in the sanctuary

Photo source: www.ampbears.ro

Work at the sanctuary began in 2005, close to Piatra Craiului National Park, the area dedicated to the bears extending on 69 hectares of oak forest. Over 100 bears were saved and brought here, from orphan cubs to old bears who spent over 20 years of their lives prisoners in sordid cages. It’s a space of salvation for all of them, with trees they can climb, pools they can swim in and plenty of forest to enjoy the wilderness they never encountered before.

Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary

Bears in the pool, Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary

Photo source: www.ampbears.ro

Every visit helps the sanctuary finance its daily activities, and the effort is considerable as two tons of food are needed daily for feeding the bears.

You can also make donations and adopt one of their bears. Check www.ampbears.ro for more details.

To be sure of your visit in busy summer months, book your ticket online in advance.

Explore the cave churches from Buzau Mountains

Location: Bozioru, Buzau County

If you’re looking for both a spiritual and an active outdoors experience, then the cave churches from Buzau Mountains are among the top places to see in Romania. A myriad of 30 sites on a distance of 80 km, these small caves decorated with Christian and Pre-Christian symbols enjoy a solid dose of mystery and suppositions.

Cave Church Alunis

Cave Church Alunis

Follow the marked trails that lead to Dionisie’s Cave, Iosif’s Church, Agatonu Nou, Agatonul Vechi, Spatarului Cross and Fundatura Hermitage.

Don’t miss a visit to the Amber Museum from the village Colti, on your way to the caves.

All the information you need about visiting the cave churches on http://bozioru.ro

Villages

Rosia Montana: the history of mining

Location: Rosia Montana, Alba County

A village that stands as an open-air and underground museum of mining, Rosia Montana became famous after years of massive civil society protests and efforts to stop a destructive cyanuric exploitation.

One of the important historical sites in the country, Rosia Montana was first mentioned in 131 AD as Alburnus Maior when the ancient Romans were keen to exploit its precious metals. Mining continued in the underground galleries for hundreds of years, reaching its maximum peak during the 19th century.

Rosia Montana

Mining galleries, Rosia Montana

Photo source: www.facebook.com/adoptaocasa

Rosia Montana struggles today to find a more sustainable alternative to mining and tourism looks like the best alternative. Fifty historical monuments, walking and easy hiking itineraries that start from the village, the Mining Museum are all great attractions for a summer weekend here.

Find out more about the project Adopt a House in Rosia Montana if you wish to get involved in the local conservation activities.

Desesti: beautiful Maramures

Location: Desesti, Maramures County

This is our favorite village in Maramures because it offers so many options to enjoy the culture, nature and rural charm of the region. While Desesti did not escape the chaotic modernizing trend that irremediably changed the landscape of Maramures, it’s less touched by the senseless trend of oversized houses that disfigured so many of the nearby villages.

Desesti

Traditional house, Desesti

First mentioned in the 14th century and developed along the valley of River Mara, Desesti is located only a short drive from Sighetu Marmatiei and a few kilometers after you cross the sinuous Gutai Pass. Various trails connect it to the Maramures Greenway cycling network and you can easily plan at least three days of biking across the region if you base yourself here.

Desesti

Garden in Desesti

Plus, you can hike to Creasta Cocosului, walk to nearby villages across hills and orchards and you can enjoy the peace of the church Saint Paraschiva, included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s one of few wooden churches of the region you can be sure will be opened for you even if there’s no service.

For the best time in Desesti, we recommend Mara Guest House for its amazing host, food and mountain views.

The isolated hamlets of Cernei Mountains

Location: Cernei Mountains, Caras-Severin County

Time stood still even after schools and houses closed, after families died or moved away, leaving behind the few old people that lived their entire life in the splendid isolation of Cernei Mountains.

Inelet

Stairways to Inelet

Unreal destinations for city dwellers, hamlets like Cracu Mare, Dobraia, Inelet, Prisacina and Scarisoara are out of this world even for travelers used to countryside life experiences. The breathtaking scenery of Cernei Mountains, the ample views over the ridge of Domogled, the remoteness that makes them almost unreachable in hard winters, but above all the kindness of their few people transform these hamlets into places to see at least once in a lifetime.

You can camp in the locals’ garden or even find a room for the night in Cracu Mare and Inelet. While there, don’t hesitate to buy home-made delicacies from the villagers, whether its cheese, honey or jams. Revenue is scarce and all help is needed.

We hope you’ll consider at least one of our favorite places to visit in Romania for this year’s vacations. We’re also curious to find out which places you’re planning to visit in 2019. Drop us a line or as many as you wish in the comments section below.

If you want to explore more of Romania, try one of our private tours. More details on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

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