Everything you need to know about hiking in Romania.
The majority of travelers who visit my home country seldom choose Romania for its mountains.
They usually come for Dracula, medieval towns like Sighișoara and the capital city of Bucharest, overlooking the country’s most impressive attraction of all, the majestic Carpathians.
I am here to ask you to look beyond the usual tourist attractions and consider hiking in Romania – if you love nature, have a sense of adventure and respect the great outdoors, you will not be disappointed!
Here are a few good reasons why you should consider hiking in Romania:
Table of Contents
- Some of the best views require very little effort
- Things to Know When Hiking in Romania
Some of the best views require very little effort
You don’t need to be a power hiker to get a glimpse of some of the most spectacular panoramas in Romania.
Several trails are extremely easy to conquer, offering a more than rewarding view from the top!
On one of my recent hikes my parents and I took a short and easy hour-long walk to Ciucaru Mic Peak (313 meters).
Once we reached the highest point we were astonished by the killer view the peak offered of the Cazan Gorge, the natural border between Serbia and Romania.
You can actually drive through the mountains
Even if you’re not much of a hiker, Romania still has some amazing paved mountain road crossings for you to enjoy.
One of them, the Transfăgărășan, has been named “the best road in the world” by Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson due to its magnificent surroundings and exciting drive.
Numerous other such crossings can be found scattered around the Carpathians, offering proximity to mountain peaks and hiking trails.
The lakes nestled between the mountains are to die for
Mountain lakes are cold, clean and usually crystal-clear. This general rule applies to the majority of lakes in Romania too. That’s why they make for outstanding hiking destinations.
The most spectacular ones can be found amongst limestone rocks which boast an imposing turquoise hue, such as the Ochiul Beiului Lake of the Cheile Nerei-Beușnița National Park.
Our gorges are like playgrounds for adults
If you’re in the mood to challenge yourself and aren’t afraid of getting wet, river gorges are definitely the thing for you!
Similarly to the lake above, gorges can mainly be found in the limestone mountains of Romania.
They offer an unforgettable experience, as sometimes you’ll need to trek through the water (like in the Râmeț Gorge), whilst on other occasions you will need climb up ladders adjacent to waterfalls (like at the 7 Ladders Gorge) – an activity best enjoyed in summer.
The waterfalls aren’t half bad either
Speaking of waterfalls, some of them are exceptionally memorable. The Bigăr Falls, for example, is one of the most beautiful in the country.
Due to its unusual shape it has been named among the top unique waterfalls in the world by The World Geography.
There are quite a few challenging trails for experienced hikers
Even if you’re a skilled trekker, hiking in Romania will surely not disappoint.
The most challenging and lengthy hiking trails are found in the Southern Carpathians – especially in the Bucegi, Făgăraș and Retezat Mountains.
If you really want to wear yourself out, choose the trail leading to the Moldoveanu Peak, from where you can admire the surroundings from a whopping 2,544 meters.
Things to Know When Hiking in Romania
Before you start to pack and hit the road, here are a couple of essentials you need to know about hiking in Romania:
Don’t underestimate the Carpathians
I know, I know – the Carpathians aren’t actually the Himalayas when it comes to the level of hiking.
However, you must never underestimate a mountain because of its height or build, which brings me to my next point:
Come fully-prepared and well-documented
Document yourself before heading out into the wild. Check out the weather forecast and road conditions.
Alert the local authorities if you’re planning on trekking alone and be aware of the full length and difficulty of the path chosen.
Last but not least, don’t forget about proper layering, dressing for the season and the importance of appropriate hiking gear!
Get ready for some bumpy roads
Albeit the main roads and the mountain crossing roads mentioned above are well-maintained, some passages are less so.
In fact, there are plenty of small side roads which are unpaved and full of potholes, but they actually give you a head start on your hike.
Truth be told, if you go slow enough you can’t actually do any harm to your car.
But the decision of cutting your hike shorter with a drive or choosing to leave your car the moment you leave the paved road is totally up to you.
Never drink from lakes or rivers
Even though a river, stream or lake might seem clear at first glance, you never know how many cows actually drank from it before you got there.
The main issue is the fact that there are numerous herds of sheep and cattle governing the mountains, drinking from the mentioned water sources.
That’s why there are designated springs with the sign IZVOR on them supplying water that is safe to drink.
These sources are marked on any given hiking map, so plan your route according to them to avoid running out of drinking water.
We have overprotective shepherd dogs
Where there’s a sheep herd, there will certainly be shepherd dogs. Usually there are more than a few protecting the fluffy grazing animals from anything that approaches them.
They will probably notice you way sooner than you will see them, signalling your proximity with some aggressive barking.
The best thing to do is to remain calm and keep on advancing. Chances are that the shepherd is right there, keeping his dogs under control.
Although the barking will continue until you pass them, remember not to make any sudden movements, don’t project any aggressiveness and avoid eye contact.
You should be fine as long as you don’t provoke them in any way.
We also have bears
Quick fact: There are more than 6,000 brown bears living in the forests of Romania.
I’ve been hiking in Romania for over 5 years and I haven’t seen one yet.
There are a couple of things you can do to make sure you don’t see one either.
First and foremost if you’re hiking by yourself or with a small group, make some noise.
Don’t trek in silence, because you might find yourself face to face with an extremely surprised bear that will attack out of fear.
If you decide to camp in the great outdoors, never keep your food in your tent – it attracts the wild animals.
Choose a tree that’s at least 10-15 meters away from your tent and place your food there (preferably tie it to a high branch on the tree).
If you happen to run into a bear on the trail, but you haven’t been spotted yet, slowly and silently back away; chances are he won’t notice you.
There are many opinions of what to do if a brown bear has spotted you and might decide to approach you.
One of the most popular beliefs is that you should wave with your arms and hiking sticks to give the illusion of being a large creature and scream your lungs out to scare it away.
You might want to take some bear spray with you for caution.
Remember: Bears are wild animals that generally feed on berries.
They aren’t searching for any human contact and they are certainly not lurking between the bushes to hunt you down.
Respect the way nature works and it will respect you back!
Lead by example – Don’t litter
Unfortunately lots of garbage is lying around the hiking paths and in the campsites of the Romanian mountains.
This is a very bad habit caused by lack of education and common sense, causing terrible destruction to some amazing natural places.
So if there’s one thing you’ll take away from this article, let it be this: don’t litter in nature!
Collect your water bottles, tissues, napkins and everything else in your backpack and bring them down from the mountain.
Don’t make your mark on nature- let it make its mark on you!
Enjoy the view
Take photos, make memories, but most importantly – enjoy the view while hiking in Romania!
30 thoughts on “The Beginner’s Guide to Hiking in Romania”
Well, the mith about bears is true. But they are double or maybe more than 6k
In the past 3 years I’ve hiked almost all the trails in Vrancea mountains and it hasn’t been a single trip where i didn’t seen a bear or at least it’s track. So be careful if you go there.
Also we’ve met some wild pigs near Lepșa.
As the author said. Make a lot of noise to make your presence noticed. And light up a candle in church before going there
Hello and thanks for this article.
I arrive in Romania Tuesday from NZ and want to spent 8 days hiking in the Mountains. Where is the best town to stay in for this where some English will be spoken? And how would I get there? Are there easy day hikes from whatever town is best?
Hey! Thinking of hiking the southern parts of the karpathians you have mentioned here. Is it possible to do in the start of May? Or is there still to much snow?
Considering a trip — need a mountain fix and tickets are the right price! Is camping in the Carpathians regulated? Or is it dispersed camping for the most part?
In other words… how would I know where it is ok to camp vs. where it is not?
Hi Chris, sounds like a great adventure. Sorry we are not too sure about the camping. All the best.
Hi guys, hi Adri!
That’s a very accurate description of what to expect from a hiking tour in this beautiful country! So accurate that, thinking that the article is written by Lesh or Jazza, I had to go to the about page and check if any of them has been living a long time in Romania 🙂
You’re right also about the bears. One should note that brown bears are shy animals and they will try to avoid humans. Since I noticed Mieke asked in a comment about bear watching, there are few tour operators organizing bear viewing tours. Some of them are near Brasov, others in Tusnad area. A starting point can be
https:// bearwatching .ro , not only to find a bear watching tour but also to find out more about this magnificent animal and the threats they are exposed to.
One day I would love to visit Romania. Its beauty is something I would wish to experience soon
Hi Denis, we hope you get there one day. It is a beautiful country
We’re going to visit Romania in next two weeks. Can you recoend us any nice one day hiking trails for young parents witch 1y.o daughter? It is very hard to find that kind of information in English or polish or even in Romanian (Google translate working quite good).
There are some nice hikes around Brasov. That would be a good spot and it is a lovely town. Hope you have a great trip. Happy travels
I’m so glad you had the chance of visiting Romania, and that you are also promoting it in a way through this article.
We loved our time in Romania. We never got to hike some of these hikes but after Adrienn’s post we want to know. Thank you for reading T bug.
Hi! Thank you for the lovely blog. It contains a great deal of interesting information. Since it is your home country I’d love to get some more information from you.
I am planning a trip to the Carpatian mountains. I’m going there because of the unspoilt and beautiful nature, but I am also a big wildlife fan and I am very excited about seeing bears in the wild. Of course not by running into one, just like that. I’m actually looking for a guided trekking. I’ve already found some organizations online, but I like the local businessess more. I also don’t really want to trek with a group of 10 people, rather 3 or 4. Could you give me some advice on what to look for? Thank you!
Thank you so much for your comment Mieke. Adrienn wrote a great article for us. We loved travelling Romania. Unfortunately we have not been to the Carpatian mountain area. We would love to one day. It would best to contact her over on her blog, City of the week (https://www.cityoftheweek.net/). She may have know more information about that area. The link is in here bio above. Have a great trip. 🙂
First of all, I am so glad you are coming to Romania and actually including our beautiful mountains into your itinerary.
For guided mountain treks, I’d recommend Mountain Guide Sibiu (https://www.mountainguide-sibiu.ro/index.php/en/) – from what I know, they guide smaller groups as well, feel free to contact them for more info!
There’s also an official bear watching company who organize such tours (their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Medveles1973/?ref=br_rs) , I’d recommend writing them a message to receive more info about their prices and conditions. If I can help you with anything else, don’t hesitate to contact me! 🙂
Thanks so much for the information Adrienn. 🙂
Adrienn, it’s a very informative and highly inspiring article, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
Wish you all the best in your adventures and explorations!
I currently live in Brazil, and I am planning to travel to Romania next year to do some outdoor adventures and horseback tours, then hike across Europe from there through natural parks and mountain ranges. Life is there to be lived after all! ;O)
Awesome we are stoked Adrienn’s article could help you. Romania is an incredible place. Brasov is stunning and a great place to explore for a few days. Sounds like you are going to have a great trip. We totally agree, life is there to be lived. 🙂
Re sheep dogs. Although I have not met any aggressive ones in Romania, in both Georgia and Bulgaria I have. I Georgia I was quite badly bitten by a Caucasian Mountain dog which rushed at me from a bush while I was talking to its owner I had to get to a hospital quite quickly and have rabes shots. In Bulgaria I was threatened twice by very aggressive dogs in the countryside near Bansko who made it very clear their intention to attack me. Luckily I was carrying a stout stick which they were very wary of and I was able to escape. In both cases they were with other dogs which no doubt would have followed up the attack.
This is absolutely beautiful, and I am very excited to discover all of the hiking marvels that Romania has to offer! You have amazing writing and descriptive skills! I am looking to go to Romania for a month, and I am looking at places to form base – for hiking, would you suggest staying in the western part of the country?
Thank you for your kind words!
The Western part of the country is very beautiful and offers a nice insight into Transylvanian back country. The most spectacular hike there is located in the Apuseni Mountains and is called The Lost World (in Romanian – Cetatile Ponorului si Lumea Pierduta), known for its interesting limestone formations which include gorges, caves and awesome peaks.
For more challenging hikes you might want to look into the Bucegi, Fagaras, Rodnei, Piatra Craiului and Retezat Mountains. For a more leisurely trip, take into consideration the Hasmas, Almajului, Aninei, Gutai and Piatra Mare mountain ranges. If you need any additional information don’t hesitate to contact me via email, I am always happy to help 🙂
Thank you Adrienn. Can you suggest any good hiking trails in the North East part of Romania?
Adrienn. THanks for the great guidance. Wondered if you could recommend best plan for a three day hike during July. Moderately experienced hikers but not climbers. Camping or mountain cabins for overnights.
Is there an easy way to reach hiking trails in Romania using public transportation or must you rent a car to reach the start point of the hikes in the carpathians , gorges and falls? I am 18 and want to travel to a european country this summer backpacking for 4 days and do mostly hikes, Less interested in musuems. So if you think Romania is difficult for me to get to places where else would you recommend -inexpensive, hiking , easy to get to places without a car.
Hi Gilad, We are not to sure. Adrienn wrote this awesome article for us. If you head over to her site and send her an email, maybe she can help. So sorry we couldn’t help. All the best and happy travels
The answer is, as you guess…it depends! It is easy to reach some hiking trails, but not all of them. Also, it depends of where in Romania you will be. For example, from Bucharest, Ploiesti or Brasov you can hike on Bucegi mountains, Piatra Mare, Postavaru. For Bucegi, for example, take a train fro either Brasov or Bucharest to a resort at the feet of the mountains, like Sinaia, Busteni, Poiana Tapului, Azuga or Predeal. I woud recommend Sinaia or Busteni, as there are more hiking trails leaving from here, both in Bucegi or Baiului Mountains.
In the same area, other mountains, like Piatra Craiului or Ciucas, are not so easily accessible; but hitchhiking is still a valid option in Romania .
Thanks so much for the info Alesha & Jarryd. Very useful. We are headed to Romania in a week’s time and wondering if early-May is warm enough to go hiking in the country? Realize there are large temperature variations depending on the location, but wondering if there are any specific locations where we can hike in during May.
Hi Ashish, thanks for reading. Andrienn wrote a great article for us. We loved our time in Romanian. Not too sure about the weather then. We recommend bringing some warmer clothes just in case. If it is not raining get out there and go hiking. Doesn’t matter if it is a little cold. Happy travels.
what I find most first time travelers enjoy about hiking in Romania is that there are also beautiful trekking trails for beginners. Some people are not up for long trekking tours, but they don’t want to get bored and I think that, like you said, you don’ t have to go out of your way to be able to enjoy some nice views.
Very true about the treks. Every person is different. Everyone loves beautiful views. Thank you for your comment. Happy travels. 🙂