Best time to visit the Carpathian Mountains

Best time to visit the Carpathian Mountains


Temperature & rainfall

In the summer the mountains offer a cooler alternative to city sightseeing and popular trails get a little busier. Fresher temperatures and flower adorned meadows make the spring one of the best times to visit the Carpathians with the russet reds and mellow yellows of autumn causing photographers to go all wobbly at the knees. Winters usually provide a fair covering of snow; wildlife trackers and snowshoe shufflers will discover Christmas card images worth wrapping up for.

Things to do in Carpathians


WHAT TO DO IN CARPATHIANS & WHAT NOT TO

Things to do in the Carpathian Mountains…


If the Carpathians weren’t such a haven for wildlife you’d think they’d been created for hikers and if you’re intending to get out and explore, national parks, such as: Piatra Craiului, Slovak Paradise and Vekla Fatra, contain a criss-cross of sign-posted trails. From the 22km trek through the Lubocnia Valley to the high alpine trail in the Bucegi Mountains, walking tours and the Carpathians go together like log fires and homebrewed cherry schnapps.
Look for wildlife. The pine forests, glacial rivers and flower printed meadows of the Carpathians feature a wide range of wildlife with bison, wolves, beavers and lynx all making the region their home. Conservation projects provide an important link to keeping natural habitats protected and if you’re hoping to see bat-filled caves or wolf prints in the snow following a guide is the best way to track successfully and safely.
Stay with a real Transylvanian Count. Exploring rural Romania is an absolute pleasure but you won’t be able to visit Transylvania without thinking of a particularly legendary local. There’s no better way to fuel imaginations than to stay with a genuine Transylvanian Count and although this modern day Dracula is a trained vet and ornithologist, his carefully restored guesthouses offer a great base from where to get into the Carpathians and make the folks back home wide eyed with wonder.

Things not to do in Carpathian Mountains…


Forget your binoculars. The Carpathians are home to hundreds of species of bird with the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, in particular, supporting cormorants, red breasted geese and Europe’s largest collection of white pelicans. Rock buntings, woodpeckers, oral owls, horned larks and golden eagles are all known to inhabit the Carpathians’ national parks with the bird watching season lasting from spring right the way through to the end of summer.
Underestimate the weather. As with any outdoor adventure, it certainly pays to be prepared and if you can pack for the possibility of four seasons in one day then you won’t go far wrong whilst exploring in the Carpathian Mountains. No matter what the time of year, things can turn on a sixpence with mist on the higher grounds and snow flurries breaking a sunny day straight down the middle.
Pet the dogs. Trekking in the Carpathians will bring you into contact with all manner of wildlife; however, neither wild dogs or sheepdogs are likely to be up there on your ‘big five’. Dogs will bare their teeth, defend their territory and bite, especially if provoked or cornered. Best advice is to not look them in the eyes, not turn your back on them and to move past a pack with confidence whilst holding a large stick or rock, just in case.

Carpathian Mountains travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN THE CARPATHIANS

Wildlife advice


Alice Bzowska, from our supplier, Exodus:
"A must-do activity in the Carpathians is to visit a bear hide. Romania is home to around 6,000 wild brown bears, and going to one of these hides is the perfect way to view these incredible animals in their natural habitat whilst watching in a safe environment. Depending on what time of year you visit, you may also see little cubs play fighting with each other or with their mother. There is also the Libearty Bear Sanctuary nearby which is open to visitors and is home to nearly 100 rescued bears set in serene surroundings of hazel forestry."

Itinerary tips


Dr Matthias Hammer, founder of our supplier Biosphere Expeditions, shares his specialist knowledge and experience of working within the Slovakian Carpathians:
"You won’t find the massive resorts of the Alps in the Tatras. It’s all much smaller scale, but it’s an interesting experience. There are smaller spa towns in the hills with interesting throw-back spas to the Austrian empire or Soviet days. A great day walk in the Slovakian Carpathians is Lubocnia Valley which is Slovakia’s longest at 22km, and leads through Vekla Fatra National Park and is totally untouristy and easy to reach via Kralovany train station. For me the best way to sum up the Carpathians is: rugged, wild, remote and – away from the main drags – a truly local experience."

Culture tips


Alice Bzowska, from our supplier, Exodus:
"The locals are as friendly as they come. From laid-back villagers happy to welcome you into their homes to sample homemade cheese, to smiley shepherds showing off their sheep and posing for photos, everyone you meet in the Carpathian Mountains area will be welcoming and pleasant, even if you don’t speak the same language. Going to a local pub (which is more like a wooden-like shack serving alcohol) to quench your thirst with a regional beer is a great way to spend an evening with locals."
Gina Lawrence, Exodus:
"Along the Enchanted Way’ by William Blacker is a great book to accompany a trip to the Carpathians as it manages to combine travel writing with a personal account of Blacker’s experiences meeting local people and learning about the region’s history."

Eating & drinking tips


Gina Lawrence, from our Carpathians specialist supplier Exodus:
"Local specialties that jump to mind are the potent schnapps – usually homebrew, made from fruit picked from the plentiful orchards that abound in the hills. I recommend a sip of the cherry especially. Or head for one of the many shepherds’ huts to taste the local cheeses – creamy and rich, usually sheep or goat, but probably a little on the smelly side to actually put in your rucksack on a hot day (if you want to stay friends with your companions)."

Alice Bzowska, from our supplier, Exodus:
"The local delicacy is sheep’s brain – very tasty but with a slightly unusual texture. If you’d rather more standard fare, expect lots of free range farm animals, and rich, hearty sauces."

Tom Harari, Exodus:
"There is some fantastic locally produced wine, some very small scale where you can try the wine right from the producer."

Carpathians travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Carpathian Mountains travel advice travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
"Come with an open mind and enjoy the home produce and homemade wines of these very hospitable people. Learn a little of the history of this nation before you come." – Peter Hartnall

"If you have any preconceptions of Romania, they are likely to be wrong. It is a clean, bright country with excellent infrastructure, including much better Wifi speeds everywhere than most of the UK." – Julie Stokes

"Be prepared for all weathers - one day blazing sunshine, next torrential downpours and mud everywhere." – Diane Rowe

"Go to enjoy the long walks in beautiful surroundings and treat everything else as an excellent bonus." – Peter Underwood

"Bring proper walking boots, good waterproofs and warm fleece - it rained for 4 days during the vacation, didn't spoil it at all but you need to prepared!" – Mary Devine

"Don't be deterred by the prospect of rural home stays. They are a great enhancement to the overall Romanian experience." - Gerald Sherry

"One of the most memorable things was the beautiful Carpathian countryside and the people working in the fields as of yesteryear. The haymaking and haystacks were fascinating and we all fell in love with rural Romania." - Joan Houston

"Always have a hotel booked and be able to say the name well enough for a Romanian to understand it so you can get a taxi to it if all else fails." - Vicky Gallop
Photo credits: [Wildflowers: Gabriel] [Shepherd: Cinty Ionescu] [Walking: someone10x] [Haystacks: Cinty Ionescu] [Lynx: Martin Mecnarowski]
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