Walking in Romania guide
Most vacations in Romania focus either on the sprightly capital, Bucharest, or the legends associated with Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. But away from the bars and the bats, Romania is quietly fostering a reputation as one of Europe’s finest destinations for a walking vacation. Here you will find the continent’s largest expanse of virgin forest, draped across chains of mountains that are carved through with plunging river valleys. Lush foothills are peppered with bubbling mineral springs and ancient Saxon villages.
With its ancient villages, painted churches, and miles of virgin forest prowled by wild brown bear, Romania is a walker’s paradise.
Here, life seems to go on much as it has for centuries, with horse and cart often the easiest way to travel along bumpy unpaved roads. Fortified castles look out across hillsides strewn with wildflowers, the faithful tend beautifully painted wooden churches, and everyone you meet appears to have a secret stash of homebrewed brandy. Tranquil as it all is, you have to break the silence occasionally. Brown bear roam this wilderness freely, and it’s always best to let them know you’re coming. Find out more in our Romania walking vacations guide.
What does walking in Romania entail?
What kind of trip is right for me?
Romania walking vacations can be center based, with a series of day hikes spoking out from one location such as Magura, or point to point. With the latter, you’ll be carrying only the bare essentials in a day pack, with your main bag transported between accommodations by car or, just as likely, a horse drawn cart. Small group tours are led by professional local guides over set routes, while selfguided tours let you walk at your own pace, with flexibility in what you see every day and comprehensive directions.
Where will I be sleeping?Outside the cities, you’ll mostly be staying in small, locally owned guesthouses. You can expect comfortable, rustic accommodation, delicious home cooked meals for carnivores and herbivores alike, and host families with probably just a basic grasp of English. Evenings will likely be very quiet, so bringing along a few books, or a pack of cards to play with your fellow guests, is a good idea. Phone chargers are strictly optional.
How far will I be walking each day?Distances and time spent walking vary day by day, and with the type of trip that you choose. A long day might see you cover around 20km over approximately six hours, but most walks are much shorter than that. Some of the gradients will require a bit of puff, but if you walk fairly regularly, and have a reasonable level of fitness, then hiking in Romania shouldn’t present any major challenges.
Visiting Libearty Bear SanctuaryA highlight of walking in Romania for many of our travelers, Libearty was started in 1998 by a Romanian woman, Cristina Lapis, who was appalled by the conditions caged bears were held in around the country. At the time, keeping captive bears was illegal, but the law was rarely enforced as police had nowhere to release the animals after confiscation. With a section of oak forest donated by the town of Zarnesti near Piatra Crialui National Park, Cristina and her organisation created a sanctuary that now houses 70 rescued bears. The animals can frequently be seen emerging from the trees to play and relax in open meadows and freshwater. Libearty is open to visitors every morning except Mondays, and depends in part on donations from the public.
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Best time to go walking in Romania
In the summer, the mountains are a refreshing alternative to the cities and coastal resorts. In the winter, wolves leave clear tracks across a sparkling blanket of snow.
Romania is a year round walking destination, but the Carpathian Mountains, where most vacations take place, are unquestionably at their most attractive during the spring and the autumn. If you’re in the mountains and forests the summer heat is perfectly manageable. The days are longer, and bears are at their most active during these summer months too. From late spring through to summer you can expect showers, and the occasional thunderstorm. Winter walking is also popular, but in some regions such as the Ariesului Valley, chances are you’ll be wearing snow shoes rather than boots.
Romania Weather Chart