Where to see wildlife in Romania

Wondering where to go wildlife watching in Romania? Well – unlike during the country’s bear dancing days – you won’t find animals where there are people. So while you might fly into the capital city of Bucharest, you’ll then take a few hours’ drive into the Central Carpathian Mountains. These forested valleys and snowy mountaintops double as a HQ for a large part of Romania’s wildlife. Ready to throw on your red cloak and stray off the path? Read on to find out where to find everything from top predators like lynx and wolves to bears and bats.

1. Bats

Surprise, surprise: some of the biggest bat caves in Romania are in Transylvania. The Valley of the Fortress Cave could fit a cathedral comfortably inside and – of course – lies just up the road from Bran Castle, AKA Dracula’s Castle. The nearby commune of Pestera also hordes pitch-dark caverns that rustle with five species of bats.

2. Bears

Bears are the most famous resident of the Romanian Carpathians. Join a wildlife specialist in a secret forest hide run by the forestry commission for the chance to see brown bears with their guard down. Sightings are never guaranteed, so you can also pop by the Libearty bear sanctuary – a retirement home for over 100 ex-performing bears.

3. Birds

Over 300 bird species flock to the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, where alder, oak and ash forests are rooted between sand dunes and watery veins. A guided boat ride will take you past the pelicans and egrets that stride through the tidal waters. The Zarnesti Gorge is another great birding spot; you might see lesser spotted eagles or Ural owls.

4. Bison

The bison are back in Romania, after being hunted to extinction a couple of centuries ago. They’ve been reintroduced to balance the mountain ecosystem, hoovering mountain meadows and forest floors for food. As the new(ish) kids on the block, you’ll be lucky to see them – but it’s enough to know that these 500-kilo-plus beasts are gradually taking back the forests in the Carpathians.

5. Lynx

The Eurasian lynx is as close as Europe gets to a mountain lion – and most of the population spooks the boreal mountain forests of Romania. These Carpathian lynxes are some of the largest in Europe, reaching up to 40kg. They’re perfectly fashioned for their surroundings, too, with furry snowshoe paws and leopard-like camouflage.

6. Wolves

If you’re looking for wolves, the clue’s in the name in Romania. Transylvania is peppered with towns with names like Lupeni (Latin: wolf) and Vulcan (Slavonic: you guessed it – wolf). And sure enough, wolf packs race through the Transylvanian Carpathians; you’ll hear their howls echoing off the valley walls at night. You’ll need to go on a wolf tracking vacation to chase these quicksilver creatures down.
Travel Team
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Sample Romania wildlife itineraries

Carpathian Mountains conservation and culture vacation (8 days):
Bucharest > Kalibash villages of Magura and Pestera > horse-drawn cart to Barza Valley > brown bear hide > Piatra Craiului > hike Postavarul Mountain > Brasov > Bran Castle > Libearty bear sanctuary > Vulcan > Bucharest

Volunteering with bears in Romania (7 days):
Bucharest > Brasov > Bran Castle > work at bear sanctuary > Bucharest

Romania’s natural wonders small group vacation (11 days):
Bucharest > Azuga wine cellar > Peles Castle > Brasov > bear sanctuary > Biertan > Sighisoara > Moldavia > Red Lake > Bicaz Gorge > Agapia monastery > Nicolae Popa ethnographic museums > Painted Churches of Bucovina > Vama > Moldovita, Sucevita and Voronet monasteries > Crisan fisherman’s village > Danube Delta > bird watching at lakes Bogdaproste, Trei Iezare and Cazanele > Tulcea by boat > Constanta > Bucharest city tour

Wolf tracking and watching vacation in Transylvania (6 days):
Bucharest > Zarnesti > wolf tracking with researcher in Carpathians > Bran Castle > Brasov > Bucharest
Photo credits: [Page banner: Tom Bech] [Bats (Pestera): F.C. Robiller] [Bears (Libearty): Nicolas Vollmer] [Birds (Danube Delta): Adi Daniel Antone] [Bison: AJ Robbie] [Lynx: Jan nijendijk] [Wolf : Mas3cf]