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Trails & touristic attractions

Fascinating places in Romania - Carpathian Mountains

Munții Carpați (Munții Piatra Craiului, Romania)
The Carpathian Mountains segment on the Romanian territory functions, without a doubt, as the main engine for local tourism. The landscapes of the Carpathians, although less famous than those of the neighboring Alps, fascinate with their diversity and complexity. The stratification of the mountain relief, the multitude of possible outdoor activities, and the richness of the flora and fauna of the Carpathian Mountains made Romania famous internationally as well.

In tourism marketing, Romania is often recommended as probably the wildest region in Europe. As part of this description, the Carpathian Mountains are a place where you can easily experience a difficult alpine climb, a crazy mountain bike race, a stay in a traditional mountain cottage, tasting local products or mineral waters from natural springs, the discovery of small natural jewels, often devoid of any indicator, or the observation of wildlife in its natural habitat - sometimes more of these during the same trip.

The Romanian Carpathians are divided into three subdivisions: the Eastern Carpathians, the Southern Carpathians, and the Western Carpathians. The highest peak in the Romanian Carpathians is Moldoveanu (2554m). Another 11 peaks exceed the altitude of 2500 meters, all located in the Southern Carpathians (a segment sometimes compared with the Alps, in terms of landscape).

Tourist attractions in the Romanian Carpathians

Some say that the Carpathian Mountains are no different from other mountains in Europe and have nothing special. And yet, there are several tourist attractions that offer the Romanian Carpathians uniqueness and a distinct note among the neighboring mountain ranges:

  • The Transfagarasan road
  • The Mud volcanoes
  • The Scarisoara cave
  • Karst landscape in the Apuseni Mountains
  • The virgin forests of Retezat Mountains (about 20% of the national park area; the only compact area of old-grown forests in Europe)
  • The glacier lakes in the Retezat Mountains
  • Anthropomorphic rocks called „the Sphinx” (supported by various local legends, adding a special aura to the places where they are found)

Outdoor activities in the Carpathian Mountians

The Carpathian Mountains offer a complex network of tourist trails, places to see, combined with numerous accommodation and leisure activities options. Some areas are better developed than others, and the wildest ones are often sought after only by trained and curious explorers.

Possible activities throughout the Carpathian Mountains oftentimes address the whole family, sometimes dogs as well. The good news is that most of the time, especially if you are stationed in a single mountain area, you can combine these activities:

  • Classic hiking (culminating with the pilgrimage route Via Transilvanica, which connects the north with the south of the country, crossing the Carpathian Mountains)
  • Technical hiking/alpine climbing
  • Climbing
  • Intensive trail running training
  • Ecotourism (including visiting tourist sheepfolds or vacationing at local farms)
  • Wildlife observation (as an amateur or for professional purposes - wildlife photography)
  • Speotourism
  • Mountain biking (unmarked but extremely varied network of trails known to local biker communities - from push biking to downhill, freeride, cross country, enduro, pump track)
  • Adventure sports (rafting, canyoning, Via Ferrata, zip line, paragliding, bungee jumping)
  • Spa tourism (mineral water treatments, thermal baths, visiting salt pans)
  • Winter sports (cross-country skiing, cross-country skiing, freeriding, snowboarding, sledding, ice climbing, snowshoeing)
  • Equestrian walks
Via Transilvanica: traseul Terra Siculorum, 2020
Video: Tasuleasa Social

Also, there is no ideal season to plan a vacation in the Carpathian Mountains. Each season has its own charm and unique parts. Allow yourself to be surprised, whether you are planning the vacation on your own or entrust it with someone specialized.

Accommodation options in mountain areas range from luxurious villas and hotels to more equipped or minimalist campsites. Add to these the mountain cabins and refuges in the alpine regions. All guarantee an unforgettable experience that meets the needs of any traveler.

Scenic mountains roads in the Romanian Carpathians

Some are former roads where shepherds carried their livestock in the transhumance process, others are former strategic military routes; some were cut through along with the development of tourism in the area, and one of them was designed and built during communism.

All these cross-mountain roads are today mostly asphalted or at least in excellent condition for off-road practice. Their length and natural landscapes encourage active tourists to explore these roads by car. But don't shun away from the real challenge: exploring them on a mountain bike or running. The reward of the panoramas from their highest point is thus even more delicious, any road you would choose. Perhaps the most famous one, also among the most hunted tourist attraction in Romania, is the Transfăgărășan road.

If you are on holiday with your family, with children, in the mountains, you will probably prefer driving on a mountain road, stopping for memorable pictures, then spending the night at a local guesthouse or a farm that offers traditional meals, where children can play with animals. Or you can explore together gorges and caves, allowing the little ones to freely discover the charming nature. Although the Romanian Carpathians have few nature trails and educational routes - such as the one in Tișitei Gorges - the local guides sometimes offer valuable information from which the whole family has something to learn!

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