31% of Romania’s territory is covered by mountains. Another 36% are hills.
We will not quote half a WikiPedia page here. Info about Southern Carpathian range is easily found. Instead we will concentrate on “why Romania” part.
So, why to come hiking, climbing or mountaineering in Romania. Why not Austria, or France, or Switzerland, or Italy, or any other established mountaineering destinations?
Mountains are easily accessible
You can fly to Bucharest, get off the plain and be in the mountains after a 1.5 hour drive. Closest massif to Bucharest is Bucegi. And it has it all: easy hiking, difficult hiking, alpine routes galore, rock climbing – awesome multi-pitch routes, but short hard sport climbing routes too. The longest multi-pitch route in Romania – Fisura Albastra (Blue Crack) that is cc. vertical 300 meters long is also in Bucegi.
Other large massifs are also just 2.5 – 5 hour drive away.
There are also 2 high-altitude freeways in Romanian Carpathians that make the access extremely easy and extremely scenic: Transfagarasan road in Fagaras massif and Transalpina road in Parâng massif. These roads reach altitudes of 2,000 – 2,100 m.
Low prices of… everything
In comparison to Western Europe Romania is still dirt cheap.
Accommodation & food. If you are a mountaineer, that is if you think that warm water and crapper inside is a luxury set up, then you will be able to find accommodation for 80-110 RON (roughly 18-23 EUR). If you have higher standards for comfort, anything from 250 RON up is quite decent. We are now speaking about accommodation in villas and hotels in small towns in mountain valleys.
Bed in mountain cabins (refuges) costs between 30 and 75 RON.
Plentiful dinner (with beer) in a restaurant can cost anywhere from 50 to 150 RON for one person.
Camping in national parks is allowed in designated areas – usually right next to the mountain cabins. Camping is either free or costs 10-15 RON per day.
Gear & cable cars. A day of skiing: rent complete gear and get a ski pass will cost you around 230 RON. One lift with a cable car from Sinaia or Busteni to Bucegi plateau is 35 RON – to 2000 – 2100 altitude. Small cable car charters that cover segments of a mountain or ski domain will cost 20 RON each.
In comparison to a mountain vacay in Western Europe, you will probably manage with half the money in Romania.
One of the last areas of wilderness in Europe
Romanian mountains are a home for real, untrimmed, unchanged, non-tourist-bate wilderness. Deforestation, especially illegal, is a big problem, but people here put up a serious fight to prevent it. So, Romania still retains vast amounts of virgin forests.
The nature of Romanian Carpathians is absolutely spectacular. On an average hiking day you can expect to see: deer, mountain goats, foxes and sometimes a bear. Large carnivores are protected, so we have a lot of wolves (you will almost never see them, though), bears (sightings are very frequent), lynx (normally only caught on park rangers’ cameras – very private animals).
If you are a nature lover, Romania is a must visit for you.
Mountaineering in winter season
Since Alps are “closed” to a low or mid-level mountaineer during winter due to harsh conditions, Romanian Carpathians are a great alternative. Basically, here you can do what you normally do in summer season in Alps, but in winter! You can do mixed climbing, alpine routes, climb steep gullies, do ice climbing and ski of course.
Great family destination
Because Romanian Carpathians is a low range in comparison to, say, Alps, they are much more accessible for family hiking or MTB trips trips. Children of any age can be taken to Romanian mountains – there are plenty of child-friendly hikes or ground roads to bike on. No acclimatization is required, since the tallest peak is 2,545 m high.
Because accommodation can be found in small resort towns right at the mountain bases, you can start a hike just going out of your hotel or villa door.
Wide range of activities
In Romanian Carpathians you can:
- Hike (winter and summer)
- Trail run
- Do alpine / mountaineering routes (winter and summer)
- Rock climb sport routes graded from 5a to 9a (9a in Baile Herculane was recently confirmed by Adam Ondra)
- Rock climb multi-pitch routes
- Ice climb (winter only, we have no permanent ice)
- Ski (alpine) / snowboard / splitboard (winter)
- Do ski touring (winter)
- Do ski alpinism (winter)
- Heli-ski (winter)