Located in the heart of Eastern Europe is Romania. A country famed for its delicious wines and fortified castles that have given birth to the legend of Dracula. Are you looking for off-the-map experiences and a chance to discover the medieval traditions of this fascinating culture? Enjoy scenic hikes through the dense forests of Transylvania and explore the picturesque Carpathian Mountains. A trip to Romania is perfect for those travellers seeking a more diverse experience in an often overlooked part of our world.
There is more to Romania than beautiful mountains, medieval fortresses and scenic adventures. Romania has many national dishes to sample along the way that will warm your heart and are part of what makes this country such an amazing one. In today’s blog post we are going to delve into lesser-known sites throughout Romania. Add these ideas to your itinerary or join our small group tour that visits them all as part of our ten-day journey through this fascinating region. Read on to learn more…
Primaeval Beech Forest
Have you heard about the UNESCO World Heritage site that stretches over 12 countries? Strimbu Baiut is part of the primeval beech forest transboundary property that stretches over 12 countries and includes Romania, Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Span and Ukraine. Since the end of the last Ice Age, European Beech spread from a few isolated refuge areas in the Alps, Carpathians, Dinarides, Mediterranean and Pyrenees over a short period of a few thousand years in a process that is still ongoing. The successful expansion across a whole continent is related to the tree’s adaptability and tolerance of different climatic, geographical and physical conditions.
The Iza Valley follows the Iza River southeastward from Sighetu Marmatiei to Moisei. Maramure peasant villages nestle in the valley, almost all featuring the region’s famed elaborately carved wooden gates and tall wooden churches. Smaller villages are built into the hillside of the other valleys that branch off to the side, enticing visitors to walk across the hills between them. One of the churches that are of notable mention is the church at Barsana, which is a must-visit if you are in the region.
The wooden church of Barsana is small, neat and perfectly positioned atop a hillock to the west of the village centre. Built in 1720, its florid paintings are amongst the best in Maramure? and date from 1720 and 1806. Hodor Toador and Ion Plohod were responsible for the later set, with icons on wood by the former – the narthex is adorned with saints and processional images, while the naos is painted with Old and New Testament scenes, each in a decorative medallion. Don’t miss the images of angels covered in eyes.
The Rodna mountains are one of Romania’s best hiking areas and this is largely because you’re sure to have them virtually to yourself. Our guide will drive you to Borsa, where you will take a chairlift deep into the beautiful Rodna Mountains. Trek through the mountains and take in the wonderful Romanian countryside, a true highlight of your journey will be when you first witness the magnificent Stiol Lake, a glacier lake from which the Bistrita river springs.
The Rodna Mountains have one of the longest continuous ridges in Romania, with over 50 km from west to east. The two highest points are Pietrosul Rodnei and Ineu peaks, measuring 2,303 and 2,279 metres respectively.
Hasmas National Park
Highlights of Hasmas National Park include the Bicaz Gorges which are famous for their 300m (1000 ft) limestone rocks towering over narrow roads and passes. The road that slices through the Bicaz Gorges (Cheile Bicazului) is among Romania’s most stunning and spectacular. For kayakers and fly-fishing enthusiasts the park’s main attraction is the Red Lake (Lacul Rosu), created in 1837 after a major natural landslide. Short and long walks provide access to the lake’s spectacular scenery and many fishing spots. The Bicaz Gorges offer a unique view of the Ceahlau Mountains, which is sure to make for some spectacular photo moments!
Looking for a lesser known European destination, then add Romania to your list. If you would like to make this experience yours then contact us today. Check out our Real Romania small group tour details here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.