Romania’s mountain scenery, dominated by the captivating Carpathian range, is a mesmerizing setting of natural beauty that invites travelers with its diverse landscapes and intriguing charm. 

Even without the global renown of the Alps or the lofty altitudes of the Himalayas, the Carpathian Mountains will enchant you with their sometimes ominous wilderness. These mountains have meadows where vibrant greens merge with lively yellows and blues, painting a scene that feels like a dream. The Carpathians are where nature has sculpted statues with peculiar shapes, evoking images of the Sphinx or ancient pagan temples. 

Whether it’s the Transfăgărășan winding through the Făgăraș Mountains, the rugged allure of the Parâng range along the Transalpina, or the pristine wilderness of Retezat National Park, Romania’s mountains offer unforgettable experiences for all willing to see their beauty. 

Visit Peleș Castle in the Carpathians

Located in the Bucegi Mountains near Sinaia in Romania, Peleș Castle is a testament to architectural grandeur and historical significance. Commissioned by King Carol I of Romania in 1873 and completed in 1883, the castle served as a royal residence.

Its location in the Carpathian foothills adds a fairytale quality to the surroundings. The castle features an intriguing blend of architectural styles, primarily Neo-Renaissance, with elements inspired by various European influences. It was a royal retreat and a crucial venue for political and artistic gatherings during the early 20th century. Peleș Castle holds a rich historical story and unique cultural importance, making it one of Romania’s most iconic landmarks.

Architecturally, Peleș Castle is a marvel with its intricate detailing, ornate carvings, and artistic craftsmanship throughout. The inside is adorned with luxurious furnishings, stained glass windows, and a diverse array of artwork, showcasing the luxury of the Romanian monarchy. The castle features over 160 rooms, each with character, ranging from the ornate and lavish to the more practical. 

The breathtaking landscapes around Peleș Castle in Sinaia are essential to the visitor experience. Hiking enthusiasts can explore the Bucegi Natural Park with its network of trails, immersing themselves in the beauty of the Carpathian Mountains. For a more elevated experience, the cable car ascends to 2,000 meters altitude, providing panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. 

You can check the castle’s opening hours, guided tour availability, and seasonal considerations for the best experience here.

See Bâlea Lake and the Transfăgărășan Highway

Like a hidden gem in the Făgăraș Mountains, Bâlea Lake is a pristine glacial masterpiece. Ascending the Transfăgărășan Highway is like a serpentine dance, unveiling sweeping panoramas and majestic peaks. At Bâlea Lake, crisp mountain air and serene alpine waters create a tranquil haven amidst the peaks. The cable car ride offers a bird ‘ s-eye view to help you enjoy the emerald green meadows against the rugged backdrop of towering cliffs.

The Transfăgărășan Highway, often hailed as one of the world’s most spectacular roads, weaves its way through the Făgăraș range, presenting a thrilling passage through nature’s grandeur. As the road ascends beyond 2,000 meters altitude, this journey is not merely a drive; it’s a poetic exploration of Romania’s soul-stirring natural beauty.

What activities await you in the area?

(All of these are primarily available during the warm season)

Warm meal at the Bâlea Lake Cabin – Take a break at this cabin, even if it’s just a day trip to the glacial lake. They serve delicious Romanian food and warm drinks. Relax on the terrace with a cup of coffee, soaking in the stunning lake views. It’s a perfect moment of tranquility amidst your adventure.

Hiking Trails – Lace up your boots and explore the numerous hiking trails that meander through the mountains. These trails vary in difficulty, offering options for novice and seasoned trekkers. The rewarding views of the surrounding mountains and valleys make every step worthwhile.

Cable Car Ascent – For a more leisurely yet equally mesmerizing experience, take the cable car ascent to Balea Lake. 

Rock Climbing – The rugged cliffs and rocky outcrops in the Făgpraș Mountains provide an ideal setting for rock climbing enthusiasts. 

Photography Expeditions – For those who prefer a more relaxed adventure, the region is a paradise for photography enthusiasts. Capture the ever-changing play of light on the mountains, the reflections in Bâlea Lake, and the dramatic landscapes that unfold along the famous Transfăgărășan road. 

Hike to see the Sphinx and Babele in the Bucegi Mountains

In the Bucegi Mountains, you’ll discover the Sphinx and Babele, two remarkable natural rock formations that captivate with their mysterious appearance. Shaped by centuries of weathering, the Sphinx resembles a human face, while Babele, meaning “the old women,” are a cluster of mushroom-like rocks. Local legends and folklore add an extra layer of enchantment, attributing mystical powers to these formations. The Bucegi Mountains offer a network of hiking trails, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to explore the stunning surroundings. 

The Sphynx

For the best experience, visit during the warmer months: April – September. The Sphinx and Babele are a must-see destination for nature lovers and those intrigued by the magic of local legends.

Discover Sarmisegetuza Regia – The Dacians’ Legendary Fortress

Sarmizegetusa Regia is the most important Dacian site in Romania. Its faraway location made it essential for many reasons, like its strategic, political, and military importance, as well as its economic and spiritual importance. They started it in the second half of the 1st century BC; this capital was super well-protected and had easy access to a lot of iron.

Fun fact? It’s one of the six Dacian fortification systems included on the UNESCO Heritage List.

How do you get to Sarmizegetusa Regia in Romania? (Not to be confused with Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, which was a Roman colony established after the Roman conquest, reflecting Roman influence in the region). 

Start your journey on the highway to Orăștie, where you’ll quickly pass by the Orăștie Fortress (worth a short visit). Follow the clear signposts through mountain villages and into the forest until you reach the fortress’s parking lot. The walk up to the citadel isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s manageable. Sarmizegetusa Regia is one of Romania’s most fascinating attractions, making the effort to come here absolutely worthwhile. Park your vehicle in the ample parking space, and from there, enjoy a straightforward two-kilometer stroll up to the citadel. 

The Sacred Area at Sarmizegetusa Regia consisted of various structures, with the andesite altar serving as the focal point for sacrifices. Beyond its religious role, the altar’s construction suggests a potential astronomical purpose. Traces of columns are all that remain from the temples within the Sacred Area. The iconic Large Sanctuary, a circular structure, stands out as a symbol of Sarmizegetusa Regia, drawing parallels to Stonehenge in England. 

See Sarmizegetusa Regia visiting hours and entrance fee here.

Explore Piatra Craiului National Park – a Paradise for Nature Enthusiasts

Piatra Craiului National Park is a natural gem renowned for its diverse landscapes, dense forests, alpine meadows, and striking limestone ridges. This captivating haven offers outdoor enthusiasts lots of hiking trails, showcasing the true beauty of Romania!

In this region, scientists have identified 35 invertebrate species found nowhere else globally, along with 216 butterfly species and more than 100 bird species. Furthermore, the park is home to over 40% of Romania’s mammal species, including large carnivores and the elegant chamois, making it a haven for biodiversity.

The park features a wide variety of flora, including the iconic Garofita Pietrei Craiului, a symbol of the park, along with numerous orchid species, edelweiss, sweet pea, great yellow gentian, and vibrant rhododendron. The park faces conservation challenges, with over 180 of its plant species listed on the Red List as endangered.

Most hiking trails start from Zărnești, Plaiul Foii, or charming villages like Peștera, but be mindful of your stamina when choosing the right one. Explore the complete list of trails on Muntii Nostri  for a comprehensive guide.

The Zărnești Gorges serve as an alternative entrance to Piatra Craiului National Park. For those seeking a more relaxed experience, the nearby Libearty sanctuary in Zărnești, the largest of its kind in Eastern Europe, offers a unique opportunity to witness these majestic bears in a natural reserve spanning 70 hectares. 

Want to travel to Romania?

Let us nudge you towards the alluring landscapes and captivating stories waiting to be discovered in Romania, especially in its majestic mountains. Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of adventure or the charm of rich history, Romania has it all! 

So, why not join us on an exploration? Travel with Balkan Trails and immerse yourself in the beauty and culture that makes Romania a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences. Your next adventure awaits!