If you’re the type of person who enjoys an active holiday, be it with friends or with family, hiking tours are always a good option. You can go hiking even during the winter season, if you choose easier trails, because you have the opportunity to spend a lot of time outdoors, enjoying a beautiful landscape and exploring new places.
When it comes to trekking in Romania, some of the best locations for easy hiking, accessible even during the winter season, the Southern Carpathians are perfect for those who don’t have much experience and you have also the opportunity to visit some wonderful holiday destinations such as the Christmas markets in Transylvania.
Winter season hiking in the Bucegi Mountains
Bucegi Mountains have always been a favorite of more or less experienced hiking enthusiasts. Located at 2400 meters altitude, Bucegi Plateau is famous for two of the most interesting natural monuments Babele (“old ladies”) and the Sphinx, which attract hundreds of tourists daily. The Plateau is an important starting point for some interesting routes: Omu Peak, Heroes Cross on Caraiman Peak and Piatra Arsa Peak.
Bucegi Plateau is easily reached with the cable car from Busteni. The cable car route has a level difference of 1235m and a length of 4.3 km, which takes only about 10 minutes.
The cable car leaves every 15 minutes and has a capacity of 25 people. During the winter season, the cable car circulates between 8.30 AM and 3.45 PM.
Babele Hut – Omu Hut
It’s an easy route that does not require a lot of physical condition, but offers spectacular views; during the hike you will enjoy the scenery on the Deer Valley, Miller Tusks and Obarsiei Valley. You will pass near the two famous rocks (Babele and Sphinx), followed by a downhill stretch of road to the Costila Rely. After a climb slowly, you get to Saua Sugarilor (2295m), where the road forks into two paths: the path that goes right ahead is more suitable fore summer trekking while the left goes on the winter trail. Both paths lead you to Deer Valley Saddle. The route continues to Gavanele Peak (2493m), along Bucura Dumbrava Peak (2503m) to the Omu Hut. On your return, you can use the same route or descend through the Deer Valley (marked with yellow tape). The route takes approximately 2 hours.
Babele Hut – Piatra Arsa Hut
The trail starts at Babele Hut, it leads east and down on a horizontal plane. From here, the road descends to the second threshold, where it makes a wide curve to the right and down the edge of the Jepilor Plateau, where it intersects with the trail coming from the Caraiman. The road crosses the Jepilor Mici plateau; after about 20 minutes you will pass near Obarsia Urlatoarea Great Valley and on near Ciocarlia Peak. Here is a ramification to Jepi Canton (marked with a red triangle) and Busteni, by Urlatorilor Valley. From this road branching you leave the road behind and follow the trail on the right, which descends slightly, through juniper trees, to Piatra Arsa Hut. This route also takesonly approximately 2 hours.
Babele – Caraiman Peak
The route from Babele Hut to the Cross on Caraiman doens’t last very long: up to two hours or one hour if you’re not on the mountain for the first time. It’s easy to walk and well signposted, and once you reached the top of the mountain, in front of the monument of the heroes of the First World War, you’ll forget all tiredness. Busteni seen from above, and even Caraiman Monastery, looks downright amazing.
The trail starts at Babele Hut northwest and you climb up to Mount Caraiman and the Heroes Cross, then returns to the Caraiman Peak. Throughout the road, you’ll be “accompanied” by Caraiman (on the right) and the TV relay Costila, guarded by a military unit, on the left).
The Cross on Caraiman is unique in Europe because of the altitude at which it was built, 2284m, and its size. It has a height of 28 meters and his arms measure 7 meters in length. It was built at the initiative of Queen Mary and King Ferdinand I of Romania and the inauguration took place on September 14, 1928.
If you decide to go hiking in the Bucegi Mountains, it’s a great idea to stop by the Peles Castle, in Sinaia, which should be a wonderful sight during the winter season, or you can enjoy some hot wine, roasted chestnuts and Christmas carols at the Brasov Christmas market open during the month of December.
Hiking in the Fagaras Mountains
Another great option for hiking in the winter season is choosing one of the hiking trails in the Fagaras Mountains. The Balea Lake tourist area is located in Fagaras Mountains (an important part of the chain of the Carpathian Mountains). The region is known for the densest network of basins in the country.
Balea Lake is one of the most beautiful and largest lakes in Romania. Around the lake, 100 hectares of land were declared scientific reserve with numerous plants (edelweiss, yellow poppy, etc.) and protected animals (chamois, lynx, golden eagle).
Several cottages are built near the lake and starting with January 2006 hotel made of ice (unique in Romania) attracts thousands of tourists. The Balea Lake area is sought mostly for trips to delight any avid trekking enthusiasts by existing landscape and by a choice of trails that are a challenge sometimes. The delightful ambient enables practicing extremely diverse recreational activities.
During the winter season, skiing sports (downhill, slalom, background etc.) are made on many natural trails surrounding the lake. Given the functionality of the cable car that connects with Balea Waterfall (1234 m.), it’s possible to descent on a route over 10km at a level difference of 600 m. On the frozen surface of the lake (more than 4 hectares.) you can practice hockey, curling and skating.
Balea Lake Hut is situated at an altitude of 2034 m, on the peninsula that finishes in glacial Balea Lake and it’s surrounded on three sides by water.
During winter, the road is impractical from the waterfall. To get to Balea Lake, you can take a cable car. The famous Transfagarasan road also passes the hut.
The Ice Hotel is located at an altitude of 2,000 meters. The hotel can be visited during the day, between 9-17 and in the evening, between 17 and 20, it works as a restaurant. In the novelty restaurant, only cold food and drinks are served, otherwise the tables would be likely to melt.
Tourists who want to stay overnight in rooms can accommodate in ice rooms where the temperature does not exceed -4 Celsius degrees. The Ice Hotel at Balea Lake is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe and was inspired by similar projects in Scandinavian countries, Canada or Japan.
From Balea Lake, it’s easy to reach Sibiu and enjoy a nice day at the Sibiu Christmas market, considered to be the most beautiful one in the Transylvania region. You can go to concerts, have a taste of various holiday delicacies or shop for unique souvenirs.
As you can see, you have various options to choose from, if you decide to go on a hiking trip and also visit some of the most popular travel destinations in Transylvania. Take a look at our other Active Tours in Romania, or contact us for a private tour in Romania