The Mountain Roads Tour
The mountains in Romania are far from being too high, topped by Moldoveanu Peak in the Făgăraș at 2544 m.a.s.l. Yet the fact that they often rise from around 500 m.a.s.l. makes them dramatic, while the background, as well as the geological diversity makes them captivating. A maze of dirt roads ply many valleys and ridges nearing majestic cliffs and painting-torn glacial lakes, while several paved roads, including the Top Gear-featured Transfăgărășan, cross the Carpathians from one side to another, often having one travel between different cultural regions and also between different landscapes, with smooth pastures on one side and rugged cliffs on the other. So, we shall take this opportunity and invite you on board for a ride of a lifetime, up and down the mountains, across endless fir tree woods, passing by picturesque hamlets, staying in high mountain chalets and guesthouses, respectively meeting the mountain folk and learning their sheep-breeding, wood carving or cheese-making stories. Convinced? Să mergem!
Type: private tour, cultural tour
Distance: 2200km / 1367mi
Accommodation: 3- and 4-star hotels and superior B&Bs
Note: where mentioned, hotels and guesthouses are samples. They can be replaced with similar comfort ones according to availability and itinerary changes (if such changes are agreed upon).
As a private tour, this tour is available at any moment. We kindly inform you that you have to take in consideration the schedule of the sights included in the program and the official national vacations. Please, contact us for more details.
How large the group is?
Our groups are never larger than 7 people.
How can I book a tour?
You just send us an email, tell us which tour you want to book, the period and the number of people in your group.
How can I pay?
We will send you a secure payment link. You can use your card, Visa or MasterCard only.
Do all the rooms have private bathrooms?
Yes, all the time. We use only clean hotels or superior B&Bs.
Is a Schengen visa available in Romania and Bulgaria?
Yes, a Schengen visa can be available.
A few kilometers in a straight line from the nearest house, on top of a partly forested hill South of Leaota Mountains (central Carpathians), there appears, out of the blue one might argue, a small cluster of wooden buildings resembling a bigger farm of sorts. Having scouted many other places at the foot of the mountains, Ionuț settled on this one:
‘I just came here, someone showed me the area and then it all unfolded: meeting the landowner, completing the paperwork, applying for the loan, getting it, starting it all up, completing the work – well, if one can assume it is ever complete -, learning from the mayor they will take care and improve the road leading here, it all just happened’.
He started with the guesthouse, the paddock and 10 horses, all set on a 2.5 Hectare property. He hired local ladies to do the cooking in what he calls ‘real traditional style, minus the deep frying’, employing the great local dairy products and meats. He then realized he was missing something: a place to sleep, as the mountain had grown in him and did not let him go away any more; so he added a small cabin to the property where he hosts visitors while taking them on horseback to Românescu Peak or farther on, towards the Leaota’s 2133 m.a.s.l. scenic peak, especially in May or June when the rhododendron bushes turn the mountain red in the soft late afternoon light. And when you think of it, all that a mere 100 km. from Bucharest and half that from the crowded and noisy resorts up the popular Prahova Valley or the ado around Bran Castle. Because Brebu, the nearest village from Ionuț’s guesthouse, is in no way a tourist den. Instead, children play and locals walk their cattle down the main – and only – road in a timeless manner, where only the forest colour tells of the passing of time.
‘In winter time, when the foliage gets covered up by snow and the scenery provides less means of hiding, one can spot wolves, boars, deers. One can sometimes hear the bears at night, as they roam the woods around.’
THE WOODS AND THE CRESTS OF THE NORTH
– Arrival at Suceava SCV Airport / Iasi IAS Airport (morning or noon arrival required, otherwise an extra night will be needed)
– Drive across Bukovina with its forests, creeks and smooth mountains to Câmpulung and then up the Transrarău Road
Accommodation, 4* mountain chalet in the highest point reached by the road
THE LADY’S CLIFFS
– Easy walk to the bottom of the Lady’s Cliffs or, for the more daring, easy scramble to the top of one of the cliffs, with great views all around (1 to 2 hours according to length of walk)
– Drive down on the other side, to Bistrița Valley and drive down it to Izvorul Muntelui Reservoir.
– Drive farther across the mountains through the impressive Bicaz Gorges and then by the Red Lake complete with its sad story
– Transfer over Liban Pass to Ivo and then up the dirt road going all the way to the 1700 m.a.s.l. Madaras Hut built in 1941
Accommodation in a mountain chalet close to the old hut
MOUNTAINS FOR AS FAR AS YOU CAN SEE
– Easy morning walk up to Madaras Peak (1 hour return)
– Drive on down to Odorheiul Secuiesc and farther to Miercurea Ciuc over a lower pass through the same Harghita Mountains, with wide pastures and forest patches charming the eye
– Drive down Olt Valley and the narrow Tușnad Spa section
– Optional and recommended (3 hours): side trip to St. Ann Lake hosted in a volcano crater; additionally, easy half an hour walk across Mohoș Bog (local guide required)
– Transfer to Brașov and, following a short walk through the old town, to Bran
– Drive up to the hamlets of Măgura or Peștera at the foothills of the limestone Piatra Craiului ridge, providing an amazing view to Bucegi and Leaota mountains
Optional: Day 3 can also end in Brebu, at Ionu Popescu’s horse farm. If interested in horse riding, allow Day 4 for a full horse riding experience (either learning the skills or riding towards Marginea Domnească / Românescu Peak, according to situation) and 2 nights there; departure farther on will be in this case in the morning of Day 5. The horse farm requires taking a different route from Bra ov (Predeal – Sinaia – the Cota 1000 Gap – Pietricica – Runcu – Brebu).
Accommodation in a 4* mountain chalet or mansion in one of the two hamlets (according to availability)
DRAMATIC MOUNTAIN ROAD
– Drive along secondary roads into Zărnești and farther on via Poiana Mărului, then plying the Northern slope of the Fărăgaș, sharply rising from 500 m.a.s.l. to 2500 m.a.s.l.
– Drive up the Transfăgărășan Road, Romania’s most spectacular road; stop by the Bâlea Falls and, later on, by the 2042 m.a.s.l. Bâlea Lake
– Optional: easy hike up the ridge and over it to Capra Lake (1 hour – 1 hour 30 minutes return)
– Drive down on the opposite (Southern) slope
Accommodation in the 3* Capra Hut upon the timberline, upon reaching the creek valley bottom
DOWN ONE MOUNTAIN, UP ANOTHER ONE…
– Drive down the road to and around Vidraru Reservoir, then on top of the dam providing beautiful views and eventually into Curtea de Argeș
– Drive on to Râmnicu Vâlcea and, following the foothills of the Carpathians with many orchards and scattered villages, to Novaci
– Optional: on the way, stop in Horezu to sample the local ceramics
– Drive up the Transalpina, Romania’s highest road, reaching 2200 m.a.s.l. in Urdele Pass
– Note: differently from the Transfăgărășan and other mountain roads in the country, the Transalpina features tighter curves and steeper legs
Drive down on the Northern side and accommodation in a 3* mountain chalet either in Obârșia Lotrului (upon reaching the valley floor) or farther on, in a remote spot off Oașa Reservoir
THE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE
– Drive farther down into Sebeș and then West into Orăștie
– Drive on the road, paved in the beginning and a dirt road afterwards, going up the Șureanu, Dacians’ holy mountain
– Visit to the mountain fortress of Sarmizegetusa, the capital of the Dacian Kingdom; the Dacians, inhabiting the current territory of Romania before the Roman conquest, always set their fortresses in the highlands, including one at 2000 m.a.s.l. up the Șureanu crest (allow up to 1 hour for the visit)
– Drive back into Orăștie
– Optional: detour to visit the excellently preserved and restored star-shape Alba Carolina Fortress in Alba Iulia (allow 2-3 hours, return driving included)
– Drive on Westwards via Deva and Lugoj to Timișoara for a well deserved stay in the fields after hopping over mountain after mountain for a week
– Recommended: homey dinner in a typical, down on earth restaurant off Republicii Street
Option for Day 6 (off-road vehicle required, refer to us for tailor-made program):
– With accommodation in Obârșia Lotrului, drive West into Petroșani and on following Jiu de Vest up to Câmpul lui Neag, between Retezat and Vâlcan mountains
– Drive on, past the paved road, over Jiu-Cerna Pass and down Cerna Valley into the small, remote Cerna Sat; drive farther on to Herculane Spa
– Across the lower, yet dramatic mountains of Semenic and Anina, with stops on the way (recommended: off Carașova to spot the wild Caraș Gorges), into Reșița and farther to Timișoara
– Recommended: homey dinner in a typical, down on earth restaurant off Republicii Street
Accommodation, 3* guesthouse off the busy centre in Timișoara
AT SLOW PACE
– Walking tour of Timișoara including the main squares in the old town: the Unirii,
Libertății and Operei
– Optional: visit to the Baroque Palace hosting a fine collection of Corneliu Baba
Transfer to Timisoara TSR Airport for flight out
- Airport pick-up and drop-off (one per group)
- Transport by modern car
- Accommodation, 6 nights, 3* and 4* hotels and guesthouses
- Licensed English-speaking tour guide/driver
- Entrance fees to sites included in the program
- Road, bridge and ferry charges according to route
- Flight ticket
- Hotel extras (telephone, mini bar, etc)
- Other meals except breakfast
- Photographing or filming fees at the visited sites
- Travel insurance