Carving their way through Romania’s pastoral landscapes, the wild Carpathian Mountains create a rugged backbone for eastern Europe, especially in the Transylvanian Alps, Romania’s legend-filled heartland. On this intriguing journey, we enjoy spectacular hiking in an undisturbed mountain realm where time stands still—shepherds tend their flocks, horse carts are more numerous than cars, and fortified Saxon villages retain their traditional character. Transylvania’s architectural treasures await us, too, including the striking Baroque city of Brasov, with its historical monuments, stunning Castle Bran—legendary lair of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula)—and absolutely medieval Sighisoara, an atmospheric World Heritage Site and Romania’s most enchanting town.
This trip offers a wonderful opportunity to both enjoy pleasant hiking and the mountains and rural villages of Romania and also to gain an understanding of the very complicated medieval and modern history of the whole region.
— Denise S., Montoursville, PA
Days 1-2, Aug 14 - 15, 2016
Sinaia / Bucegi Mountains
After meeting in Bucharest, we head out to lovely Sinaia, nestled in a deep valley in the Bucegi Mountains, a limestone chain with some of the best hiking in Romania. We catch a funicular to a ridgetop at 6,600 feet for a panoramic hike below the sheer peaks of Caraiman (7,700') and Costila (8,250'). The meadows here are ablaze with wildflowers, from grape ferns to edelweiss, and the terrain above the treeline is the abode of chamois.
Days 3-4, Aug 16 - 17, 2016
We enjoy a hike in the Piatra Mare (“Big Rock”) Mountains, where the highest summit is 6,100 feet. Our choice of hiking routes includes a trail to the pestera de gheata (“the ice cave”), to the beautiful Tamina waterfall, or a route across the “seven ladders,” steel ladders bolted to a wall in a mountain canyon. Our next hike takes us into the peaks of the Postaravu Mountains where, in clear weather, we have 360-degree views. Overnights are in Brasov, a timeless gem of a city set at the foot of ancient mountain passes and known for its wealth of beautifully preserved Baroque architecture.
Days 5-6, Aug 18 - 19, 2016
Sighisoara / Castle Bran / Transylvanian Alps
After a morning hike that ends near a dramatic 13th century hilltop fortress, we head for picturesque Bran, the little town that holds the mysterious castle of Dracula fame, perched on a rocky bluff and looking just the way a vampire’s castle should. It is one of the best preserved examples of medieval architecture in Romania. Overnights are in charming Sighisoara, Romania’s most atmospheric medieval town. With its battlements and spires, this World Heritage Site is an open-air museum.
Days 7-8, Aug 20 - 21, 2016
As we head to 12th century Sibiu, with its intact defensive walls and well-preserved Saxon homes, we explore on foot among fortified Saxon villages built in the Middle Ages and dotted with unique Romanesque and early Gothic churches. A hike from Sibiu brings us into the rolling, wooded realm of the Cindrel Mountains, one of the most remote regions of the Transylvanian Alps.
Days 9-12, Aug 22 - 25, 2016
Fagaras Mountains / Bucharest
In the craggy, spruce- forested Fagaras Mountains, Romania’s highest peaks, we hike long-distance ridgetop trails that wind through a glacier-carved landscape of limestone outcrops and sparkling lakes. Overnights are in a rustic wooden lodge built for hikers. Return to Bucharest on Day 11 and depart on Day 12.