Due to the nature of the job, we often travel around the country. During the trips organized by us, we had the joy of discovering corners of Romania that we fell irreparably in love with and that made us appreciate even more the job we have. We thought we wouldn’t just keep it to ourselves and share what we saw further. Either let us whet your appetite for a trip with us, or on your own, we don’t mind :).
As we are organized people, we thought of structuring the information by historical regions (Transylvania, Maramureș, Bucovina, Muntenia, Oltenia, Banat, Dobrogea). We have listed several villages from Transylvania, because it is the area where we live and therefore we got to know it much more deeply. This does not mean that the other regions are not equally beautiful
When we travel, we do it with a double purpose: both for the joy of our soul, but also to create new tours and tourist services for our future tourists. If you want to see what followed such a trip, we invite you to enter the page where we present the details excursions through the most beautiful villages of Transylvania that I designed following such forays through the villages near Sibiu.
- Alma Vii
- Garda de Sus
- Orăștioara de Sus
- Porumbacu de Sus
- Râu Sadului
- Roșia Montana
Biertan is one of the most beautiful villages in Transylvania. Hidden in a valley bordered by wooded slopes, in the north of Sibiu County, Biertan has managed to keep its traditional Saxon architecture largely unchanged. This is one of the reasons why, together with the fortified church in the village, the village was included in the list of UNESCO sites.
With a history spanning almost 8 centuries, being documented for the first time in 1224, Biertan was a religious important of the Saxons in Transylvania, the fortified church being the seat of the Lutheran bishop for 300 years. The church, built in the 16th century, impresses with the robustness of the defensive system, being surrounded by 3 rows of fortifications reinforced with 6 defense towers and 3 bastions. A monumental, large construction, belonging to the late Gothic style, the church houses the largest polyptic altar (polyptic = made up of several panels) in Transylvania as well as highly refined furniture elements (which need restoration). The door of the sacristy (sacristy = annexed room of Catholic churches, where religious objects and priestly vestments are kept) decorated with wooden inlays, has an ingenious system of locks, installed in 1515, which fixes it to the wall in 15 points.
If you visit the church, don’t forget to take a walk around it to admire the village and the surroundings, but also to visit the prison of divorce, a room where the story goes that couples who wanted to divorce were kept as a last attempt at reconciliation. Truth or just legend, we have to admit that it was an ingenious method of solving crises in the couple.
Access: the easiest access is from DN Sibiu – Sighișoara, where near the village of Șaroș on Târnave you enter DJ 141B, recently asphalted, on which you travel 8 km to the center of the commune. Another possibility to reach Biertan is from Richiș, which can be reached from DJ 106 Sibiu – Agnita, the road being also recently asphlted.
There are many accommodation options, 3 guesthouses can be found in the immediate vicinity of the fortified church. Over the hill, in Copșa Mare or in Richiș, a few minutes’ drive away, there are traditional Saxon holiday homes for rent.
Meals can be served at the restaurant next to the fortified church, or if you choose to rent a holiday home, you can ask the hosts to put you in touch with the village ladies who cook for tourists. Being a wine-growing area, there are also possibilities for wine tasting.
Alma Vii is another charming Saxon village, located in close proximity to Biertan and Mediaș. It is an isolated village, nestled between the hills, at the end of the road, which has helped the village to retain much of its Saxon architectural heritage.
Alma Vii can be translated as the village of apples among vines (alma in Magyar meaning apple and Vii in Romanian means vines), the area being known for its vineyards rather than apple orchards.
Like almost every other Saxon village, Alma Vii has a fortified church that dominates the village from a height. The village appears for the first time in documents in 1289, and the church was built in the 14th century, the fortification process taking place 2 centuries later. Unlike the one in Biertan, the fortified church in Alma Vii is small, surrounded by a defense wall reinforced with 3 towers. Recently, the entire complex entered a restoration process under a program of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, funded by the US Embassy in Romania.
Access to the village is from DJ 141, from Mediaș, or starting from Sibiu via DJ 161 towards Agnita, and then in Bârghiș, turn left, on DJ 141. From the county road, a 3-kilometer communal road leads to village. The road is in a very bad condition, which keeps the village away from tourist buses.
Accommodation options: in the village there is a guesthouse and several holiday houses, arranged in traditional Saxon houses. Meals are served in the accommodation facilities, there is no restaurant in the village. Recently a PGL (Local Gastronomic Point – Family-type tourist food points that offer food specific to the geographical area they belong to. A PGL is not a restaurant, is having a short menu and they are cooking in small bathches, using mainly ingredients from the village. The familly who runs a PGL have to be announced of the arrival a day before so they will prepare the food for the visitors).
Possibilities for spending your free time: from Alma Vii you can start hiking or cycling trails. The village is particularly quiet, being away from major traffic arteries, which makes it a good destination for those who want to relax and enjoy the tranquility of a Transylvanian village lost in time.
The fortified church, indispensable in the landscape of Transylvanian Saxon villages, can be visited, even if it is currently under renovation (renovation is estimated to be fialised in 2023). At the entrance to the fortress there is a small shop with local products, and in one of the rooms in the fortress wall, a traditional kitchen is set up where the women of the village prepare food for different occasions, including for tourists, upon request.
Cisnădioara is a small Saxon village, located at the foot of the Cindrel mountains, which administratively belongs to the city of Cisnădie. The settlement near the mountains makes it unique among the other Saxon settlements in Transylvania, as it is known that the Saxons chose the fertile places in the Transylvanian plateau rather than the settlements near the mountains. Cisnădioara is a small Saxon enclave among the traditional Romanian villages of Mărginimea Sibiului, neighboring Rășinari to the west and Sadu commune to the south.
It is one of the oldest Saxon settlements in Transylvania, the fortified church built in Romanesque style dating from the 12th century. In fact, the small fortified church, perched on top of a small hill in the center of the village, is the main tourist attraction of the village.
The old part of Cisnădioara is located at the bottom of a small valley, being bordered on the eastern side by the fortified church, on the south by the slopes that lead to the peak of Măgura (Cindrel Mountains), and on the north side, the slope is covered by orchards of fruit trees. In this area, the new part of Cisnadioara has developed, in the last 20 years, new homes or holiday homes have appeared that enjoy a superb view of the Făgărași ridge or the fortified church. In fact, most accommodation can be found in the new area of the town, guesthouses or campsites.
Several hiking or cycling routes start from Cisnădioara to the Cindrel mountains or to the neighboring village of Rășinari. Sibiu is only a few kilometers away and the Astra museum is only a 5-minute drive away. For water lovers, an aqua park recently opened in Cisnădie.
Cisnădioara can be reached either from Sibiu, on the road that goes to Rășinari, or from Cisnădie, where you can get there if you get off the highway, if you come from Deva, or directly from DN 1, if you come from Brașov or Râmnicu Vâlcea.
Gârda de Sus
When you say Apuseni, you think of the isolated hamlets on top of the mountain, where the descendants of the local inhabitans (called moti) still stubbornly continue to live, deprived of many of the benefits of the modern world, but surrounded by nature, mountains, fresh air. For us, those who come there just to visit, it seems like an idyllic, fairy-tale world, but there at the top of the mountain, life is not easy at all.
Gîrda de Sus has everything it needs to be a successful tourist destination. In addition to the scattered mountain villages and the mountain landscapes pleasing to the eye, the territory of the commune is rich in manifestations of the karst relief: caves, gorges, avenues or outcrops, all located inside the Apuseni National Park.
The most famous one is the Scarișora Glacier Cave, which can be reached by going down a 48-meter deep gully. The Glacier is the largest deposit of fossil ice in the country, totaling over 75,000 cubic meters, and the oldest ice in the glacier is over 4000 years old.
One of the access routes to the Scarișoara Cave is the paved road that passes through the Odrâncuşei Gorge. The gorges are 4 kilometers long and in places, 4-6 meters wide, which makes them considered some of the narrowest gorges in the country. A few hundred meters from the entrance to the quay is the Poarta lui Ionele Cave. The cave, not very long (at least the part that can be visited), impresses through the entrance portal, over 10 meters high.
The commune consists of 17 hamlets and villages, the largest, Gârda de Sus, being made up of 130 households, and the smallest, Scoarța, of only 6 households.
Gârda de Sus commune is located in Alba county, on the border with Cluj and Bihor counties. It is located in the valley of Aries, and access is easy via DN 75, which connects Turda to Campeni and further to Ștei. It is very close to Arieseni, the neighboring commune, and the town of Câmpeni is a few tens of minutes away by car. From Gârda de Sus you can easily visit some of the tourist attractions of Apuseni: Avram Iancu’s memorial house, Dealul cu Melci (snails fossils), Pișoaia Waterfall, Roșia Montana, Detunatele, the Vârtop Glacier Cave or the Rusty Pit.
If you want to explore the area, we recommend walking or cycling on marked trails. Thus, you can leisurely enjoy the charm of the landscape, you can meet isolated hamlets where thatched houses are still standing, you can exchange a few words with the locals and depending on the season, you can have your fill of berries.
There are countless accommodation options in the area, cabins, guesthouses or campsites. We stayed at the campsite (La Dănuț) and we really liked it: Ariesul is located very close, the camping space is very large, the bathrooms and showers are clean.
Jina is the town in Mărginimea Sibiului located at the highest altitude, at approximately 900 meters. An old settlement of shepherds, Jina preserves the appearance of the mountain village of Mărginime, with houses stuck to each other, perched on the tops of the hills that make up the village. The Jinaris boast that their village resembles Rome, being set on 7 hills, but the comparison stops there.
In the summer, the village seems deserted, many of its inhabitants having gone with their sheep and other animals to the mansions in the middle of the pastures that surround the village. For this reason, marriages in Jina took place only in winter, when everyone was at home and could attend the wedding.
The village is crossed by Transalpina the mountain road which starts from Sibiu county near Săliște and boasts one of the largest Orthodox churches in the area, built in 1939, called Mărginimii cathedral, although no bishop has his seat there.
Every year, in the last week of July, the festival Up on the mountain in Jina takes place, a folkloric event that brings together artistic groups with pastoral traditions from several counties of the country, it reminds of the old days of the border shepherds. (Nedeie = Popular country party of pastoral origin usually organized on the occasion of a holiday or a patron saint. 2. Place (plane) on top of a mountain. [Pl. also: nedeie] – From sl. nedĕlja “Sunday”.)
Accommodation options are limited in Jina, in recent years a few guesthouses have appeared in the area. If you visit Jina, you must stop at the Pastoral Museum, set up by the kind-hearted Mrs. Ileana Morariu in her own home. The museum houses objects related to shepherding, collected by Mrs. Morariu from the people of the village over the years.
The landscape of Jina is superb, from the heights of the village opening up impressive views of the Transylvanian Plateau, the Apuseni Mountains or the Cindrel Mountains. If you stop in Jina, take it on foot to better feel the atmosphere of the village. Although unmarked, there are numerous country roads leading to the summer cottages of the villagers that you can explore. You can go down to Sibiel by bike, only on a dirt road, but check the map carefully so you don’t get lost.
Magura and Pestera
The landscapes of the villages at the foot of the Piatra Craiului and Bucegi mountains can easily rival those of the Alps. Hay-covered hills on which cowed cows graze quietly, sharp ridges covered with snow, while below, just a few kilometers away, the raw green of spring dominates. Villages of shattered houses, thrown over hills and valleys. Up to this point, the landscape does not differ much from that of the Alps, whether we are talking about Switzerland, Austria, Germany or another country.
What do our villages have in addition? First of all, they are here, near us, and we don’t have to go all the way to Austria to enjoy these landscapes. Secondly, although affected by modernization, Romanian villages still retain something of the patriarchal air of the ancient village. We still meet herds of sheep or cows grazing in the meadows around the village, we still see haystacks, we still meet people who mow the grass by hand.
The villages of Măgura and Peștera belong to the Moieciu commune, but they are located far from the main road. Although tourism has developed intensively in the area, there are still areas where the landscape has remained relatively unchanged, especially due to the lack of access roads for city cars.
Those who choose this area come for the fresh mountain air, gorgeous scenery and opportunities to spend time outdoors. Possibilities that are for all types of tourists, whether we are talking about experienced mountaineers who set off for the ridges of Piatra Craiului, Bucegi or Leaota, or for lovers of easier hikes. For the latter, a multitude of country roads are available waiting to be explored, either on foot or by bike. In addition, not too far away, the area is full of tourist attractions: Bran castle, Râșnov fortress, Zărnești bear reserve, Dâmbovicioara gorges, Valea Cetății Cave, the old center of Brasov.
Măgura: Măgura can be reached via a dirt road that starts from Zărnești towards Piatra Craiului. At a certain point, the forest road leading to the Zărnești Gorges (keys) turns left, and after a few twists and turns you reach the village (be careful the road is unpaved). If you enter the destination Măgura in Bran, it is possible that the GPS will take you directly, but be careful, it is still an unpaved road. The easiest way to reach Măgura, in the neighboring village, Peștera, but still on an unpaved road.
If you just want to explore the village without staying there, our advice is to leave the car in Peştera or Moieciu and visit the village on foot or by bike. Although you will have some climbing to do, the scenery is superlative. We drove up to near the church in Pestera, and from there we explored both villages by bike (you have some slopes to climb when you return to the car, but we, where we couldn’t anymore, got off the bike and walked idle on the side of the road, being rewarded, in addition to the scenery, with strawberries, wild cherries (it being July) and the smell of freshly cut hay.
Located at an average altitude of 1000 m, from Măgura you can start hiking to the crest of the Piatra Craiului massif, for experienced mountaineers, or easier hiking through the nearby gorges (Prăpăstiile Zărneștiului) or on the peaks around the village. A picturesque route connects with the neighboring village, Peștera, on many paths and on 2 old cart roads. If you want to stay in the Cave, you have several options available for every budget. Ask beforehand about the condition of the road, which, being unpaved, can cause problems for city cars.
Pestera: it is similar in many ways to Măgura, the only notable difference being the access on an asphalted road, starting from Moieciu de Jos, from DN 73. It is located north of Măgura, at the foot of the Piatra Craiului massif, a short distance from Şirnea, which borders it to the south. In the village you can visit the Bat Cave, located at an altitude of almost 950 m. The cave is not electrified, a flashlight is required to visit it, and it got its name from the colonies of bats that found shelter inside it. Peștera village can be a base for routes to the central part of the Piatra Craiului massif or to Bucegi.
Located in Sibiu County, on the border with Mureș County, the village of Mălâncrav is hidden in a long valley, surrounded by the wooded hills of the Transylvanian Plateau. An old noble possession of the Hungarian Apafi family, the village was also inhabited by Saxons, today, a small German-speaking community sbrtill lives in the locality.
Documentarily attested in 1305, the village is proud of a small fortified church that houses one of the richest ensembles of medieval mural paintings in Transylvania, made in the 15th century. The church is surrounded by a small defensive wall, reinforced with 3 towers. A stone’s throw from the fortified church is the Apafi Mansion, restored by the Mihai Eminescu Trust Foundation and currently transformed into an elegant guest house. Also in the village, near the mansion, there is a small fruit juice factory, which processes apples and pears from the nearby orchard.
Recently, Mâlâncrav was put on the Via Transilvanica map, the hiking route passing through the village. It is the part of Terra Saxorum, which passes through Sighișoara, Criș, Florești, Mălâncrav, Nou Săsesc, Copșa Mare and Biertan.
Access to the village is via a 15-kilometer communal road, in good condition, starting from DN 14 Sibiu – Sighișoara, near the commune of Laslea.
Accommodation: those who want to stay overnight in Mălâncrav, can do so at the holiday homes of the Mihai Eminescu Foundation, set up in traditional Saxon houses, or in the aforementioned Apafi Mansion. Each house is looked after by a family from the village, who can cook for tourists on request.
Orastioara de Sus/Costesti
For lovers of history, hiking and nature, there is no better place than the area of the Dacian fortresses in the Orăștiei Mountains. And 3 of these fortresses were located on the territory of the commune of Orăștioara de Sus (in the villages of Costești and Grădiștea de Munte) in the Grădiștea Muncelului – Cioclovina National Park. The hiking trails or the access roads to them go through the special natural setting of the Orăștiei mountains, not very high mountains, covered by deciduous forests or meadows.
Among the Dacian fortresses, the most famous is Sarmisegetuza Regia, but around it, at a not very far distance, you can find the ruins of other fortresses: Costești Blidaru, Costești Cetătuie, Piatra Roșie. Banita and Căpâlna are also part of the fortification system that had the role of defending the capital Sarmisegetuza. The Banita fortress is not set up for visiting and it is practically impossible to access the rock where the Dacian fortress stood 2,000 years ago. Access to Căpâlna, on the other hand, is from Sebeș, towards Transalpina. All these archaeological sites are part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage.
Costești Blidaru is the best-preserved Dacian fortress and seems to be the only one that the Romans did not manage to conquer by force. To get to the fortress, you have to follow a path that starts from Costești and goes up through the thick beech forest, where, after about an hour’s walk, you reach the top of the hill where the fortress is located.
Costești Cetătuie can also be reached by car, on an unpaved country road (10 minutes), or on foot (30 minutes), starting from the village of the same name. Traces of two residential towers and a staircase built from andesite blocks, traces of walls, earth waves or the stone plinths of 4 quadrangular temples, similar to those at Sarmisegetuza, can be observed.
As I said, the most famous Dacian settlement is Sarmisegetuza Regia. I said settlement, because what can be seen there now are the ruins of the largest complex of Dacian sanctuaries. The walls we see before reaching the temples are part of the Roman fortification, built by the Romans after the conquest of Dacia. Indeed, the material used comes from the Dacian walls, dismantled after the conquest, but at this moment, it is not possible to say exactly where the Dacian fortress of Sarmisegetuza Regia was located. Sarmisegetuza Regia is administratively part of the territory of Grădiștea de Munte village (grădiște = citadel in Slavic language).
The road to Sarmisegetuza is recently asphalted (until a few years ago, the last 20 kilometers from Costesti were dirt), following the picturesque valley of the Sargetia river. The last 5 kilometers are narrower, intersecting cars have to slow down, and the last part of it is frequently affected by erosion caused by heavy rains. However, you can easily reach the parking lot, from where you walk the last 800 meters on a stone-paved road to the entrance to the citadel.
Piatra Roșie is located a few kilometers from the other fortresses, on the territory of Boșorod commune. It can be reached by walking along an asphalted road to Luncani Vale, from where there are 2 dirt road routes for about 5 kilometers, and the last hundreds of meters to the plateau of the fortress must be covered on foot.
There are many accommodation options, guesthouses built especially for tourists and less conversions of old houses into accommodation spaces (with one exception, an old mill converted into a guesthouse). The architecture of the area does not stand out with specific elements, but it compensates with the beauty of the natural setting and the atmosphere of the Romanian village below the mountain.
If you are considering a stay of a few days, in addition to the hikes you can do in the area, you can also plan visits to the nearby tourist attractions: Hațeg, with the Bison Reserve or Dinosaur Geo Park, Corvinilor Castle, or, continuing on the theme historical, Sarmisegetuza Ulpia Traiana and the church in Densuș.
Access to Orăștioara de Sus is easy from Orăștie, from where, starting from the city center, you enter DJ 107A. Another option you can use if you come from Petroșani, near the town of Călan, turn right towards Ocolișu de Sus via DJ668A and then DJ705J, the road being relatively good, with small sections with potholes in the asphalt.
Rășinari is an old Romanian village, located at the foot of the Cindrel mountains, in the ethnographic region known as Marginimea Sibiului. It is very close to Sibiu, and the road leading to the Păltiniș mountain resort crosses the village.
Rășinariul has the appearance of a compact mountain village, with narrow streets and houses piled close to each other, after the model of the Saxon neighbors. It is the largest commune on the outskirts of Sibiu, with over 5,000 inhabitants. The native village of the poet Octavian Goga and philosopher Emil Cioran, Rășinari is the only commune in Romania that has a tram line, which connects the village to the Astra Museum. They are not regular races, but only occasional for tourist purposes.
Belonging to Mărginimea Sibiului, Rășinariul is an old settlement of shepherds, the surrounding hills and mountains are still populated by flocks of sheep. Moreover, passers-by can buy the famous Sibiu cheese and other traditional dairy products directly from the villagers who sell their wares in front of the gate.
Accommodation: there are a few guesthouses right in the village, and if you cross Rășinariul, towards Păltiniș, you will be able to find some modern guesthouses located on the Ștezii valley, the usual picnic spot for the residents of Sibiu.
If you choose Rășinariul to enjoy your vacation, you have various possibilities to spend your free time: hiking and cycling trails start or cross the village. If you want to cool off on hot summer days, you can do it in the streams coming from the mountains or at several guesthouses in Curmătura Stezii. Sibiu is only 8 kilometers from Rășinari, and the Astra Museum is even closer. In addition, you should take the opportunity to discover the village on foot, to walk through the narrow streets, to visit the Octavian Goga memorial house or to climb the hills that surround the village to admire the panorama that stretches all the way to Sibiu.
Access to Rășinari is from Sibiu, via DJ 106A. If you come from Deva, you can get off the highway at Săliște and from there cross the other villages of Mărginime (Orlat, Poplaca) to Rășinari.
Rau Sadului is a commune consisting of a single village, located on the Sadului valley, bordered by the Cindrel mountains to the north and the Lotrului mountains to the south. It is an old village of shepherds, which a century ago belonged to the commune of Rășinari, the settlement being established by residents of the neighboring commune located approximately 2 hours away on foot, over the mountains. The commune is particularly picturesque and quiet, only the inhabitants of the commune and the few tourists transiting the area.
Although there are not many old houses in the village, with traditional architecture, there are still wooden huts up on the plains, the summer homes of the shepherds who graze their sheep in the area. Although many of these are no longer used, due to the decline of shepherding, in the summer you are likely to meet families of shepherds moving up into the mountains with their flocks of sheep.
If you love hiking, you won’t be disappointed in Rău Sadului. There are numerous marked trails that go through both the Cindrel Mountains and the Lotrului Mountains. Besides these, paths leading to the huts start from almost every valley perpendicular to the village. To get to these trails, it’s a good idea to ask the locals for directions. Above the village passes the main route, marked with red stripe, which starts from Cisnădie and crosses the Cindrel mountains to Oașa.
There are a few guesthouses and lodges in the village, and more will probably appear in the future, as the village has great tourist potential. Before reaching the village, at the exit from Sadu, you will be able to see on the left side the oldest hydroelectric plant in Romania, Sadu 1, opened in 1896, where a small hydrotechnical museum is also set up.
To reach Râul Sadului, you have to pass through the neighboring commune, Sadu. There are 2 ways to get to Sadu, either from Tălmaciu or from Sibiu, via Cisnădie. Those who have a high-speed car can reach the Transalpina from the Sadului valley, passing through the Ștefesti saddle. Also, a forest road connects Valea Sadului with the Păltiniș resort
Rimetea (Torockó in Hungarian) is yet another example of good practice in enhancing traditional rural architecture and the special natural setting. In our opinion, these elements are essential for the touristic success of a rural site. And in this case, a non-governmental organization, Transilvania Trust Foundation, had an essential contribution in preserving the architectural heritage and advising the house owners in order to enhance their value. Thanks to them, today in Rimetea we can admire rows of traditional whitewashed houses, with window frames painted green and red geraniums on the windows.
Rimetea is a former mining town, mostly inhabited by Hungarians, where the iron ores extracted from the nearby mountains were mined. Most of the inhabitants were blacksmiths, forge owners or iron merchants. At the end of the 19th century, Rimetea was a prosperous town, with a post office, bank agency, inn, veterinary pharmacy, rainwater drainage and street lighting. Due to the competition of the new metallurgical centers from Reșita and Hunedoara, the town went into decline at the beginning of the 20th century, the population number decreased, and agriculture became the main occupation.
Rimetea is located in an idyllic natural setting, at the foot of the Trascău mountains in Apuseni, at an altitude of 500 m. To the east it is dominated by the Piatra Secuiului massif, a calcareous, hollow and elongated massif, cut in two by a “ravine” (which makes the sun rise twice in the summer for those people who live in the northern part of the town).
The hiking possibilities are generous: the most popular routes go up Piatra Secuiului, but hiking can also be organized to other areas of the Trascău mountains. A short distance from Rimetea are the ruins of the Trascăului (or Colțești) fortress which can be visited after an easy hike. The slopes bordering the town are appreciated by those who practice paragliding, and a few kilometers further, on Aries, you can practice rafting. In addition, the Turzii keys are 20 kilometers from Rimetea, thus expanding the hiking possibilities.
You can easily find accommodation in Rimetea, at the small guesthouses of the locals. In the neighboring village, Colțești, there is a mansion that offers, in addition to accommodation, the possibility of serving meals, the menu being traditional Szekler.
Access to Râmetea is via DJ 107M Aiud – Buru. If you enter from Aiud, the road has good asphalt and in addition crosses the Aiud Gorge. If you come from Turda, the road has sections with pits in the asphalt.
There is no rural settlement in Romania richer than Roșia Montanta. Historically rich and rich in underground resources. Basically, Roșia Montana is sitting on a mountain of gold. Unfortunately, since ancient times until today, there have been few times when Roșia Montana has benefited from the exploitation of mineral resources from the depths of the town. The last Roșia Montana gold mining project, if it had been put into practice, would have led to the irreparable destruction of the locality and would have left behind an ecological time bomb. Fortunately, the project is currently blocked, but the situation remains complicated.
Gold has been mined in Roșia Montana since ancient times. There is archaeological evidence that gold mining in mine galleries was started before the conquest of Dacia by the Romans. Then, after 106, mining continued through Dalmatian miners brought in by the provincial administration. Kilometers of galleries and 40 waxed tablets, contracts and various notes remain from this period, a precious source of information on the principles of Roman law and the Latin language spoken in this part of the empire.
Since then, probably hundreds of tons of gold and silver have been mined, and according to estimates, there are hundreds more tons of gold in the underground of Roșia
There is a lot to see in Roșia Montană. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat bleak appearance. Approximately 80% of the houses in Roșia Montană were bought by the corporation that wanted to develop the cyanide mining project. Only a few of these houses have been restored, the rest being left in disrepair. Above that, a few communist-era blocks mar the landscape.
If you get past that, and learn the story of the places, you will remain fascinated. In the historical part of the town you can still see the traces of past prosperity. Roșia Montană, in the 19th century was a town with banking units and a casino, which any respectable gold mining settlement.
Roşia Montană has attracted numerous people over time: the Romanians were joined by Germans, Hungarians, Austrians, Italians and many others. They built 5 historical monument churches, belonging to 5 different Christian cults.
For an overview of the town, you can climb the reformed church tower, or go on a hike around the town. There is much to discover: the bulls, artificial lakes used to gear the stamps (wooden crushers that used the force of water), natural monuments, such as the sphinx of Rosia Montana or an excellent viewpoint, called Piatra Corbului. You can see numerous abandoned mine shafts or the quarry opened in the 70s, where gold was mined until 2006. For endurance hikes, you can start walking on longer routes, in Apuseni, to Detunata or Geamăna.
You can also visit the Romanian galleries set up for tourists, but as they are not managed by the Romanian state, the visiting schedule is not always respected.
Accommodation options are limited in Roșia Montană, especially because over 80% of the homes belong to RMCG. However, there are 3 small guesthouses in Roșia that offer accommodation, as well as a campsite. If you can’t find accommodation exactly in Roșia, you can book a room at the guesthouses in the Câmpeni and Abrud areas.
Access is from DN 74 Brad – Alba Iulia, from where, near the town of Abrud, you enter DN74A and immediately, on the communal road leading to Roșia Montana.
Sibiel is a charming village, hidden among the hills, at the foot of the Cindrel mountains, a short distance from Sibiu. It belongs to the Marginima of Sibiu, but here sheep farming is not the main activity of the inhabitants, but tourism. Sibiel is the village with the most guesthouses in all of Mărginimea and also the village where the traditional architecture has been preserved the best.
The main attraction for tourists passing through Sibiel is the Museum of Glass Icons, a unique museum with an impressive collection of glass icons, gathered from all over the country. The story of the museum’s founder, the former village priest, Zoasim Oancea, is impressive, he spent many years in communist prisons and labor camps, before coming to Sibiel and establishing the museum.
The village is crossed by a small river, as befits any village at the foot of the mountains, and the surrounding hills are covered with orchards, in Sibiel a fair dedicated to the old varieties of apples that grow in the area is organized every autumn.
Whoever chooses Sibiel to spend a few days will enjoy the peace and quiet atmosphere of the Transylvanian village below the mountain. From Sibiel you can visit the other villages of Mărginime by car or, better yet, by bike, and several hiking trails to the nearby mountains start right from Sibiel.
Sibiu is a few minutes away by car, and the road leading to Transalpina is only 10 kilometers away. The Păltiniş mountain resort is 40 minutes away from Sibiel.
Far from the main roads, Sibiel is still easy to reach. If you come from Deva or Alba, get off the highway near Săliște, then in 10 minutes you can reach Sibiel. If you come from Sibiu, on DN 1, before entering Săcel turn left onto DJ 106.
There are many possibilities for accommodation in Sibiel, from new structures built in recent years to houses of locals converted into guesthouses, for all tastes and budgets
Viscri is one of the stars of Romanian rural tourism, but also an example of good practices for enhancing the traditional architectural heritage and making small tourist businesses viable, in a village that almost no one knew about 20 years ago. All under the conditions of the development of a tourist offer that values authenticity, traditional gastronomy, local products and experiences related to the daily life of the village. So don’t go to Vicri for the pool and SPA, because you won’t find it (thankfully).
A UNESCO site, along with the fortified church that dominates the hilltop village, Viscri quickly gained notoriety after Prince Charles visited the area and fell in love with the beauty of the village hidden among the hills of Transylvania. Thus, the foundation it patronizes, the Mihai Eminescu Trust, has a direct contribution to the healthy development of tourism in the area, both by buying old houses in the village, which have been restored and introduced into the tourist circuit, but also by offering to help the residents of Vicri, for the renovation and enhancement of hundreds of years old houses.
In Viscri there are no paved roads, only cobblestones, not for lack of funds, but to preserve the charm of the village, unaltered by modernism. Thus, even public dustbins are made of reeds, and the water trough for the animals is made of a hollow tree trunk.
In the summer, the village is stormed with tourists, the modernization of the road that connects Vicri with DN 13 Brașov – Sighisoara, making it possible for buses with tourists to reach the village. To avoid possible traffic problems, a parking lot has been set up on a meadow on the edge of the village, and tourists visiting Vicri park on foot a few hundred meters to the fortified church on a picturesque street behind the houses of the locals.
Old Saxon village, Viscri takes its name from the fortified church, whose white walls gave its name in the Saxon dialect: Weiskirich (White Church), which in Romanian became Viscri.
The accommodation possibilities are multiple, many old Saxon houses being transformed into small guesthouses, some by locals, others by investors from bigger cities, to start a rural tourism business in Vicri. There is even a restaurant, for tourists who are just passing through, and often events are held in Vicri that highlight the local gastronomy. Tourism has not fundamentally changed the lives of the villagers, who are still mostly engaged in agriculture, and in the morning and in the evening it is a real bucolic festival, on the main street of the village you can see flocks of geese and ducks, herds of goats or carts pulled by horses.
From the village you can go hiking or cycling or horse-drawn carriage. The cycling routes are marked and can connect Vicriul with the other Saxon villages in the area.
Access by car is easy at this moment, the road being recently asphalted. Vicri can be reached from DN 13 Brașov – Sighisoara, either from Rupea towards Dacia, or from Bunești.
Bucovina is best known for its churches with exterior painting from the time of Stephen the Great, but an additional reason to visit this area is the beautiful natural landscapes. As soon as you pass the Mestecăniș Pass, on the European road E85 that connects Vatra Dornei and Suceava, you reach the Pojorâta commune, made up of 2 localities: Valea Putnei and Pojorâta.
Those who love mountains and fresh air do not have to rush through the commune, because everywhere you look, the landscapes are worthy of being included in any tourist guide.
The commune is located at an average altitude of 700 m, in the valley of the rivers Putna and Moldova (Pojorâta). From the valley in which the road lies, behind the houses along it, we see the wide meadows covered in spring with raw green grass, which fill with flowers in midsummer, bordered by wooden fences, on which is laid the grass cut in summer, for faster drying. Above, as the meadows end, fir forests appear, dominating the landscape until they meet the clouds.
Did you know that Raraul and Giumalăul mountains are neighbors of Pojorâta? The Pietrele Doamnei reservation, which covers an area of 933 ha is located in Rarau mountain. In the natural reserve is Piatra Zimbrului, a formation that creates an impresive vertical wall, 100 m high and 600 m long. Also from Pojorâta commune begins one of the most beautiful mountain roads in our country, Transraraul, recently modernized, with good asphalt but with a narrow track.
And if we still mentioned the mountains, it should be mentioned that from Valea Putnei or Pojorâta there are a lot of hiking trails to the above-mentioned mountain massifs, or to the west, towards Mestecăniș Municipality. Winter sports lovers have a choice in Pojorâta commune: there are 2 ski areas, one above the Mestecăniș pass, and the other on Rărau, accessible from Câmpulung Moldovenesc. Adrenaline lovers can practice climbing on the massif Rărau – Pietrele Doamnei, or paragliding on the Pojorâta mountain
Accommodation options are varied, from guesthouses, cottages to holiday homes for all tastes and budgets. We stayed and really liked it at Casa Lia, being attracted by the idea of a 100-year-old wooden house transformed with passion and skill into a small guesthouse.
Probably not many people have heard of Dubova commune, from Mehedinți. But if we tell you that from Dubova you can see the most spectacular views of the Danube gorges, and also here, at the border of the commune, there is the statue of Decebal carved in the rock, then you have surely realized where the commune is located.
We had some hesitations where to place the commune, in Oltenia or in Banat. Considering that Dubova is located on the territory of Mehedinți County, it would have been normal to include the commune in Oltenia, but from a historical point of view, Dubova belongs to Banat, also part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we considered it better to be included in this category.
Dubova is a small commune inhabited by approximately 800 inhabitants, located on the banks of the Danube, in the most spectacular area, where the river passes through the gorge formed by the Carpathians, to the north, and the Balkans, to the south. The commune includes 3 villages (Dubova, Eibenthal and Baia Veche). If you go to Eibenthal, you will have a good chance of hearing Czech spoken, the population of the village being mostly Czech, who arrived in the area during the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
You will not be bored in Dubova. As I said, hiking trails start from here on the Ciucarul Mare massif that allow you to go to lookout areas where you can admire the Danube gorges from above. Also in Dubova you can visit the Ponicova cave, which is dug on the left side of the Danube, in Cazanele Mari, being partially flooded after the creation of the dam on the Danube. Its galleries total 1,660 meters, crossing Ciucaru Mare and exiting into the Danube. The cave can be visited both on land and from the Danube, during the cruises that can be done in the area. At 500 meters from Ponicova there is another grotto, which can only be reached by boat. It seems that the grotto has been used as a military stronghold since Roman times. It is called the Veterani grotto, after the name of an Austrian general of Italian origin, Friedrico Veterani, who led, among other things, the garrison in the cave
If I still mentioned the cruise, if you arrive in the area, you must see the gorges also from the level of the Danube waves. In addition, you can see better on the Serbian shore, carved in stone the Tabula Traiana. The ancient Roman suspended road, built of wooden beams fixed in the rock, passed through it. The a road was built by the Roman legionnaires before the invasion of Dacia in 101. The Tabula Traiana is a memorial plaque erected in honor of the emperor Trajan, to mark the march of the imperial troops Romans towards Dacia and to commemorate the victories of the Roman Empire over the Dacian kingdom in the year 105-106.
On the Romanian shore, close to Mraconia bay, is the statue of Trajan’s rival, Decebalus. This, unlike the tabula, is of more recent date and impresses visitors with its dimensions, being 55 m high and 25 m wide.
Dubova can be reached via DN 57 – Moldova Nouă – Oravița. From Timișoara you can reach Dubova in approximately 3.5 hours, and from Craiova in 2.5 hours. The closest tourist attractions to Dubova are Baile Herculane at 50 kilometers and the Nera gorges at almost 100 kilometers. The Bigăr waterfall or the Rudăria water mills are located approximately 120 kilometers from Dubova.
There are many accommodation options in Dubova, recently many guesthouses, holiday homes or small hotels have appeared in the area. Some of these offer direct access to the pontoon or private beach on the banks of the Danube.
Ineleț is a village in Cornereva commune in Caraş-Severin county, Banat, Romania. It is one of the most isolated villages in Romania. And this makes it perhaps one of the most beautiful. There is no electricity in the village, and the road is actually a wider path that connects the houses scattered on the slopes of the Cernei mountains. The village became famous thanks to its at least unusual access: a wooden staircase of about 100 meters that shortens the path by almost an hour.
Recently, the village has become an attraction in the community of hikers who are seduced by the beauty of the place and by the fact that the inhabitants still insist on living far from modernity in a quiet life, in the middle of nature, with their animals. The scenery is gorgeous. From the height of the village, an idyllic panorama opens over the Mehedinti mountains and the Cernei valley. It is a silence that comforts the hearing, the only noises being the rustling of leaves and the bell of the cows or goats that graze on the meadow in the village.
The influx of hikers also brought small business opportunities that are very special. At the crossroads you can find wooden boxes with village products (jars with jam, honey or cheese). Hikers who want to buy just leave the money in the box.
The locals are happy to have guests and show that innate hospitality, characteristic of people who live in areas still untouched by modernity. For example, the hiking trail passes through a family’s yard. When we were through Inelet and passed by, an elderly woman stopped her work to exchange a few words with us and served us with a plate of hurd, without too many other introductions.
Being an isolated hamlet, there are no accommodation options in the area, with the exception of a few rooms provided by the locals. Instead, if you want to spend the night there, we recommend you to take your tent. Visiting the area is a complete disconnection from the hustle and bustle of the city, especially since there is no phone signal in the area. You will reach a bus station, built of wood, this being the landmark towards the village. From there, a path descends towards the Cerna river. You will then cross a wooden suspension bridge. From here begins the climb on a mountain path, towards the wooden stairs. We went up there and went down another path, which left us at the main road, a few kilometers further from the starting point.
The mountain villages in Valcea County: Costesti commune
Costești commune is located in Vâlcea county, at the foot of the Buila-Vânturarița massif, just a few kilometers from the town of Horezu, in northern part of Oltenia region. Nature has been generous with this area, in an area of only a few kilometers there are narrow gorges, caves, beautiful rising landscapes.
Let’s take them one by one: The Bistrita Gorges are the narrowest limestone canyon in the country. With a length of about one kilometer, the keys are part of the Buila-Vânturarița nature reserve. Right at the entrance to the gorges, on the left side is the Bistrița Monastery, an old monastic settlement (documentally attested from the 15th century), but also the cultural center, where the first books in our country were printed at the monastery. The painting of the monastery church is the work of Gheorghe Tătărescu, pioneer of neoclassicism in Romanian painting.
Also at the entrance to the canyon, a path leads from the monastery courtyard to the cave of the Bats, a cavern that houses, in addition to colonies of bats, two small churches.
Not far from the gorges, on Mount Arnota, is the monastery of the same name, built by Matei Basarab in the 16th century. The monastery can be reached on an unpaved road or on a path that goes up to the terrace where the monastic settlement was. On clear days, a spectacular panorama opens up from the monastery over the valley of Bistrita river. On the way to Arnota you can see the nearby limestone quarry.
In Costești, right on the edge of the national road that connects Râmnicu Vâlcea to Târgu Jiu, there is the Trovanților Museum. Trovants are mineral aggregates with a nodular, spheroidal, ellipsoidal, discoidal, cylindrical or dendritic shape with a massive, concentric or planar (layered) structure, having dimensions from a few millimeters to a few meters.
Last but not least, several hiking trails start from Costești that lead to the Buila-Vânturarița massif, the smalles natural park in Romania and one of the most beautiful mountain massifs in the Căpățănii Mountains.
Hurezi Monastery, included in the UNESCO list of cultural heritage, a fine example of Brancovenian architecture, the town of Horezu, an old pottery center, where, in addition to the possibility to buy directly from the potters, you can learn the secrets of clay modeling, the Măldărești boyar houses called “cule”, examples of architecture from Oltenia, real dungeons used as fortified residences of the noble families in the area.
Not far away, there is the town of Polovragi, where you can visit the Oltețu gorges and the Polovragi Cave, and also in the area are the Muierii Cave and the southern end of the Transalpina. For mountain lovers, there is a small mountain resort nearby, which recently appeared in the Romanian tourist landscape – Vârful lui Roman, or a little further, on the Transalpina, the much better known Rânca.
Accommodation: a 3-star hotel has recently opened in Costești in the space of the old baths (yes, there are springs with mineral water in Costești), and several other guesthouses are open in the commune. In and around Horezu, the offer is much more diverse, from ordinary guesthouses and mountain huts to rural boutique hotels (read mansions). Access: very easy, directly from DN 67 Râmnicu Vâlcea – Târgu Jiu.
The mountain villages in Gorj County: Polovragi
After passing Horezu and entering Gorj county, the landscape does not change dramatically. The same mountain ridges accompany you along the national road that connects Râmnicu-Vâlcea to Târgu Jiu, the same picturesque villages, clean, full of greenery, with homely people. And the tourist attractions are similar, caves, narrow gorges, monasteries. In addition, thrill-seekers have plenty to choose from in this part of Oltenia.
Polovragi is located at the foot of the mountains approximately equidistant from Râmnicu Vâlcea and Târgu-Jiu. The most important tourist attraction in Polovragi are the Oltețul Gorges, which separate the Căpățănii Mountains from the Parâng Mountains. Due to the calcareous rocks, the water of Oltețu dug its bed deep in the heart of the mountains, giving rise to an impressive karst relief. A few hundred meters from the entrance to the gorge is the Polovragi Cave, which has 800 meters of the nearly 10 kilometers explored so far. Every year, in Polovragi, the traditional fair (nedeia) of St. Elijah is organized around July 20, a fair that lasts a week and attracts many visitors from the area (pay attention to the traffic, on the last day of the fair, when the number of visitors reaches peak). Also in Polovragi is the monastery of the same name, a monastic settlement over 500 years old.
5 minutes by car from Polovragi is Baia de Fier, where you can visit the Muierii Cave. The name of the cave comes from the fact that in times of danger, especially during the Turkish invasions, the women and children of the village hid in the cave. In the area, a brave entrepreneur has set up a few hammocks where those who wish can relax. Nothing spectacular so far, but the hammocks are hanging from the rocks at a height of 200 meters, and those who dare to try them are in for a real adventure. Also in Baia de Fier and also for thrill-seekers there is a via ferrata route. For mountain lovers, different routes start from both Polovragi and Baia de Fier that can be traveled both on foot and by bike to Parâng or Căpățănii mountains.
Dâmbovicioara commune is located in the north of Argeș county, on the Rucăr-Bran corridor, on the border with Brașov county. It is a former frontier commune, until 1918, where it was the border with Austria-Hungary, and it was also here that the first battles took place during the Romanian offensive in August 1916. Moreover, traces of trenches, casemates or machine gun nests can still be seen see on the territory of the communes of Dâmbovicioara and Fundata, and for this reason historical reenactments organized by history enthusiasts take place in the area.
The commune consists of 3 villages: Dâmbovicioara, Podul Dâmboviței and Ciocanu. It is the main gateway to the Laser-Păpusa Mountains through the Dâmboviței Valley, the Piatra Craiului Mountains through the Dâmbovicioarei Valley as well as the Bucegi Mountains and the Leaota Mountains through the Cheii Valley, mountain lovers having countless options on foot or by bike.
The area is of rare beauty, being dotted with typical upland landscapes, deep valleys, gorges and caves, and in the villages, although many new modern constructions have appeared, you can still see some old, gabled and thatched houses
The Dâmbovicioara gorges are 6 kilometers long, being located in the limestone area of Pietra Craiului, being a narrow valley corridor with steep walls, even vertical in some parts, which sometimes exceed 200 meters.
In the gorges, 1 kilometer from the village, there is the Dâmbovicioarei Cave, the largest in the area, with a length of 555 meters, of which only half is open for visiting. The cave can be visited daily, the access being easy from paved road. If you cross the gorges, you reach othe canyon, the Brusturețu gorges, and from there, you can continue by bike or on foot, on the ascending trails at the foot of Pietra Craiului.
The Oratiei Citadel is located in the village of Podul Dâmboviței, and can be seen from DN 73 connecting Brașov with Pitesti. Built in the medieval period, the citadel had the role of supervising the border and collecting customs duties for merchants passing from Wallachia to Transylvania or vice versa. Now only a few ruins can be seen, but it seems that the citadel will enter a restoration process that will make it more valuable
One can reach the fortress very easily, from the road coming from Bran. There is a parking lot where you can leave your car and from where you can walk 5 minutes down to the ruins of the fortress. Another possibility of access is from Podu Dâmboviței, on the streets of the village to the citadel. Only a few traces of the limestone wall remain from the fortress, but the view over the village of Podu Dâmboviței is superb.
If you visit the area, do not miss the village of Ciocanu. Head towards the Dâmbovicioara gorges, and at some point you will see a signpost to Ciocanu and Şirnea. The road to the village is paved, but narrow and with a few twists and turns, so be careful when driving, because it is difficult to see the cars coming from the opposite direction, hidden behind the curves. If you have strong legs, you can go from Podu Dâmboviței or Dâmbovicioara by bike, but keep in mind that there are sections where the slope is very steep. But the effort made is rewarded tenfold with the beautiful views: ramshackle houses, some wooden and covered with shingles, wide meadows, full of flowers from spring to autumn, the mountains that can be seen in the distance. If you catch the mowing season (July), you will be seduced by the scent of freshly cut hay or grass. From Ciocanu you can reach Şirnea, an equally beautiful village, and from there to the main road. The road is good, although narrow, and with a stretch of about 1 kilometer unpaved.
Accommodation options are numerous in Dâmbovicioara, visitors can choose from modern guesthouses, to traditional houses with a porch or luxury accommodation in tents – glamping. We chose a regular campsite in Podu Dâmboviței, on the border with Rucăr village, which offered us everything we needed: showers and clean toilets, access to a refrigerator, stove or electricity, very kind owners. But what we liked the most was the splendid panorama we enjoyed while we were there (see the next picture):
The village of Breb is located in the central-northern part of the Maramureș depression, at the foot of the Gutâi mountain, 25 km from Sighetu Marmației and 52 km from the county capital Baia Mare. Together with Hoteni and Șugatag village, the village of Breb belongs to Ocna Șugatag commune, from which it is separated by 7 km. We included the village in our list of the most beautiful villages in Romania not only because of the natural setting, but also because it has managed to preserve a good part of the atmosphere of the Maramures villages from old times.
In the village there are still wooden houses that you can reach by passing through the wooden gates specific to the area. The streets are narrow and unpaved, forming a small labyrinth for those who walk there for the first time. Agriculture is still the main occupation, the villagers being seen every day working in the fields or taking care of animals. The hay fields are part of the usual landscape, due to the shape of the land, it cannot yet be mowed with a mechanical mower. Traditions are still respected, and the popular costume is proudly worn by the villagers on holidays.
The best activity we recommend in Breb is exploring the village on foot, talking to the villagers, and if you’re lucky, you might come across a horincie, a traditional distillery where the strong liquor called “horinca” is made. Being located at the foot of the mountain, there are several hiking trails that will take you to Creasta Cocosului, the peak that dominates the village in the distance. Also within walking distance, but also by bike you can discover the other villages in the area, using hiking trails or agricultural roads that can be crossed easily.
Although dominated by the towers of the new church, the wooden church dedicated to Saints Michael and Gabriel impresses with its simplicity and elegance. The wooden church was built in 1622 and is listed on the list of historical monuments. It is one of the most significant monuments in Maramures due to the age of the building and the tower that dates back to 1531, but also for the collection of interior wall paintings from 1626. The paintings are only partially visible, but they are of unreal beauty. Inside, you will be able to discover hanging on the walls, icons dating back 4 centuries.
There are countless accommodation options in Breb. From modern guesthouses, which are not necessarily to our taste, to old wooden houses transformed into guest houses, for a more authentic experience.