Best places to see wildflowers in Romania
Aside from vampires, ancient fortresses and castles, one should consider the sheer beauty of the natural scenery when planning to visit Romania.
Romania has a diversified and distinctive natural landscape, spanning from the snowy peaks of the Carpathian Mountains to the aquatic paradise of the Danube River Delta and the Black Sea coast. The Carpathians are a mountain range that stretches through central and eastern Europe, and their rolling hills, lush forests, and abundant wildlife contribute substantially to Romania’s natural beauty.
Because of the many types of relief and the continued use of traditional farming techniques, Romanian territory is home to some of Europe’s richest flora and wildlife.
So, if you’ve ever pondered visiting Romania for wildflower gazing, here’s what you ought to know.
Best places to see wildflowers in Romania
1. The Transylvanian Plateau
The Carpathian Mountains encompass one of Romania’s most picturesque areas, Transylvania, like a castle wall. Thus, the region got its name from its location: the land beyond (trans) the forest (sylvania). The Transylvanian Plateau exhibits a portion of the beauty and diversity of this geographical area’s flora. Transylvanian meadows have some of Europe’s highest biodiversity. The great number of species is attributed to local people’s traditional low-intensity farming, with little or no fertilizer input and relatively low livestock densities. In this sort of semi-natural ecosystem, timely mowing and grazing protect a significant number of species.
2. Low mountain pastures
On higher altitudes, farming is even less intensive. At around 1000 meters altitude, the farmers alternate mowing with grazing. Although traditional scything is now relegated to steep-sloped meadows, the moment of mowing remains the same as it was hundreds of years ago. As a result, until July, the meadows at this altitude are covered with a kaleidoscope of hues and fragrances.
3. High mountain pastures
On the alpine pastures, between 1500 to 2500 meters, the only farming activity is grazing. Grazing is the only farming activity on the alpine meadows, which range in elevation from 1500 to 2500 meters. The timeframe is limited to the summer months, from mid-June to early September, corresponding to the transhumance – the seasonal movement of livestock (in Romania almost exclusively sheep)
4. Rhododendron bloom in the Carpathian mountains
Rhododendrons blossoming in the Carpathian mountains. At altitudes above 1800 metres, in mid-June till early July a pink marvel unveils to the eyes of nature lovers. This evergreen shrub is common in Eastern European high mountain ranges, notably in Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine. You can find it everywhere in the mountains of Romania at high altitudes, and the easiest way for tourists who don’t have a physical condition to hike up to that altitude is to take a cable car, like the one from Balea Waterfall to Balea Lake. One of the most beautiful places to admire the Rhododendrons in Romania, is Lake Iezerul Mare, in the mountains near Sibiu. The hike to the lake (one way) can take up to 4 hours and is feasible for medium-experienced hikers.
4. The lilac forest from Ponoarele, Mehedinti county
Syringa vulgaris, the lilac or common lilac, is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae, native to the Balkan Peninsula, where it grows on rocky hills. Because of its pleasant and powerful aroma, the lily is a popular ornamental flower that may be readily grown in gardens and parks. Without human influence, extensive swaths of wild lilac woods may be found in Romania’s sub-Carpathian regions. Ponoare’s lilac woodland is Romania’s largest botanical reserve of its kind. It has a total area of 20 hectares and is located near the Ponoare karst platform, in Mehedinţi county. The forest can be appreciated in all of its splendour, especially at the beginning of May, when it bursts forth with fragrant lilac and ash flowers.
4. Wild meadows with daffodils
Daffodils come in a variety of varieties, but in Romania, the Narcissus poeticus, or poet’s daffodil, is the most common type of wild daffodil. They can also be planted in gardens, but the most spectacular are the wild ones, which grow naturally in a wide range of habitats ranging from low pastures to mountain glades at altitudes of around 1000 meters. There are so many sites to find wild daffodil meadows that a separate post would be required. So, for more information, please see this article. The flowering period varies according to altitude and begins at the end of April and lasts until the end of May.
4. Wild peonies in Romania
The blood-red flowers of steppe peonies (Paeonia tenuifolia) can be admired in the wilderness of the Dobrogea mountains and through several other parts of Muntenia and southern Moldova. There is a magnificent nature reserve of peonies in Transylvania, in the county of Mureș, in Zau de Câmpie, stretching over 3.5 hectares. Despite sharing the same family and biological species, the steppe peony is not the same as the Romanian peony, Paeonia romanica, which is also starting to bloom shortly after the steppe peonies (in May). The forests around the Macin Mountains, in Dobrogea, are one of the areas where both varieties of peony may be found.
5. The snowdrops
There are various varieties of snowdrops that grow naturally in Romania, the most common of which is Galanthus nivalis. The spring snowflake, Leucojum vernum, is a relative of the common snowdrop and is often referred to as a snowdrop since they both bloom in the same season, early spring, and their colour and form are similar. Because they are the first spring flowers to appear, they are seen as a sign of nature’s renewal and hope. They thrive on moist soils, particularly in deciduous forests.
The largest snowdrop reserve is at Dobrogea, in the Macinului Mountains National Park. The national park, which spans over 11,000 hectares, is home to around 2,000 plant species.
Gradistea Muncelului – Cioclovina National Park in Transylvania is another location where you may find snowdrop carpets. The park spans over 38,000 hectares, with over 26,500 hectares dedicated to forests. There is an almost 10-hectare woodland full of snowdrops there. Depending on how warm it is, the best time to see them is between April and March.
When is the best time to see wildflowers in Romania
It’s no secret that the best months to see wildflowers are June at lower altitudes and July on alpine meadows. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the spectacle of colors and scent of wildflowers from early spring to late October.
The first spring flowers appear as soon as the snow melts, so depending on how harsh the winter was, we can expect to see spring flowers as early as March.
But in April, most spring flowers start to appear.
And in the month of May, the flowers from the meadows at altitudes up to 1000 meters also bloom.
But in June, the explosion of colours and scents from the wildflowers is at its peak in the Transylvanian Plateau.
As we approach July, most of the pastures on the Transylvanian plateau have been mowed, but the flower display on the meadows at the foot of the mountains continues.
And spring is barely getting started on the alpine meadows at 2000 meters around the end of June.
After the mid-July, only the high areas of the mountains are populated with countless wild flowers that like the humidity and the cool climate of the peaks.
Although their numbers decline significantly due to their natural life cycle, we may still discover plants that bloom late in the fields in September.
Tips and tricks about spotting wildlowers
Many of the previously mentioned locations can be visited by any tourist, without special assistance from a tour guide. The meadows with wildflowers from Transylvania, the mountain flora around Transfagarasan and the nature reserves from Dobrogea are easily accessible. Some of them are marked on the map and appear easily when researching on the Internet.
Other places with wild flowers are more difficult to find and you risk missing the location or getting stuck by a car on hard-to-reach roads.
In addition, certain risks that involve going out into nature in Romania must be taken into account. First of all, watch out for shepherd dogs. Do not approach the sheepfold or the flocks and you have to be prepared with dog food to use to “bribe” them if the dogs have spotted you and are heading towards you. A firecracker or any other item that makes loud sounds is recommended to have in order to keep hostile shepherd dogs at bay.
Although Romania is home to more than 60% of Europe’s bear population, we consider them a minor risk, as long as some basic rules are followed. First of all, you have to make your presence known by making noises. The easiest way is to talk to your travelling companion. In this way, you will give wild animals the opportunity to sense your presence and retreat.
And in the months of May and June do not ignore the presence of ticks. Dress in long clothes, avoid walking through tall vegetation, in damp and shady areas and check your body carefully when you get home to avoid any risk.
Instead, you can turn to a specialized guide or a travel agency that can make your work easier and organize a hassle-free excursion, so that you can fully enjoy the spectacle of nature in Romania. You can find here some hiking programs in nature, which depending on the season can be adapted for observing wildflowers. For example, our trip through the villages and mountains of Transylvania touches some of the places mentioned above. Last but not least, depending on the season, we can create a special wildflower-themed trip.