The Bicaz Gorge is the most spectacular gorge in Romania with its 8 km of ravines and vertical walls carved by the power of nature. The road and River Bicaz try to fit the narrow canyon.
Connection between Transylvania and Moldova
The 12C road accommodated in the canyon of Bicaz is connecting historical provinces of Transylvania and Moldova and is part of the “Cheile Bicazului-Hasmas National Park”. It has a historical meaning and also a breath-taking view.
Situated at 1256 m it is a very popular destination, being both practical to cross from one region to another and also magnificent as it offers amazing views of the power of nature.
Visit Bicaz Gorges
From Gheorgheni you start your ascent to the scenic Bucin pass – the crossing of Hasmas Mountain.
After some time you will reach the Red Lake (Lacul Rosu), full of mystery and drama with all the petrified tree trunks raising from the water. As soon as you exit the village you start your initiation in this sharp and steep gorge.
Spectacular view with sheer cliffs rising literally from the edges of the road, sometimes even above the road making the drivers and pedestrian to make a concession and avoid the contact with the rock.
This scenic drive will take you to a road that in flanked by 300m-high limestone rocks and you have to stop because driving it’s just not enough. You have to stop to convince yourself this is all real. If you come here in summer, the cool air will make you want to stay even more.
After you pass Bicaz Gorge and you are in Neamt County and you can visit the amazing Lake Bicaz. This is an artificial dam guarded by the hills that offers amazing sunsets.
Bicaz Gorge itinerary
We visited the Gorges so many times, but the first time I remember we crossed the gorges with the car and I couldn’t believe my eyes the beauty I just saw, so we paused our Toura itinerary and we went back to take it all in again. I simply could not grasp all the beauty, I needed more time between the rocky edges to convince myself it is real. You can see our Bicaz Gorge on our Toura itinerary along with other great places in the area: Red Lake, Bicaz Lake, Borsec City and Mohos Peat Bog.
For many travelers Romania is a place of mystery, of life unaltered by the means of technology, an unspoiled beauty, and they will find here this state of mind if they turn their attention to the villages and rural life of Romania.
Many of you know that Romania is 1/3 mountains, 1/3 hills and 1/3 plains, but you will find the beauty and the quietness of the rural life in all geographic forms and scattered all around the country: some in Transylvania, some in Moldova, some in Danube Delta, some perched in the hill tops, others hidden in the valleys, others living on the edge of Danube River or other waters.
This list is a personal preference, but they are all remarkable is their own unique way. Who is to say which is the most beautiful village in Romania until you visited them all?
1. Măgura Village (Brașov)
I choose Măgura as the most beautiful village in Romania because of the feeling you have when you are there. With view over 2 magnificent mountains – Bucegi and Piata Craiului – one on each side, you will get dizzy trying to take in the 360 panorama this place has to offer. You won’t know where to look, every turn of the head will surprise you in an unexpected way.
You are so close to cities and roads with traffic, you are close to Bran Castle and all but here the silence can not be disturbed because your eyes will focus only on the natural amphitheater. On one side you have Piatra Craiului and a steep can yon: Zarnesti Gorge, and on the other side further in the distance you have is the Bucegi Mountains in all their glory.
The village consists of scattered houses on the hills surrounding the area, trees and wooden fences randomly appear on the steep hills, houses made of wood shingle are still present.
2. Biertan Village (Sibiu)
The Village of Biertan is lost in the hills of Transylvania, no important road passes this village, like it used to, and no traffic other that the tourists who want to see the first Fortified Church included on the UNESCO list.
Biertan is spectacular in so many ways: the hole village is surrounded by terraced grape hills and in the middle of the village the church dominate the hole view from a hill that would offer protection in times of need. Villagers would go on with their life, immune to the beauty they take for granted.
The colorful houses, the order of life, the natural amphitheater, all make Biertan a great choice for a visit and you can add to that the Fortified Church with its spectacular view, with 3 layers of defensive walls, with the amazing craftsmanship that went into the wood works, into the paintings, the unique lock and you have yourself a perfect destination. More about the village of Biertan
3. Viscri Village (Brașov)
Viscri is probably the case study on how to develop rural tourism in Romania, it wrote the book on this topic, and it payed off. From all the villages in Romania, Viscri gathered the attention of national and international press with guests that only castles could take pride in having.
People create hand-made products and they sell them to tourists eager to take home some of the peacefulness they encountered in this washed-blue village.
There is also the Fortified Church from Viscri offering a great view over the village and surrounding areas.
4. Rimetea (Alba)
This is the perfect village from a postcard. Guarded by the mountains, with its white houses and green shutters, it has the vibe of fairy-tale place.
The village is decorated with wonderful works of the craftsmen. You will find the wooden doors, the painted signs, the metal works, the pottery and carpets.
View of the guardian mountain
And one of the attraction of Rimetea is the water mill still working.
5. Letea Village (Tulcea)
With Letea we will change the scenery and go from the hills of Transylvania to the low lands of Danube Delta. Besides being an isolated, traditional, fisherman village, Letea has something more to offer: the National Reservation of Letea Forest with its sand dunes, secular trees and wild horses.
Waterlilies will pave the way into the village.
Fisherman are the guardians of this surreal place known as Danube Delta
Letea Forest is an enchanted place that seems like the set of mystery movie with its crooked trees and deep shadow.
Local limousine and horse-drown carriage are the hip way to go.
6. Șirnea Village (Brașov)
At 1244 altitude it was declared the first “touristic village” from Romania.
7. Cisnădioara Village (Sibiu)
Cisnadioara is a village in the outskirts of Sibiu and most emblematic about this place is the fortress-church that is guarding the village from the top of the hill.
8. Ciocănești Village (Suceava)
Ciocanesti Village if famous for its painted houses. Almost all houses in this village are painted with traditional motifs and they are scattered on the picturesque hilly area of Bucovina.
9. Dubova Village (Mehedinți)
Nestled in a golf between the 2 canons the Danube River – The Big Boilers and the Small Boilers – the Village of Dubova offers a breathtaking view over the calm waters of Danube.
10. Racoș Village (Brașov)
Racos Village is recommended by the natural beauties surrounding the village: Volcano crater, Emerald Lake, Basalt column, Olt River passing through the village and the ruins of a castle. It is truly an amazing feeling being inside of an extinct volcano. Due to all the black and red walls of cinder, with a tree poping here and there is an apocalyptic scene.
Corund village is a where people create wonderful things with their hands and imagination. It is like a all the talented people gathered here to produce this museum-like village. You will notice 3 things : the wood carved gates, the garnished trees and the hand made store at almost every house.
12. Sfântu Gheorghe Village (Tulcea County)
Sfântu Gheorghe is a fisherman village where the Danube Canal with the same name flows in The Black Sea. The roads are paved with sand and dust, the houses keep their white and blue specific and the roofs are made of straws. Nature and human combine their forces to make life possible in this remote and hostile environment. A 15 minute walk will take you to the sea. The local transport is “the trocarici” – a tractor-driven carriage that will take you to the sea.
13. Breb Village (Maramureș County)
Maramures, oh, Maramures. You have to see it to understand. With its wooden houses and church, with the valleys aligned by the haystacks, and people obtaining food with the work of their hands.
Breb is actually the name for Eurasian beaver that is living in this area.
14. Șinca Veche (Brașov)
Șinca Veche is considered one of the energetic centers in Romania. Here in the Persani Mountains there is a cave-church carved thousands of years ago.
15. Roșia Montana, Alba
The name of this village means Red on the Mountain and it got it from the river crossing the village that has a reddish color from the minerals (specially iron) that is found in this area.
It is one of the oldest mining region in the world since before the Roman Empire. You can visit the ancient roman mines and the Mining Museum
16. Sarichioi (Tulcea)
Settled on the edge of Lake Razim it has a magical color to it. The boats resting on the troubled lake, the blue church and the hole view over the lake, make this place special. The name “Sarichioi” in Turkish mean the “yellow village”.
17. Sâmbăta de Sus (Brașov)
Sâmbăta de Sus in translation means the Upper Saturday, is a village on the footsteps of Fagaras Mountains offering amazing view over the highest mountains in Romania. It has an amazing Monastery in the Brancovenesc style.
18. Săpânța (Maramureș)
One of a kind cemetery, where the the wit of the people meet talented craftsman and the result is this cemetery where each one get a cross carved in wood and telling a story about the person buried there. The story are told in rimes and with full humor.
Here is maybe on of the most funny poem, you guest it, about the artists mother in law: Under this heavy cross Lies my poor mother in-law Three more days should she have lived I would lie, and she would read (this cross). You, who here are passing by Not to wake her up please try Cause’ if she comes back home She’ll criticize me more. But I will surely behave So she’ll not return from grave. Stay here, my dear mother in-law!
19. Poiana Mărului (Brașov)
With the head in the clouds and the eyes wondering in all direction, Poiana Mărului is a village near Bran (Dracula Castle, that offers the perfect recreation. Seems like nothing really happens here, it is one of those eternal place, where you grasp the meaning of life. The hills and the houses on the top offer a great view towards Piatra Craiului and the surrounding hills.
20. Bârsana (Maramureș)
Another village from Maramureș, a place where tradition is still part of the peoples life, where people are welcoming and the nature generous.
Barsana Wooded Church complex is one of eight Wooden churches of Maramureș listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
21. Fundățica (Brașov)
At the foot of the Mountains, you will find this village that scattered on the slopes of the hills, between tress, meadows and rocks.
22. Colibița, Bistrița-Năsăud
It is often call the sea from the mountains due to its artificial lake build here for energetic purposes.
23. Vișeu de Sus (Maramureș)
Something that you will find in Vișeu de Sus and other villages in Romania can not say the same, it is a steam train called “mocăniță”. It was used as a forestry railway system that extends deep into the Vaser River Valley, but now it is a touristic train. At some point the train will stop to get some water necessary to run.
24. Dâmbovicioara (Brașov)
Dâmbovicioara is one of those mountain village, where the life is tough and resources scarce, where people have to adapt to the whim of nature.
The modest houses so close to this wonder of nature is such a great combination.
25. Eftimie Murgu (Caraș-Severin)
This village is famous for its wood water mills. There 22 working watermills in the village.
26. Inelet (Caraș-Severin)
Ineleț is a perfect example of an isolated village, one of those place that getting there is in itself a challenge. The village is connected with the world by a wood stair case build in the 70’s. And when I say wood stair imagine an improvise, vertical, beam of wood connected to each other. The hole trip would take 2 hours walk and some serious climbing is involved in order to reach this would forgotten place.
27. Preluca Noua (Maramureș)
You will find here some houses older than 100 years old made of adobe and covered with a straw roof.
That is the thing about Romanian Villages: you will find houses with straw roof from this remote village in Maramureş (north-west of Romania) to the villages in Danube Delta (East Romania), 700 km distance between them.
28. Botiza (Maramureș)
In this village in Maramures you will find some amazing things to admire: the wooden church complex. Also the people here master the water and tame it to serve their need: to grind corn, to wash the wool rugs. It is particular fascinating how this predecessor of the washing machine is using rotation, water power and air bubble to wash something. They call it a ” vortex ” and for good reason.
Also you will discover the brandy making process. Make sure you ask about “pălincă”.
29. Veneția de Sus (Brașov)
Veneția is Romanian for Venice. Apparently the name of this village came from the strategic positioning of the village: at higher ground that the neighboring villages and in past times River Olt would rise and flood the area. For some time all you could see was water and the Fagaras Mountains projected on the back. Or at least so my grandmother told me. This is the village of my childhood, but I can not stop to admire it still today.
With the 2 streams that meet in the village, with the Garbova Mountain meaning “hunched one” where the legends says young girls would jump over the steep end in order to escape the humiliation brought by the Turkish conquerors, the small church in the center, the hill guarding the village with the dispersed stone that all my childhood I thought they are sheep, and everything else just makes it a village to visit.
30. Șimon (Brașov)
Șimon Village is the gateway yo Bucegi Mountain and it is accessible from Rucăr-Bran Pass.
31. Casa de piatră (Alba)
In translation would mean “Stone House”, this village with only 20 families is an isolated place lost in Apuseni Mountains.
32. Valea Zălanului (Covasna)
Isolated village in the hills it has the media attention due to the visits of Prince Charles. But the village is a dreamy place, with traditional houses and charm.
33. Fundul Moldovei (Suceava)
A typical village from Bucovina, houses scattered on the hills mingling with trees and pastures. Walking around you will fund century old houses, communist block of flats and some post communist villas build with the money people earn while working abroad. A melange of beauty and questionable taste, but nevertheless a place to visit.
34. Densuș (Hunedoara)
Densus is famous for its church, which is one of the oldest from Romania. It was build in the present form in 13th century, but the history of this place go way back. Before the church on this site was a 2nd century Roman temple and before that it is believed that a Dacian temple was build.
Some interesting fact about the church is the painting showing Jesus in Romanian traditional clothes.
35. Plaiu Nucului (Buzău)
Buzau area is a place of underground richness – salt, gas – but also at the surface this area is spectacular . Plaiu Nucului is a remote village with an amazing view over the surrounding area. You will find close by “Fire from Lopătari” and “Salt Mountain from Mânzălești”.
36. Caraorman (Tulcea)
The village for which Ceausesc had great plans it remains now in ruin but with the beauty of a typical Lipovan village. As you arrive in the village you will see the ruins of a sand factory and some blocks of flats build for the workers. I always thought about the paradoxes of communism. In this God forgotten place somehow the communist machine find a way to leave a mark.
The name of Caraorman in Turkish means Dark Forest, and this is a hint to what is there to see : an amazing forest with secular oaks. Near the knelled oak you can find a stone table with chairs.
And another must see place if you arrive here is the moving sand dunes. They are moving due to weather, wind and water.
37. Săcărâmb (Hunedoara)
A village nestled in a volcanic cone with a perfect view over the sunset.
Due to its volcanic activity, there are a lot of precious and rare minerals. The gold hunters came here for the past 2 centuries.
There are over 100 minerals discovered here, 2 of them being very rare.
But the beauty and the riches of this place don’t lie underground. The hole village with it’s surrounding walls and the infinite perspective.
You will also find in this village: the Church struck by lightning and the Silver forest.
38. Pleșa (Suceava)
Pleșa is a village nestled in the hill of Bucovina and it is inhabited mostly by Polish People.
39. Gărâna (Caraș-Severin)
It is a village create in 19th century by the German colonists from Bavaria and the their legacy is visible in the village vibe.
40. Cireșoaia (Bistriţa-Năsăud)
As the name suggest, this is the cherry village. It is a center for cherry production, so imagine being here when the cherry trees are in blossom or when the cherry are ripped. Yummy!
41. Târsa (Hunedoara)
Situated at over 1000 meters altitude, this is one of the most isolated villages that recently has an asphalt road. It offers panoramic views over Şureanu Mountains.
42. Hoghilag (Sibiu)
Besides the beauty of a typical Saxon village in Transylvania, this place has a great gift to offer to its visitors: a beauty to the eyes and scent – the tuberose.
43. Şarlota (Timişoara)
Şarlota is the only circular village in Romania.It is also known as Charlottenburg.
44. Gârda de Sus (Alba)
A village on the foothill of Apuseni with many places to see: Scărișoara Cave, Rusty Pit.
45. Răşinari (Sibiu)
Colorful houses line up the streets of this village.
46. Runcu Salvei (Bistriţa-Năsăud)
A village list in the hills with a wood church from 1757.
47. Coleşti (Bihor)
Animated by the youth that is moving back to the village and with its own lake in the village center, Coleşti , is a place with a lot to offer.
48. Richiş (Sibiu)
In the shadow of the famous Biertan, Richiş still has something to offer. At just 5 kilometers from the famous UNESCO Church, it seems it is the most multietnic village of all. It attracted people from all over the world who bought houses, and try to live in the beat of the village, people from The Netherlands, Austria, Swiss, Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, Lithuania and United States.
49. Cund (Mureş)
This mountain village is a perfect example of coexistence of 3 nationalities: Romanian, Hungarian and German. From the 200 people living in this village, they are almost equal divided among the 3 ethnicity.
50. Ciosa (Bistriţa-Năsăud)
It is a isolated mountain village in Bistriţa-Năsăud. The traditional houses are scattered on the hills.
Villages in Romania that no longer exist
Geamana is not a beautiful place, it is in fact a tragic one. It is something that could have been, but it was interrupted in its existence. The location of the Village Geamana was evacuated in order to create a toxic waste from a nearby mining pit.
You can only imagine how the village used to look like, you can remove the dirt that has been dumped here , you can see the church still standing and around it imagine the modest houses displayed around it.
This is not really a village, as it no longer exist. Or at least it no logger visitable. But a great place we could not miss from our list because it is a unique village due to its positioning. It was situated on an island in the middle of the Danube River around Orsova. It was inhabited mostly by Turks. It was a really special place because of the ottoman customs, of the mild clime which it allowed to grow exotic plants and fruits, due to the houses build on top of the fortress, sometimes really integrated intro the defensive walls and using materials for it.
The island was lost to a mega-construction of the communism. When the Iron Gate Dam was build, the water level rise and the island was swallowed by the unforgiving water of Danube River. It is called the Atlantida of Romania, but we know for sure this one existed.
It is been said that there is a light post in the middle of the Danube still visible today, a memory of the lost island, but on our drive on the road next to this place, w did not see it.
This is a movie made to help us remember the last days of the island. It is in Romanian, but you will see the beauty and get the vibe of this unique place.
Planing your trip to see Romanian Villages
The villages are concentrated in some rural center. Here is a separation of the villages by region and county:
Villages in Transylvania:
Villages in Brașov: Măgura, Viscri, Şirnea, Racoş, Poiana Mărului, Fundăţica, Dâmbovicioara, Simon; Villages in Maramureş: Breb, Săpânta, Barsana, Vișeul de Sus, Preluca Noua, Botiza; Villages in Sibiu: Biertan , Cisnădioara, Hoghilag, Răşinari, Richiş; Villages in Alba Iulia: Rimetea, Roșia Montana, Casa de piatră; Villages in Bistrița- Năsăud: Colibița, Cireșoaia, Runcu Salvei, Ciosa; Villages in Hunedoara: Densuş , Săcărâmb, Târsa; Villages in Harghita: Corund; Villages in Covasna: Valea Zălanului; Villages in Mureș: Cund; Villages in Timişoara: Şarlota; Villages in Bihor: Coleşti;
Villages in Moldova:
Villages in Suceava: Ciocăneşti, Fundul Moldovei, Pleşa;
Villages in Wallachia:
Villages in Caraș-Severin: Eftimie Murgul, Ineleț, Gărâna; Villages in Mehedinţi: Dubova;
Villages in Dobruja:
Villages in Tulcea: Letea, Sfântu Gheorghe, Sarichioi, Caraorman;
Maybe the most traditional rural life is situated in the northern part of Romania: Maramureş and Bucovina. Here people and traditions are unaltered, here time has a different beat, the seasons have their own meaning.
Another region that is worth considering to visit if you want to taste the rural life is Braşov – Sibiu – Covasna. Also, The villages in Danube Delta are spectacular, if you consider visiting this region you can add them to you list.
Stay at rustic accommodation
There are some fine places to stay and feel the village life pulsing. There are places done with consideration and with respect towards traditions and techniques. Some or new and some are old, but regardless, the result is still amazing.
Satu Muscelean (Arges County)
This amazing jewel is a complex of traditional houses build on a slope in a forest. There are 10 small houses build in a traditional manner and a central building for food and with 3 more rooms. The quietness and the relaxation is unprecedented. With a little patio you can spend the days on the outside admiring nature and reading a book, while setting the vibe on a different timezone – the one that is not included in any watch, but the one we all linger for, the timezone where there is no time.
It really is hard to imagine what it will be like when you go underground to Turda Salt Mine. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures, you’ve been inspired to tackle the subject, but they are all bits and pieces. The place is so big that it is really hard to capture the hole thing in one picture: it is on different levels and huge heights, so no picture or movie can do it justice.
With a little imagination you can spend an entire day in this place, it is even recommended. The salty air is good for all kind of respiratory health problems. They have all kinds of facilities to keep you and your kids busy – a football/baseball field, mini gulf course, several ping pong tables, places to rent equipment, a roller coaster, a large amphitheater, a lake with boats, 10 floors of stairs that you are recommended to use as you go in and out. So this people really want to make you loose a sweat in here, but it is for your own good. Despite the healthy benefits, there is a benefit for the eyes. It is truly an art installation made from light in this re-purposed m
This mine had different purposes in time. It started as a salt exploitation during the roman period. As you know salt was important for Romans, it was a currency, people used to be paid in salt. During its lifetime it was a storage for food and cheese due to controlled temperature and antiseptic properties of salt, but i was also a deposit for bombs during WW2.
Three billion tons of dislocated salt, has left behind a space to be filled by human imagination. From a very pragmatic purpose of excavating salt to a very artsy perspective over the underground world.
I don’t any other place below the earth where human hand can do a better job than nature, except this marvelous place where humans have overtake nature by creating this underground constellation.
Once you go inside you will be reborn under the zodiac sign of salt and light – in a way the two essential elements of life.
As you go in the passage takes you from a man made structure, to a salty and curved ceiling.
Then you reach the first mining rooms, and the traditional area, where everything is kept as it was. Most fascinating here is how the salt took over everything in its way. Wood, metal, string, doesn’t matter, the salt gradually cover it in a cauliflower-like coating.
From here you have to go 13 floors down. Each floor has a balcony and you see gradually how the lights unfolds before your eyes. I recommend taking the stairs down and up. will give you plenty photo spots and time to take in the view and the salty air.
You have reached the playful level, as I told you in the beginning of the article. Enjoy the time here, spear at least 2 hours of your time and pick your sport of choice. And then sit and admire the natural elements: the gradient of the salt, the noodle-like stalactites coming from the ceiling and forming a chandelier
From here there is another layer down to Terezia Mine, where you reach the underground lake and the wood houses shaped like hedgehog. You go down and you cross a bridge reaching the island in the middle of the lake. From here you can rent a boat and paddle around. This gives you time to reflect about some facts: you are 70 meters below the surface, paddling in a boat, at the light of futuristic fixtures with structure that belong to a sci-fi movie. Take a deep breath and keep moving around, take pictures and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.
Next would be to climb the 13 floors up. There is an elevator, but it is always crowded and it will deprive you of the full experience.
Preparing to go:
I recommend to go weekdays and when there no public holiday. It is after all the most visited place in Romania. To really enjoy this it and to take it in (so to speak), you need some room.
dress warmly because underground temperature is constant around 10 degrees. Especially if you want to spend more time. You have a lot of means to get warn, but don;t count only on that (paddle boat, 13 floors of stairs, ping pong, and many others).
adult admission 30 RON (6 euro)
child admission 15 RON (3 euro)
parking 5 RON (1 euro)
20 minute boat 15 RON (3 euro)
30 minutes ping pong 10 RON (2 euro)
Turda Salt Mine is a unique experience from anything you have known or seen before. It is really hard to share the feeling of the deep, wide underground emptiness filled with floating lighting. It is an experience you have to make for yourself, with time and patience, one breath at a time.
If you find yourself not resisting the temptation to put Turda Salt Mine on your next trip, then consider the following: