Apuseni Mountains

A holiday in Romania? Visit the Apuseni Mountains

Would you like to spend your next holiday in Romania? The Apuseni Mountains are considered by the international publications one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Europe, no matter the season.

The Apuseni Mountains are located in the west of Transylvania and belong to the Western Romanian Carpathians. They are described as the ideal tourist destination for the summer season.

Where are the Apuseni Mountains?

The Apuseni Mountains are in Romania (South-East Europe) and are part of the Western Carpathians, in the west of Transylvania.

If you want to travel to Apuseni from outside the country, you can get here quite easily thanks to the airport in Cluj. It is less than 100 km away from any of the tourist attractions presented by us.

Depending on the places that you want to visit, you can either use the public transport or you can rent a car from one of the local car rental companies.

Explore the Apuseni Mountains

Apuseni Mountains: Did you know that…?

The highest peak in Apuseni Mountains is Curcubatura Mare (1,849 m). This is fairly low altitude if compared to the highest peak in Romania – Varful Moldoveanu (2,544 m).

The Apuseni Mountains are extremely rich in precious natural resources, the most important of these being gold. The area has been exploited since the Dacian times and the exploitation expanded greatly during the Roman times.

The climate is typical for medium height mountains. It is wet and cold on the high peaks, while foehn winds blow on the south-west slopes.

The Apuseni Mountains have a significant water-way network. The most important rivers (Crisurile, Ariesul, Somesul Mic) spring from the Massif Central. Their flow is rich and constant.

The vegetation towards the peaks alternates the spruce and the coniferous forests. On the way down to the meadows in the valley, we pass through deciduous forests, hayfields and natural pastures.

The caves are one of the main tourist attractions here. Scarisoara Cave, Bears’ Cave, Meziad or The Living Flame Ice Cave are just some of them.

These are the most populated mountains in Romania. Nevertheless, don’t expect too many traces of civilization to be found here. The isolated hamlets, called groves, are almost deserted. But even so they still are a tourist magnet for people all over the world who are eager to find out how people lived here hundreds of years ago.

the forest cave
carpathian mountains

Are you a fan of rural tourism? Plan your vacation in Romania

Are you tired of those typical holidays that cannot seem to be able to leave your soul with an experience that is hard to forget? Do you want to create memories to hold for the rest of your life?

If so, then rural tourism is for you. And where else could you have an experience that is nothing but authentic if not in Romania, the most conservative country in Europe?

Rural tourism has a huge growth potential in the next 10 years. And that is because we have all had enough of crowded places, noise, synthetic food and indoor spaces.

This kind of tourism helps you to get in physical and emotional balance. So expect a warm welcome in authentic accommodations, unique culinary experiences, coming in contact with local traditions and customs and so much more.

Romania, one of the best rural getaways in Europe

Romania is one of the most conservative countries in Europe. Even if there are not always benefits to this, we cannot deny some clear advantages.

It’s no coincidence that Europe’s last virgin forests can be found in Romania.

What is more, our mountains are home to approximately 50% of the population of large carnivores in Europe (more than 2,750 wolves and 4,350 brown bears). And it has been growing since their hunting was banned. As a result, a new tourism opportunity is arising and it is a sustainable one as opposed to hunting tourism. And this is wildlife observation.

What is more, old traditions and customs can still be found in Romania, and they are extremely well preserved. More and more foreigners from all over the world are coming here to experience a way of life that is long gone in the rest of Europe.

In what follows, we will explain why the Apuseni Mountains can be one of the best rural getaways in Europe. Starting with tourist attractions and landmarks, and continuing with exquisite lodging and culinary recipes with a local flavor, we will leave absolutely nothing aside.

Tourist attractions and landmarks in the Apuseni Mountains

transylvania mountain

The Apuseni Mountains are abundant in tourist attractions. They have all the necessary seasoning to spice up a holiday in Romania.

We will continue by listing the main tourist attractions, randomly.

Bears’ Cave – It was discovered by accident in 1975 when the marble quarry in Chiscau was dynamited. The cave is one of the most iconic Romanian landmarks where more than 100,000-year-old bones have been discovered. Researchers claim that cave bears lived in it up to 17,000 years ago. Only 3 of the galleries in the cave are open to visitors while the largest part of its 1,5 km long galleries can be accessed by speleologists alone.

Scarisoara Cave – The pathway to the cave uncovers dream landscapes and it reaches the cave at the altitude of 1,165 m. The cave was the first one to be declared a natural monument in 1938. It is unique in the world due to the fact that it nestles the largest underground ice-block. The temperature inside the cave drops under zero degrees even during the summer months.

Vartop Ice Cave – This cave nestles a 1,600 sq.m ice-block and the oldest traces of the Neanderthals in Romania have been discovered here. It can be found in the neighbourhood of Stone House hamlet and it is one of the best  caves in Romania.

The Valley of Sighistel – A canyon which is approximately 5 km long with vertical stone walls, ponds and gorgeous waterfalls.

Micula Cave – It is located in Craiasa Valley and it is one of the most beautiful caves in Romania.

Ruginoasa Pit – Climb on top of the mountain (a 30-40 minute trail on foot) to admire the result of an extremely rare natural phenomenon. Following an active erosion process, layers of reddish quartzite have come up to the surface.
The Living Flame Ice Cave – The third largest fossil ice block in the country with a volume of approximately 25,000 sq.m.

Radeasa Fortress Cave and The Gorges of Warm Someş – A cave in an advanced stage of evolution which perfectly illustrates how caverns turn into massive gorges.

Ponor Cave Fortress – A suberb network of galleries, furrowed by underground rivers which form impressive waterfalls. Keen speleologists called it The Everest of Romanian speleology.

The Lost World – This area got its name due to its wilderness. It is actually a karstic plateau, covered with forests, and it is neighboured by Paraul Sec and Paraul Ursului streams, and by Gardisoara Peak. This is where probably the most stunning views in the Apuseni Mountains can be seen.

Galbena Gorges – Gathers most of the waterways from Padis Basin in Beius hollow ground. Along the gorges you will see canyons, waterfalls, ponds with crystal clear water, grottos and many other beauties of nature.

Bortig Aven– It is 38m deep and 35m in diameter. At the bottom of it lies an ice-block which is 16m high.

Meziad Cave – For a long time it was considered the longest cave in Romania (4,750m). But it has been outnumbered by the Wind Cave which is 47 km long. The structure of the cave is spectacular and a great number of bat colonies live here.

Detunatele – Unique geological formations in Romania. They are stone walls made up of basalt stacks forming gray-blackish columns. They got their name from the sound that the columns make when they fall on the debris below. Detunatele are located in the Metaliferi Mountains, at the end of a long and difficult path, but one which is well-worth the effort.

Avram Iancu Memorial House – Nicknamed the Prince of the Mountains, the former ruler of ‘The Land of Moți’, was born in Apuseni, in a family of wealthy farmers. You will learn more about his life if you visit his memorial house in Incesti village.

Because there is no tourist map of the Apuseni Mountains, at least not a good quality one, we recommend that you use Google Maps when planning your route.

By clicking on the tourist attractions mentioned above, you will discover their exact location on Google, as well as related reviews and photographs. In this way you can pin all the attractions that you want to visit and also set the route from one attraction to another.

If we have convinced you to plan your next vacation in Romania, in Apuseni Natural Park even, pay attention to what follows next. We are going to tell you about the most beautiful rural cabins and traditional houses where you can spend the night.

After that we are going to uncover some of the secrets of the local gastronomy, and in the end, we are going to introduce you to those Romanian traditions and customs that can only be found here.

Apuseni Mountains: Top Accommodations and Experiences

We have travelled everywhere in this country to unravel the most beautiful experiences a tourist can have in Romania. We have discovered so many restored traditional houses, cabins, glampings and tree-houses… and this is not all. The Apuseni Mountains and their surrounding area offer some of the most charming lodging in Romania.

You could spend the night in a traditional house, in a remote hamlet, on a mountain top. Or you could choose one of those tree-houses. You might as well go for a traditional village, completely restored, and located on top of a hill. Or you may opt for accommodation in Rosia Montana, one of the oldest settlements in Europe, a place with a tradition in exploiting precious metals.

All currently available lodging can be found below:

Food recipes that are typical for the Apuseni area

apuseni mountains cuisine

Many Romanian traditional dishes are rooted in the Apuseni area. People here prepare food by using bio ingredients grown in their own garden or in their neighbors’ gardens. So don’t be surprised if you rediscover here the food tastes from your childhood.

Imagine the flavor of sweet bread rolls baked on burning coals, smelling of rum and licorice. They make sweet bread here by following their own recipe, with “truturi”, not like we make them. The “truturi” are made from superior quality flour, water and sugar. The dough sheets, smeared with plum marmalade or jam, are braid and then fried, not baked.

Smoked meats are yet another delicacy in Apuseni. After the sausages are filled, they are left outside to dry and then hung up in the attic where they are left to smoke. The attic is also the place where the other meats are smoked…all the smoke coming from the stoves goes up there.

The pork loin is cleaned and put to rest in salt on a wooden bench until the next day when it is taken up to the attic to get smoked. If it is not cold enough, the meat is slightly cut so that the air gets in and the meat doesn’t go bad on the bones.

Haggis is another typical dish in Apuseni. The mats are filled with mixed meats and then put to boil in water with lemon, raisins, thyme and bay leaves. It can also be served hot.

The Apuseni Mountains – Traditions and Customs

apuseni villagers

The Apuseni area has rich folklore and culture. Unique traditions and customs, craftsmanship long lost in the rest of Europe and traditional costumes, which have been reinterpreted all over the world, can all be found here.

Depending on the village one visits, different customs can be found. For example, in Geoagiu de Sus, on Palm Sunday, a sacred day, the Orthodox Christians go to one of the two churches in the village to attend the Holy Mass. Then they go to the cemetery outside the church and the priest gives blessings to the ones who have left this world. The local people embellish the tombs, they light candles and offer sweets to the children who stand in line, patiently, along the alleys.

This tradition, passed on from generation to generation, brings back unique memories to the elders, who can remember that decades ago, when they were children, they would wait anxiously for this day to come.

In the Apuseni Mountains there is a tradition, hundreds of years old, to organise country fairs. The small, local fairs used to be organised on every Thursday of the week. The larger fairs, called bulciuri or balciuri, were organised in accordance with the farming calendar.

Enjoy other experiences in the Apuseni Mountains

  • Summer hiking – 35 marked tourist trails;
  • Cave tourism;
  • Canyoning – Padis area (Galbenei Canyon, Oselu Canyon, Valea Seaca Canyon, Cheia Rea Canyon);
  • Rafting and fast water kayaking;
  • Mountaineering and rock climbing;
  • Winter hiking;
  • Ski touring and slope skiing – Ski slopes in Apuseni: Arieseni, Stana de Vale, Marisel;

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