The Cicerone Guide The Mountains of Romania is an excellent guide to walking and trekking in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania.
It includes both remote and more popular areas, with detailed descriptions of the main ranges of the Fagaras, Bucegi and Retezat regions, plus the Eastern Carpathians, Maramureş, the Apuseni Mountains and more – in total, more than 30 massifs are covered.
The routes range from short, half-day excursions to 7-day hikes. Like most Cicerone guides, it is packed with useful information for the walker, including an introduction to the history, geography, culture and wildlife of the country plus details of routes, access and logistics for the hikes. Available as both printed volume and e-book.
Also very useful is the Bradt guide to Transylvania which has comprehensive coverage of the region for hikers and other travellers, including sightseeing in the main towns and cities, history and politics, culture and religion, food and drink, and other activities and practicalities.
Updated in late 2017, the new edition has been revised to reflect the changing nature of travel and tourism in Romania, detailing new developments such as ecotourism guesthouses, boutique accommodation in former palaces, summer festivals and the improved transport infrastructure. Available as both printed volume and e-book.
As far as hiking maps go, map and travel book specialists Stanfords www.stanfords.co.uk has a decent choice, with maps covering many of the main hiking destinations at varying scales suitable for walking, such as the Dimap 1:60,000 range.
The maps are of decent quality on good paper, and although not quite as detailed as the Ordnance Survey mapping we are used to in the UK, they are perfectly acceptable and at least the equivalent of much Alpine mapping. They show hiking trails, campsites, places of interest, etc, with information in English included.
If you know where you are heading, the best plan may be to order them in advance and use them in conjunction with one of the hiking guide books available in the UK (see above) to do some outline planning beforehand, as they may not be easily found in-country.
Travel Writings & Literature
As a destination, Romania’s lure and fascination has resulted in it featuring regularly in travel writings, either as a single destination or as part of one of the many pan-European travelogues.
The good news is that a number of these volumes are recognised as absolute classics of the genre, and are well worth the read. So why not take our advice and cut to the chase - of the plethora of books available on the subject, we believe that the titles below offer the best insight into this fascinating country.
’Along the Enchanted Way’ by William Blacker tells of the author’s time living and falling in love in Maramureş, far from the rush and bustle of the modern world. Experiencing a way of life that followed the turning of the seasons and the rhythms nature, he came to know the country, its ways and its people, and gradually became accepted in the community. However, when love came calling, that acceptance was put to the test.
From his early days hiking the hills of Transylvania, to the book's poignant ending, Along the Enchanted Way transports us back to a world most of us thought had long-since vanished.
In his epic account of walking the European watershed from north-west Spain to Istanbul, Nicholas Crane tells of his travels in Romania in ’Clear Waters Rising’, slowly following the curve of the Carpathians past painted monasteries, crossing the high ground of Ceahlău, surviving a storm on the Făgăraş ridge and heralding the onset of winter in the Retezat Mountains until his descent to the Danube at the Iron Gates.
Patrick Leigh Fermor also passed through Romania during his cross-Europe walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. Recounted in his book ’Between the Woods and the Water’, the author describes his wanderings through a continent on the verge of the Second World War, a Europe still in touch with the ancient ways, societal structures and beliefs that have prevailed for centuries but that are set to be changed forever in the forthcoming destruction and political upheaval. Romania figures largely in this volume, and clearly left a lasting mark on the young man.
Of course, there are many other books, and many other voices. In her book ’Looking for George’, Helena Drysdale sets out to search for a missing friend in the immediate post-Communist era. For Dervla Murphy, a visit to Romania was a childhood dream. Two weeks after the fall of the Ceauşescu regime, she began a accident-prone journey by bike and on foot that was curtailed almost as soon as it began. Undaunted, she returned a year later to explore a country barely daring to believe in the fall of communism, and captured all in ‘Transylvania and Beyond’.