American travel writer Paul Theroux has said that “Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” While that may be true in some regard, it really shouldn’t be taken quite literally. Most especially when you’re travelling around Romania for instance. True, Romania is wonderful to visit during summer, spring and autumn. But those who brave the cold are rewarded greatly. For Romania is truly a winter wonderland with many things to do for every kind of traveller.
I asked leading tour company Outdoor Activities in Romania what activities they suggest for travellers who plan to visit the country during winter, and boy was I pleasantly surprised!
WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU CAN DO IN ROMANIA DURING WINTER?
Without further ado, let me show you the spectacular things you can get up to during winter in Romania (AKA the reason why Romania is on my wish-list for end of year 2020!)
VISIT THE NORTH OF ROMANIA
With a total area of over 230,000 square kilometres, Romania is the 12th largest country in the European Union. And while to the outside world, Romania is most known for its forested region of Transylvania, not many are aware that Romania is a country of diverse contrasts.
The Northwest region of Romania, which represents about 14 percent of the country’s territory, is not only extremely agricultural, but rich in history and tradition as well. Winter is one of the best seasons to visit the region as they carry many traditions during this time of the year.
Maramures is a destination where Romanian traditions are well-kept. If you enjoy a rural getaway, visiting actual craftsmen and wooden churches (which Maramures are known for), then Maramures, along with Bucovina, another nearby countryside destination will be perfect for you.
The photo above is in Bucovina, a historical region on the northern slopes of Romania (and some parts Ukraine).
It is most known for its incredible landscapes and how the area still keeps Romanian traditions that originated from several hundred years ago.
For instance, one of their hidden and most fascinating traditions is how they kept the traditional art of decorating Easter eggs. Many countries decorate eggs during Easter, yes but I bet you have not seen anything like the Easter eggs decorated in Bucovina.
They use an instrument called “chisita” (similar to a nib) in order to create elegant, embroidery-like décor in the eggs.
And if you wish to learn more about Romanian folklore, Bucovina is the best place to start. In this region, you can still see locals dressed in Romanian National costumes not just during festivals but in their day-to-day festivities. The traditional blouses (which have been inspired by many fashion houses and high street brands) are so intricate and colourful. Apparently, in this region, the more colourful and decorative your blouse is, the more hardworking you are. And no one likes a lazy person in Bucovina so always expect to see a colourful sight.
The quickest way to get to Maramures and Bucovina is to fly to Cluj, where Outdoor Activities in Romania will pick you up, and take you further north.
SNOWSHOE OVER THE SNOW-CAPPED MOUNTAINS
Outdoor Activities in Romania offers a guided tour in Ciucas Mountains, which is beautiful year-round but quite stunning during winter because it is majestically covered in snow.
Ciucas is the perfect place to hike but during winter, snowshoes are needed so that your foot does not completely sink into the snow. And while snowshoes are a type of footwear for walking over snow, snowshoeing in itself is also a form of hiking.
And if you find yourself asking why would one want to snowshoe or hike the Romanian mountains during winter, well…how else can you enjoy these kinds of view?
These stunning photographs were sent to me by Dan of Outdoor Activities in Romania taken during their actual tours this winter and I’m so tempted to put on snowshoes and get myself over to Romania!
Views like this are breathtaking for sure, but when you hike and take a little bit of journey to get to these views, it makes it even all the more rewarding.
TAKE A PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR
Those who love to multi-task (and are doubly talented) will thrive in this activity. The photography tours that Outdoor Activities in Romania offer will have you both hiking in the mountains, and also learning new photography skills.
Their guided hiking tour in Iezer Papusa Mountains is available all-year round, but of course, the views that you see during winter (and will capture in your camera), are even more spectacular.
Previous guests of this tour have only high praises of their experience and of their guide, Dan, who they observed has a strong passion for hiking and knows the area very well.
And because Dan is also a seasoned photographer, he knows the exact sweet spots in the mountains where one could take photographs that are worth framing.
Apart from Iezer Papusa Mountains, Outdoor Activities in Romania also offer guided photography and hiking tours in Baiului Mountains, and equally stunning area in central Romania, a few kilometres south of Brasov.
A certain degree of hiking knowledge and fitness level is required before you join this tour and I’m sure that after seeing these photos, one is inspired to get fit and practice hiking pre-winter in order to join these tours!
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN ROMANIAN CULTURE
Winter is also a good time to explore the countryside of Romania. Outdoor Activities in Romania offer cultural tours that explore local villages and also meeting locals.
I was fortunate to visit the countryside of Romania with Outdoor Activities in Romania a long time ago and even though it was not in winter, it was one of the best travel experiences I’ve had to this day.
Dan personally knew the locals in Pestera (the village where we stayed overnight) and it was truly an authentic rural Romanian experience we had.
So I have no doubt that the countryside winter tours that Outdoor Activities in Romania offers will have the same or higher standards that we’ve had years ago.
Romania is truly a country steeped in history, year-round stunning natural views and rewarding local experiences.
All the above activities truly offer an undoubtedly authentic experience, but do not forget to reward yourself with a shot of Tuica (plum brandy) at the end of every activity-filled day!
*Outdoor Activities in Romania offers winter tours all over Romania and city tours as well.
So who’s with me in planning to go to Romania winter of 2020?