With white fluffy snow, lively celebrations, colorful Christmas Markets and enchanting traditions, winter in Romania is a magical time. If you are thinking of visiting during this season, there are three Romania trips you should take to have the experience of a lifetime.
Ice Hotel in the heart of the mountains
Bâlea Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Romania and a popular tourist attraction. And rightly so being on the Transfăgărășan Road, the best road in the world, and also a starting point for many hiking adventures.
The view here takes your breath away with the mountain hut just by the crystal clear glacier lake în the heart of the Carpathian Mountains. The adventure traveler might say that this is one of the best Romania trips you can make.
During winter the landscape becomes covered in snow and a hotel of ice opens it’s doors to travelers seeking a unique experience. Built with ice blocks taken directly from Bâlea Lake and covered with snow, everything here from glasses to beds is remade every year and from the same frozen material.
But fear not because there are woolen bedclothes and traditional Romanian alcoholic beverages will keep you warm.
Unfortunately, Transfăgărășan Road is not accessible by car during wintertime and the only way to reach the Hotel of Ice is by cable car.
Sibiu Christmas Fair – the first Christmas Market in Romania
Romanians love Christmas Markets and have one in every major city, each trying to outdo the other or the previous edition. One could be fooled to say that Christmas Fairs are a local tradition since the beginning of time, but the truth is we only have them since 2007.
In 2007 the city of Sibiu had been named European Capital of Culture and to honor this it held the first Romanian Christmas Market inspired by the ones in Vienna. It was a success and the trend shortly caught on. But to this day the Christmas Market in Sibiu is the most beautiful one in Romania.
Set in the Grand Square surrounded by baroque architecture and a little bit of medieval flair, with lots of tiny stands selling authentic traditional handmade goods or delicious food, Sibiu’s Christmas Market is the cherry on top in a Transylvania Winter Tour.
Mocănița – a ride with the last steam train in Europe
Maybe you heard that the best Romanian Christmas traditions are in Maramureș and Bucovina. And while nobody can deny that, there is another attraction just as spectacular as the homemade sausages with cornmeal: Mocănița.
Mocănița is the last narrow forestry gauge steam train in Europe. Used to carry wood from the mountains to the village since 1933, nowadays the old steam train is a popular attraction for travelers and photographers that want to capture the pure beauty of Wasser Valley that splits Maramureș Mountains.
Mocănița operates all year long and each season brings unexpected and colorful changes in the mountain scenery that it crosses. In the winter time when all is white and frozen, it is said that it’s the best time to photograph the steam coming out of the train.
You can enjoy a half day ride with Mocănița in the Transylvania Maramureș and Bucovina tour, an adventure that will take you from castles to merry cemeteries, to UNESCO World Heritage churches and then deep in the mountains.
Out of all the Romania trips, this is by far the most diverse, rich both in culture and nature.