Romania’s landscape is dominated by the spectacular Carpathian Mountains. A continuation of the Alps, they encircle Transylvania and provide the country with a rocky backbone perfect for activities ranging from hiking and skiing to caving and mountain biking.
The main mountain ranges, the Bucegi, the Făgăraş, the Apuseni and the Retezat, provide the best-known destinations for hiking. There are numerous well-marked trails allowing day-trips or longer expeditions, sleeping in a mountain refuge or cabana – these are usually very friendly and sociable places, and make good bases for hiking, caving or climbing. All of the trails are marked on the excellent Hartă Turistica (http://www.harta-turistica.ro) maps, which can be found in hiking shops and bookshops in most major towns. Some cabanas also sell maps. Spring and summer are the best seasons to explore the mountains, and a large number of trails should only be attempted in warmer weather.
Romania also offers some of Europe’s cheapest skiing and snowboarding between November and April (http://www.ski-in-romania.com). There are several major ski and snowboarding resorts in Romania, the most popular of which is Poiana Braşov, near Braşov. Other resorts include Sinaia, Buşteni and Predeal – all on the main road north from Bucharest – Păltiniş near Sibiu, Borşa to the north in Maramureş, and Ceahlău and Durău on the border of Moldavia. Although Borşa is arguably the best resort for beginners, the larger resorts all have a number of easy and medium pistes and one or more black run.