Carpathian Mountains

Key information: Carpathian Mountains

  • Europe’s longest range twists through Romania, forming the barriers that nestle Transylvania and countribute to its uniqueness.
  • Sub-ranges include the Apuseni [link] to the west and The Fagaras, home to Romania’s highest mountain at 2,544 m, and the gorgeous limestone ridge of the Piatra Craiului NP to the south.
  • some of south-east Europe’s finest walking.

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This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.



The Carpathians are Europe’s longest range, snaking for 1,500km through the heart of eastern Europe. They twist their way through Romania, forming the barriers that almost surround Transylvania and contribute to its uniqueness.


The main Carpathians run round the north and east of Transylvania, with the fascinating limestone Apuseni a protrusion to the west. There are many sub-ranges, including the Transylvanian Alps to the south, at their heart the Fagaras, home to Romania’s highest mountain at 2,544 m, and the gorgeous limestone ridge of the Piatra Craiului NP, widely agreed to be the country’s finest mountain area.


These mountains host famously diverse ecosystems, from superb and often untouched forests to gorgeous alpine meadows, to the cliffs and crags of the highlands. Some tremendous gorges wind out of their flanks. The main Carpathian range was once Europe’s longest volcanic chain, so very different rock from the limestone of the Apuseni.


The wildlife is of continental importance: a superb array includes half of Europe’s surviving brown bears as well as wolves, chamois, lynx, deer, boar and marmots. Birds include golden eagles, vultures and golden oriel. The vegetation is similarly diverse, from the varied mainly deciduous forests, to the high meadows and rocky wildernesses, to the flowery delights of the hay meadows.


 There is a huge variety of great walks here, from short explorations to multi-dayers..


Southern mountains

The Carpathians wrap southern Transylvania in an arm of sub-ranges, all making for some of south-east Europe’s finest walking. From west to east, they are:


Retezat NP: exceptionally beautiful scenery of rough, have high mountains, cliffs and rocky drama, and more than 80 glacially-gouged lakes.


Fagaras Mountains this long range, Romania’s highest, has superb walking, some claim Romainia’s finest. You can make a hut-to-hut traverse of the range in some 5 days. 


Piatra Crauilui: a narrow ridge of high, jagged limestone peaks, with beautiful forests and meadows on the lower slopes. A beautiful, unspoilt area of the Carpathian Mountains, claimed to be the most spectacular ridge in the southern range. As well as a huge variety of wildlife and pristine landscape, the farmland and villages are also delightfully unspoilt. A variety of excellent walks, but the 2 day traverse along the ridgeline is the most famous trail here.


Bucegi Mountains [link]: a small group of high, steep mountains near Braşov. Superb landscape, including a high plateau with heavily eroded formations. Several chalets, so you can make a comfortable and thrilling multi-day walk.


Eastern Carpathians

There is a lot of superb landscape – wild mountains and forests – in the main Carparthians, which form the eastern boundary between Transylvania and eastern Romanian provinces.


Bicaz Gorges-Hasmas Mountain NP: a wild area of dramatic limestone mountains, deep gorges and a famous red lake, with huge biodiversity and plenty of good trails to enjoy.


The nearby Ceahlau Mountains Have some very fine walking, including to Toaca Peak at [6,200ft]. The Duruitoarea waterfall is worth a walk. You can make a “Neamt Monasteries” walk between the villages of Varatec, Agapie and Neamt: a remarkable world


Northern Carpathians

Rodna Mountains: this long Carpathian range in the far north of Transylvania reaches 2,300m. Beautiful and remote. (We currently have limited information on this range, and plan more research: contributions welcome!)


Caliman Mountains:  this once volcanic area in the north-east has rich mixed forest and a wide diversity of wildlife. (We currently have limited information on this range, and plan more research: contributions welcome!)


Apuseni (north-west) [link]

The Apuseni are limestone mountains on the north-western borders of Transylvania. While they aren’t huge (1,400m-ish, highest 1,849m), they make up for that with superb scenery of peaks, cliffs, spires, gorges, many vast cave systems, huge and famous sink holes, karst plateaux, even waterfalls. Much of it is covered in fine, unspoilt forest. There are plenty of good walking trails, and you can spend several rewarding days here. The Padis Plateau is particularly exciting, a rugged karst area with many classic features including disappearing streams, vast sink holes and huge caves.  There is also an exciting-sounding 6km ridge walk which takes in Bohodei Peak (1,650m). The Galbena Valley [link], of gorges and waterfalls, is also too good to miss.



This can be demanding walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather. Come fully prepared.


Dogs: sheepdogs are fierce and can attack, in numbers. Walk in a group, keep away from flocks, close up if they approach, carry/pick up a stick if near a flock. Walk steadily, don’t run.


Keep your wits about you in the forests: it really is easy to get lost, when you could become painfully aware of just how empty the area is!


Find relevant books on Amazon.

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