By European standards, Romania is a pretty huge place (roughly the same size as the UK, in fact). But it’s also a country of mind-boggling contrasts. Ranging from Transylvanian castles and monasteries to huge mountain ranges, vast forests and culture-packed cities, Romania is an enormous – and enormously beautiful – country.
And soon, a lot of that stuff will be spanned by a single, 1,400km-long hiking trail. It’s called the Via Transilvanica, and it runs all the way from Putna, a northern town near the Ukrainian border, to Drobeta-Turnu Severin on the Danube, and the country’s south-western border with Serbia.
The Via Transilvanica is lined with way-markers that are around a kilometre apart, but the trail is much more than just a few milestones emblazoned with an orange ‘T’. With the aim of ‘encouraging as many people as possible to get to know [Romania], one step at a time’, the organisation behind the path has published handy guides to local people, history, traditions, wildlife, attractions, restaurants and hotels.
Thankfully, you don’t have to do the entire route in one go. The Via Transilvanica is split into sections, so trekkers can pick and choose the parts that are most of interest. Each section ranges between 150km and 300km, and the routes include areas such as the harsh Romanian highlands, the watery Banat region and the picturesque mountains of Bucovina.
At more than 250 pages long, the Via guide is a proper resource and, even better, it’s promoting a more sustainable kind of tourism. Many of the treasures hidden on the Via’s Transylvanian hiking trails are simply not reachable by car. Instead, users have to rely on either bikes or their own two legs. The Via has also been made with minimal environmental impact through use of existing footpaths, bike paths and roads.
So, when will you be able to embark on a Romanian hiking extravaganza? Well, you could technically leave tomorrow. A 1,000km stretch of the Via Transilvanica route is already finished, with the remaining 400km due to be completed by the end of the year.
More mountainous escapes: