With spectacular peaks and gorgeous scenery, it’s no wonder that the Bucegi Mountains are the most visited range in Romania. In short, the mountains offer something for everyone, even those that are not so inclined to a long hike. The development of the Bucegi area has made it a constant draw, both for tourists as well as locals looking to get out of Bucharest or Brasov for the weekend. Even with a large number of visitors, there is plenty of room for everyone and a great mountain experience can still be found with relative ease.
Starting a Bucegi Adventure
Even though there are several possible entry points to the Bucegi Mountains, most people choose to start their adventure at the small towns of either Busteni or Sinaia. From the former, there are two ways to get into the mountains. The first is to simply take the cable car located in the western part of the town that takes visitors directly from Busteni to Babele or even further to Pestera.
A person that prefers to hike up to the same points will find a trail that leads up the side of the mountain and has an easy to medium difficulty. Coming from Sinaia, the first stop will usually be the Miorita area, which can be reached by either cable car or an easy hike of 2-3 hours. A visitor should be aware that wait times for the cable car during the busy summer months can easily reach several hours.
Babel and the Sphinx
For most visitors, the first sight they will encounter after reaching the top ridge will be Babel, which basically translates to “the old women.” These natural rock formations look almost like mushrooms and have been shaped by countless centuries of winds and rain.
A similar formation is found at the Sphinx. Named because it has an eerie resemblance to the Sphinx in Egypt, the rock is massive and many visitors choose to have lunch in the shade of the gigantic formation. The first pictures of the Sphinx were taken around the turn of the twentieth century and it has since become a landmark of the Bucegi Mountain range.
Located just an hour’s walk from Babel is the Ialomita Cave, home to a famous monastery and a spooky legend from many years ago. According to the story, a man named Bucur lived in the cave and charmed many women from local villages with his exceptional flute playing. These women never returned to the village and legend has it that one kiss from Bucur would turn any woman to stone. Whether this story is true or not, the place does have a mystical feel, due in no small part to the Ialomita Monastery, which is located just at the entrance of the cave and is an imposing presence.
One of the key destinations in the Bucegi range is Mount Omu. Standing at a height of 2505 meters, the peak is the largest in Bucegi and makes a great day hike from Babel or Malaiesti in the northern limit of the range. At the top of Omu is a small cabana that uses no electricity but still manages to be extremely functional, with a restaurant as well as beds for rent. The panoramic view from Omu is definitely one of the highlights of any Bucegi adventure and should be included on every visitor’s itinerary.
Unlike some other mountain ranges in Romania where trails are not so clearly marked, the trails in Bucegi have signs every few meters to keep visitors on course. It is a good idea for anyone going to Bucegi to pick up a map from one of the many kiosks in Busteni and Sinaia. These cheap maps (about 3 Euro) have a full listing of all the trails and are a great way to plan a longer trip around the mountain range. Signs on the trails are done with a system of color and symbol codes, with an example being a blue cross or red pyramid used to denote separate trails.
Accommodation in Bucegi Mountains
The options of accommodation in Bucegi will largely depend on what kind of trip a person is taking. The most basic and cheapest options are camping sites that are usually located close to one of the cabanas at Babel, Omu or other points in the range. For a person that doesn’t really want to carry all the food and equipment for camping, another cheap option is to actually stay at one of the cabanas (very similar to a hostel).
Most will charge less than 10 Euros per night and have all the basic facilities as well as a small restaurant for eating. The luxury option is to stay at a hotel, with Hotel Pestera being the classic example, complete with a spa and upscale restaurant. Prices at Pestera differ by season and day of the week, but will rarely be higher than 70 Euros per night.
The Hidden Jewel of Bucegi
There is one section of the Bucegi Mountains that does not get as many international travelers, but brings locals in by the droves. Called Piatra Craiului, the mountains form a very steep and narrow ridge that are home to many amazing sights. One of the most remarkable are rock formations called La Zaplaz that form a natural stone canopy overhead at certain points of the path. Getting to Piatra Craiului is a bit more difficult than other parts of Bucegi, with the entry point being a small town called Zarnesti. Those who dare to adventure will be adequately rewarded.
The country of Romania is full of mountains, but the Bucegi range offers tourists the most accessible entry point into the country’s natural wonders. With plenty of sights to see and things to do, Bucegi has a wealth of beauty that must be experienced to be believed. Seasoned hikers who have conquered Bucegi may wish to check out other amazing mountain locations in Romania, such as the Fagaras range and the Retezat National Park.