self-guided back packing trip in Maramures  

dates can be chosen free between 01 May and 31 October 2011

museum in Dragomiresti
most of the churches have very nice fresco's inside
a "viltoara", where water whirls to wash carpets, rags.
You'll see many superbly carved wooden gates
detail of a wooden gate
typical hay stags in Maramures, the slender form shows that the region often has rain, the hay in a large wide hay stag would rot inside
Action along the line
potters oven and workshop

Important notice: The hikes can only be done by hikers that are well experienced with maps and compass or with GPS. The reason is that the trails that we use for some of the hikes are since a few years hardly used by the local population and now overgrown or sometimes hardly recognizable as a trail.


Maramures is worldwide known for its fabulous wooden churches and its lovely wooden homesteads. The people claim that they descend directly from the Dacians (Romania's oldest inhabitants) and were never conquered by the Romans. There might be some truth in that, especially when you compare their features - blond and with blue eyes - with the Romanians - mostly dark hair and brown eyes. Anyway, the people kept their traditions high and many folk events are still part of daily life.


The region, the Maramures Mountains, are a superb environment to make beautiful hikes. The mountains are up to 1850 meter and mostly covered with foliage trees. They are part of the Carpathian Mountain range and extend far in the Ukraine. The villages are located along the rivers in the valleys. The farmer don't grow much crop in Maramures but breed cows and sheep on the lower hills surrounding the villages. 


The villages are often closed entities dominated by one or even more beautiful wooden churches. Some of these churches are many centuries old and are decorated inside with fantastic frescoes.


Another attraction brings also a lot of tourists to the region.
One century ago Transylvania, Maramures and Bukovina had a dense network of  narrow gauge forestry railways.
Most of them disappeared except in Maramures and Bukovina. Daily small steam engines run along the beautiful Vaser River deep into the mountains to haul logs.
The trains have a passenger car as well and you can travel with the harvesters up in the mountains.



Your trip


We prepared your beautiful trip around the small town Viseu from where the forestry line starts up in the mountains. You walk from the Viseu Valley to the Iza valley where you find the finest wooden churches in the village Ieud and Poienile Izei. At the end you go up in the mountains with the steam train and get back again on foot. You sleep in guestrooms at local farms and guesthouses.






You can watch a short video clip by clicking the link:







Highlights of the program:



 - The beautiful wooden churches from Ieud: There are 2 wooden churches, the higher Wooden church dating back from 1364 (oldest church from Maramures). The Ieud Codex or the oldest written document in Romanian was found here. (now it is in Bucharest) Best-known paintings from Alexandru Ponehalski (1782) The part of the village around the higher church is may be most representative example of the authentic Maramures village. Lower church: from 1718, with very high roofline.



- Poienile Izei: Wooden church with scary frescoes of Hell from the 18thc. This was some kind of rulebook to scare sinners and especially women. Certainly worth a visit.



- Botiza: known for handmade carpets, woodcarving.
Wooden church from 1700, originally built in Viseu de Jos and moved in 1900 to Botiza. There are  mineral springs near the village.



- Narrow gauge forestry railway along the Vaser river. 



- Wooden churches in Sieu, Ieud, Dragomiresti, Botiza, Poienile Izei and Salistea de Sus



- Visit beekeeper, artisan distillery, watermill under guidance of Ioan Sabau (English spoken)



- Museums in Dragomiresti and Ieud




You can extend your trip with an extra cultural trip and visit the merry cemetery of Sapanta, (where cynic, sometimes funny lyrics and paintings decorate the grave posts of the village) The same day you can visit the wooden monastery of Birsana with the highest wooden church. And there is the open air museum in Sighetu Marmatei with again wooden churches, watermill, small farms. Price transfer 60 Euro, 4 people can take place in the car.

Eventual extra night in Viseu: 30 Euro pro person in full board



the merry cemetery in Sapanta (optional)




Nature lovers can extend the trip with a stay in the Rodna Mountains. Price 30 Euro pro person pro night in full board. Transfers 25 Euro/transfer between the Maramures hiking area and Borsa ski resort from where you can hike the Rodna Mountains. (there is place for 4 tourists in the car)

For more information about the Rodna Mountains, see at:


A rental car can be arranged for 1 or 2 days. Price about 25-30 Euro/day.


the Rodna Mountains






The trip



Day 1:  

Arrival in Vişeu de Sus, accommodation in guestrooms. Ioan Sabou, our local co-operator (who speaks English) will bring you to the first guesthouse. In Viseu de Sus begins the forestry railway. Viseu de Sus is a small town where most activity is linked with the wood industry. The place grew after the Romanians had to built a new main line into Maramures because the country lost a small part of it's territory to Ukraine, after the 2nd World War.  



Day 2:

Hiking trip to Salistea de Sus. Itís a trip from the Viseu Valley to the Iza Valley. It a nice trip through the hills, over pasture and hay land and scattered parts of forest. You walk along the Ciunca hill (847 m) and will enjoy the panoramaís over the Ţibleş mountain (1800m) and the Pietrosul Rodnei (2303 m), the highest peak from the Eastern Carpathians. The village Saliste is the first village of the authentic Iza valley, world wide known for its wooden churches. Distance 14km, about 5 hours hiking, 420m climbing and 430m descending. 




Day 3:

Roundtrip to Dragomiresti. You make a nice hiking trip in the surrounding hills and walk along open pastures and small patches of forest. The trip ends in the village Dragomiresti where there is an interesting ethnographic museum with textiles, carpets, wooden household items, looms and other tools for preparing wool. Transfer back to Salistea de Sus.  Distance 19km, about 7 hours hiking, 570m climbing and 570m descending.  




Day 4:

Hiking trip via Dragomiresti to Ieud. First along the vallei to Dragomiresti, then a short hike through the surrounding hills which allows you plenty of time to visit the very interesting village Ieud. It has the best preserved village center of Maramures.  Itís located around the church on the hill, (oldest wooden church in Maramures dating back till 1364) In Ieud is a small private museum. Distance 11km, about 3 hours hiking 70m climbing and 120m descending.




Day 5:  

Hiking trip to Botiza. A trip along the Ieud river and the Botiza river, small farm fields, hayland and pastures, patches of forest. Botiza has a lovely wooden church. The village is known for itís handmade carpets.   Distance 9km, about 3 hours hiking, 325m climbing and 250m descending.   




Day 6:  

Hiking trip to Poienile Izei. Hike over pastures and through small patches of forest. In Poienile Izei you certainly have to visit the church. Sheís superbly decorated with frescoes inside. Those frescoes were often made as a guide or rule book for the people and especially the women were warned to behave well.

Distance 8,7km, 3-4 hours hiking, 280m climbing, 200m descending.




Day 7:

Hiking trip to Sieu. You exit the village and walk along the ridge to Sieu. The trip brings you along Hay and grass fields, small patches of forest and orchards. You stay with lady Ioana, teacher in Sieu. In Sieu is a wooden church and a watermill. Distance 12km, 4 hours hiking, 230m climbing, 360m descending.  




Day 8:  

Ioan Sabou, will pick you up in the morning and will bring you to a beekeeper, a local distillery, a potter and watermill and show you how people live, will explain (show) you typical customs. In the late afternoon you will be brought back to Viseu de Sus where you stay for the night.   




Day 9:  

Trip with the narrow steam locomotive along the Vaser river. In Romania there are still working narrow gauge steam locomotives. (about the last ones in Europe). As you will notice, time is not important and physics have other laws along the Vaser. It will be a wonderful experience in a world you hardly could imagine it still exists. In the evening you should get back in Viseu. (can be anytime between 4pm and 8pm)   




Day 10:  

Hiking trip in the Maramures Mountains. Itís a lovely roundtrip at the other side of the Viseu River along open fields, a settlement and through dense forest. Evening back in Viseu de Sus. Hiking trip 22,3km, about 7-8 hours hiking, 330m climbing and 330m descending.   




Day 11:  

Breakfast, end of program











guesthouse in Salistea de Sus



The folk costumes in Maramures:

More then in other regions from Romania, the people in Maramures, especially the young and old ones, still respect very much the typical folk costumes and wear them proud on Sundays or festive days. Even the weekday clothes differ a little from the rest of Romania and are specific for the region, such as the short skirts the women wear and typical black and red horizontal striped shorts (zapodie) . (notice also that the skirt stops one hand length above the knee, only in Maramures).

this man is wearing on a weekday the old style shirt and trousers
the festive folk costume: opinci, (footwear) sireturi,(wraps) camasa (shirt), brau-chingatoare, large belt
festive children costume: zadie (short), camasa + fusta (blouse + skirt), batic-naframa (kerchief)
weekday dress with typical Maramures zadie (shorts) black and red


11 day program (10 nights)

445 Euro in full board (minimum 2 persons)

Price includes also: 1 day guiding + visits, and local transfers between train station Viseu de Jos and Viseu de Sus



How to get there: (for links to airliners etc, click here)

First part to Cluj Napoca:

Direct flights from London Luton, Paris Beauvais and Dortmund to Cluj Napoca with Wizz Air. 

There are also direct flights between Paris-Beauvais or Rome and Cluj Napoca. (Blue Air)

Lufthansa operates a direct flight between Munchen and Cluj Napoca.



Flights to Budapest (regular airlines and low-cost) and train to Cluj -Napoca: there are trains departing the airport Ferihegy at 08.43 (arrival Cluj Napoca at 16.40) and 13.43 (arrival Cluj Napoca at 21.33) 

Train connections: see at  

(The trains depart/arrive at new trainstation at Budapest Ferihegy airport terminal 1 and you have to change trains in Szolnok, time between trains is somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes)

Back to Budapest: train leaving Cluj Napoca at 06.23 arrives at 12.16 and train leaving Cluj Napoca at 10.29 arrives at 16.16 at the airport in Budapest.


Second part: Cluj-Napoca - Maramures (and back)

There 2 trains a day: 

first train with exchange of trains in Salva (train leaves Cluj Napoca at 12.52 and arrives at 16.43 in Viseu de Jos)

Direct train: leaves Cluj Napoca at 15.38 and arrives at 20.23.



First train (switching trains in Salva) leaves Viseu de Jos at 10.40 and arrives at 14.39 in Cluj Napoca. 

Direct train leaves Viseu de Jos at 18.15 and arrives at 21.46 in Cluj Napoca.


If you don't get the trains at your day of arrival - departure, you can stay an extra night in Cluj Napoca: price 40 Euro for a double room (bed and breakfast) (30 Euro for a single room)