Self guided backpacking trip in the Bihor- and Vladeasa Mountains  

dates can be chosen free between 1 May and 31 October

Casa de Piatra
Tauz karst spring
Coiba Mare cave
Ice Cave
Calineasa Meadow
crocus in May, Poiana Horea
Poiana Horea
Fintinele Lake
Rachitele with Ruginoasa hill at the horizon
shepherd in Margau
Buffalo wagon Sancraiu
corn harvest in Sancraiu

The hiking trip takes place in the Apuseni Mountains. It is a sweet landscape with lovely authentic villages. Your trip takes place at altitudes between the 600 and 1300 m. The landscape is very varied with open meadows between dense forests. 

The trip starts in the Bihor Mountains. 

You walk for a couple of days in the nature park Apuseni. There are many endemic plants and the wildlife is very authentic. 


Lots of the hiking trails follow the tracks used by the local population since ancient times. The Bihor Mountains are inhabit by the Moti (pronounced Moots). They are masters in woodcarving. Further on you walk in the Vladeasa Mountains where you have the authentic Romanian population, the Mocani and end the trip ends in an ethnic Hungarian village Sancraiu.  Especially the Hungarian minority kept very strong to their traditions.


You walk through very authentic regions, some settlements even didn't have electricity up till a few years ago. Special for some villages in the region is that the whole population of the village moves to the higher alms during summer. Unique is that they move with all their animals and stay for 4 to 5 months in very primitive huts. 


The region is also very well known for its magnificent caves. You can visit the biggest ice cave of Romania.

We provide you with maps and a very well described road book. Besides the description of the road, we’ll give you interesting information about the region as well. 

The accommodation is provided in guestrooms. The Romanian people are worldwide known for their generous hospitality. We selected local farms where you have the best conditions. All the houses have a fully equipped bathrooms, and the rooms in Arieseni, Scrind and Sancraiu have private bathrooms. 

You’ll enjoy daily traditional dinners, prepared with mostly homegrown products. In the morning you have an extensive continental breakfast, at noon a lunch packet. 

Highlights of the program:

  - The nature park Apuseni ( you walk 4 days in the park)

  - The Ice Cave Scarisoara. 

  - Lake Fintinele, a beautiful 25km long accumulation lake.

  - Summer houses on the Calineasa meadow

  - Coiba Mare Cave and Tauz karst spring

  - Wedding Veil waterfall in Rachitele (optional)

  - Padis nature reserve (optional)

  - And of course the splendid nature of the Apuseni Mountains,   endless forest, colorful meadows, lovely villages where it looks as time went by without changes


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



We've included a special page about the Apuseni Mountains:    click here



Day 1: Arrival in Arieseni. There is daily a bus between Cluj Napoca and Arieseni, (bus leaves Cluj Napoca at 17.30 and arrives at 21.30 in Arieseni) You stay at the Gianina guesthouse.

Day 2: Hiking trip to the village Ghetar. 

Hiking trip to the village Ghetar. In the village Ghetar you can visit the Ice Cave Scarisoara. The cave lies at an altitude of 1100m and at the bottom of the cave lies and enormous bloc of ice, 75.000 m3 big. It is here since the last Ice Time. This cold mass of ice cools the air down and seeping water freezes up to beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Your host Dino speaks English. Hiking: 14km, 3-4 hours.  


Optional: the Nature Reserve  Padis: From Ghetar you can make optional a 2-day hiking trip to Padis.  It is a limestone mountain plateau in the center of Nature Park Apuseni known for its dozens of caves and dolines, canyons and colorful meadows and lies at an altitude of about 1.400m. "Cetatile Ponor" or "Fortress of Ponor" is the most spectacular site in Padis. It consist of 3 enormous dolines that are connected by tunnel caves. The entrance of the cave in doline one is 70m high. The biggest doline is 800m wide and 180m deep. On the borders of the dolines is a hiking trail with several balconies from where you have superb views. The Padis plateau is mainly covered with spruce and fir trees. The geo-morphic structure, the height and some traditional human activity all are factors that define the flora of the nature park. Specific are the open grasslands and silted dolines where you find a typical wetland and swamp flora. You can reach Padis from Ghetar in about 6 hours.

70m high cave entrance

Doline 3



Day 3  

Round trip to Casa de Piatra. The authentic village got only 2 years ago connected to electric power.  In the village is the cave Ghetarul de la Virtop and the cave Coiba Mare. Coiba Mare cave has a fantastic impressive entrance. Depending the water level you can get a few 100m in the cave. Ghetarul de la Virtop can be visited with a guide. Along the way back to Ghetar you can visit the impressive Tauz karst spring. Distance 25km, 7 hours hiking. climbing 400m. You stay again in Ghetar.         

Day 4:  Trip to Poiana Horea. You make a very nice walk on the slopes of the Cluj mountain towards the Calineasa Meadow. You'll come along primitive harvesters settlements, large open meadow and through evergreen forest. Horse and wagon spans loaded with tree trunks cross your trails. You walk generally above the 1000m altitude. Poiana Horea is a larger villages of forestry workers. You stay at the guesthouse of Charly and Monica. Distance 22km 300m climbing, 350m descending.

Day 5: Trip to Doda Pilii. The trip goes completely through the forest and over beautiful meadows to the settlement Smida. From Smida it is short walk to Doda Pilii, a harvesters settlement where you stay for the night at the guesthouse of Carmen and Dan and their son Horea. All of them speak very well English. You’ll notice the typical simple wooden houses of the Romanian mountain people. The settlement lies at the confluence of the Firei and Somesu Cald Rivers. Distance 18km, 6 hours hiking, Level difference 150m climbing, 150m descending

Day 6: Trip to Scrind.  You leave Doda Pilii and climb the ridge to the settlement Dealu Botii. You'll enjoy superb views over Lake Fintinele. It's a nice trip through scattered patches of forest. From Dealu Botii it goes over the plateau to the Ruginoasa hill from where you descend to the new guesthouse Dariana in Scrind. The owners Silvia and Gitse will take care of you. Both speak a little German. Distance 22km, 5-6 hours hiking. level difference: 250m climbing, 350m descending.

Optional: hike to the Wedding Veil waterfall and the White Rocks from Scrind. The White Rocks are among the highest limestone rocks in the Apuseni Mountains (1514 m). The weather conditions and altitude are the reason that there are here less flowers then in the other limestone regions in the Apuseni Mountains, about 250 species. But there are some special endemic plants here. There are some rare orchids as Corallorrhiza trifida. On the grasslands there is an abundance of Crocus.. The Stanciu river drops about 30m and the waterfall offers year round a fascinating spectacle. 

Wedding veil waterfall White Rocks

Day 7:  Trip to Sancraiu. You climb first the 1200 m high  Ruginoasa mountain. The steep climb is afterwards rewarded by the beautiful panorama's when you descend to the village Margau. From Margau it goes over Bociu and further over immense pastures to Sancraiu in the heart of the "Kalotaszeg" region, so called by the ethnic Hungarians. Distance 18km, 6 hours hiking, Level difference 250m climbing, 650m descending.

Day 8: Breakfast, end of trip. From Sancraiu you can walk (or brought) to Huedin railway station from where there are daily several trains to get back in Cluj Napoca. 

guesthouse in Scrind guestroom in Sancraiu


map of the trip, you start in the south and walk north.

Price: 8 day program (7 nights)


375 Euro in full board pro person.

Includes also: maps and description of the trip + tourist info.

Extra night: 30 Euro /person in full board

Supplement Single room: 35 Euro


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 and 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 Huedin at 21.33) 

Train connections: see at  

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


Second part: To the Upper Aries valley

There is daily a bus that connects Cluj-Napoca and the upper Aries region. (leaves Cluj Napoca at 17.30 and arrives around 21 hours.) (we arrange transfer between train- and bus station in Cluj Napoca)  


Back, the village Sancraiu lies only 6km from the railway station Huedin. (along the international railway Budapest - Bucharest) There are several trains daily to Cluj Napoca and a few a day to Budapest. 

For Budapest: There is a train leaving Huedin at 07.16 arrives at 12.16 and a train leaving Huedin at 11.24 arrives at 16.16 at the airport.

Tourists that have an early flight from Cluj Napoca can choose to stay the last night in the town Cluj Napoca.