Are you planning a vacation in Maramures?
Do you want to visit a top destination for European rural tourism?
To stay in traditional houses, explore the local gastronomy, see unique tourist attractions and places to visit?
This article will help you have a memorable experience in one of the main attractions of Romanian tourism.
To start with, let's find out some interesting facts about the epicenter of Romanian traditions.
Maramures. Did you know...?
Maramures almost equally shares its territory between Romania and Ukraine.
The length of the region is approximately 150 km (from Hust, Ukraine to Pasul Prislop, Romania), and the maximum width is about 80 km.
The Maramures Country is one of the largest depressions of the Carpathians, with an area of over 10,000 km². It is guarded by peaks with altitudes over 2000 m, the maximum being reached at Vf. Pietrosul Rodnei (2303 m).
A large part of the Maramures region is occupied by mountain ranges covered with oak, beech and fir forests. At altitudes above 1500 m, alpine meadows appear, traversed every year by local shepherds with their flocks of sheep.
These mountain ranges have isolated Maramures, favoring the preservation of local culture and traditional lifestyle for centuries, keeping them almost intact to this day.
At the same time, the wild nature here harbors numerous species of plants, birds, and animals, some of them endangered. Among these, the most fascinating are the capercaillie, black grouse, golden eagle, marmot, and chamois.
Until 1852, the mountains were populated by bison communities, but the last specimen in Romania was hunted down in Maramures in the previous year. Currently, Romania has started the reintroduction of bison, currently in the Fagaras Mountains.
The Maramures Mountains currently shelter a significant percentage of Europe's large carnivores (bears, wolves, lynx), but also other wild animals such as deer, roe deer, wild boar, foxes or martens.
The richness of the hunting grounds in Maramures is documented as far back as 1229. Manuscripts speak of the royal hunting domain, as well as other names that have been preserved to this day (Craiasca Forest).
Several species of fish that have long disappeared from our continent can be found in the rivers here. We mention the huchen and a rare species of salmon.
All of these factors have led to the Natural Park of the Maramures Mountains being declared the largest protected area in Romania after the Danube Delta.
Places To Visit In Maramures
Maramures, one of the most beautiful vacation destinations for rural tourism enthusiasts, abounds in tourist attractions and places to visit. If you want to spend your vacation here, here are some must-see attractions.
Valea Vaserului: The Magical Land Of The Mocanita
The Mocanita of Valea Vaserului is a magical place. Tens of thousands of tourists come here every year to admire one of Romania's most important cultural and technical values. It is the last (authentic) forest railway in the world, on which a steam locomotive runs, fueled with wood.
The tourist route has a length of 21.6 km and unfolds along the Vaser River. Travelers are slowly carried into a wild world that reveals dreamlike landscapes: vast forested areas, unspoiled by forest roads. Here, there are no isolated villages or hamlets, but only wild animals and unspoiled nature.
You can check the schedule of the Mocanita on the official website.
Barsana Monastery, A Masterpiece Of Maramures Craftsmanship
If you plan a vacation in Maramures, the tourist map must include Barsana Monastery. This monument, documented since 1390, proudly presents the art of wood craftsmanship, characteristic of local artisans.
The ensemble of Barsana Monastery consists of: the Maramures gate, the bell tower, the church, the summer altar, the monks' cells, the chapel, the master's house, and the artists' workshop. The Barsana church was considered until recently the tallest wooden church in the world (57 m).
Rodna Mountains National Park
A haven of peace, relaxation, and fresh air, intended for avid mountain hikers. Dream landscapes are revealed to you in a marvelous place that reaches altitudes of up to 2300 m. Glacial lakes, spectacular caves, rare plants, and protected animal species await you to discover them. Without a doubt, this is one of the wildest places to visit in Maramures.
Horses Waterfall is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Romania, with the highest waterfall. Access to here is made from the mountain resort of Borsa, also known for skiing slopes.
The Merry Cemetery Of Sapanta, A Unique Monument In The World
Famous for its brightly colored tombstone crosses, naive paintings, and humorous messages, this is one of the main tourist attractions in Maramures and is even unique in the world. In Sapanta, contrary to popular culture, death is considered a joyful event.
Some crosses in the Sapanta Cemetery are painted on both sides. The front side humorously highlights essential details about the deceased's life, while the back side depicts the cause of their death.
The Village Of Breb Or Beaver Valley
The village of Breb is one of the best-preserved villages in Maramures. It has even attracted the attention of Prince Charles himself, who has decided to invest in restoring some of the traditional houses here.
The area is one of the main destinations for rural tourism recommended by Travlocals. The village is also known as "Beaver Valley".
You can go on a weekend hike in the Gutai Mountains to admire this wonder of nature. The mountain peak with an altitude of 1428 meters and a winged crest shape offers fabulous panoramas over the picturesque plains at its base.
This protected area, which covers an area of 50 hectares, shelters bears, Carpathian deer, wild boars, and eagles. So, be vigilant!
The Memorial Of Sorrow In Sighet
The Memorial of Sorrow is one of the main places to visit in Maramures for history lovers. This museum, located in the former political prison in Sighetul Marmatiei, reconstructs the memory of the Romanian people, to whom a false history was presented for half a century.
The prison was built in 1897 by the Austro-Hungarian administration. In 1950 it became a prison for Romanian dignitaries, arrested on political grounds, some of whom were not even tried. They were humiliated and mocked, and torture often led to extermination.
Teleki Castle, Known As "The Most Beautiful Castle In Transylvania"
This property, built by General Samuel Teleki in Satulung, Maramures, is a Transylvanian architectural masterpiece. It was built on the ruins of an old Tatar fortress.
On the estate of the castle, there is also a dendrological park. It houses trees that are over 300 years old, their value being priceless.
Maramures Ethnographic Museum
The Maramures Ethnographic Museum, one of the main tourist attractions in Maramures, has a pavilion section and an outdoor section. The pavilion section is located in the city of Baia Mare, while the other is on Dealul Florilor.
Here you will discover historical heritage objects and household ensembles (churches and individual households).
Peri Monastery In Sapanta And The Wooden Church In Ieud
Two of the most beautiful architectural masterpieces to visit in Maramures. The first of these is considered the tallest wooden church in the world. It is also listed in the Guinness Book of Records. The second is considered one of the oldest wooden churches in the world. Both illustrate the mastery of Maramures craftsmen.
Prislop Pass, The Highest Mountain Pass In The Eastern Carpathians
The Prislop Pass connects the Maramureș Depression and the Golden Bistrița Valley. This trans-Carpathian road reaches the maximum altitude of 1416 meters. Along the way, you can visit other tourist attractions such as:
- The Prislop Inn and Monastery, together with the military cemetery where 136 soldiers from the two world wars rest;
- Hora de la Prislop - a folklore festival attested since 1738. It is organized annually on the first Sunday after the Dormition of the Mother of God (end of August);
- The Roots Museum, which houses over 100 tree root formations with bizarre shapes. Here you can also find mine flowers, painted eggs, and objects collected from the front lines of the two World Wars.
In addition to what we have mentioned, there are many other tourist attractions and places to visit in Maramures. Some of them are less known, but perhaps just as spectacular. The Travlocals hosts will be delighted to provide you with all the information you need to explore local attractions.
3 Lesser-Known Tourist Attractions in Maramures
The Hill Where Cars Go Up On Their Own
Between Cavnic and Ocna Sugatag there is a hill where cars that are taken out of gear go up on their own. Most likely, this is an optical illusion, as the hill is more of a valley.
There are many explanations for this phenomenon on the internet. The best thing to do is to go there and see for yourself.
The Peat Bog At Hoteni
Many people spend their vacation in Maramures, but very few have heard of the Peat Bog at Hoteni. Access here is not very easy, but it is worth the effort.
The marsh and peat blocks at Hoteni are located at an altitude of 530 meters and cover an area of 2.5 hectares. The blocks are practically layers of peat that float on the water, giving the feeling of moving terrain. They were formed as a result of landslides.
Here you will also find two rare species of carnivorous plants.
The Green Road Of Maramures
This is a road that connects 7 traditional villages and 7 protected areas. It is 88 km long and is only used by bicycles and animal-drawn carriages. Car access is completely prohibited. Of the 88 km, 48 km are approved mountain trails.
If you complete the whole road, you will discover the Rooster Ridge Reserve, Crăiasca Forest, Morărenilor Lake, Hoteni Marshes, Iezerul Mare Peat Bog, Tătarului Gorges, and Poiana Brazilor Marshes.
Vacation in Maramures
If you have read up to this point, you have certainly decided to plan a vacation in Maramures. Finally, we want to leave you with a few tips to make your experience a memorable one.
Participate in the activities of some of the best-preserved local communities in Europe.
Stay in excellently restored centuries-old traditional houses.
Try traditional food based on old recipes and organic food sourced from your hosts' gardens or the surrounding area.
Discover protected species of birds, insects, plants and animals.
In this way, you will support the local communities and help them preserve this unique holiday destination.