Hiking in Romania with Kids
Do you take your kids on hiking trips? I started slowly introducing little hiking adventures when we go on holiday, especially if a local landscape can offer good views.
For my son Luca it is still not possible to walk for long periods of time, so we usually carry him in a backpack, but my daughter Letitia , who is 9, is quite capable of walking at least 2 hours with small breaks here and there.
Romania offers lots of opportunities for easy walking or harder hiking trips. You can choose either mountains or gently rolling countryside, there is plenty of signposted routes and it would not be a problem finding one which suits your family.
Summer is the best time for hiking, but as we discovered, it is also possible to hike in winter if you know where to go. This winter of 2020 was not particularly high on snow. It made our walk easier, but I am sure that if you do not go too high, it would still be possible to find areas suitable for walking.
We went on a hike with Marian, who owns Active Travel Romania specialising in sustainable travel and promoting local businesses. After having a chat with Marian, I was happy to learn that not only he is promoting slow travel, he is also living sustainable life himself. Marian told me that he grows his own vegetables and supports traditional methods of wine-making, pickling vegetables and looking after small animals.
Marian hiked all over Romania for the best part of his life , so he knows all the hikes and ensures that they are geared up for your fitness level. We had no difficulty completing the hike and at the end of it, there was a welcoming lunch in a local guesthouse, a great way to replenish our strength.
We started our trip in a town of Brasov, where we jumped n the car and drove for about 40 minutes or so. First stop was a Bat Cave, where we were lucky to see its sleepy inhabitants.
Our next stop was Piatra Craiului National Park, where we started a gentle circular walk around 2 small villages. We had a chance to see the sheep, frolic in the snow and go uphill. We also stopped and chatted to 2 old men from the village and briefly learned about their lifestyle and daily tasks.
Lunch was waiting for us in the oldest guesthouse in Piatra Craiului National Park. The guesthouse still belongs to the same family since its creation. Initially, Romanians were coming for a countryside break and now it is open for everyone to enjoy. The guesthouse is run by a lady in her 60s, she looks after the guests and also cooks all the food. All ingredients for our lunch (apart from fresh tomatoes and cucumbers) were produced by the guesthouse, so you don’t get more local than that!
We started off with sheep cheese, boiled eggs and home made sausage. This was followed by bulz, cornmeal porridge baked with cheese and topped with a home made grilled pork sausage. The main course was also complimented with pickles: tomatoes and cabbage. I loved trying these local specialities , I felt as if I was invited to my favourite grandmother for lunch. After eating out for a week in Romania, I can assure you that you will most certainly not find this type or quality of food in any restaurant.
After lunch we went to say hello to the animals: sheep, cows, chicken and the dog. It really is small things that get my kids excited. They are not interested in conquering Everest, when there is an opportunity to pet a sheep right in their shed and then try some cheese made from sheep’s milk.
The hike gave us an opportunity to enjoy fresh air, nature and meet friendly locals. It was such a different experience from the usual sightseeing or city walking. While Active Travel Romania can organise a variety of day tours, they also can plan a longer hiking trips for several days , where you can either go camping or stay in local guesthouses. When my son is older and can walk better, I am seriously thinking of coming back to Romania to do a longer hiking trip.
Overall, this day trip was all about nature, being disconnected from the city life and sampling local produce. This activity was a great way to educate my about a simple life in a countryside and a different lifestyle , where majority of things are produced locally or you just have to make them yourself, as there are no shops or restaurants for miles. Life-learning experience no less!
Disclaimer: We were hosted by Active Travel Romania, but all opinions are my own.