Where to spend your nights in the mountains while hiking in Romania

Mountain Shelter in Piatra Craiului

Guesthouses, motels and hotels at the foot of the mountains are not the topic here. You will find them at the foot of every mountain. What we think of interest here is where you would sleep if you go hiking high in the Romanian mountains, summer or winter.

Generally we can categorize the accommodation mountain facilities as follows:

1. Mountain huts

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These are usually situated close to the upper edges of the forests and are very good starting points for higher altitude routes. You should know about them the following:

  • all the huts, with some exceptions (like Omu hut placed at 2500m in Bucegi mountains) are open all year long, including in winter.
  • you will better check before going if all the available places are booked or not so as to spare you of unpleasant surprises.
  • most of them have common bedrooms so you will sleep in the same room with lots of other hikers.
  • they all serve drinks, hot or not, and food.
  • generally, the rooms are heated with wood stoves so some smoke is to be expected but not cold, quite the contrary.
  • you will be provided with blankets so you do not need a sleeping bag but a summer light one might be of help.
  • in most cases you will find the toilets outside and not inside the huts.
  • the evening atmosphere is quite a happy one with usually some guitars playing for fun.
  • in Romanian Carpathians usually there are no early starts on the routes so breakfast is served starting around 8.00 in the morning.

2. Tourist’s Shelters

New modern shelter in Transylvanian Alps, near Caltun Lake

These are permanent wood, fiber or metal constructions which serve as shelters for hikers in bad weather or for the night and are usually to be found high on the mountains. Such shelters are mostly to be found in Fagaras, Bucegi, Retezat and Piatra Craiului. For all the other mountains they are not that common. You should know that:

  • there is nobody there to meet you up and you cannot find and buy anything there. They are just that: shelter to stay and sleep.
  • usually they are small and can accommodate up to 10 hikers at once.
  • because of this, in summer vacation especially, when planning staying overnight in one of them, make amends for a contingency plan in case the shelter is already full by the time you arrive.
  • they are usable in winter as well but having a shovel with you might help because sometimes the door is stuck with frozen snow and you must dig it out.
  • they are not heated so sleeping bag is mandatory if you plan to spend the night in one of them.
  • not all of them are placed near a water source, so be careful and carry the water with you.

3. Shepherd’s shelters

Shepherd Shelter

You will find lots of these in Romanian Carpathians. It is actually a feature of them. These are not actually for touristic use. These are situated almost without exception at the edge of the forests, around 1400-1500m, close to a water source. You should know:

  • during June-September time of the year they are inhabited by shepherds so basically, if you are not asking them about it you cannot stay there.
  • in summer it is maybe wiser, if you are not invited, to put some distance between you and the shepherd shelters because of the guard dogs (which may be quite a pack of them).
  • starting with September and until June they are abandoned by their former inhabitants so they are available as shelters for tourists (sleeping bag alarm bell again!).
  • expect earth floors with hearths in the middle of some room, heavy sheep smell, little order and, most important for you, wooden benches to sleep on.
  • some of them are well protected against wind, rain or snow but others are in bad need for some repairs so check the walls and the roof first before deciding to book one for the night.

Of course, you always have the choice of camping or making a bivy under the skies.

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