Timisoara is located in the plains of Western Romania, but you can reach the nearby mountains in just a 2-3 hour drive. An alternative way to see these beautiful mountains is by taking a train – more specifically, the one running on the Oravita-Anina railway in Caras-Severin country, the oldest mountain railway in S-E Europe. Here’s what you should know if you are planning a trip that way.
Why take the Oravita-Anina railway?
The oldest mountain railway in S-E Europe was first used on December 15th 1863 for the transport of goods. Since1869, passenger trains were introduced. The train currently running on the railway consists of a diesel locomotive, custom-made for this railway, and two train carts dating back to 1914. That is why the inside of the train, with its small wooden benches, could make you feel that you are going on a journey to the past.
The Oravita-Anina railway offers a relaxing trip through beautiful mountain landscapes. A one-way journey takes about 2 hours, giving you plenty of time to take in the views. The train travels with an average speed of 17 km/h, winding around rocky mountains while crossing 10 bridges and 14 tunnels.
While the views are certainly worth a trip, this is not a tourist train; it connects small mountain villages and locals use the train to travel between towns. Don’t take the train if you are expecting a well-organised tourist experience. Do take it to enjoy the views and maybe interact with the locals.
The Oravita-Anina train: schedule and tickets
Currently, the train (R9696) travels daily in every direction, with the following schedule:
- Oraviţa (leaves at 11:15) – Anina (arrives at 13:09)
- Anina (leaves at 14:40) – Oraviţa (arrives at 16:35)
The train ticket costs (as of May 2019) 13,90 RON (a little under 3 Euros) one-way. You can buy the ticket in the train station or, if it is closed (on Sundays and legal holidays), directly from the train conductor.
As this is not just a tourist train, it travels all year long, no matter the weather.
A day trip from Timisoara – planning your trip
If you are planning to include the Oravita-Anina train as part of a day-trip from Timisoara, we recommend that you rent a car to get there. The distance isn’t that big and you should reach Oravita in about 2 hours from Timisoara:
If you are feeling adventurous, you could also take a bus, but buses don’t run daily and you’ll have to plan carefully to make sure you don’t miss the train.
A trip on the Oravita-Anina railway usually starts in Oravita. Here you will find the oldest train station on the current territory of the country, dating back to 1854. It may not look like much today, but it bears a lot of history. You can take the train to Anina, spend some time there and then take the same train back to Oravita.
If you would only like to go one-way, there are also buses connecting the two towns. If you are booking accommodation in the area, your hosts should be able to help you with the local bus schedule and with planning your trip. Unfortunately, these local buses cannot be found online, but this can give you an opportunity to befriend the locals – most of them will be friendly and willing to help you out.
Bonus tips from fellow travelers:
- Like we have already pointed out, this is not a very touristic spot, so it is not well-adapted to the needs of tourists. If you think you might get hungry/thirsty, bring your own food and drinks, as you will not be able to purchase anything on board.
- Keep your camera(s) safe! As the train runs very close to the forest and centimeters away from mountain tunnels, the windows cannot be fully open. This is meant as a precaution for passenger safety. You can still take pictures on the open windows, but be careful. We’ve heard rumours of cellphones dropped and never to be heard of again…
With all of this in mind: all aboard!