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As you may already know, Romania is rich in beautiful natural landscapes. If you are visiting the country, don’t miss out on the chance of exploring some of the more “off the beaten path” locations too. These are usually the most spectacular!

Luckily, Timisoara is not that far away from the mountains that host some of the most amazing views that the country has to offer. Like we have mentioned in our previous articles, a 3-hour drive can take you-you to Semenic mountains, while another 3-hour drive can you to the Danube Gorges. Well, a similar drive from Timisoara can take you to one of the country’s most beautiful natural reservations, the Retezat National Park.

 

A drive to the Retezat National Park

The Retezat National Park is a protected area located in the Retezat Mountains in Hunedoara county, Romania. The park currently covers an area of 380.47 km2 and shelters one of Europe’s last remaining intact old-growth forests. The highest peak of the Retezat Mountains, Vf. Peleaga, at 2,509 m. It is also part of the national park.
To reach the Retezat National Park from Timisoara, it will take you a 3-3,5 hour drive, depending on the traffic. If you have time to spare, you can also stop and visit the ancient Roman city of Ulpia Traiana Sarmisegetusa on the way.

 

 

The Retezat National Park also includes about 80 glacier lakes. One of the most famous ones is lake Bucura, the largest glacier lake in Romania.

 

hiking-to-lake-bucura

 

Hiking to lake Bucura

Lake Bucura is a very accessible and yet impressive attraction of the Retezat National Park. It is located at an altitude of 2,040 m, it has a length of 550 m, an average width of 160 m and a depth of approximately 15 m. Lake Bucura can be visited by almost anyone, as the mountain trail leading to it is rather accessible and the hike up shouldn’t take you longer than 1.5-2 hours.
If you will start your day trip from Timisoara, the road to the Retezat National Park will lead you to the Gura Apelor dam. We recommend that you to take a short break for taking pictures here because the view is worth it!

 

baraj-gura-apelor

 

From here, you will have to follow a “rustic” road (don’t expect it to be a very modern road!) and you soon be entering the Retezat National Park. The mountain road will end in Poiana Pelegii, where you will have to leave your car. As this is a rather touristic spot, you will find a parking lot there. From here, you will have to hike, following the mountain trail. If you want to spend more time in the area, Poiana Pelegii is a good place to camp. This is a starting point for several mountain trails in the Retezat Mountains, one of them being the route to Lake Bucura.

The hike to Bucura Lake should take you about 1.5 to 2 hours. The trail is of a medium difficulty, it is easily accessible and well-marked (follow the blue stripe markings); the climb is not very steep and since the views are breathtaking, you always can pause to enjoy them and take pictures.

 

lake-bucura-view

 

If you are traveling during the summertime, please keep in mind that the temperature will drop as you go up the mountain, so don’t forget to pack an extra blouse or jacket.

Once you reach Lake Bucura and enjoy the scenery you can either follow the same trail back, explore other trails from there or camp on the lakeside. Other interesting trails that start here are: to Peleaga peak (2-3 hours), to Bucura peak (2-3 hours), to Pietrele cottage, etc.

 

camping-lake-bucura

 

Camping by Lake Bucura

This is actually quite a popular camping spot, probably because of the many interesting trails that start here. If you want to spend the night in this picturesque landscape, you can do just that – camping is not illegal in Romania.
You will probably see small “stumps” of stones on the shore of the lake: the wind can be quite strong here, so tourists often camp behind these stones to shelter them from the wind. We recommend that you do the same, especially if you want to spend several nights there.

  • Other camping and accommodation options are:
  • Camping in Poiana Pelegii, as we have mentioned at the beginning of the article
    accommodation at one of the pensions in the nearby towns (Rausor, Clopotiva etc.)

 

Don’t forget that you are visiting a natural reservation!

We probably shouldn’t have to mention this, but as we have noticed on our previous trips, not everybody seems to know this: please pack your trash and take it with you on your way down. The mountains won’t clean themselves and we should respect and preserve their beauty. It is a shame that sometimes people forget that, but let’s leave the mountains clean so that others can enjoy them too!

 

Located in Western Romania, Timisoara is not only close to other big cities like Budapest (~300 km) or Belgrade (less than 200 km), but also to many unique natural tourist attractions.

Did you know that from Timisoara you can reach the mountains in about 2 hours?! If you are planning any day trips (or weekend trips) from Timisoara, the mountains are a great destination. One of the closest mountain you can visit is Semenic mountain. And while enjoying fresh mountain air, you can also take a dive in a mountain lake like Valiug or Trei Ape.

If this sounds like an interesting idea for a Timisoara day trip, then keep on reading, as this article is for you.

 

A drive to the Semenic mountains

To reach the full height of the Semenic mountains, you will have to drive for about 2 hours, towards the city of Resita and then up the mountain. You can choose as your destination the highest peak of the mountain, Peak Piatra Groazei (1446 m), or you can try to explore other beautiful Romanian landscapes along the way.

 

The lakes of Valiug and Trei Ape are popular attractions of the Semenic mountains, for tourists and locals alike. Since they are quite close to Timisoara, they are very popular weekend destinations, especially in the summer. These mountain lakes will give you an opportunity to get away from the heat of the city, while still working on your tan and enjoying a nice bath.  

 

Valiug Lake: weekend sun and fun

Valiug lake is a “man-made” lake, which was created thanks to the building on a damn in 1909, to support the coal mining industry in the area. The coal industry is no longer active, but the lake has survived. More than that, it has been revived as a popular tourist destination.

A lot of travellers go to Valiug lake to enjoy the wilderness, usually camping in the area. There are several lake-side terraces where you can sunbathe, have a drink or rent a boat or a “water bike” to explore the lake.

In recent years, the “La ponton” terrace in particular has been gaining a lot of popularity and has become a very “hip” place to spend the weekend. They organize all sorts of parties and events and many find this the perfect way to spend the weekend.

 

Trei Ape Lake: a relaxed weekend in nature

If you find the popularity of Valiug Lake overwhelming, don’t worry, you may still find something more to your liking. Just keep driving a bit further and you will eventually reach the lake Trei Ape (translated as “three waters”).

This lake is 45 ha. wide and is the highest artificial lake in the area. It has been formed by building a dam to block three mountain streams (Brebu, Grădiştea and Semenic), that meet here to give birth to the river Timiş.

Located at a higher altitude than Valiug, Trei Ape is also a bit cooler and maybe a bit less popular. However, it is a beloved destination for those who just want to enjoy some peace and quiet. It offers superb views, as the lake is surrounded by a beautiful  fir tree forest.

 

As both these destinations are not too far from Timisoara, they are perfect destinations for a one-day trip in the summertime. In case you want to take some time away from city life, then do spend some time in this area. You can either camp in nature (this is not really reglemented, but a lot of people do it) or you can try to find accommodation in one of the villages: Crivaia, Garang or Valiug.

 

 

The Nera Gorges are among the most spectacular gorges in Romania, and also the longest, with a total length of about 20 km. They are also home to some of the greatest springs, waterfalls, and caves in the western part of Romania. 

 

The Eye of the Bei (or Ochiul Beiului)

The Eye of the Bei is a beautiful spot to visit in the area of the Nera Gorges. It is actually a spring which comes from deep underground: it has a depth of about 3.6 meters, with clear blue water which never freezes.

According to a local legend, a long time ago, when these lands were owned by the Ottoman Empire, the owner of these lands had a son of rare beauty. His eyes were crystal blue. The boy often went hunting around the area. While going hunting, and one day he met the daughter of a Wallachian Sheppard, whom he fell in love with. This did not please his father, as the girl was a commoner, and he ordered for the girl to be killed.

When the young son heard the news about his father’s actions, he cried in sorrow near the girl’s body, but in vain. The son chose to kill himself and from his tears and suffering the Eye of the Bey was born. It is crystal blue, as the young boy’s eyes.

The Beusnita Waterfall

Although Beusnita Waterfall is rarely featured in travel magazines, we believe it’s even more beautiful her little sister, the Bigar Waterfall, which most people have already heard of.

The Beusnita waterfall is located only 40 minutes away from the Eye of The Bei (walking distance). In order to get there, you will have to go through fairytale-like pathways and clearings. The route is excellent for hiking, as you will be hiking through the wild greenery. And did we mention that there are also many small stair-like waterfalls along the way?!

The Beusnita Waterfall has a fall of about 30 meters. The best times of the year to see it are either spring or autumn, as that’s when the rivers have the most water.

 

The Vaioaga Waterfall

Although not as spectacular as the Beusnita Waterfall or the Eye of the Bei, the Vaioaga waterfall is also worth a visit, especially since it’s on your way.  This waterfall is located just 1-2 kilometers from the camping area.

How to get to the Nera Gorges

The distance from Timisoara to the Bei Bridge is 130 km and, according to Google Maps, the drive takes about 2.3 hours by car. Once you get to the Bei Bridge you can either leave your car there and go on by foot, either follow the forest road (which is of course not in great shape) by car until you reach the camping area. From the camping area, it takes about 1 hour to reach the Eye of the Bei by foot and another 40 minutes to reach Beusnita Waterfall. The pathway is marked, so you only have to follow the markings.

Timisoara- Oravita-Bei Bridge: 2.3 hours
Walk to the Eye of the Bei: 1hour walk
Eye of the Bei to Beusnita Falls: 40 minutes.
The total trip back and forth: 8 hours.