The contrasts provided by the towering peaks of the Piatra Craiului Massif, the green meadows where sheep graze and the authentic villages, such as Măgura, Peştera or Şirnea, represent the defining image of the Zărneşti-Piatra Craiului ecotourism destination.
Moreover, the Zărneşti Libearty Bear Sanctuary and the famous Bran Castle make this ecotourism destination an ideal choice for mountain and nature lovers, for photographers but also for those looking for a quiet family stay.
If you spend a few days in Braşov but are keen to have a genuine experience in the mountainous area, then the Zărneşti-Piatra Craiului ecotourism destination can successfully fulfill this wish. Within this destination you will discover the Piatra Craiului National Park, one of the most picturesque and most visited national parks in the country. Here, the spectacular, approximately 25 km long limestone ridge Piatra Craiului, dominates as a massive fortress to the surrounding landscapes and is an ideal destination for passionate outdoor enthusiasts.
The Piatra Craiului Massif and the forests at its base shelter many large mammal species such as wolves, bears, lynx, and even black goats, and about 100 species of birds. The main entrance gate to this wonderful world is in the little town of Zărneşti, where you can also visit the Zărneşti Bears Reserve. Zărneşti is also the starting point for numerous mountain trails, including a forest road that leads up to the village of Măgura. Your effort will be rewarded because at the end of the road you will encounter a fairy tale landscape.
The green hills, including the villages of Măgura, Peştera or Şirnea, offer excellent bicycle or hiking trails. Numerous other trails just waiting to be discovered begin in Bran, so after visiting the famous castle, venture out on one of these trails. The natural wonders of this ecotourism destination include the canyons and caves of Dâmbovicioarei, the Vlăduşca Aven, the Zărneşti Gorges (Prăpăstiile), ideal for mountaineering and climbing, or the Bats Cave. These can be discovered either on a one day hike or on a route taking a few days, by staying overnight in mountain huts or in campsites.
A unique experience can be the visit of a traditional sheepfold, as well as tasting specific products such as bulz (dish composed by roasting mămăligă and cheese in an oven) or various cheeses. Throughout the seasons there are several traditional holidays, many of which are closely related to the shepherding. You can watch „Measure Milk" at the beginning of the summer or the "Răvăşitul Oilor" in autumn, when there is also a fair with local products. You’ll find authentic accommodation such as agritourism pensions in all the traditional villages, some of them even offering involvement in their day to day activities.
An autumn photo shoot, when the hills and mountains change their colors. It can be an unforgettable experience, but certainly any season has its beauty.
The Ecotourism Festival in Fundata, which takes place in early spring. You can taste traditional products, practice crafts and participate in sports or cultural activities.
Good to know
- The Zărneşti-Piatra Craiului was certified as an ecotourism destination by the competent authorities in the autumn of 2014.
- Site: www.visitzarnesti.ro; www.pcrai.ro
- The most commonly used access routes to this destination are Zărneşti, Rucăr or Bran.
- Entrance to Piatra Craiului National Park is only possible after the payment of a modest fee, which can be paid at one of the blue machines at the Zărneşti Post Office (12A Tiberiu Spirchez Street), at the National Park Visitor Center (Toplita Street no. 150) or Chalet Plaiul Foii.
- A new tourist information center is also available at Curmătura Chalet.
Where to Stay