Road trip in Maramures

View of Repedea from up the hill
Marie Damman

The county of Maramures is located north of Romania, at the Ukrainian border. There are many mountains and villages lost in the valleys. The main immigrants who live there are from Ukraine.

There are not so many way to go traveling in Maramures. Public transportations are rare, so the best way remain the car. Of course, you may want to try hitch hiking but remember, Maramures is mostly full of villages.

When I went there, I traveled with 5 German-speakers friends. We rented a car in Cluj, from a new company. It is cheap to rent a car here: count 20€ per day, 200€ deposit and the gaz. For the total of our trip, we spent around 250 lei, which is around 55€. We spent 3 days on the road, sleeping in bed & breakfast places (pensiune in Romanian).

The first day, we found a cozy place in Vadu Izei, south of Sighetu Marmatiei. We called before so we had a nice heavy dinner waiting for us. Of course, the holder suggested at first some Palinca, which is the traditional Romanian alcohol, stronger than any alcohol you can imagine, more than 52%.

The rest of the meal was well prepared, and it looked like a traditional dinner. Even if we came later than expected, the holders were well prepared, and the result was delightful.

Then, we kept moving north, to Sighetu Marmatiei to visit the famous Memorial about the communism prison. Austrian, German and myself, Belgian saw many similarities with the Jewish camps.

Communism Memorial
Marie Damman

At the time we were visiting, they were also playing a movie. Someone wore like a communist guard, and another actor played the prisoner. For us, it looked strange, like they made fun of the place, where people died.

In the museum, each room tells another part of the story. One room can tell about the resistance in the mountains (mostly in Maramures), about the medicine resources, about the destroyed religion places, and some rooms remain as they were, with only a bed, or with only chains in the dark.

Outside the museum, it is hard to find a cozy place to eat. We either couldn’t find a waitress, or they were only pizza places.

We kept going to Sapanta to visit the famous Merry cemetery. It became a touristic place that the cost of the entrance increases. At the exit, there are also many traditional home-maid shops. In Sapanta, you can also see some traditional houses when walking around. They look colorful, like the holders decorated their house with jewellery.

Merry Cemetary in Sapatanta
Marie Damman

The second night, we spent it in a random place, at Pensiunea Miraj, at Leordina, a huge house on the country side, where you can look at the sky through the window. The place was cozy, but a bit cold. The shower wasn’t perfect, the pressure was always changing and the showerhead needed to be replaced. Nevertheless, the holder was really nice. She could make a quick dinner for us, and the next morning, we had a big breakfast, exactly what we needed to go hiking!

We had the time change this morning. The holder was helpful to us. She offered coffees for the two girls who could wake up on time (me included).

The mountains of Maramures are part of the Easter Carpathians. It is a beautiful place to go hiking and to get some sunburn. Locals either live in the village, along on the main street, or have their small house a bit further, in the middle of nowhere. They live close to the community and also with the wildlife.

Traditional house in Saptanta
Marie Damman

On the way back, we got lost by being negatively surprised. We saw on the map that Baie Mare is supposed to be a big city, but apparently with nothing interesting to see. Instead, we heard that Bistrita is a Dracula’s city. Once there, we expected to find a place to sleep, but we could only find hotels. We finished our trip to Beclean, at Somes hotel, as adviced in “Le Guide du Routard” 2002 edition. We were really disappointed of the place. It was cheap, but the place smelled like cigarette everywhere, the bathroom looked awful with some broken tiles; we didn’t have hot water and neither WIFI. On the street at night, people were shouting at us in English, because we were a group of five girl.

On the daytime, we tried to visit a bit of the town, but they were nothing to see

Instead, we were looking for a castle that we couldn’t find. We stopped on the lake’s side, Taul Popii lake, after Geaca, to have a walk. There, a Romanian countryman helped us to cross his property that was watched by two big hairy dogs.

Maramures mountains
Marie Damman


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