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Where to Eat, What to See, and Where to Stay in Romania’s Carpathian Mountain Region


On an alp near Bran, Romania. Photo credit: Molly McDonough

This is featured in Carpathian Spring in our Spring 2017 issue. Learn more about cheeses produced in Romania’s mountains and regional cheesy dishes.

Where to Eat

La Ceaun

Sample Romania’s most famous traditional dishes in this modern yet warm and woodsy space. Try whatever version of ciorbă—sour soup—is on offer.
Strada Michael Weiss 27, Brasov
+40 735 153 148

Cluj-Napoca

Memo 10

No foray far into Eastern Europe would be complete without a communist-style cafeteria lunch. This publicly funded, blast-from-the-past spot is open to all—and a hot, surprisingly delicious three-course meal will only set you back about $3 USD.
Strada Memorandumului 10, Cluj-Napoca
+40 727 892 831

Cabana Motilor

Stop here for a warm stew and a cheese plate en route to Apuseni National Park. The syrups, teas, and jams made from locally foraged fruits and herbs also make great souvenirs.
Strada Principală, Mărişel
+40 728 115 577


What to See

Cheesemaking on the mountain

Shepherds’ huts dot Romanian hiking trails—to overcome language barriers and experience cheesemaking firsthand, bring a guide. Adela Dadu offers customizable day trips from the city of Sibiu up to stânăs in the surrounding peaks, where you can hang out with ciobani and gorge on cheese-centric dishes.
Sibiu Transylvania Guide
+40 743 377 969

Farmers’ and livestock market

Held every Thursday morning, this is the place to find woolly sheep, hat-weaving craftsmen, and village elders in traditional floral skirts and headscarves selling gigantic cheese wheels.
Village center, Ocna Şugatag, Maramureş

Ţuică distillery

Everywhere you go—morning, noon, and night—friendly villagers will offer you shots of a clear liquid called ţuică or pálinka—almost always distilled in backyards and poured from an ancient plastic soda bottle. Show up anytime at La Moara la Niculai, a lovely riverside house, to see how the traditional and oh-so-strong fruit brandy is made.
Str. Dumbrava 446, Vadu Izei, Maramureş
+40 740 506 425


Where to Stay

Carpathian village

Pensiunea Anca

Tuck into overflowing breakfast plates of homemade butter and whey cheese made by host Irina Bozai—plus caş from the family’s hundreds of mountain-grazing sheep during summer—in this wooden house filled with colorful folk art in the Maramureş region. Bonus: Hook trout in the on-site pond with Vasile Bozai. (They’ll even fry up your catch in cornmeal and serve it for dinner.)
Str. Principala DN18 286, Deseşti village, Maramureş
+40 724 468 182

Pensiunea Casa Alex

If you’re lucky, Vasile Lenuta will demonstrate the epic pork-smoking system he built in his basement before refilling your ţuică glass all evening while offering life advice.
Strada Sfantul Nicolae 247, Sadova
+40 744 614 955

Pensiunea Elia

Hang your hat here before or after the obligatory jaunt through Dracula’s castle in Bran and help host Florin Obancea make the famous local bark-wrapped cheese brânză de burduf în coajă de brad. (Be sure to kick-start your day with a spoonful of the pungent stuff at breakfast.)
Str. Drumul Lui Marin 2, Sohodol village, Bran
+40 735 788 709
 
Feature Photo Credit: Molly McDonough. Cluj-Napoca Photo Credit: Radu Bercan/Shutterstock, Inc. Village Photo Credit: Attila JANDI/Shutterstock.com

Molly McDonough

Associate Editor Molly McDonough worked for cheesemakers in Switzerland and the US before earning a Master's degree in Agriculture and Food Science at the Ecole Supérieure d'Agriculture in Angers, France. After spending a year in Romania working on rural development projects with Heifer International, she returned home to Boston and joined the culture team in 2015.