In 2017 Marius a Romanian guide from ShredMind invited us for Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania near Brasov (Romania). By that time all we knew about Transylvania was:
- it is located in Eastern Europe
- it has a lot of mountains and forest
- there was a strong German influence in Transylvania´s history
- and of course the Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) stories.
During our trip we learned a lot about this country and its possibilities for mountain bikers. Enjoy our destination report about Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania – translated from Latin: “across the forest”!
Planning yout own trip of Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania is not too hard. However, the logistics inside the country can be a bit tricky. Especially bringing your own bike. But you will find more about that in the “Getting there” section.
The best option for planning is getting help from locals. Everybody we met in Romania was extremely helpful and friendly. In our case Marius from ShredMind assisted us organizing the trip to Brasov in Transylvania. Subsequently, booking the flight to Bucharest was the easy part. In contrast, finding a proper rental Enduro mountain bike was quite hard, even for Marius.
We recommend bringing your own enduro bike. Make sure you consider this early in the planning phase, as it makes transport a bit harder!
After all, our planning was pretty simple. Certainly the following report and the GPS tracks will help you organizing your own experience of Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania.
Best travelling time
The best time for Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania is from mid of May until beginning of October.
In May there is still a high chance of finding snow in the mountains.
You can reach Bucharest from many places in Europe by plane quickly. Airlines like Tarom, BlueAir and Lufthansa are the most popular ones. The flights are not too expensive – but check the prices for bike transport before booking! Ask for transfer fees directly at the airlines (BlueAir was the cheapest when we traveled, but you have to call them).
By car from Europe mainland:
Depending on where you live you can also get there by car. Bear in mind that the roads do not always have the best level of maintenance in Romania. At night be aware of carriages without lights!
Logistics inside Romania:
Getting from Bucharest to Brasov was a bit more tricky. If you have a shuttle picking you up it is probably the best option. Other possibilities are:
Coaches or minibuses:
There are also coach and minibus services operating between Brasov and Bucharest (airport and city):
- CDI (cheap and enough room for bikes when travelling in one of their coaches)
- Kron Transfer
- Direct Aeroport
- and many others (just google)
Book a couple of days in advance and confirm prices and luggage conditions (especially bike transport) via email or phone (they usually speak English).
Another option is the train service operating between Bucharest and Brasov. We did not use it because it was the most time consuming connection between Bucharest airport and Brasov. If you have time or you need a connection between Bucharest downtown and Brasov give it a try 😉
Based on our guides recommendation we stayed in very nice 400 years saxonian house with 3 apartments for rent. Ioana and Emil of the Bike House (here on: AirBnB) were definitely the best hosts we could imagine. The house is about 20 minutes walking distance from Brasov downtown. After a hard day of biking you also get an Uber for a few Lei. Highly recommended is the breakfast option with freshly prepared juice, local specialities and pretty much everything you can image (+ 7,- € per person). Moreover the breakfast is served in the historiv vaulted cellar of the house. As Emil is a mountain biker as well (he joined us one of the days) there is everything you need to clean your bikes or wash and dry your clothes.
As Brasov is a tourist hotspot of Romania you also find many other accommodation on the internet. For Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania we definitely recommend the Bike House in Brasov.
As Transylvania also known as Siebenbürgen is the region in the center of Romania people speak Romanian (what a coincidence).
Anyhow, you get along with English quite well, especially talking to young Romanian people. Based on the history of Romania you also meet a lot of people who speak German.
Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania can be tough, but you are not going to starve in Romania.
Unfortunately there is sad news for vegetarians: Romanian cuisine has a focus on meat. Our friend Jost, a part-time vegetarian who traveled with us, had a hard time finding a main dish without meat – beyond vegetable soup.
However, almost every food we had was very tasty and compared to the rest of Europe cheap. The soups you get in almost every hut in the mountains are excellent. Often there are starter dishes coming with potato bread and a Romanian tomato, beans and vegetablecream. More typical Romanian dishes are goulash, meat pie and polenta.
However, if you prefer to buy your own food, you will find small local supermarkets everywhere in Brasov. – Prepare to communicate with gestures and hand signs if you don´t speak Romanian.
The tap water is drinkable in most of the areas (Brasov was no problem) and in the mountains you find fresh water springs helping you out.
Here you find a few restaurant recommendations in Brasov´s historic center from us:
Sub Tampa – fusion of modern and traditional food – a more fancy place with a nice view over Brasov
Simones – known as the biker friendly place with great dessert
Le Ceaun – traditional Romanian dishes in the historic center of Brasov
Bistro de l’arte – cute restaurant also located in Brasov´s historic center
In fact, if you stay in the Bike House (see accommodation section) you can have a barbeque with your hosts in the front yard. They will most likely assist you in getting local delicacies for the grill.
On our day of arrival Marius from ShredMind picked us up at the airport. As we arrived in the evening all we did was strolling a bit through the historic city center of Brasov and had dinner.
Marius picked us up and we checked out our rental bikes for the week.
Our first Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania was planned for Prapastii about 25 km west of Brasov. We got there by car and started our steep uphill to the Cabana Curmătura hut at 1470 meters. The hut has a fresh water spring where you can refill your water supplies and gain power from a soup and delicious apple cake.
Right after our break at the hut we entered the forest for our first downhill. On the first flowing trail section there were only a few roots and rocks. After a while it got more rocky and technical resulting in a first snakebite flat. Only a few hundred meters after the first flat we climbed an uphill and cycled a wide green meadow with scattered rocks: second snakebite flat.
Back in the forest we had to deal with jagged serpentines and some tricky off-camber sections. Finally, the last segment was flowing and winding down to a fresh water spring.
For a second trail we cycled up to the town Mâgura.
Right next to a little farm Marius showed us the entry to a short and straight single track leading downhill into the valley. So then we biked down a narrow track between a few farm houses into the forest. Due to a small creek the ground got very slippery eypecially in the last rocky sections.
In the evening we reviewed the experience of our first day in Simone‘s Bar having a Sandwich and a German fritz-kola.
The second day Emil, the host from our accommodation, joined in. We drove up the mountains near Brasov by car. Soon we were ascending the rest hundred meters of elevation on our bikes. Even though it was raining most of the day, the ground in the forest had good grip. Only the sections with plenty of roots were slippery. Nevertheless, we descended the downhill sections safely and fast.
The second trip that day we went by shuttle bus up tro another spot in the mountains near Brasov. Contrary to the downhill tracks of the first trip the trails were less technical. Yet, Dustin crashed on slippery roots riding a pretty fast and steep segment. He had to take a day to recover.
Dustin explored the hiking trail in a narrow canyon with ladders and bridges.
The rest of us was prepared for classic Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania in the Piatra Mare mountains: uphill equals downhill. That day we had our first encounter with the Romanian sheepdogs starting on a field. Luckily, Marius and his friend Liviu, who joined us that day, knew how to handle the situation: Stop and get off the bikes. After a short conversation with the shepherds we started the ascend of Piatra Mare mountains.
Overall, the uphill through the forest was long and exhausting. However, the view sitting on the edge of the deep canyon during a short break was rewarding.
On the last bit up to the summit we crossed a wide green meadow full of rhabarb-like plants (careful: inedible!). Somewhere during the uphill we saw the footprint of a bear, but luckily not the bear itself – not sure whether stopping and getting off the bikes would have helped in such a case…
As we finally reached the Cabana Piatra Mare hut it was raining and we took our time to relax at a warm tea, some cookies and chocolate.
Unfortunately the dropper post on Daniel´s bike got stuck in the pulled out position. Therefore, we had to remove the post and Daniel biked downhill without a saddle.
Starting as a long and very flowing downhill it soon changed to tough root sections and some short rock gardens. Then, in the lower segment of the downhill Daniel followed Liviu at high pace and crashed in a curve ( documented in our video ;)).
Next day Dustin got back on the bike and Daniel took a day off to recover…
Again we started our day trip by car. Other than the days before we now headed towards Ciucas, southeast of Brasov. First, the ascend started on a forest path, followed by a segment we had to push and carry our bikes. After a short downhill we had to climb again. Then the next downhill started at a mountain flank leading us back into the forest. A perfect spot for a drone video!
Riding into the forest, it got a bit steeper and the ground was covered in loose debris. In fact, a nice flowing trail was the reward.
Before we reached the downhill of the Ciucas Enduro Series, we had to accomplish another uphill. The trails down the official race track was winding through the forest down a steep hill. In brief, another great day Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania.
On our way back we stopped at a nice Pizza place called Don Corleone.
On day 5 Max, a local mountain bike hero was guiding us. We met him in the city of Brasov and started a long uphill to the Postavaru funicular. After reaching the top of the cableway, we found us riding a short segment with switchback curves down to the Cabana Postavaru hut. Energised by a delicious soup and the so called cookie-salami (more cookie that salami) we entered the first trail down to the water reservoir. Locals call this track the “cookie-salami trail”.
From the water reservoir we speeded into the forest where the trail got more technical and narrow. Later on, both landscape and the single tracks created a great mountain biking experience for us. Thank you Max!
Afterwards, we pedaled a short uphill and got onto the “rotten trail” – only known by a few locals. This track turned out being a lot of fun despite some pretty technical sections. Moreover, the trail appeared to be never used by hikers.
Finally, the track of our last day of Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania led us right down over a green meadow into the historic Romanian part of Brasov.
Eventually, time to say goodbye to our new friends in Romania. We took the coach back to Bucharest and spent a full day exploring the city of Bucharest. If you plan a bike trip to Romania make sure you allow for at least one full day to visit the amazing city of Bucharest.
What we learned
During Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania we learned many new things, mostly related to the country Romania.
- Bring your own bikes to Romania! Even if it is a bit more expensive you will have way more fun. Even if you spent 200 € more for bringing your enduro bike – do it!! Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania does not have the same infastructure as e.g. the alps where you get well maintenanced rental bikes.
- The mountain biker scene in Brasov is bigger than we expected, mostly consisting of locals and only little tourists. Try to get in contact with local riders, otherwise it can be quite hard finding the best trails for Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania.
- The Romanian people are very open, kind and helpful.
- Street dogs are not dangerous, whereas sheep dogs can be a threat. If they approach you, stop immediately and get off the bike. Be confident and talk to them.
- It is likely to encounter brown bears (we only saw a footprint of a bear). Try to bike in groups and make noise when you enter less frequented areas (a friend from Romania had a whistle he used from time to time). Do not follow the bear´s tracks, cross its way or approach them on purpose.
Costs for 6 nights / 7 days Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania:
Flight: about 200,- € (+ 100 – 200,- € if you transport a bike bag) per person
Coach one-way Brasov to Bukarest: 10,- €
Accommodation: ~400,-€ 6 nights for 3 persons (45,- € per night for 3 persons + 7,-€ each for breakfast)
Food: ~110,-€ for 6 days per person
Local transport (Uber, shuttle, cable way, …): ~25,- € per person
Total per person (travelling in a group of 3): ~490,- € (excluding bike transport by plane)
Transylvania seems to be a rather unknown destination for mainstream mountain bike tourism. Therefore, it is totally different to regions like the Alps or Mallorca.
There are a lot of trails around Brasov we did not even have time to explore (Sinaia, Azuga, …). You can easily stay more than a week in the Carpathian mountains.
Even in the most remote places you find huts serving soup, drinks and cake. If not you find many freshwater springs in the mountains.
Our final conclusion:
Overall, it was a great cultural experience. Enduro Mountain Biking in Transylvania is great for people who want to explore new destinations off the beaten track of bike tourism. Bring your own bike!