Most Romanians like me may love to travel abroad during the hot months of Summer, but on the flip side, Eastern Europe developed into a fashionable destination among travelers in search of culture and authenticity, an increasingly number of foreign tourists has begun to target Romania as an excellent travel spot.
A town located only 35 km away from Sibiu, Paltinis resort used to be one of the most popular destinations of Romania in the 90’s when domestic travel was the only option for locals to spend their vacations. Many things have changed since then, though, and only several resorts in Romania have maintained their popularity over the time, the others being converted in modern travel spots, or… forgotten.
Paltinis, the oldest and the highest (1440m) ski resort in Romania lies somewhere on the border between forgotten and remembered, as one of the best kept secrets of the Carpathian Mountains. Let’s take a ride and see what Paltinis still has to offer.
There’s just one way of reaching Paltinis from Sibiu, a shady, almost pristine road that passes by “Dumbrava Sibiului” and the beautiful open-air Astra Museum, and leads you to the top of the mountains.
With a dramatic timberland panorama on your left side, a fantastic rocky backdrop on your right, and an almost surreal silence conveying your voyage, it’s hard not to think which one is better: the journey or the destination?
Romania has this excellent quality of surprising its visitors each time, and the road to Paltinis is one of those perfect moments when the concept of “living in a postcard” melts somewhere in time, giving birth to a beautiful reality.
As I’ve said, the road seems almost untouched, offering you, besides the stunning scenery, an incredibly relaxing mood. Being suddenly surrounded by so much beauty and serenity, you can do nothing but dream and contemplate about life.
From time to time, a frightened squirrel will jump from the nearby forest, animating the landscape and making you smile. Once you climb, the city will vanish with its entire hustle and bustle in an ocean of silence, leaving room for imagination to soar.
Perhaps the road will draw a car or two and a few bicyclists along the way, but nothing more. Just before reaching Paltinis, your meditation mood will finally come to an end, dozens of chalets, stylish private villas and even hotels under construction stridently furrowing the horizon.
Few minutes later, a rusty placard will announce that you entered in Paltinis. On the right-hand side, several vendors wince hearing the car engine, meaning that there’s a long time since people have passed through here. If you choose to stop, their humbled faces will probably make you buy a home-made leather case or a bracelet.
Surprisingly, a little further you’ll notice the lift still running. Don’t hesitate, for a few pennies, you’ll get the journey of your life, an amazing festival of evergreen trees, wild flowers fragrances, sharp mountain ridges pricking the sky, birds singing and fluffy clouds to touch with your hands, somehow a more genuine version of Spielberg’s Pandora.
The center consists in a couple of buildings that time has forgotten here for more than a hundred years. Enjoying an old-fashioned charm, the atmosphere is quiet and pleasant. Don’t expect to find a Chamonix-style resort, because you won’t. Paltinis has its own character and a deeply Romanian soul. The nightlife might not be its strength; there are no bars and stylish boutiques in the area, except for those hidden in someone’s trendy villa, but the natural beauty surrounding this place, the high alpine climate with ozonized air, rich in aerosols and ultraviolet radiations along with the dreamlike silence will bring you to life, and obviously more closer to nature than any other famous resort in the Alps.
This barely-known treasure in the Cindrel Mountains used to be famous as a true gold mine for health, the coniferous forests around providing an incredible fresh ozonized air. They still do, but apparently people have lost their interest or perhaps those who still have it, don’t know about the existence of such a place in Romania.
However, Paltinis is a resort for all seasons, with abundant snow from November until April and pleasant temperatures during the summer month. Moreover, the former pearl of the Romanian mountains still boasts a great range of slopes for both beginners and professional skiers, being a perfect spot for winter vacationers and sports enthusiasts.
In the meantime, the summer here draws an amazing destination for travelers in search of “off the beaten path” adventures, a true haven for nature lovers and a perfect sanctuary for healing your body and soul. Now let’s take the beautiful road back to Sibiu and dream about how wonderful a vacation here would be, or… let’s prepare the backpacks before Paltinis converts from a real gem into a stylish mountain resort!