There are many places to visit in Maramures, one of the few areas with authentic rural life in Romania. Maramures means old traditions still preserved with sanctity for centuries, dreamlike landscapes with vast meadows, pastures of flocks of sheep, evergreen fir forests, majestic ridges, and rivers with crystal clear crystal clear water, but also wood, lots of wood.
The Maramures area is famous for its beautiful wooden churches and the famous Maramures gates, imposing and crafted by artisans with so much dedication and attention to detail. It’s not for nothing that Maramures is called the land of wood.
I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of the famous massive gates from Maramures. I also admire them at the Village Museum in Bucharest, which I visit at least twice yearly. I am fascinated by the craftsmanship and talent shown by our villagers, who do not give up on ancient traditions and customs. Indeed these gates are not to be missed and must be seen in Maramures.
They, the people of Maramures, are incredibly hospitable and can’t wait to offer you their best. I can’t forget how generous, welcoming, and warm our host was at Casuta din Cires, a superb accommodation I confidently recommend.
Located in the north of the country, close to the border with Ukraine, Maramures is the ideal place to have an authentic holiday in a purely Romanian style. Even the Christmas and Easter holidays seem to have a different charm here.
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Where to stay in Maramures – 3 authentic accommodations in Maramures, depending on the budget:
- budget: Pensiunea Casa Ancuta – in Vadu Izei, traditional food, beautiful garden
- mid-range: Vadul Lupilor – in Moisei, built entirely of wood, story frame
- high-range: Casa Chira – in Viseu de Sus, traditional Maramurean style house, 11 rooms
Things to do in Maramures, Romania
The last forest steam train in Europe, Mocanita, runs between Viseu de Sus and Paltin stations. The tourist trail is 21.6 km long through the forest, among firs and beeches, and next to the Vaser river and the locals’ houses.
The train travels at a speed of approximately 30 km/hour, and a complete round-trip route takes 6-7 hours, including stops. This means you must reserve almost a whole day for the ride with Mocanita.
The construction of Mocanita began in 1932, and much later, it became a tourist route that we can enjoy today. There are also two museums to visit here on the trail: the first in the open air, where you can admire locomotives of several types (steam, diesel, etc.), and one in the Paltin station, where you can find out more about the history of Mocanita.
What to eat on the way
You can buy hot donuts at one of the stations, which I highly recommend (they are delicious), and at the last station, you can find cooked food for all tastes. Therefore, it is not necessarily necessary to bring supplies.
If you want to find out the rates, the operating schedule of Mocanita, and other details, check the official website, where you can also buy tickets. In my opinion, Mocanita is one of those places to visit in Maramures with children.
Borsa | Places to visit in Maramures
Worth seeing in Maramures is Borsa, which connects Maramures and Bucovina, two dreamlands of Romania. Borsa is located near the Rodna Mountains, near the Prislop Pass. It’s a perfect place to stay when you visit Maramures because it’s in a fairytale setting and has many accommodation options.
In Borsa, you can climb the oldest functional chairlift in Romania since 1986. If you get here, don’t miss a hike to Pietrosu Rodnei peak, the highest peak in the Eastern Carpathians, with a height of 2303 meters.
Another exciting place to see in Borsa, which few know about, is the Root Museum, where Stefan Grec collected a lot of roots of all kinds.
Admire the Horse Waterfall (Cascada Cailor)
From my point of view, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Maramures is Cascada Cailor. With a length of 90 meters, it’s the highest waterfall in Romania and one of the most spectacular.
The Cailor waterfall is part of the Rodnei Mountains and is located near the resort of Borsa. You can reach it by chairlift, a short hike, or foot.
The waterfall is beautiful in any season, including winter, when the water sometimes freezes. It’s worth the effort because the landscapes are convincing in almost any season. However, I recommend arriving here in the spring, when the water flow increases considerably, or in the summer.
The name of the waterfall has an exciting story. It comes from a local legend or a story whose integrity cannot be proven. It is said that several horses fell into the ravine after being scared by a bear while they were grazing.
The Merry Cemetery in Sapanta | Places to visit in Maramures
We have a unique cemetery in the world, and we should be proud of it, although you wouldn’t necessarily think to be proud of a place related to death. The Merry Cemetery in Sapanta breaks the rules and offers a different and unusual perspective on passing away.
The tragedy is covered by humor so that the celebration of life emerges rather than the pain of death. I would say that this also helps heal when you lose someone you love. Ultimately, how you react means everything, and humor is always welcome.
All the crosses in the cemetery are colored blue, Sapanta blue. Not to be confused with Voronet blue from Gura Humorului. Besides the color that predominates in the graveyard, the verses on each cross make this place truly memorable. They illustrate the life of the person buried next to them through humor and sarcasm put into rhymes.
Another element not missing from any cross in The Merry Cemetery is the drawing on the cross, a miniature painting that reminds us of the person to whom the cross belongs. It can be a relevant event from his life, job, or defining character trait.
Who founded the Merry Cemetery
The one who laid the foundations of the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta and who carved the first cross with verses on it was Stan Ion Patras at the beginning of the 1930s, that is, almost a century ago; the tomb and implicitly his cross stands in a place of honor, and you can’t miss them even if you want to. It is worth remembering because it offered us one of the most exciting places to visit in Maramures.
Including the memorial house of the famous craftsman of happy crosses is located near the cemetery and can be a unique stop for those interested in learning more. I admit I didn’t visit but I will do it next time.
The famous gates of Maramures / The Village Museum
Located in Sighetul Marmatiei and inaugurated in 1981, the Maramuresan Village Museum is probably the place with the largest concentration of woodwork in the area. It brings together a series of specific houses from the Maramureș area in 30 households.
Each household is different and illustrates the unaltered village life of Maramures. The 30 homes are grouped according to the geographical area of Maramures they belong to help us understand the small but noticeable differences more easily.
The museum is located on Strada Muzeului no. 1 and is open daily, without any exception. It’s a must-see tourist attraction in Maramures if you want to understand the essence of this place. The oldest building in the museum is the wooden church from the 16th century.
Barsana Monastery | Places to visit in Maramures
I visited many monasteries in Romania in Maramures and Moldova, especially in Valcea, my native county. But none of them impressed me the way the Barsana Monastery did. I am probably subjective, but it is in the top 3 places to visit in Maramures.
It’s a corner of heaven that has remained imprinted in my memory and that I would love to revisit every time. I recommend you put it on the Maramure tourist attractions map.
Barsana Monastery is located in the Izei Valley, on the way to Sighetul Marmatiei. In addition to the monastery building itself, there is a superb complex consisting of the Bell Tower, the Museum, the Abbey, a pond with a small bridge, many flowers and beautiful alleys, and other buildings connected by these alleys.
It’s practically a mini Maramures that includes the main elements of these pieces of Romania in total harmony. There is also a small museum of old icons and traditional clothes from Maramures that I recommend you not to miss when you arrive in these lands.
Barsana Monastery was built at the beginning of the 18th century. It’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage and eight other churches in Maramures: Budesti, Desesti, Ieud, Plopis, Poienile Izei, Rogoz, and Surdesti.
Wooden houses, a church from the 16th century, hospitable people, and one of the most famous craftsmen in the region, the wood sculptor Petru Pop, are the main elements that define the renowned village of Breb.
The village is located at the foot of the Gutai Mountains. They say it’s the most picturesque village in the area and indeed one of the most attractive villages I have visited in Romania, along with other villages in Transylvania, such as Viscri or Rimetea.
The center of the village is dominated by an impressive and ancient church from the 16th century, one of the oldest churches in Maramures.
The Blue Lake from Baia Sprie
The Blue Lake in Baia Sprie is very similar to the Beiului Lake. It changes color depending on the sun’s position and the water’s temperature. If you want to see it when it turns an intense shade of blue, you must get here in the spring.
An essential and exciting detail about the lake is that the collapse of a mine formed it, and the respective minerals are responsible for the unique color of the water.
Other places to visit in Maramures:
- The Prislop slope
- The memorial to the victims of Sighetul Marmatiei
- Cemetery of the Poor
- Peri Monastery
- Mecles’ mill
- Museum of Mineralogy
What you need to know before visiting Maramures
What is the best time to visit Maramures?
I recommend any season because Maramures is a picturesque area with landscapes that captivate your eyes. I would, however, avoid the months of October and November, when nature begins to die, and everything becomes gray like in any other place in Romania.
Summer is perfect for hiking; autumn will delight you with the colors of the forest, spring everything revives, and the temperatures are neither too low nor too high. In winter, you can enjoy Christmas traditions and authentic winter celebrations.
How many days do you need to visit Maramures?
So many beautiful places that Maramures has can certainly not be seen in a weekend. Therefore, I recommend you stay here for at least four days to check off the areas proposed in this article and truly feel that you have found the essence of this corner of paradise.