The holidays have passed but the winter season is not yet close to an end. The first two months of the year are the favorite among winter sports lovers. Close to a third of Romania’s surface is occupied by mountains, which make the landscapes look like a fairy-tale world when covered in snow.
Despite the fact a large part of these mountains belonged to the Old Kingdom of Romania (1881-1947), it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that skiing, ice-skating and hockey became recreational activities for the noble families of the country. And it was the royal family who introduced these sports to the common people of Romania. The first official sleigh and ski competitions for children were held on the field in front of Peles Castle, at that time a royal residence, which helped Sinaia become the winter sports center for the people of Bucharest. Today, this region of Bucegi Mountains is still one of the most extensive ski areas in Romania, with mountain ridges rising over 2000 m and a dozen approved ski slopes like Carp, Valea Soarelui and Valea Dorului.
In Transylvania, the initiators of winter sports were Siebenbuergische Karpaten Verein (S.K.V.), an organization of German minorities founded in 1880 in Sibiu City, whose purpose was to “explore the Carpathian Mountains”. As a result of their passion, the first mountaineering trails in Romania were created.
Close to Sibiu, at an altitude of 1442m, lies “Paltinis” – the oldest ski resort in Romania- from where several tourist trails spread over Cindrel and Lotrului Mountains. These trails are some of the most treasured ones among Ski-Fond enthusiasts, who discovered the gentle hills and highlands to be the perfect environment for the practice of this sport.
At a distance of only a few kilometers from the oldest ski resort in Romania lies the newest mountain resort in Sibiu County – Arena Platos Paltinis! The slopes are equipped with snow cannons and lights, ski and chair lifts, a rental place and a ski school for all ages. But there’s more- a fun park with different levels of difficulty and an artificial lake, parties and concerts, as well as weekly sports competitions.
Another destination that should be on you bucket list for the winter season is Postavarul Massif, near Brasov city. On the northern slopes of this mountain lies Poiana Brasov, one of the best known ski/snowboard resorts in Romania. The longest run is of 4600 m (Drumul Rosu) yet if you are up the challenge, you should try the more advanced slopes like Lupului (2860m), Kanzel and Ruia – one of the most important landmarks in Brasov County.
Now, these winter sports we’ve mentioned require lot of practice and years of experience, especially for the slopes with a high degree of difficulty. There are, of course, places where you can ride a sleigh down the slope, but we have an even more entertaining activity to tell you about: Snow Tubing. Fairly new on the slopes of Romania, you can have the greatest time with your friends in Straja, Vatra Dornei and Azuga resorts. In close proximity to the “Platoul Soarelui” slope, in Straja, a 260m track for snow tubing is available for people of all ages.
Despite the fact that the capital city of Romania is located in the South part of the country, Bucharest opened the first ice skating ring in 1879 in Cismigiu Park and even had its own ski slope in Tineretului Park (1933). Today, during the winter season, you can find outdoor ice skating rings in almost every park in Bucharest. For those to prefer to ice skate indoors, do not fret! You can glide on “Cotroceni on Ice” ring in AFI Palace Mall, as well as on “Unic Ice” ring in Mall Liberty Center. As for indoor ice skating rings in the mountainous region, we return to Brasov and its “Olympic Ice Ring”, home of the “Corona Wolves” hockey team.
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