Most tourists that visit Romania heard about Bran Castle and make the trip there to see it. It became somewhat famous because of its slight resemblance with the castle in Bram Stoker’s fictional book Dracula (in that they both stand on rocky cliffs and have spectacular views).
However very few know that in close proximity with bustling Bran, where the castle resides, two small villages of utmost beauty and tranquility exist. They’re called Magura and Pestera and they’re truly hidden gems since only in recent years have people started to visit them.
Hidden gems in Romania: Magura and Pestera villages
Magura and Pestera are two picturesque mountain villages, situated at the border of Piatra Craiului National Park, in Brasov county, Romania. They are located at a high altitude, so they get stunning views of both the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului mountains.
The wooden fences, haystacks sprinkled on the grassy hills, sheeps munching on their food, and the rustic animal stables give them a very traditional and scenic vibe. It really makes one feel like it stepped into another world.
How to get there
You can easily visit Pestera si Magura on a day trip from Brasov (the journey takes about 50 minutes) or Romania’s capital, Bucharest: the trip takes about 3 and a half hours, but it really depends on traffic, so it’s best to leave as early as possible. Valea Prahovei can get pretty crowded, especially during weekends.
The villages can be reached exclusively by car (you can either rent one yourself or join a tour) – the closest bus station is in Moieciu de Jos.
Magura is only accessible on dirt roads, so the best and easiest way to visit if you drive is to go to Pestera – the road is winding and very narrow at times, but it’s paved.
You can put your GPS pin to hotel Nobillis – Carpathian Residence, since it’s situated right where the asphalt ends and the dirt road to Magura begins. There, you can leave the car on the edge of the road (depending on the time you visit, you’ll see several cars parked there as well) and continue on foot, on the unpaved road to Magura.
If you have a bigger car you could even continue on wheels, just be careful if it rains as the road can get way worse. It is a dirt path after all. However, I feel that the beauty of the road is exactly what makes the trip.
Also, don’t forget to have winter tires if you visit from mid-fall to mid-spring. Since Pestera and Magura are high-altitude mountain villages, they usually get their first snow way earlier than other locations in the area. Winter lasts for longer too.
There is also a hiking trail from Bran to Magura: it’s about 8km long and takes around 3-4 hours to complete. The starting point is in front of Vama Medievala Bran Museum and the marking is a red bar. Even though the trail includes some sections with steep climbing, its difficulty is easy to moderate.
What can you do in Magura and Pestera?!
Both Magura and Pestera are great travel destinations for families with children, cyclists, mountain explorers, climbers, and photo enthusiasts alike.
There are several hikes around the two villages one could take and some are even accessible by bike. Prapastiile Zarnestiului is a small canyon that you can find in the area and in Pestera there’s a cave (called Bat’s Cave) that you can visit (the road going up to it is very scenic). The cave shelters many species of bats, hence the name.
But the best thing to do is to simply walk around, take in the stunning views and relax.
The dirt road that connects the two small villages is very picturesque, so it’s usually a pretty popular choice with tourists visiting the area. It’s an easy walk and takes a little over an hour to reach Magura on foot from where you left the car. So, it’s a good option for families with little kids as well.
The views you get from simply walking on the dirt road are spectacular and even though I’m usually not one to make such comparisons, I see why people are saying that they resemble the landscapes of Austria or Switzerland and I quite agree.
Another good idea is to have a picnic. There are plenty of spots where one could stop to have lunch in nature. Just make sure to tidy up after yourself and leave the place the same way you found it. Nature must be protected, so please, don’t leave garbage behind!
If you wish to stay the night and I recommend you to since it will allow you to discover more of what the area has to offer, you can find several accommodation options for every budget in the two villages. And what could be more perfect than to drink your morning coffee with such views?!
So be it that you visit these beautiful villages on a day trip or you choose to stay several days to unwind and escape the busy life most of us have, I’m sure you’ll love these two hidden gems of Romania as much as I did. But I must warn you, the tranquility surrounding both Pestera and Magura will probably leave a print in your heart and it will make you want to come back.
About the Author
Andreea is a travel blogger from Romania and the owner of Andoreia travels the world, where she writes about the destinations she visits. You can also follow her adventures and travel tips on Instagram.