Romania might not be the first choice of winter sports fans but the country still attracts many tourists in its ski resorts. And the winter resorts in Prahova Valley are among the most popular.
Prahova Valley (Valea Prahovei) is home to some of the most popular and crowded ski resorts in Romania, mainly due the fact that is located close to the capital city Bucharest. The ski slopes here are also among the best in the country but things are not all pink. Getting there from Bucharest is usually a nightmare for drivers in weekends or vacations and the ski resorts are sometimes way too crowded to actually enjoy the ski trip. But, despite all that, Prahova Valley remains one of the Romanians’ favorite choices for winter fun.
Skiing in Prahova Valley – the good and the bad
Prahova Valley, which is located between Bucharest and Brasov, is home to four ski resorts, namely Sinaia, Busteni, Azuga and Predeal. And all four of them are among the best in Romania, with slopes for both beginners and more advanced skiers.
The winter resorts in Prahova Valley can be accessed by train or car. The closest major cities are Bucharest, Brasov and Sibiu. The distance from Bucharest is of about 130 km and, in normal traffic conditions, it can be covered in about two hours by car. It can sound like a perfect choice for short weekend gateways for Bucharesters but it’s not, really, mainly because of the traffic jams forming on the DN1 road.
The fastest way to get from the capital to Prahova Valley is to take the short A3 motorway and then continue on DN1 national road, and this road is blocked by traffic jams in most weekends. So it would be better to plan a vacation during the week or try the other travel option: take the train. There are many trains linking Bucharest to Prahova Valley resorts every day but they also get very crowded during weekends so it would be best to book your tickets in advance. Train tickets can be purchased from the ticket offices in train stations or online at Cfrcalatori.ro. There are also trains ran by private operators, such as Softrans, Regio Calatori and Astra Trans Carpatic. Train trips between Bucharest and Prahova Valley winter resorts take between one hour and a half and two hours+. A minus for the state-owned passenger trains in Romania is that they often register delays, especially if they travel on longer routes, so don’t be surprised if this happens.
A plus is that this ski area in Romania is rather cheap compared to other winter resorts, especially when compared to other resorts across Europe. For example, accommodation starts from around EUR 20 for a double room in guesthouses and bookings can be made on Booking.com or Airbnb. Meanwhile, one-day ski passes have prices that start at about EUR 25.
Mountain rescuers are there to help tourists in need in all four resorts, and beginners or amateurs can also find ski instructors to help them learn some new ski or snowboard skills.
Now let's discover the four winter resorts in Prahova Valley:
This winter resort is one of the most popular in Romania, offering over 25 km of ski slopes at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 m. Two years ago, Sinaia received the title of Romania’s Best Ski Resort 2017.
Located at about 120 km north of Bucharest, this resort is suitable both for beginners and advanced skiers or snowboarders. Tourists can go up to 1,400 m by car, gondola lift or cable car. They can ski from there or go all the way up to 2,000 m by gondola lift, cable car or chairlift. More information about the ski domain in Romania, including maps, live webcams or tariffs, are available here and here. There are also a few places to eat and rest at Cota 1400.
As for accommodation, there are plenty of choices in Sinaia, from small guesthouses to more luxurious hotels. Prices start at around EUR 20 (two people, double room, guesthouse) but can go up to some EUR 100 per night in hotels. There are also many restaurants to choose from, which offer a variety of dishes, and a mini-mall and several other stores and supermarkets in the city center.
Sinaia is also home to the famous Peles Castle, so tourists can easily mix winter sports with sightseeing in this mountain resort. Also, the views from Cota 2000 are quite amazing in winter so even those who don’t ski can go up there for some unique photos.
Coming from Bucharest, Busteni is the next ski resort after Sinaia, the distance between the two being of some 10 km.
This is also a busy resort in weekends and winter holidays but its Kalinderu slope (split into Kalinderu 1 and Kalinderu 2), of medium difficulty, can be a good choice for those who want to improve their ski or snowboard skills. It is also a family-friendly skiing destination, the slope being easily accessible from the DN1 road crossing the city. There is also a parking at about 200 m from the slope.
For those coming by train, the station is close to the city center, not far from the City Hall or the Kalinderu slope. Many of the accommodation places are also located around the city center, as well as most of the restaurants, stores and grocery shops. Accommodation starts from around EUR 25 per night for a double room while a one-day ski pass costs EUR 30 per adult.
There is also a Fun Park close to the Kalinderu slope and those who want to combine skiing with other activities can also visit the city’s beautiful Cantacuzino Castle.
Located between Busteni and Predeal, Azuga is a good choice for beginners, but more advanced skiers or snowboarders can also have some real fun here. Similar to Sinaia or Busteni, DN1 links Azuga to Bucharest so it gets extremely crowded in weekends. A better choice would be to travel there by train, especially if you are not carrying any ski equipment.
Azuga has seven ski slopes (easy and medium difficulty) with a total length of seven kilometers and seven cable installations with a total length of four kilometers. The longest one is the Sorica slope – 2,100 m, followed closely by Cazacu – 1,920 m. A one-day ski pass costs about EUR 30 per adult.
As for accommodation, tourists can find guesthouse rooms for as cheap as EUR 25, similar to Busteni or Sinaia.
Located bout 150 km north of Bucharest and only 24 km away from Sinaia, Predeal is also a popular ski destination, mainly for those living in or around the capital city. It is also one of the most beautiful winter destinations in Romania, offering amazing views.
Predeal offers tourists five ski slopes of different levels of difficulty, equipped with chairlift, ski lift and nocturnal facilities. The longest and most difficult ski slope is Subteleferic but Cocosul and Clabucet are also among the best. A one-day ski pass costs some EUR 35 per adult. More details are available here (in Romanian).
As for accommodation, prices also start at about EUR 25 in guesthouses, the same as in the other three winter resorts in Prahova Valley. In fact, those who plan a longer ski vacation in this area in Romania can choose to find accommodation in one of the four ski resorts and then drive or take the train to the other ones. However, keep in mind that the DN1 national road is blocked by traffic jams in weekends so the short trips between resorts may take much longer than expected.
Irina Marica, [email protected]
(photo source: Pixabay.com)