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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Oravita Train Rides & Nera Gorge-Beusnita National Park Hiking

We kept heading toward the Danube from our initial arrival in Cluj-Napoca and stayed 3 nights/2 full days in Oravita. This area is technically outside of Transylvania and in the Banat Historical Region of Romania. Our family enjoys trains & we love exploring National Parks, so we were really looking forward to this portion of our trip. During our two days there we went on the 2nd oldest railway and ventured out in Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park.

Oravita to Anina Train Ride:
Train crossing over bridge - view from inside.
Oravita to Anina Train crossing one of the 10 Viaducts and 14 Tunnels on its journey.

This rail line was one of the first mountain railways in Europe, and while the route from Oravita to Anina is only about 35 kilometers, it takes 2 hours for the journey. The route from Oravita to Anina was built by the Austrian state, which ruled this area during that time, to help transport coal from the coalmine in Anina down to the Danube River and further west. Construction on the line started in 1861 and was completed in December 1863. The train actually starts in Oravita at an elevation of 220 meters and ends in Anina at an elevation of 559 meters, so the train does quite a climb. On its short 35 km journey, there are 14 tunnels and 10 viaducts, which was fun for the kids. The longest tunnel on the journey was the Carasova (or Garliste) Tunnel at a length of 660 meters. A majority of the train ride is in the dense treed area, but when it does open up crossing over the viaducts, it offers incredible views.

The train departs daily from Oravita at 11:15 a.m. After the 2-hour journey to Anina; there is a 1 hour and 25 minute break in the town before it returns back to Oravita at 2:40 p.m. (However, it looks like times have been known to change, so check out their website in advance.) Tickets are super affordable at just over 27 RON per an adult and 17.80 per child for the round-trip. It was definitely a full day’s outing, which was great for our train-loving family. However, if trains aren’t your thing then it may not be the best outing as it is a lot of time spent on the train on basic wooden benches. There is the option to just do the journey 1-way; however, the tricky part is there aren’t taxis in Anina to drive you back to Oravita. However, some people suggested arranging with one of the taxi drivers in Oravita before departing on the train, to pick you up in Anina. Also, a word of caution, if planning to ride the train in the summer, there is no air conditioning on the train, as it is old. However, going in the Autumn was the perfect temperature in the train car and hardly any crowds - we had a whole train car to ourselves there and back.

Little girl walking toward Oravita to Anina train at the Oravita train station in Romania.
Getting ready to board the train in Oravita for the journey to Anina, Romania.

However, we really enjoyed the break in Anina. It was a small little town and definitely not touristy! The conductor on the train was super friendly and had a full conversation with us in broken English/German/Romanian. We were able to piece together parts and somewhat understand, but he was very hospitable and friendly showing us his antique train watch and other goods. However, he highly recommended the Theatre Pizza place, so we headed there for some pizza lunch and coffees. We took it to go and the kids enjoyed playing on the playground just across the street.

To be honest, I was a little concerned the kids might get bored after 4 hours on the train, but they really seemed to enjoy it – especially Connor who likes trains. They would have periods where they would look out the windows and then we also brought along Clara’s school books and coloring books to do for a portion of the journey.

If you are a train lover, we’d highly recommend this journey – it felt a little bit like a trip back in time. However, we asked the conductor if the train ran in the winter and his response was ‘no’ because there are no tourists. So always sure to check their website to make sure it’s running during the time of your visit.

Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park

We started out our second day in the search for waterfalls; but to be honest, we fell a bit short, but still had a great day exploring. Let me explain.

The Bigar Waterfall is the most popular waterfall in the National Park and it about a 50-minute drive from Oravita. This moss-covered waterfall looks beautiful from photos and is easy to access – only about a 5-minute walk from the parking lot. However, we learned that a portion of it collapsed in June 2021 due to natural causes and a recent photo didn’t show much of a waterfall. (Autumn probably isn’t the best time to chase waterfalls.) Our host on suggested we check out a different waterfall called Cascada Beusnita. However, it was on the opposite side of the Park, but it offered more hiking trails, which we wanted to do, so we headed that direction.

The Difficulties of Getting There

There are two ways to get to this area of the park where Cascada Beusnita is located – both take about the same amount of time, but one is shorter in distance than the other. We opted to take the route via 571C, which was shorter, but we found out why it took longer…..there were so many potholes in the road! While the countryside was amazing and we saw aspects of local life (i.e. shepherds with their sheep and other small Romanian towns), the driver had to pay more attention to the holes in the road. [On the way back we took the longer route - DN 57, which still had some potholes, but for the most part was much smoother.] We eventually reached the parking area for one of the trailheads; however, to get to the waterfall it directed us down a dirt road that ran up against a stream. The stream was beautiful, but the roads were equally bumpy and still with pot holes. After crawling down the road at a snails’ pace we decided to cut our losses and turn around, as our rental car had pretty old tires & we had no cell signal. We didn’t want to get out in the middle of no where with a flat tire from the rough road. We could have hiked in, but it was still about 6 km to get to the trailhead for the waterfall hike.

Our Dilemma

However, this put us in a bit of a pinch, as we had planned to grab lunch from the restaurant near the trailhead. We headed back to the nearest little town to try to find something, but with it being the off season we didn’t find anything open. It was either a 45-minute drive back to Oravita to find something or just do the hike with the snacks we did have – granola bars, apples and almonds. We opted for the latter, otherwise we would waste away the day and just hoped that would sustain the kids.

Hike Through the Tunnels

We took the hike towards the Tunnels that started at the Podul Bei Campground parking spot and proceeded through tunnels alongside the Nera River. The tunnels were a pretty unique aspect to the hike, as we had never been through man-made tunnels on a hike before. We later found out from the host that these tunnels were made by the Turks when making roads through the area.

We hike through the tunnel section and even came to Acapulco Beach Nera beach area where we threw rocks and the kids played in the sand. However, it was really windy that day, so when there was a gust the sand hit up against us hard, so we didn’t stay for too long at the beach. There is a gorge at the end with a bridge, but we didn’t end up going that far, as it would have been 5 km there and back, which can be a bit too much for the kids, especially when they didn't have a good lunch.

Two children looking out over the Nera River in Romanian National Park.
Enjoying the Nera River on our hike in Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park Romania
Two children playing on beach in Romanian National park.
Acapulco Beach - Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park
Little girl hiking in Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park Romania
Hiking back up from Acapulco Beach in Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park

The Oravita area was a great stop for our family! We really started to experience more of the Romanian countryside and the small towns, which is one of the things we enjoy most about visiting a country! If looking for something off the beaten path, definitely include this place, as our host shared most of the tourists who come through the area are domestic tourists.


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