One of my favourite places when I was backpacking in Romania was the city of Cluj-Napoca. I spent almost a week there and apart from wandering all over the place, checking some museums, attending the cheapest opera I’ve ever been (but actually quite good), and trying a few of the local traditional restaurants, I also manage to do some Hiking in Turda Gorge which is about 90 minutes away by public buses. Keep reading for all the instructions on how to get there!
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This post is for a short but very scenic day hike, not hard and not long in distance but it does have a good final steep climb. If you stay longer in the area you can definitely go for longer hikes!
In Cluj-Napoca itself you can also do a bit of hiking (more of a walk) in the enchanted forest, I heard different stories from the place but to be honest when I went it was not spooky at all and you’re not far from the city. It’s still ok if you have a couple of hours to kill though.
Most people that visit Cluj-Napoca go to Salina Turda which is about half an hour away. The Salt Mines are pretty much the highlight of the town of Turda, but a little bit outside the town you will find Turda Gorge (or Cheile Turzii if you talk to a Romanian)
This was a short day hike but really beautiful! As it was in winter time there was pretty much no one, but it may get a lot busier in the warmer months as just outside the park there are quite a few restaurants and food trucks, all of them were closed when I went.
There is also a camping place and a hotel if you decide to stay longer.
The area is one of the best rock-climbing spots in Romania, there’s a lot more to do than hiking!
How to get to Turda Gorge from Cluj-Napoca
Although Turda Gorge is only about 40 Km aways from Cluj-Napoca, the journey by mini bus will take anything between 1 hour and even more than 2 hours depending on your timing.
You need to take 2 different buses one from Cluj-Napoca to Turda and then another one from Turda to Cheia. Both routes are served by a company called Alis Grup and you have to look out for some white mini vans.
Check well the timetable! On weekdays there are buses every 15 minutes or so, on weekends there gaps of up to 2 hours between each journey.
The Alis Grup website is actually quite helpful as it shows the stops of each route. NOTE that when you arrive to Turda you have to walk about 10 minutes to the stop of the bus direction to Cheia.
Don’t count on Google Maps to help you finding directions as there are none.
The bus from Cluj-Napoca to Turda costs 9 Lei and the one from Turda to Cheia 5 Lei.
Once you arrive to the little town of Cheia, you will find signs pointing to Cheile Turzii (Turda Gorge). The walk is some 4 Km long, slightly uphill all the time until you reach a beautiful viewpoint and then a short downhill to the area where the camping and food stalls are located near the entrance of the natural park.
Where to stay in Cluj-Napoca
During my week in Cluj-Napoca I stayed at Zen Hostel, this budget hostel was pretty good, with a wonderful atmosphere and perfect location in the city centre. Everything was within walking distance so I can happily recommend this place! 🙂
Hiking in Turda Gorge
Once you pass the food stalls area you finally enter the forest and after crossing a short bridge over the river you find the entrance to the natural park of Cheile Turzii.
There’s a ticket booth, but it was closed when I went there, so in high season you can expect to pay something although from the things I read elsewhere it’s a symbolic charge.
The start of the trail is already really beautiful, with the first 2 Km being flat and right by the river, sometimes on paths carved directly from the rock which reminded me of my time Hiking in Taroko Gorge in Taiwan.
That day I had slippery frosty rocks mixed with muddy stretches so bear that in mind footwear-wise if you go in winter or on a rainy day.
After 2 Km since I entered the park, I could see a sign post on the other side of the river but no bridge in sight to cross, and that only meant one thing, hop on the few rocks to cross!
At that point it was pretty handy to have my hiking boots as otherwise with sneakers I’d have had my feet completely soaked.
At the other side of the river is when the hike will become challenging as it’s a steep climb for about 500m. There’s not a clear trail to follow but you can see marks on the trees every now and then so you know where to go.
Almost at the top you find a sign pointing to the left of the trail and that will take you on a relatively flattish trail towards a couple of incredibly scenic viewpoints.
This upward trail actually continues to other areas so you can make your day much longer!
It took me 2 hours from the moment I got off the bus in Cheia to this viewpoint. Walking on a good pace as I was a little pressed on time because of the bus schedules.
At this viewpoint I was able to see falcons and eagles! what an incredible addition to the views! to go Hiking in Turda Gorge quickly proved a fantastic idea!
To the other side of the Gorge there were also impressive views!
With the landscape throughly enjoyed, it was time to head back to Cluj-Napoca.
The hike is an out-and-back trail not a circuit, but even that you have to retrace your steps on the same trails, it’s definitely worth it!
I only saw 6 people in total in all my time there so you can imagine how peaceful is this place.
Luckily for me, just a few minutes after I left the natural park and was walking back on the road towards Cheia, a car was coming so I put my thumb up and hitchhiked a ride directly to Cluj-Napoca!!
Are you ready to go Hiking in Turda Gorge?
Go for it! I absolutely loved it, at first it didn’t seem like much but once I got to the viewpoints I fell in love with the place!
Feel free to drop a comment or question below if you’re backpacking in Cluj and plan to go hiking to Turda Gorge, also, check my other posts about backpacking in Romania for more ideas on your next adventure!