Top 5 places to visit in Maramureș

The last part of our Romanian trip took us to the northern part, to a region called Maramureș, close to the Ukrainian border. Most of the people consider this region to be the heart and soul of Romania’s rural side. The village life is still present across Romania but in Maramureș the people have still kept old traditions, close to what it used to be hundreds of years ago. Traditions like dancing and singing, crafts – especially wood carving, textiles and ceramics are still passed down from generation to generation, maintaining a rich culture. With regards to wood carving, the wooden carved gates are a popular sight in this region. Textiles also plays a big part in the culture of Maramureș, starting from carpets and bed spreads to the traditional clothing. The most popular piece of clothing is “ia”, the Romanian blouse.

The Merry Cemetery

After spending the night in Cluj we decided to head north with our first stop being Săpânța, to visit the Merry Cemetery. One might call this an antithesis. If horror movies thought us anything it’s that they are creepy so how can a cemetery be merry? Well, here people have found a way to make the passing of loved ones easier to bare. The cemetery is an open-air museum which includes folk art monuments. The crosses on each grave are made of wood, carved locally in an original and personal manner. They are colourful and instead of just names and the corresponding birth and death dates, they contain short verses, rhymes about the life and death of the deceased and more often than not they have a pinch of humor as well, along with drawings of the person. If you do decide to visit and you don’t speak Romanian, consider hiring a guide to translate the poems, since that is the best part of this cemetery.

Sapanta - Merry CemeterySapanta - the Merry Cemetery

Cross at Merry Cemetery

Vadu Izei

Our next stop was Bârsana Monastery, but we took a short detour through Vadu Izei, a village that is still close to its roots with plenty of wooden carved gates, after which we continued along the Iza river to Bârsana. Here you are surrounded by great scenery, so make sure to stop and take plenty of photos.

Wooden Crafts in Maramures

Wooden Gate Maramures

Wooden Gate

Bârsana Monastery

Once at the monastery, we climbed up the hill and walked around the beautifully maintained flowery gardens. There are multiple buildings, all of them built in the local style with the nuns living and taking care of the surroundings.

Barsana Courtyard

Little house at Barsana

Barsana Monastery

Mocăniţa – The Narrow Gauge Steam Train

Our accommodation for the night was in Vișeu de Sus, since the next day we were planning a trip with the Mocăniţa, a narrow gauge steam train. During peak season, the trains run several times per day and since it is quite busy in the morning, make sure you get your tickets the day before at the latest. You can check out more info on their website. After we got the tickets we went around the town and stopped at “La Cassa” for dinner. As far as food goes, this was one of the highlights of our entire trip – the food came in giant sized portions and was incredibly delicious – we definitely recommend having at least one meal here while in Vișeu.

Next morning we got there one hour before our departure to get a good carriage – little did we know that the place will be packed. Make sure you arrive even earlier if possible, especially if you’re a larger group. We barely got places together on the train for which we had tickets. Speaking of tickets, in line with the way they were issued on old trains, the tickets that you receive are a rectangular piece of carton, which is pierced by the carriage attendant – these were still the norm in Romania around 15 years ago.


Mocanita train

Mocanita Tickets

The train departed, slowly making its way towards the hills, closely following the Vaser river. The train screeched, hissed and shook on its rail as it made its way up. Windows were lowered in all carriages and people were leaning out to take pictures of the train, especially in bends. The number of houses slowly dwindled as we left the village and with it a black cloud of smoke behind us. The scenery was also changing, from open fields to hills and forest covered mountains. At one point we even passed through one of the wooden carved gates.

Mocanita Steam Train


Mocanita-The Narrow Gauge Steam Train

On the way, the steam train stopped for water, after which we continued until Paltin. Here you get a 90 minutes break to enjoy the surroundings. We decided to take a little hike into the woods from where we got a better view of the valley. It was a bit strenuous, but it was definitely worth it. We returned to the riverside to have a short lunch before returning to Vișeu on the screeching and shaking steam train. We had one more stop for an early dinner at La Cassa before heading off.

Maramureș countryside

Before departing from the region make sure to get some last shots of the picturesque countryside of Maramureș. If you travel later in the summer or early autumn, there will be plenty of haystacks to give some character to the landscape.

Haystack in Maramures


HaystacksSmall House in Maramures

If you like it, pin it!

The last part of our Romanian trip took us to the northern part, to a region called Maramureș, close to the Ukrainian border. This guide includes top 5 places to visit in Maramures, Romania: The Merry Cemetery, Barsana Monastery, Vadul Izei, Mocanita Steam Train and Maramures Countryside.



  1. March 8, 2017 / 12:26 pm

    Amazing pictures guys. Loved it

  2. March 10, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    Romania sounds like such an interesting country to visit. The architecture looks so different looks like you got to see some great rural life

    • Oana N
      March 12, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      Thank you, Garth. Romania a beautiful travel destination with different areas for everyone to explore. The rural life is still present in most of the country.

  3. March 10, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    Love this post and the photos are spectacular!!!

    • Oana N
      March 12, 2017 / 12:39 pm

      Thank you, Uncover travel.

  4. March 11, 2017 / 2:14 pm

    Looks like a fascinating part of the country to explore! I’m amazed by how green and colourful everything looks as I have only been to Romania in the middle of snowy winter 🙂

    • Oana N
      March 12, 2017 / 12:46 pm

      Hi Nat, Maramures is an interesting place to visit while in Romania. It can get quite green in the summer, totally different from the winter season.

  5. March 11, 2017 / 11:43 pm

    That is the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen, and I had no idea a place like this existed. Gorgeous pictures 🙂

    • Oana N
      March 12, 2017 / 12:53 pm

      Thank you Scarlett. The cemetery is impressive by its unique folk art monuments – the colourful crosses which contain short verses about the life and death of the deceased with a pinch of humor.

  6. March 12, 2017 / 12:15 am

    That cemetery is very beautiful! And I love the buildings at the monastery. Very cool trip!

    • Oana N
      March 12, 2017 / 12:54 pm

      Thank you, Ava. The Maramures region is an interesting place to visit although is quite North and not many people go there.

  7. March 12, 2017 / 5:06 am

    Wow, that cemetery is like nothing I have ever seen before, it really is merry isn’t it! What an interesting part of Romania, and, as usual, absolutely stunning countryside, I would love the train ride, seriously, it’s breathtaking, I can’t take my eyes off some of the pictures. I had never heard of Maramures before now but I’m definitely adding it to my bucket list and pinning this post for future reference, thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel

    • Oana N
      March 15, 2017 / 9:09 pm

      Hi Angie, the cemetery is indeed merry – a fun place to visit although is still a cemetery. The countryside in Romania is stunning, especially during the summer – early autumn when everything is green and the haystacks are everywhere. Maramures is a lovely area, if you ever get to Romania, you should give it a try.

  8. March 12, 2017 / 5:13 am

    Looks a beautiful place to visit. Great post! #feetdotravel

    • Oana N
      March 12, 2017 / 12:55 pm

      Thank you, Paul and Carole.

  9. March 12, 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Romanian countryside looks so beautiful and taking a train through it must have been amazing – almost looks like a fairytale! Loved the monastery and the cemetery as well – such gorgeous colours and it would have been great to wander around and explore. Definitely a country that has appealed to me more and more in the last year!

    • Oana N
      March 15, 2017 / 7:46 pm

      Thank you, Alex. The countryside in Romania is really beautiful and the train ride is something that I recommend trying it if you ever get in this part of the country. I am happy you are now starting to consider Romania a travel destination.

  10. March 12, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    Absolutely beautiful landscape. Would love to take that train ride through the countryside. I don’t think I have seen a cemetery so ornate. The other buildings look very detail as well. What an interesting place to visit, I would enjoy exploring here.

    • Oana N
      March 15, 2017 / 7:47 pm

      Hi Lisa, I am sure you would enjoy every bit of the trip. The cemetery is a fun place to visit although is still a cemetery.

  11. March 13, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Love the Merry Cemetery, Oana. Beautiful countryside shots and the train looked fun. Romania looks lovely.

    • Oana N
      March 15, 2017 / 9:12 pm

      Thank you, Shona. Romania is really beautiful and worth visiting.

  12. March 13, 2017 / 6:48 pm

    How fascinating Maramures countryside is to visit. I like how they keep the old traditions and pass them on to other family members. So much art work and the Narrow Gauge Steam Train looks like fun. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Oana N
      March 15, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      Hi Stephanie, the countryside in Romania is a gorgeous place to visit among others. People are trying to keep the traditions alive but most of them just disappeared in time. The train ride was definitely a nice thing to do.

  13. March 14, 2017 / 6:44 pm

    Romania looks like an amazing destination! Love your photographs! So interesting to read about somewhere that I hadn’t considered to visit before – you have definitely made me reconsider that! Will pin as one day hopefully will get to visit! #feetdotravel

    • Oana N
      March 15, 2017 / 9:31 pm

      Hi Tracy, I hope you will have the chance to visit Romania one day – I am sure you will love it.

  14. March 16, 2017 / 11:27 am

    The countryside is so picturesque. The train! We love trains. Gonna put this on our bucket list asap! #feetdotravel

    • Oana N
      March 16, 2017 / 8:23 pm

      Hi Siddharth and Shruti, the countryside in Romania is indeed picturesque and the train ride is a must in Maramures.

  15. March 16, 2017 / 11:52 am

    I absolutely loved reading this! The countryside looks amazing and I can’t believe the traditions in the cemetery. The steam train looks like a lot of fun and your photography is out of this world. Well done! Makes me want to visit straight away!

    • Oana N
      March 16, 2017 / 8:28 pm

      Hi Kreete, I am glad you enjoyed reading this post. This reagion was something I wanted to visit for a long time but it was too far away from where I lived and I always skip it. Everything here is worth a visit, the cemetery has it’s own charm and the train ride through the mountains was beautiful. Hope you will get to visit one day.

  16. March 16, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    Good post. I love a good train ride through the countryside, and Romania looks lovely. Always nice to see posts about a place written from a native’s perspective.Good job. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oana N
      March 21, 2017 / 7:25 pm

      Thank you, Raymond. It was a nice experience to be tourists in our own country.

  17. March 17, 2017 / 12:52 am

    What a perfect place to visit. I haven’t had chance to see Romania yet but it looks so colourful and I would love to go one day. So may historical things to see and it looks like you had a great time.

    • Oana N
      March 21, 2017 / 7:28 pm

      Barry, you should visit one day Romania where you can find plenty of places to do and visit. We did had a great time back home, too bad it was short.

  18. March 17, 2017 / 6:41 am

    Maramures looks picture perfect. What enchanting vistas, eye candy for the eyes indeed.I love the train with the locomotive engine, with white smoke billowing out and merging with the clouds. Stunning pictures, I have fallen head over heels in love with the place.

    • Oana N
      March 21, 2017 / 7:30 pm

      Sandy, Maramures is a charming place that will steal your heart from the beginning. Mocanita was something we wanted to do for a long time and we couldn’t miss it during our trip. I definitely recommend you to visit one day.

  19. March 17, 2017 / 8:58 pm

    The steam train is something I’ve never been on but have always wanted to. This post is like going back in time but with colour photography!

    • Oana N
      March 21, 2017 / 7:32 pm

      James, this was my first time travelling in a steam train, I wanted to do it for a log time and it finally happened. I can agree with you, Romania countryside is taking you back in time.

  20. Teofil Ivanciuc
    March 30, 2017 / 11:22 am

    Barsana Convent is actually not on UNESCO WHL. In other side of the village, 6 km away from monastery is the tiny Jbar medieval wooden church, protected by UNESCO.

    • Oana N
      April 2, 2017 / 7:02 pm

      Thank you, Teofil for clarifying the difference between the two – we have now amended the text accordingly.

  21. November 1, 2017 / 8:38 am

    Laudam pe Iisus, ni ca am nimerit asta treaba
    de maramuresul a nost minunat, si va apreciez ca
    scrieti Maramures. Acum sa nu va deranjeze sa las saitu tot despre noi: Va multumim iar, si va dorim numa bunatati la tata familia.

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