It’s Ski Time Whether you’re looking for a full vacation or just a skiing weekend, Romania has plenty to offer. Our resorts and slopes might not be as developed as the ski resorts of Austria, Italy or France but you can still find good quality ski slopes, breathtaking landscapes, quality accommodation and restaurants and great entertainment. The closest slopes to Bucharest are those in Valea Prahovei and this is the most ski-centric area of Romania with a rich tradition in the sport. In recent years, there has been remarkable progress made in this area with regards to the infrastructure of both the slopes and the services so that the future looks promising for tourists. by Dan Constantinescu Dan Constantinescu, ski instructor The first ski resort going north from Bucharest is Sinaia, considered the cradle of Romanian winter sports. Having the highest ski peak in the country (2103 m Furnica Peak), it has a complex area of ski slopes for experienced skiers. In the alpine area there are seven slopes served by two chairlifts in Valea Dorului and Valea Soarelui. These have steeper portions that are absolutely not recommended for beginners. The steep part descends from 2000m to 1400m and you can find four black slopes here, one red and a lot of areas perfect for freeride, making this area heaven for those who prefer to ski through the powder or off-piste. Being at such a high altitude can be disadvantageous however, strong winds drifting the snow and dumping it in the valley sometimes, making the ski area impracticable, especially in the heavier winter months. But for the spring months (March, April and May), Sinaia can be a veritable skiing paradise. Another drawback for Sinaia is the fact that cable transport installations are owned by two companies and, somewhat inconveniently, two skipasses have to be purchased in order to use them. The second resort on the Prahova Valley is Buşteni. It has an average difficulty ski piste at the foot of the Caraiman Mountains with a total length of 1.5 km, served by a chair lift. Advanced skiers, freeride enthusiasts and those who enjoy off-piste have the opportunity to play on the other side of the mountain after they reach the top with a cable car at Babele. As in Sinaia, the chances of skiing on the Bucegi plateau depend on the whims of the weather and in particular the wind speed. The next resort on the Prahova Valley is Azuga. The resort is cheaper and less crowded than other Prahova Valley resorts, and the slopes are maintained with great care. There are two ski slopes of medium difficulty – but there are also steep portions – Cazacu and Sorica, served by a gondola and a ski lift. At the base of the mountain there are few small slopes and facilities for beginners and kids. Probably not to be recommended for a skiing holiday in itself, but for one or two days of fun when the rest of the ski resorts are crowded or closed-Azuga is a lot of fun! Predeal is another tourist center of interest on the Prahova Valley. The resort benefits from perfect temperatures and a thick layer of snow for more than 3 months each year, which is why anyone can enjoy a skiing vacation here, even outside the Festive holidays. The snow lasts for a long time, due to the natural setting because the resort is sheltered by the Bucegi, Postăvarul and Piatra Mare Mountains. And even if it happens to be a poor snow winter (rare), the resort has artificial snow facilities, so the skiing can continue. Depending on level, skiers can choose from six slopes, one black, four red and two blue, amounting to about 8km and served by a chair lift and a ski lift. One of the slopes owns a light installation so that skiers can ski until late at night. Those who want to learn to ski have to sign to ski schools or recommended instructor courses, under no circumstances start skiing classes with instructors who cannot prove their accreditation. In Predeal, at the weekend or on holidays, the slopes are quite crowded, so, if you want to enjoy the skiing and the extraordinary landscape, you have to get to the ski piste very early in the morning (the facilities open at 08.30), or to go at another time of the week or month. Poiana Braşov is at the foot of Postăvarul mountain at an altitude of 1 030 meters-the highest point reaching 1799 meters- and is the largest and the most modern ski resort in Romania. It has the largest ski area, totaling over 24km of black, red and blue slopes, so every skier can find their right route. The slopes are served by two cable cars, one gondola, five ski lifts, one chair lift and although smaller than in Predeal, there is a nocturnal lights installation. The snow cover can be guaranteed from mid-December to late March and is about 50cm thick in Poiana and approximately 100cm on the mountain. The most difficult slopes in Poiana Braşov are Lupului, Subteleferic and Kanzel slopes, the Sulinar slope is considered medium difficulty, Drumul Roşu – medium difficulty, and Bradul and Stadion are considered easy slopes. The fact that it has the largest ski area in Romania comes with disadvantages and one of them is the extreme overcrowding. The huge gondola lines, cable cars, chairlift etc. can spoil a day of skiing for which you pay substantial sums because Poiana Braşov is also our most expensive resort. That is why it is recommended to venture there outside the holiday seasons. There are areas further from Bucharest such as Straja, Rânca, Semenic, Arieşeni, etc., but these are tricky to access, much less developed with shorter runs. Still, you could be rewarded for your efforts with extraordinary scenery. 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