Balea Waterfall and the Clay Castle of the Valley of Fairies are two popular tourist destinations in Romania. They are mainly popular among Romanians, however, they seem to be quite overlooked by international tourists.
To help international tourists (and not only) organise their trip to Balea Waterfall and the Clay Castle of the Valley of Fairies, I have prepared this guide. Hopefully, it will provide you with useful tips & help you make the best of your time while visiting these beautiful Romanian tourist destinations.
Romania is Europe’s hidden gem and there are plenty of reasons to think so.
Yes, sure, most of you visit Romania in search of the bloody vampire. Spoiler alert: I’m afraid you will never find it!
However, if you want to go off the traditional path and skip the vampire-themed holiday, I would like to suggest two places I’m sure you will be interested to read about.
A second spoiler alert: The places I chose to write about in this blog post are still in Transylvania, and in fact are not too far from some of the most famous Romanian tourist destinations among international tourists, like the Bran Castle, Sibiu, Brasov etc. So, you can still have that vampire-themed holiday if you wish to while also visiting some other places in Transylvania.
If this sparked your interest, then keep reading. I’m sure the idea of a hiking trail in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains and a visit to a unique clay castle should sound at least interesting.
Introduction to Balea Waterfall
Geographically, Romania is extremely diverse for a relatively small country.
The country has an area of 238,397 km2 (92,046 sq mi), making Romania the 12th biggest country in Europe.
Despite its small size, Romania is home to the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube Delta, and the Baragan Plain to name just a few landforms. The country is also home to numerous natural parks and has a seaside (the Back Sea is located in the east of the country). Romania also has rich wildlife (the brown bear being the most popular animal) and even has mud volcanos (in Buzau). The country is fortunate to have such a diverse landscape and wildlife.
In Romania, you may find up to 30 waterfalls. However, Balea Waterfall is by far one of the most spectacular and famous waterfalls in the country.
Balea Waterfall it’s 60m tall, making it the highest step waterfall in Romania. You can reach the waterfall via the Transfagarasan Road, Romania’s most spectacular and dangerous road.
If you are enjoying this blog post, you might find interesting the one below too:
I provided the google location of the waterfall below:
Balea Waterfall lies between the two highest peaks in the Carpathian Mountains, Negoiu Peak (2,535 meters tall) and Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 meters tall). Both peaks are part of the Fagaras Mountains, the highest of their kind in the Romanian Carpathian mountains.
Introduction to The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies
The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies is an ingenious project brought to life by a couple who left behind Bucharest and moved to the countryside. You may find it on the internet referred to as The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies/ Castelul de Lut Valea Zânelor (this is the Romanian name) or simply the Clay Castle.
The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies is, without doubt, the most famous fairytale-style castle in Romania. The creators of this concept were inspired mainly by Romanian folklore.
I would argue that The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies is the Romanian equivalent of the Hobbit Village or the mystic places around the Scottish Isles where giants and fairies live together.
On top of representing Romanian Folklore, The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies is also the first ecologically built castle in Romania. According to their website, everything used for the construction of the castle was ecologically and locally sourced.
The construction of the castle has been done entirely by using manual work and ecological materials. An impressive number of workers and specialists were involved in the process like sculptors and builders who helped build this quirky castle. What’s also important is that only Romanian made materials were used for the construction.
You will find The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies in Porumbacu de Sus village. The exact coordinates are below:
Balea Waterfall and The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies are an excellent combination for a day trip in Transylvania-one of the most beautiful and popular areas for tourism in Romania.
The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies is an excellent option for a family trip. A hike to Balea Waterfall is more suitable for adults. However, on the day we hiked, I saw many Romanians hiking with their small kids too. So it’s up to you if you decide to take the entire family for a hike.
Next, let’s find out how to make the best of your time by visiting Balea Waterfall and The Clay Castle of the Valley of the Fairies in one day. If you are interested in finding out more about this holiday itinerary, then keep reading.
The Hiking Trail to Balea Waterfall
The best and cheapest way to see Balea Waterfall is to travel to Balea Cascada Hotel ( it is advisable to have a car) and then hike from there.
The trail starts behind the hotel. The google coordinates of the hotel are 45.640260143131194, 24.6066167500631. You can also google the name of the place. For better accuracy, use the Romanian name instead: Hotel Bâlea Cascadă.
Below is a video of what the waterfall will look like at the end of the trail:
Tip: If you bring your own car, there is a free car park. I remember we parked our cars close to the hotel and did not pay for any parking tickets. Be mindful that this can change over time!
Tip: Also, the car park can get full quite quickly. So, it would be advisable to get there as early as you can or avoid visiting Balea Waterfall on a weekend/bank holiday.
Transport options to Balea Waterfall
There are a few transport options to get to Balea Waterfall.
The first option is by public transport from Brasov
The second option is by booking a shuttle bus called Balea Bus.
The third option and in my opinion the best, in this case, is hiring a car. Hiring a car is easy and can be done online. You may use the search box below to explore your options.
*Useful Information: Most cars in Romania are manual, however, automated cars are also quite popular and most hire car companies offer them. Romanians drive on the right-hand side of the road.
What does the hiking trail look like?
Like with any mountain hike, come prepared for a rather rocky climbing session. Wear the right shoes and equipment, bring enough water and most importantly enjoy yourself. Although this route is ranked as rather easy and can be completed in 30 min (according to the information board), I would argue you still need some level of fitness. It took us around 2h to go up and return to the car park. This also included the time we spent at the waterfall, taking pictures etc.
Although the trail starts slowly with an easy to walk path, the more you go up, the rockier the trail becomes.
On your way up you will have the river on the right-hand side and the mountains on the left-hand side. In summer, the trail is very popular so you will meet plenty of people on their way to admire the waterfall.
At the end of the trail, you will be at over 1200 meters in altitude because the waterfall is quite high up in the mountains. However, the end of the trail is very refreshing and also noisy since you are very close to the waterfall. Nevertheless, you cannot miss the opportunity of taking a picture to celebrate your accomplishment. To go down to the car park, you will use the same route.
Tip: For those of you not interested in hiking, you can enjoy the waterfall by taking the cable car. The cable car is next to Balea Cascada Hotel and is called Statia telecabină Bâlea Cascadă. I have not taken the cable car as I was more interested in trying out the trail. However, below is a video I found that shows the views you can enjoy by taking the cable car.
What to expect from a day trip to the Clay Castle of the Valley of Fairies?
The castle can be visited like any other tourist attraction. There is a very small entry ticket fee everyone is expected to pay in cash, at the gate. That’s 10 RON or 2.03 Euro. If you travel with children and they are younger than 3, then you do not need to pay for their tickets.
*You will be able to pay by card if you want to buy snacks or drinks from the food stall they have inside.
The castle is open daily between 10.30 am-5.30 pm (Romanian time). This information was taken from the Castle’s Facebook Page, so please make sure you check it again ahead of your visit, as this might change over time.
Once you passed the gates, you have the freedom to explore as much of the castle as possible. You’ll have access to the different rooms and viewpoints. There is also a garden you can enjoy that’s next to the castle. You may bring a packed lunch, however, you have options to purchase food at the castle. Most of it is traditional Romanian food, so consider your options carefully if you have special dietary requirements.
What I found very interesting about the castle is how much emphasis the owners have put on the ecological aspect of the place. Literally, everything that has to do with the castle is environmentally friendly. Visitors can have a rest on piles of hay in the barn. Or take a sit on one of the wooden benches in the garden.
I found the castle to be perfect for families and single people alike. It is a wonderful option if you want to spend half a day in a fairytale looking castle.
In terms of public transport options, I’m afraid they are quite limited. Porumbacu de Jos is a small village and the best way to get there is by either hiring a taxi or a car. Sibiu (a larger city) is only 40 minutes away (by car) and you could organise your transport from there. You may want to search what options you have in terms of car hiring services available in Romania by using the search box below:
Final thoughts on Balea Waterfall and the Clay Castle of the Valley of Fairies
One inconvenience I would like to highlight about this itinerary is the limited options you have to travel by public transport. You are better off hiring a private car, booking a guided tour or hiring a driver to take you around places.
I would suggest starting the day with the hike and finishing off with the visit to the Clay Castle. The hike is quite demanding so do that first because you won’t have much walking to do by the time you get to the castle. The Clay Castle is perfect for a relaxing afternoon in the garden or by the river.
There are food options nearby. You will find food stalls before heading for the hiking trail. There are several hotels nearby too and from what I found online, they also serve food. Similar services are provided at the castle. There is a food stall in the garden and their website says they can also provide lunch. Although no menu is available on the website.
If you are lucky enough, you might even spot some bears on the way, the same way we did on the day. Please do not feed them and don’t try to interact with them at all. This mama bear was looking for her cub. They eventually got reunited before disappearing into the forest.
It’s such a blessing Romania still has wildlife left as opposed to other parts of Europe. I only hope this will stay this way as much as possible. That’s why it’s important to interfere with the wildlife (where it still exists) as little as possible.
Finally, I hope this guide will help you plan your trip to Balea Waterfall and the Clay Castle of the Valley of Fairies, and you will have the best time discovering some of Romania’s most popular tourist destinations. This combo is great as a day trip because it combines sightseeing with hiking and can be an excellent option for families with children and adults alike.
With so many truly beautiful places to explore and such a diverse landscape, it’s not hard to understand why Romania definitely deserves more recognition in the travel community.
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