After three days spent mostly indoors, we were anxious to get a feel for Braşov, Romania. I’d been gazing longingly at Mount Tâmpa from our balcony. Our train for Sighișoara was scheduled to leave at 3:08. With the sun shining and only a 40% chance of rain, we decided to join the 10:30 Walkabout Free Tour.
Walking Tours Aren’t For Everyone
After a never ending history lesson, my ears perked up as our guide mentioned that it was possible to hike Mount Tâmpa up to the Braşov “Hollywood” sign in 45 minutes. She joked that it was better than the Hollywood sign because you wouldn’t get arrested for climbing on it. I envisioned asking someone to take my picture as I sat in the curve of the letter B.
Just Say No to FOMO
I knew I had to break away from the group if I was going to make it up and back in time to return, eat lunch, pack, and get an Uber to the train station. Knowing me well, before I even said a word, E says, “You should go now if you want to make it back in time to eat before we leave.” With this, I let go of my FOMO about not finishing the walking tour. Okay, that’s a lie. It took me an additional 15 minutes to break away. We agreed to meet back at the Airbnb at 2:30. This gave me exactly two and a half hours.
Tackling Mount Tâmpa
With nothing but determination and about 16 ounces of water in a Hydro Flask, I set off in the direction of Mount Tâmpa at exactly noon.
Unfortunately, it took me about 30 minutes of wandering to find one of the trails. After giving up on accessing it from where the guide had pointed, I headed in the direction of the cable car. Unfortunately, it is not at all clear where to find the hiking trails from the main entrance to the cable car.
I later figured out that I didn’t go far enough to the right of the soccer court. The soccer court is to the right of the wall pictured above. If you walk to the end of the wall, you should be able to see them over to the right. A road behind them somewhere will lead to a side entrance of the trail I took.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Directions! And…Get a Second Opinion.
Desperate to do the hike in a limited amount of time, I questioned locals as to where the trailhead was. I had to ask a few people before finding one of the two trails up from the walkway that goes along the base of Mount Tâmpa. However, it’s these interactions with locals that make travel such a delight.
The trail I took up Mount Tâmpa can be found by walking to the right if you are at the cable car facing the mountain. While I did not have time to locate the other trail, you should be able to find it by walking to the left. I also think it might be an easier route than the one I took, but I can’t say for sure. I’d love if someone who has hiked it could chime in below in the comment section.
En Route to the Braşov Sign
I was quite unsure about the direction I was heading in as I wove my way up the trail. This is nothing new. I’m all about the sense of adventure and discovery. It’s one reason E prefers not to go on walks with me. She’s the efficient one.
As I made my way up the trail, I only saw one other person on her way down. She informed me that she thought this was the long way. This wasn’t great news, but I was determined to push on and meet my goal. Also, it was rather steep and slippery in places, so I really wasn’t keen to go back down the same way.
I loved every minute of hiking Mount Tâmpa despite multiple fears, including:
- Would I make it back down the mountain in time for our train?
- Would I encounter any wild animals or snakes?
- Would I fall and sprain an ankle or break something?
- Would I pass out from hunger and thirst? Okay, that’s excessive, but I was SO thirsty and hungry.
Mount Tâmpa Signs and Paths to Views
I came to this sign after about 20 minutes. It was unhelpful at the time, but perhaps it can help guide you on your hike.
After about 25-30 minutes of hiking up the blue and white marked trail, the landscape levels off. Turning left at the clearing, you’ll make your way to the first view point in under 10 minutes. I veered off this a bit further up and headed right to reach the platform you’ll see below.
Can you spot the man? I have no idea what he was doing, but he was busy with something.
Here’s where I veered off. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea or not, but it worked out.
It’s really so lovely atop Mount Tâmpa. I wish I’d had another hour to soak it all in. This view is in the opposite direction of town. Gosh, I must remember to bring a compass with me, but I’m sure serious hikers reading this can figure out the direction based on the sun. Even I could if I thought about it long enough.
Don’t Be Me! Be Prepared!
I admit to being one of the world’s worst prepared hikers. I’m working on it. I don’t travel with a phone, so I’d be in a real pickle if any of my fears came true. I know, not smart. Mom, I hope you are not reading this. It’s all part of the adventure!
In the end, I was able to reach a gorgeous viewpoint in just 36 minutes. It felt like 2 hours – a good but somewhat stressful 2 hours.
Travel Tribe Kindness
I took the luxury of sitting and taking it all in for a few minutes before setting off in search of the Braşov “Hollywood” sign. Fortunately, there was another hiker, a lovely woman from Germany (I think…I should have taken better notes!), who had bought a round-trip ticket for the cable car but planned to hike down. I pointed her in the right direction, and she saved the day by giving me her return ticket. I honestly don’t think I even had enough money on me to get one. It’s not that I’m stupid so much as devil-may-care.
I thanked my fellow hiker, got directions to the sign, and in another 5 minutes was at my destination. Let’s just clear something up right off. You can not sit on the Braşov sign. It doesn’t make it any less cool, and you can get very close, but it’s good to have accurate expectations.
Here is just how close you can get to the sign. I imagined three dimensional letters. No sitting inside these.
The Path Not Taken
After taking some pictures, I now had to find the cable car. This too was stressful, but it turned out that following my nose got me there in 10 minutes. I did stop to talk with another traveler who had come up a nearby trail. I believe it is the alternate path to the left of the cable cars, so if not an easier hike, it does get you to a more central location at the top if you are shorter on time. He spoke of recent bear sightings and attacks, a fear I hadn’t even considered!
I can’t tell from my crappy picture or my crappy memory, but that yellow sign certainly looks like a person being run down by a wild boar. I always see these signs when hiking in Korea, but I’ve yet to spot a wild boar. I think they sleep during the day.
Map of Mount Tâmpa
Also nearby is this Mount Tâmpa trail map. As you can see, there are numerous trail options. I could not make heads or tails of it at the time.
Looking at it now, the white dotted line must be the cable car. If the markers match the trail colors on the map, I came up the thin blue trail (indeed, the long way from the looks of it) and met up with the yellow one. I don’t recall ever seeing pink trail markers. Examining my pictures shows some red paint on a tree, and there does seem to be some overlap, but this trail was not obvious to me.
The “Vă aflați aici” in the center is “You are here.” This map is located right across from the sign above, which leads down perhaps both the yellow and pink trails.
Nothing was in English, so I have no idea what the green letters point to.
Grab a Beer or Ice Cream!
Starving, I grabbed an ice cream at the stand outside the cable car entrance and got in line for the next car down the mountain. Luckily, the line wasn’t long and six minutes later I was on my way down. There is a restaurant there too, but I was in such a hurry, I didn’t even stop to look despite a vague memory of having to pass through it to get to the cable car. I do have a picture of the sign. It’s called Barlogul Ursului Bar and Grill. I believe Barlogul Ursului translates to the bear den.
The Mount Tâmpa Cable Car
While I would recommend the Mount Tâmpa cable car as a mode of transportation, I wouldn’t recommend it for views. Unless you are in the front, you really can’t see anything as the sides are all tree-lined. It’s a quick 4 minute ride that will save you time if you’re in a hurry.
At the time of writing, a round-trip ticket cost 18 Lei.
I now had a surprising 50 minutes to make my way back to the Airbnb and hopefully catch a bite to eat. I didn’t know how long it would take to walk back to town. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking some photos for you, but I did so as quickly as I could. I was running most of the time as I wove my way through side streets in search of McDonald’s. A stressful twenty minutes later, I was back at the Airbnb with McDonald’s in hand.
Time is a funny thing. The first 30 minutes of the hike up Mount Tâmpa felt two hours long. Yet, all told, it took me exactly two hours from start to finish. That included all my wrong turns and a fair bit of running.
From Mount Tâmpa to Piața Sfatului
Piața Sfatului (Council Square), the main square in Braşov, is easy to get back to by following the signs along the way.
I Highly Recommend Hiking Mount Tâmpa
I’m so happy that I did this hike. Without it, my love of Braşov would be confined to the food, which I’ll write about later. Not that there isn’t lots to love! Braşov has a great little Old Town, but like I said, the rain got the better of our time here.
We’d love to hear from you below if you’ve done this hike, either before or after reading this post!
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