Best time to see wildlife in Romania

Eurasian lynx or brown bears? Grey wolves or pelicans? Choosing when to go to Romania all depends on which wildlife you’d like to see.
You can watch for wildlife in Romania all year round. Bears are out and about from May to November, becoming most active in autumn, when they’re stocking up on berries for hibernation. Spring, meanwhile, is your chance to see cubs straight out of the den. The best time to see wolves is in January and February, when the mating season brings out courting couples, plus some Bram Stoker-approved howling. You’ll be in the Carpathians for most wildlife holidays, so also keep in mind what sort of weather you’d prefer: sunny hikes past clover meadows, snowmelt-filled waterfalls or autumnal forests?

What wildlife to see when in Romania

Your window of opportunity for wolf tracking in Romania is January and February. That’s when the wolves are out and about, looking for prospective partners. It’s also snowy in the Carpathians, so identifying prints and prey drag marks is much easier. Bears generally hibernate throughout winter, but sometimes pop out of their dens for a bite to eat before heading back for their season-long snooze. Eurasian lynx are active all year, but become more visible in March. Again, this is the peak of their mating season, so you’ll probably hear them yowling and growling across the mountains. Go now, and you’ll also catch them in their fine winter coat – fur ruff and black-tipped ears included. Migratory birds arrive in mid-April, mostly aiming for the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. The weather is very changeable in spring, so pack a raincoat and plenty of layers. Unless you’re specifically tracking wolf or lynx, most Romania wildlife holidays start in May. Temperatures rise to a pleasant 20°C-24°C, and hiking routes become more accessible after the frozen winter and April snowmelt. Bears also raid the forests for berries and nuts around now. Things start to sizzle between June and August. Temperatures fly up to 29°C, although things cool down slightly in the higher altitudes. You can also expect spectacularly ominous afternoon thunderstorms as the humidity rises. Hiking holidays wind down towards the end of September and into October, when the snow (and temperatures) descends. November is the end of bear watching season in Romania, as the beasts disappear into their dens to hibernate. In fact, most wildlife holidays are put on hold between November and December. Guesthouses shut up and mountain hikes become inaccessible because of deep snowfall.

Travel advice

Simona Munteanu, from our Romanian wildlife specialists Absolute Carpathian, shares her favourite things about Romania:

Let it snow

“Romania is great for wildlife watching at all times, but it depends on your focus. Wolves are January to mid-February (you need snow). Lynx are March (again, you need snow). You can see bears from a hide from May until November. Birds are mid-April to late October. Except for November to mid-January, my favourite time is any time!”

The lynx effect

“Lynx tracking depends mainly on the weather. Lynx tend to conserve energy, so if the weather is bad then you’re unlikely to see lynx. But as soon as the weather improves, you’ve got a good chance. It’s very good in March. Seeing a lynx seems unreal at first. You can’t convince yourself it’s happening, as it’s a very difficult species to see.”
Anne Smellie, from our volunteering holiday specialists Oyster Worldwide, recommends volunteering at a bear sanctuary:

Under the radar

“Romania is one of the most staggeringly beautiful countries in Europe. All of our volunteers have said that it’s the gem of Europe. It’s very much overlooked. It’s not unusual to see people on the roads in their horse and carts, just pottering along the side of the road. It’s part of the appeal – and it’s also why it’s got areas with wild bears.”

Volunteer with bears

“From the bear sanctuary you can see the Fagaras Mountains. Imagine being on a wooded hillside surrounded by floodplain and then in the background are these huge jagged mountains. There are pools in all the enclosures and trees the bears can go up. And they keep having people dump knackered horses and donkeys on them, so there are pens for those too.”

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

“There are wolves at the sanctuary, too; you can’t see them as visitors, but as a volunteer you can. They’re very elusive, even in their massive enclosure, slinking through the undergrowth. It’s pretty amazing if you manage to get a sighting of them. You do get quite a rounded view of Romanian wildlife at the sanctuary.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Romania wildlife or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Advice from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often…other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Romania wildlife holiday tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very best of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
Make sure you are prepared for bad weather – you may not get any, but we did and waterproofs and decent boots were essential.
– Blake Humphries on a Carpathian Mountains holiday
"Take proper walking boots as recommended by the company, several people didn't and it was very difficult for them. I would recommend it to anyone, the only advice I would give is go with an open mind." – Jean Hatton on a Carpathian Mountains holiday

"Do it. We are hardly your typical gap year students. We are a married couple who just fancied a holiday with a difference. If you're not looking for glamour, and don't mind a spot of hard work, it's a very rewarding and worthwhile experience." – Jane Adcock on a bear volunteering holiday

"Be prepared for all weathers! We went in early May and had lovely warm sunshine on some days, but also heavy snow on another day! (The snow was actually quite fun, but I did need to borrow gloves.) But the hotel may be able to lend some equipment, e.g. walking poles, if you need it." – William Walker on a Carpathian Mountains holiday
…Beware, the culinary experience did have the effect of increasing our weight!!!
– Simon Seaton on Romania’s natural wonders small group holiday
"Do it! But remember nature doesn't stand on ceremony, you can't predict what will happen (in our case whether the bears would turn up – happily they did!). Eco-tourism isn't cheap, but it's quite simply the best way to see animals behaving as they normally do. And you can learn from people who have dedicated their lives to conversation, protection and development. And it makes you feel good about yourself too." - Richard Denney on a bear watching and tracking wildlife holiday to Romania

"Be prepared for some messy work! Take old clothes and gloves and a good camera to capture the bears antics. Try to learn a few words of Romanian, it's really appreciated." – Deborah Robson on a bear volunteering holiday

"Being vegetarian is not a problem, as long as you like cheese! Traditional Romanian restaurants can be rather limited but usually offer something and other places have various choices on the menu. The local supermarkets also sell good quality fruit and veg, etc. The weather can change completely and very quickly without warning, so be prepared for thunder and lightning even in blue sky and sunshine! And if you're travelling by train, don't be surprised if there aren't any signs on station platforms." – Rosemary Hindley on a bear volunteering holiday

"Do discuss what you'd like to see and do on your trip with the owners of the tour operator. They are extremely knowledgeable and very helpful. … Beware, the culinary experience did have the effect of increasing our weight!!!" - Simon Seaton on Romania’s natural wonders small group holiday
Photo credits: [Page banner: Tom Bech] [Lynx: Tom Bech] [Libearty: Chris Kearney] [Review 1: CALIN STAN] [Review 2: Nicubunu]