Caciulata is a mountain town in Romania in the country of Valcea. It is located by the Olt River, by the Southern Carpathians. Caciulata has several thermal springs, hence it is mostly known by locals as a spa town. However, Caciulata has so much to offer. I spent many childhood summers in Caciulata, with my family. You will enjoy the springs, so many hiking opportunities, cultural sightseeing and mountain biking.
Take incredible day trips to see stunning cultural attractions such as the Cozia Monastery, well known internationally. If you're wondering when to visit, know that Caciulata is a year-round destination and each season has something incredible to offer. I believe that autumn is the most beautiful time in Caiculata, thanks to the foliage, vast colourful forests and those stunning foggy evenings overlooking the river Olt.
Here is the complete guide to Caciulata so you can plan your trip and know exactly how to enjoy your vacation.
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Caciulata is a mountain town located in a town in Valcea County. It's located on a traditional route that connects the region of Transylvania to the southern end of the Olt River Valley. It is located in the Southern Carpathians making it ideal for easier hikes as the mountains here are lower. The region has gorges, monasteries, caves and vast forests.
Caciulata is mainly known as a spa town and during the 20th century, many hotels and treatment facilities were built here. Caciulata and the surrounding area could still benefit from more spa buildings as there is so much fresh and thermal water currently not in use.
The climate here is milder than deep in the mountains. It lacks thermal contrasts and it's known for its continental climate with hills and low mountains. It's basically well-sheltered thanks to the sub-Carpathian depressions. The air here is clean, making it perfect for a spa town for those in need of reinvigoration.
How to get to Caciulata
Caciulata is just 202 km away from the capital and there are several ways to reach this spa town. We always recommend renting a car from Bucharest as having access to your own vehicle makes navigation much easier in Romania.
Caciulata is approximately 3 hours drive away by car from Bucharest, the capital of Romania. The easiest way to get to Caciulata is to rent a car in the capital and make your way by taking the DN7 (also known as the E81). The road is relatively well kept with some challenging terrain, including hairpin turns closer to Caciulata. On your way, you will be passing the city of Pitesti, located on the Arges River. It is an important commercial and industrial centre.
By public transport
An alternative to driving is getting a minibus from Bucharest to Calimanesti (Caciulata). The price of the ticket is roughly £8 per person and the journey takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes. You can take the minibus from the central bus station in Bucharest. You can purchase your tickets on the day or order them online in advance.
Address for Central Bus Station: Șoseaua Orhideelor 49, București, România
You could take a train but there is no direct line from Bucharest to Caciulata and the whole journey will take 5-6 hours. Therefore it's recommended that you go with the above options.
You can also just add Caciulata and Calimenesti to your itinerary as part of a tour. As part of a tour you will see Sinaia, Peles Castle, Brasov, Bran Castle, Sighisoara, Sibiu, Calimanesti. Departure and return to Bucharest in a small-group (max 7 pax). Book your tour here.
Where to stay in Caciulata
Many come to Caciulata for the thermal springs. I used to go to Caciulata at least once a year with my family, and I still remember the fun of swimming in the indoor pool, hiking in the forest and enjoying a relaxing spa treatment.
Caciulata has improved significantly since. Besides the indoor pool, you can now enjoy the aqua park as well as various outdoor thermal springs which will literally make you feel like you're experiencing an onsen.
There are several hotel options in Caciulata and there has recently been a lot of investment in the area. There are also apartments let by private hosts.
Hotel IZVOARE Caciulata - Do you prefer the full Caciulata package? You can book your hotel as a spa package in one of the resorts. The good news is that these packages are all-inclusive, and the pools, thermal springs and aqua park are just a short walk away from your room. Prices from £72 per night. Book Hotel Izvoare here.
Complex Turistic Casa Romaneasca - There is a pool and baths available here. Băile Olăneşti is 6.2 miles away from this hotel so you will have access to two different thermal springs with this location. Prices from just £60 per night. Book Complex Turistic here.
Yes Home - This is a private accommodation with a garden, terrace and a balcony. It's just 2.4 miles away from Cozia Aqua Park so if you prefer walking to the thermal springs on your own to save on accommodation, this might be the perfect accommodation for you. The entire studio can be booked from just £34 per night. Book this studio here.
If you have a car, then going to a smaller bed and breakfast and being looked after by locals, in my opinion, is a far nicer option. You might be able to try traditional food and have a chat and get a few tips from the friendly hosts. You can always just pay as you go for both the aqua park and the thermal pools.
Things to do in Caciulata
As previously mentioned, there is more to Caciulata than just the thermal springs. Although mainly a destination used as a spa retreat, I believe hiking and other activities are a must whilst in Caciulata. Due to its key location, Caciulata is also an epic gateway to the mountains, which gives you an opportunity to experience beautiful Romanian nature. This is especially breathtaking during the autumn season where the foliage turns the landscape into a rusty red carpet.
Enjoy the Thermal Springs
Since this is a spa town, bathing in the thermal springs is the number one thing to do in Caciulata. Whether you decide to book a hotel that already has its own spa or you are fine to pay a daily fee to bathe in a special indoor or outdoor thermal pool, Caciulata is definitely the place for it. Surrounded by trees and mountains, I can't imagine anything more relaxing to do than unwinding in the hot springs.
Here are your options for your spa treatments:
The Olt Pool (Piscina Oltului) - 2 outdoor and 2 indoor pools with thermal water, modernized, located inside the treatment base of the Cozia Spa Complex. To access this complex you will pay a small entry fee starting from £5 per adult.
The Cozia Pool (Piscina Cozia) - interior pool equipped with modern hydrotherapy facilities, water jets, jacuzzi. During the summer season, there are all sorts of activities happening including aquafit and activities for kids.
Hotel Central Pool (Piscina Central) - interior and exterior pools with thermal waters, slides, hydrotherapy facilities, water jets and jacuzzi. Prices start from £5 per adult.
Popas Pool (Popas Strand Termal) - exterior pool with thermal water. The water temperature is usually between 28 ◦C – 37 ◦C. The water salinity is 13.1. You can either book an entry ticket for as little as £5 per person or you could book a room for two people which offers you access to the pools for just £22 per night. the rooms are rudimentary so they are ideal for budget travellers.
Visit the Cozia Monastery (Manastirea Cozia)
Cozia Monastery was erected by Mircea the Elder in 1388. He was buried there and the monastery now houses his tomb. It is an incredible monument of national medieval art. The monastery got its name from the Turkish word koz which means walnut. The appearance of the church was modified under Neagoe Basarab (1517), Şerban Cantacuzino and Constantin Brâncoveanu (1707), who added a veranda, a new fountain, a chapel and a watch tower. Some of the original frescoes are still well preserved. You can enter the monastery should you wish to visit. The monastery also features a garden with roses which looks wonderful and perfect for photography. You can find a few lovely Romanian souvenirs here.
Address: Calea lui Traian 816, Căciulata 245601, Romania
Turnu Monastery (Manastirea Turnu)
Located on the eastern side of the Olt river, this beautiful monastery is located right next to the hiking trail. Stop on your way back from the hike and have a conversation with the monks who are usually happy to guide you around and talk about your day. You can also reach the monastery by car. The place is quiet and looks absolutely lovely, especially if you wish to take some time to gather your thoughts.
Address: DN7, 107590, Romania
Hike in the Cozia National Park (Parcul National Cozia)
The Cozia National Park has an area of over 171 km and was declared a natural protected area. It is a beautiful mountainous area with flora and fauna specific to the Southern Carpathians. The Cozia National Park is a hiker's dream as you can discover nine hiking trails. Some are short whilst others are intense and require a good fitness level. Please check with your hotel for more information on hiking opportunities and always double-check the weather before you leave.
Visit the Stanisoara Monastery (Manastirea Stanisoara)
This is a wonderful monastery that can be reached via a hiking trail. It is located on the eastern side of the river Olt, close to the Fence's Waterfall (Cascada Gardului). On your way to the monastery, you will have several viewpoints to admire the beautiful forested mountains of Caciulata. The monastery can also be accessed by car, however, due to the quality of the roads, I would strongly recommend hiking instead.
Hike to Chalet Valley of the Apple (Cabana Valea Marului)
For hiking enthusiasts, this chalet offers night accommodation so one can rest before continuing the journey. There are 2 rooms with 6 beds and one room with 12 beds. There is electricity but unfortunately, no restaurant so make sure to pack your own food. It is located on the hiking trail towards Stanisoara Monastery.
Enjoy Chalet Cozia (Cabana Cozia)
Located at 1573 metres up the mountain, this chalet can accommodate 50 people. It has a restaurant and a bar. The rooms have 2-5 beds depending on your preference. The price per bed, per person, per night is around £5. You can either hike to the chalet or drive. The trail takes about 4 hours and it is not very difficult.
Photograph the Roman Ruins at Arutela
If history interests you, then a quick visit to the Arutela should be on your itinerary. Arutela was a fort in the Roman province of Dacia, located on Limes Alutanus. It dates back to year 138 and was erected by Surri sagittari by the order of Titus Flavius Constans. The last artefact recovered from the Arutela was a coin emitted between 220-222.
Address: Centura Călimănești, 245601, Romania
Marvel at the Frasinei Monastery (Manastirea Frasinei)
Well, ladies, this one is not for you I'm afraid. Legend has it that there is a curse for any woman who enters the monastery. There are many Romanian traditions and rather unconventional rites of passage. Frasinei is the only Orthodox monastery in Romania that doesn't allow women to enter. It is a rather beautiful place, however, only suitable for male solo travellers. You can also read more about Romanian superstitions.
Address: DJ 658, Romania
Have fun at the Cozia Aquapark
Although this is a new aqua park I personally prefer avoiding these types of attractions as I much rather enjoy a hike in nature and a bath in a smaller thermal spa next to a family ran B&B. As alternatives, you have the outdoor thermal spring pool in Casa Romaneasca. To enter the pools at the Casa Romaneasca, you have to pay a small fee of just £4. You can also buy a pass that grants you extended access over a course of several days.
Address for Aqua Park: Calea lui Traian 760, Căciulata 245601, Romania
Fee: £4 per adult
Address for Casa Romaneasca: Calea lui Traian Nr. 597, Căciulata, Călimănești 245601, Romania
Fee: £4 per adult
Have a picnic
Since you are in the mountains, a picnic is an absolute must. Of course, you will need to take a break from the hiking and enjoy a snack, but why not pack several goodies so you can admire the beautiful nature, enjoy the silence and eat good food. This is one of the best things we used to do as a family when I was a kid. I promise you won't be disappointed. As always, please be respectful of your surroundings and leave no rubbish behind.
Eat traditional food
There are several traditional restaurants around and there is nothing better than ordering Romanian food after a long day of hiking. Traditional Romanian food is incredible and it is, as you would expect, full of calories. Romanians have a meat-based diet and most traditional meals contain meat. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, I suggest using google translate and telling the restaurant owners in advance. If you are interested in eating traditional food, order tripe soup which is served with sour cream and pickled chilli on the side. Continue with sheep sausages (carnati de oaie), or meat stew (tochitura), or try "sarmale" which is mince wrapped in a pickled cabbage leaf.
If you are vegetarian you can order eggplant salad (salata de vinete), or cottage cheese served inside a tomato. You can have vegetarian "sarma" which is just rice in pickled cabbage (sarmale in foi de vita), but note that not many restaurants will be able to offer this alternative as making this dish takes several hours. You can always go for battered grilled cheese (cascaval pane), potato salad, mushroom soup or stuffed mushrooms.
I hope I managed to intrigue you about Caciulata! Are you ready to venture into the Romanian mountains and have an epic adventure? Caciulata is an excellent place to visit for thermal spas as well as hiking and outdoor enthusiasts. It's one of my favourite places to unwind in Romania and I can see why so many tourists are picking Caciulata for their trip. Let me know all about your plans in Caciulata in the comments section below.