Most travellers come to Vişeu de Sus for the chance to ride a steam-powered locomotive high into the hills along a narrow-gauge track originally built for transporting logs. It’s a grand day out and combines the thrill of a good ride with a chance to start a hike into the upper reaches of the Vaser Valley.
Carpathian Forest Steam Train
Operated by CFF Vişeu de Sus and known as the 'Vaser Valley Forest Railway' or 'Carpathian Forest Steam Train' in English, this former logging train travels a network of some 60km of narrow 12-gauge track (though travellers only get to ride on 22km of it), and is probably the last forestry railway still powered by steam working in Europe today. Started in 1932 as an alternative to transporting logs by river, the track wends through soaring forested crags that a traveller might otherwise have trouble reaching. And it's an excellent ride as you smell the wood-smoke and hear the train whistle blaring. The mountain scenery up to the remote Valea Vaser (Vaser Valley) is among the most stunning in Europe
The journey proper starts at 9am, but you'll need to secure a ticket by arriving at the railway station at 8.30am (the train only seats 210). In summer call ahead or book online. Due to the damage sustained to the track by flooding in 2008, the journey ends at Paltin, where you'll alight by the river for a 1½-hour lunch break. There are benches in a meadow, and grilled sausages and cold drinks are sold nearby. From Paltin the intrepid can trek higher into the mountains, or it's possible to camp near the warden's lodge (at Paltin) if you seek his permission (arrange with the CFF Vişeu de Sus office to catch a return train the following day).
The magic ends somewhere between 2.30pm and 3.30pm (depending on the season) as you return to the station, which has the pleasant Elefant Cafe – so you can warm up with a coffee – and a small museum. The railway runs daily from mid-June to late September, with an extra train or two sometimes added at 9.30am and 10am in July and August. It runs from Thursday to Sunday only from April to mid-June and late September to October
To get to the station from the centre of Vişeu de Sus, follow the signs to 'Mocănița', turning north at the Banca Transilvania on the corner of Str 22 Decembrie 1989 and Str Iuliu Maniu, and continuing along Str Carpaţi for about 2km. There’s plenty of free parking at the train station, or you can walk from the centre in 10 to 15 minutes. Remember to bring an extra layer to combat the chilly air, and if you plan to do some hiking at the top, bring food and water and wear sturdy boots. CFF sells good hiking maps of the Vaser Valley trails (12 lei) and the Rodna Mountains (19 lei).
The area immediately surrounding the train station is filled with private pensions offering rooms for around 80 to 90 lei, often including breakfast. The owners may also prepare lunch (20 lei) and dinner (25 lei).
There are several cafes and pizza joints along Vişeu de Sus’s main drag, Str 22 Decembrie 1989.
Drinking & Nightlife
Vişeu de Sus’s main thoroughfare, Str 22 Decembrie 1989, has several cafes and bars.