Will I see autumn colors? I asked my guide, when we started planning a road trip into the depths of rural Transylvania. It was when I heard that definite ‘you betcha!’ I couldn’t care less anymore about where we went. As long as it was autumn themed, I would put up with it. When we made a list of all the things we wanted to see, it was Sfanta Ana he kept insisting on.
Somewhere far beyond urban life, exists an entirely different reality. Red, white and green sticking out of every window at every house on every street, the Romanian street names crossed out and replaced by its Hungarian equivalent. Covasna and Harghita county are both known for the high population of Hungarians, and although we’ve seen Romanian and Hungarian football supporters almost kill each other 2 days ago, the few men on the street don’t seem to mind us that much. One friendly gentleman even helps us finding our way back, when lost in – what I think they actually mean when they say – nowhere.
His directions help and soon we drive a 17 km long trail through orange and yellow colored woodlands. With no-one else around we drive slowly with the windows open. Transylvania has a scent you will not soon forget. Slowly burned wood – or charcoal in the making – mixed with a typical autumn perfume, becomes a cocktail you don’t get to shake off easily – even if you want it to.
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The last kilometer we silently walk down. Surrounded by a colorful forest we can’t do anything but soak up its glory, reminding ourselves how lucky we’ve been so far. With a bright blue sky and temperatures up to 25 degrees Celsius, October has treated us kind. It’s only the first day of our road trip through Transylvania and already it’s this good!
And then, fall explosion! One quick glimpse of the lake of St. Ann (Sfanta Ana) is enough to sweep me off my feet. As we approach the lake, I realize I’m holding my breath. And while there’s no-one there to disturb us but a big friendly dog, we enjoy the afternoon at the shore of the lake, admiring the colorful bouquet the forest has morphed into.
Some tips on visiting Sfanta Ana
- The lake of Saint Ann is the only crater lake in Romania, located in the volcanic crater called Puciosul. The area is a natural reserve, called Mohoș, and although I didn’t see anything, you might find bears and other wildlife when you go deeper into the forest.
- The lake is beautiful year round and during the summer and weekends, it might become a bit more crowded. Make sure you (almost) have it to yourself by visiting on weekdays and off season.
- Sfanta Ana is part of a natural reserve and you will need to pay for parking. It cost us around €2 in 2014.
- Visit the Chapel of St. Ann nearby. When you return, don’t forget to climb up the belvedere point for an excellent view on the lake from above.
Where to sleep
Unfortunately there’s no way to sleep directly at the lake as there are not hotels and camping is forbidden. The nearby town of Baile Tusnad however, has some great hotels to explore the surroundings from. Vila Maya is by far one of the most affordable hotels, with prices starting from €18. The hotel has a garden and a pool to relax in.
Another great hotel is Hotel 03Zone, which has a pool and a sauna. This 4 star hotel is available from €37 per night.
Ready to visit Sfanta Ana?
The lake of Saint Ann was one of my favorite places to visit during our road trip through Transylvania! When you visit Romania for its spectacular landscapes, this is one you can’t miss! Have you been? Make sure to tag me in your travel photos on social media.
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