Riding the Mocanita forestry steam train in Romania, and also the last steam train in Europe, is a dream come true for me. For a long time, I wanted to take the steam train through the forest, in a wagon without windows, to feel the cold mountain air with all my pores, hear the whistling of the locomotive, and watch the steam evaporating through the rocks. Now that I have this experience, I have to tell you why it’s 100% worth it.
I took the train very few times in my life. So few that I can easily remember all the trips, and I can count them on the fingers of both hands. This is not because I don’t like trains, but because I didn’t have too many opportunities to use this means of transport.
In fact, trains fascinate me, they’re one of my favorite ways of getting from point A to point B. Especially since they can take you through mountain landscapes, most of the time inaccessible to cars. I was lucky to ride the Mocanita forestry steam train because I tried to book the tickets the day before, which is not a very good idea in the high season.
However, I was encouraged by our host to show up at the station anyway, as some people could give up, and I would be able to buy their tickets. That’s what happened.
Therefore, the most valuable advice I can give you when it comes to Mocanita from Maramures is to make a reservation at least 3, 4 days in advance. That is if you don’t want to hit the road to CFF Viseu de Sus in vain.
Mocanita forestry steam train in Maramures, Romania
History of the Mocanita forestry steam train in Maramures
Initially, the only purpose of the Mocanita forestry steam train was to be able to transport the wood from the forest in the Maramures Mountains National Park. This happened in 1932 when the forest railway was built.
From then until now, the CFF Viseu de Sus station, the one where your steam-train journey starts, works non-stop. In 2000, however, someone had the brilliant idea to give Mocanita a touristic purpose.
Thus, these routes began to be organized and soon became extremely popular. Mocanita’s fame comes mainly because it is one of the last forest steam locomotives in the world.
Route of the Mocanita forestry steam train on Vaserului Valley
Mocanita travels about 60 km through the forests of Maramures, but the route for tourists is only 21.6 km long. The departure is from Viseu de Sus station, and the last stop takes place in Paltin station.
The duration of a complete round trip is about 6 to 7 hours with stops included. In the going route, the road will fascinate you and make you fill your phone’s memory with hundreds of pictures of the fairytale landscapes.
Mocanita makes its way on a path meandered through beech forests, crosses bridges, encounters on its way houses scattered on the meadows, and even passes through a typical gate of Maramures.
The travel speed is a maximum of 30 km / h, ideal to have time to enjoy the beautiful view, but too slow for the return trip.
A very important detail, especially for those dependent on their phone and social media, is the fact that you will often lose your signal. Try to see this as the perfect opportunity to disconnect from everything online, and let yourself be captivated by the fresh mountain air and the authentic experience that the Mocanita forestry steam train offers you.
Stops on Mocanita’s route
The mini trip starts early in the morning. Before 10 am, all the trains will make their way through the dense forest. Departure is from Viseu de Sus station. Before boarding the train, if you arrive earlier, you can go to the station store for a coffee and a few snacks for the trip.
There are two types of wagons: with windows and without. I think the best choice depends on the season. Opt for the windowless wagon in the hot season, and protect yourself from the cold in winter in the fully covered wagon.
In the summer months, you should choose the wagon without windows, with wooden benches, in a rustic style. We took the last seats in the last wagon of the train, and we were able to enjoy the landscape from different angles.
The Mocanita route involves 2 or 3 stops. The first one is very short, but it comes with a culinary surprise. You have to buy hot donuts from here, very good to satisfy your appetite and hunger, especially if you don’t have any supplies.
At the last station, Paltin, the stop is much longer, and you will have time to explore the riverbed, the small museum nearby, and even take a lunch break.
Here, you will find benches, pavilions, an open-air restaurant, and sometimes shows organized for tourists. The atmosphere is very nice.
The way back won’t surprise you with anything new. Maybe just with a derailment; such incidents also happen sometimes at Mocanita, but nothing serious.
Although I haven’t seen them mentioned in other articles for the Mocanita forestry steam train, when I was doing my research for the upcoming trip, you should know that there are two museums here.
The first is an open-air museum where you practically have the opportunity to closely study locomotives of several types: Diesel, steam, etc. This museum is located in Viseu de Sus station.
The second is a mini-museum where you can find out more details about the history of Mocanita, and you can admire a model of it. The entry is free.
Mocanita’s schedule for 2020
Depending on the season, Mocanita circulates either every day or on certain days of the week or not at all, in the coldest winter months. For example, after October 1 until November 15, it runs only on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
In any case, the operating season of Mocanita begins in spring and ends in late autumn. The exact schedule for 2020, as well as updates or changes, can be found on the official website https://www.cffviseu.com/mersul-trenurilor/.
How to book tickets for the Mocanita forestry steam train
At the beginning of the article, I offered you the most valuable advice when it comes to booking tickets for the Mocanita forestry steam train. You should do this 3-5 days in advance to make sure you get available seats in the wagon.
There are several ways you can make reservations:
The cost of tickets for Mocanita
The cost of tickets varies depending on the season and the type of ticket. Thus, in high season the tickets will be the most expensive, while towards the end they will be a little cheaper.
You can choose between simple tickets and Mocanita Special tickets, which also include lunch at Paltin station. The meal consists of a grill plate, a soft drink, a hot drink, and a pastry.
I can’t comment on the special tickets and if they are worth the price because we opted for the simple ones. Anyway, at Paltin station you can buy what you want from the restaurant.
The price of single tickets start at 62 lei and can reach up to 75 lei, and the price of Mocanita Special tickets start at 106 lei and can reach up to 119 lei, the price for an adult. For children and retirees, tickets are a bit cheaper.
Where to stay near Mocanita
Maramures is a dream area of Romania, an area where, in addition to the gorgeous landscapes, you will also find some special accommodations. I recommend a fairytale one, located quite close to the Mocanita forestry steam train.
Specifically, the beautiful Cherry Tree House (Casuta din Cires), where I stayed in the village of Moisei, about 15 minutes by car from Mocanita. If you also dreamed as a child to sleep in a treehouse, now is the time.
The house is a mini cottage with a terrace and a dream view. You will have absolutely everything you need inside, and the decor is fabulous. Although they live in the house next door, the hosts will not bother you, on the contrary, they will make your stay even more pleasant.
They will greet you with a plate full of goodies and fresh lemonade. If you get here by car, you also have a free parking space. In the house, you will find a comfortable bed, modern bathroom, refrigerator, microwave, and many other things necessary for a demanding traveler.
You can see the pictures below as a testimony, but I plan to dedicate an entire article to this really special accommodation.
Things to do around Mocanita
- go to Cailor Waterfall; it is gorgeous and is the highest waterfall in Romania
- visit the Barsana Monastery, a small corner of heaven
- enjoy the scenery of Prislop Pass
- go to Sapanta to see the Merry Cemetery
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