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Breb Maramures (Living in a Magical Village in Romania)

In the far north of Romania, nestled in a valley below a long-extinct volcano, lies the little village of Breb Maramures County. We first came to Romania, Maramures and Breb in May 2015 and fell in love. Today, we are still unable to fully call it home due to visas and officialdom, but to us, it feels like home. It’s the place that after 50+ countries and 6 years of full-time travel, we really want to be. We lived there for three years, some of the best years of our lives.

Breb Maramures, Beautiful Romanian Village

So here, a brief glimpse of life in Breb, 2 Easters, 2 Christmases, 2 harsh winters and 2 glorious summers, absorbing the stunning countryside, the way of life and the traditions of the village of Breb.

Breb Maramures

Maramures is a magical county and Breb is a now fairly famous rural village in the Romanian countryside. The county is famously home to the “last peasant culture in Europe” and it’s hard to not notice the immediate difference as you cross by winding mountain road from neighbouring Transylvania. In Breb you will find the traditions, culture, costumes, and country way of life as perfectly preserved as it is anywhere.

Easter at the church Breb Maramures Romania
Easter at the village church in Breb. Full florals and Sunday best, traditional costumes.

Time really has stood still here but it’s catching up with rural Romania and the traditional way of life won’t last much longer. We were lucky to catch it before it disappears forever, if you want to see it, go now.

Roads in Romania are generally good, despite the bad press you will find elsewhere. Our local roads were recently resurfaced and in winter snowploughs keep traffic flowing seamlessly, but no tarmac exists in Breb. Once you arrive you’ll be exploring on dirt lanes, mud and stone and in winter ice lies deep here from October to February. The locals aren’t phased, their horses and carts in summer, horses and sleighs in winter, can cope with anything.

Everyone in the village produces their own food. Meadows grow thick with wildflowers and abundant lush grass all summer long. Villagers cut it with scythes to make the haystacks so characteristic of the region.

Autumn frosts on fields and haystacks Breb Maramures Romania

In winter these food stores keep the horses, cows and sheep well fed. Cows inhabit barns and are milked daily, sheep deliver an annual lamb for the Easter feast and milk for cheese afterwards.

Every family raises a piglet or two to slaughter just before Christmas and plump, healthy chickens roam the lanes all year round giving a good supply of eggs. Chickens, dogs and cats cope with winter temperatures just fine, no little dog jackets or booties here.

In spring, around March and April, the weather is right for ploughing and planting and the busy summer growing season begins. Around this time the trees are thick with blossom, getting ready for another year’s supply of plums, apples and pears.

Festival Hoteni Breb Maramures April
The spring ploughing festival held in neighbouring village Hoteni, Maramures. April and summer traditional clothes.

Most of the fruit produced in the village is drunk, either as suc, juice, or as tuica ( also known as horinka or palinka) a fierce home-distilled spirit ubiquitous in this village. Our village, Breb, has over a dozen tuica sheds where fermented fruit pulp is distilled round the clock at certain times of year. Bring your drinking trousers!

Winters are harsh and the weather here allows nearby skiing in Cavnic. In January temperatures can reach -25ºC but crisp, bright days aren’t unusual and it’s still possible to get out for a hike.

 Breb Maramures in December
November and the snows dust the village while the mountain top ski slopes have long been open.

Christmas traditions are fascinating and the holiday centres around religion, Orthodox and Roman. Don’t be surprised if you see locals dressed in bearskins or strange demon costumes with animal horns and fleeces.

Traditional winter outfits snow Breb Maramures Romania
Winter sees a change of traditional outfit, for church, for celebrations and holidays.

It’s been an incredible and deeply enjoyable few years for us in the fascinating village of Breb. If you’re interested, come now, you won’t be disappointed.

Visiting Breb Maramures County

Easter at the church Breb Maramures Romania
Local embroidery and crafts.

Best Times to Visit Breb

If you possibly can, try to be here for one of the big festivals. Easter is huge but Palm Sunday is also a big church event.

The neighbouring village of Hoteni hosts a unique annual ploughing festival ( pictured above) in April and Sighetu Marmatiei holds a large festival of Winter and Christmas traditions just after Christmas. Failing that, be here on a Sunday to see everyone dressed up in full traditional costume, making their way to church.

We have a full post on the Hoteni ploughing festivel, the Tanjaua here. There’s also a post on the monthly animal and horse market at Sighetu Marmatiei.

Breb Maramures Romania in April
Spring in Breb, meadows splashed with yellow and trees heavy with blossom as good weather warms the ground.

Weather in Breb is generally superb from March to October. In summer you could be here for hay making and see the famous haystacks of Maramures going up. Another option is to enjoy dinner at a sheep station in the spring summer and early autumn.

Most local hotels shut down for winter, particularly January and February, but you will find some open nearby. Don’t try and bring a car into Breb without 4×4 or chains when ice is on the ground. We’ve experienced winter in Romania many times now and maybe, it’s my favourite time in Breb, but it’s only for hardy sorts!

If you’re sensitive, be aware that you are fairly likely to see lambs and pigs being slaughtered around the village at certain times of year, notably pre Easter and pre Christmas.

Easter at the church Breb Maramures Romania
Summer dancing, with a bottle of home made tuica stashed in a belt.

Things to do in Breb and Maramures

  • The UNESCO listed wooden churches of Maramures.
  • Barsana Monastery
  • The Mocanita Railway
  • Salt Pools and Spas of Ocna Sugatag
  • Local Farmers’ and Livestock Markets
  • Be here for local festivals and religious events. ( The May ploughing festival is mentioned above)

How to Get to Breb

Traditional Village House Romania Breb Maramures
A traditional village house in winter.

Our nearest airport is Satu Mare, about 2 hours away by road, but Cluj Napoca, about 3.5 hours away, has far more incoming flights. From Bucharest you can take the overnight sleeper train to Sighetu Marmatiei and from there arrange a pickup or local bus. Hitchhiking is very common in this region. If you need somebody to pick you up, shoot us an email. There are buses from Cluj Napoca to Baia Mare.

Where to Stay in Breb

Where to stay in Breb Maramures The Village Hotel Breb Romania
Just one of the lovingly reconstructed and restored village houses that you can rent at The Village Hotel, Breb. It’s in the heart of our village, surrounded by trees, meadows, birdsong and village life. We’ll see you for a drink down the pub.

Breb has quite a collection of accommodation options these days, including numerous pensiunea, a campsite and hostel, various holiday cottages and, famously, The Village Hotel, Breb, above.

Check out the accommodation options and prices in Breb, below:

World Travel Family Check Prices Recommended Products

Further Reading:

Want to Read More About Breb?

You need to read this book, William Blacker lived here with our villagers a decade ago, before we foreigners and travellers arrived. He shared our village with the world in this famous book about Breb, Along the Enchanted Way.

Thanks for reading and thanks for being interested. The village of Breb Maramures and the whole region of northern Romania is very special to us. Let us know if you’re coming to Breb Maramures, we’ll catch up with you at the village pub if we’re in town. If you need to learn more about travel in Romania, click through.

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Tracy Hardy

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

Hello Alyson,

Thank you introducing us to Breb, it looks amazing. Your Journey sound fantastic.

2 mature Australia rural ladies, will be travelling in a rental car in September 2020, for 3 weeks. Planning to collect hire car in Brasov, where we will stay for 3 nights and depart from Bucharest where will will 4 nights at the end of our journey. Prefer to try and do slow travel i.e. stay in one place for 3 / 4 nights and do day trips.

Could you suggest some more interesting places of run to visit please. Would prefer not to have too much time in the large cities, Sibiu and Sibigoara?? are also on our list of places to see/ stay.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Warmest Wishes Tracy Hardy in North Queensland Australia.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

Sighisoara is beautiful. Brasov is a great place to be based. If you find our Brasov post we've listed loads of interesting places to see around there. Also Turda Salt mines are cool and the Roman city and ruins at Alba Iulia. If you search for our post called Romania Travel Blog you should find heaps there. Driving is easy, but just figure out the system. You use the hard shoulder to pull over if you're slower. Watch out for horses and carts in that lane though. Most roads are perfect but Google maps will take you on some roads that aren't even roads sometimes. Say hi to Penny from me!

Peter Scott

Sunday 29th of December 2019

Breb sounds great. I was looking for costs in your post but didn't see them. What is avg cost to rent 2 be ppace for a month, and avg meal, food costs?

How do you get around Breb? Is it walkable? Are there hiking, walking trails? Modern supermarkets?

Just a few questions.😉 Thanks!

Alyson for World Travel Family

Sunday 29th of December 2019

Costs vary with level of luxury and what's included and not included, just look at the usual booking sites. You walk around the village, yes. Food is very cheap but set meals - a requirement to buy 3 courses, could put costs up. There are very limited dining facilities but there are now a few eateries. The pubs don't serve food. No, no modern supermarket, 2 very small shops, it's a tiny village, expect interruptions to water, mud, dirt tracks and so on. Yes you can walk up the mountain behind Breb, it's a good walk, but beware dogs.

Mel

Tuesday 3rd of December 2019

Hi, Will be in Breb 15th to 18th this month. Would be nice to meet if you're around. Cheers!

Alyson for World Travel Family

Tuesday 3rd of December 2019

We're not sorry Mel but have a lovely time! It's wonderful around Christmas. Did you see our post on Romania at Christmas?

Laura Nica

Wednesday 9th of October 2019

Hi Alyson,

Are you by any chance in Breb..? Would love to talk to you.

Alyson Long

Wednesday 16th of October 2019

We're in Bhutan right now sorry!

Mario

Monday 7th of January 2019

with all due respect, why would a Brit or foreign traveler to Romania, stay with a British family in rural Maramures, instead of staying, thus experiencing, a real, authentic Romanian family, in their own home. Would you go to China and stay with Brits just because they have a business there and are way more adept at marketing as opposed to real locals ?

Alyson Long

Monday 7th of January 2019

We had our own home there, for 3 years, no idea what you mean, sorry. Do you mean The Village Hotel ? Well it used to be the only hotel, the first. and is still by far the most stunning and authentic traditional rural establishment in the Village. And in response to your China question, I would ( and did) stay in a hotel or guest house, maybe a hostel. I have never had any desire to stay in somebody else's home. I don't think we've ever done that. The newer hotels and pensiune in the village are owned by city Romanians from elsewhere. Casa Din Vale is nice but I think the Village Hotel is still better. The campsite and hostel is owned by a Dutch family. But every day more farm houses are being turned into pensiune, it's sad to see the traditional village disappearing now. If you're implying that I was paid to market the village hotel, I wasn't. You couldn't be more wrong.

nomadic family life

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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