Ice Hotel Romania (Fagaras Mountains, Romania)

First erect in 2006, the Ice Hotel Romania is a hot spot in a cold place — built more than 2,000 meters above sea level by local craftsman who harvest ice from the gorgeous Balea Lake. Organic in structure, subtle in decorations and full of all the first-class amenities of an all-inclusive resort, this frozen, high-altitude wonder is a must-see for adventurous spirits and families alike.

Because it is so high above sea level, the 14-room Ice Hotel Romania and its adjacent Ice Church is only accessible by cable car. After local craftsmen carefully construct the beautiful structure, artists come in and add their own decorative touches such as ice sculptures that imitate the work of great Romanian artists. Typically completed by early December and open as late as May, the ice palace is worth every penny.

Sleeping above the clouds

The Ice Hotel is located high above the clouds, overlooking the breathtaking Balea Lake. The mountain range and valleys below are world famous not just for their striking beauty, but also because the area's rich history dates back to ancient times.

Though the rooms are a bit small, they are far from cramped. The size keeps them comfortably warm, but the fur-lined bedding and specialized sleeping bags are a welcomed plus. Getting out of bed in the morning is a bit tricky as the warmth of the bedding and bags are so inviting, but a day of action-packed adventure is equally enticing. The bathroom facilities are shared. For the less adventurous, there are two chalets within walking distance that also provide accommodations.

The ice hotel is Romanian owned, but has a relationship with a UK-based travel company Untraveled Paths Limited.

Daily Activities

Nestled in the majestic Fagaras Mountains, skiing is perhaps the favorite activity of those visiting the Ice Hotel Romania. The skiing is excellent for beginners and experts alike. For those looking for some really hardcore skiing and snowboarding adventures, guests can charter heli-skiing trips that take skiers to some the most pristine slopes in the world with virgin snow, steep inclines and rocky drops that get the adrenaline pumping.

Beyond the skiing and snowboarding, sledging is a great activity for kids and adults alike. Others test their balance and explore the mountainous region on snow bikes, which are essentially motorcycles designed for the snow.

There is a full-service ice bar with cool cocktails made from local vodkas and served in ice-cube glasses that warm the spirit. The restaurant serves up delicious four-course meals on hand-carved ice plates.

Most guests enjoy staying in Bucharest for a few nights before or after their visit to the ice hotel. The city has a hopping nightlife, plenty of sights to see, cafes to sample and food to eat.

How to get to Romania's Ice Hotel

Untraveled Paths, the travel company that works in partnership with Romania to manage the ice hotel, offers a four-night Ice Hotel Romania package from just €355 ($480USD) per person. The trip begins and ends in Bucharest, but before getting to the Ice Hotel, guests travel through Transylvania's picturesque countryside to see the infamous town Brasov and Dracula's Bran Castle. All transfers, breakfasts and a multilingual guide are covered by the package price, though it excludes airfare. Any number of airlines fly direct to Bucharest.

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