My husband and I are thinking of going to Romania the last of April and first of May 2018. Will the weather be ok? Will the mountains be snow-free enough for hiking? Also, we don't speak anything but English, will we be able to get by on our own? Any advice is appreciated.
I would think your weather will be fine. Look up a city or country on Wikipedia and it tells averagemhighs, lows, precipitation.
Romania is relatively inexpensive, and there are many personal guides that take you in their cars all over the country. I have the name of one if interested--PM me.
You can look up historical weather for any city in the world using www.timeanddate.com
Here's Bucharest as an example (you can set whatever dates and years you want to look at - look at the "select month" drop-down menu):
I'm sure you'll be able to get around on your own since most non-Romanians don't speak Romanian either, so you're not at any disadvantage.
High mountains won't be snow free at your time. Hikes in lower elevation will be OK. Nowadays English is a mandatory language almost everywhere in Europe. Your best chance to find English speaker is among young people. By the way Romania is in Europe, not beyond Europe.
Usually, at the end of April the weather in Romania is quite unpredictable and not very hot, but wet. At that time of the year in the mountains bellow 1500 m altitude you can hike without problem. Even if you speak only English you can go on your own everywhere, but you'll miss (or not understand very well) many things.
Please note that 1st of May is a public holiday in Romania, with most it's tourism attractions either closed or very busy. So plan your trip carefully here.
Temperatures-wise, May is one of the best months to visit Romania, as it should not be that hot, but with sunny days. Even if it rains, for sure clouds will pass fast!
Carpathian Mountains offer IDEAL hiking routs, as they are not too high, still offering spectacular view and wildness - you may try here Bucegi (closer to Bucharest and more touristic), but also Ceahlau (a bit further from Romania's capital, but more wild).
Should you need further details bout the country, don't hesitate to write me.
Daniel, thanks for the advice. I did have a question about signs. Does Romania use the same alphabet as the US and the rest of Europe or do they use a Russian or Cyrillic alphabet? As long as they use the same letters we can get by and figure things out even if we don't speak the language. Do you think my husband and I can get along on our own only speaking English or do we really need to hire a tour company? We are usually independent travelers and plan to rent a car. Is this wise? Thanks for the advice.
If you speak French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese you may be able to figure out some of the signs you see, though it seemed to me that the centuries of exposure to nearby Slavic languages (and Hungarian) have moved Romanian farther from the other Romance languages. I believe the grammatical structure is also quite different (but I am not a linguistics expert).
A lot of young people speak some English. I remember one young man working in a bakery in Cluj-Napoca who was extremely fluent. He said he had learned English by watching cartoons without subtitles. In the major tourist centers you will encounter a lot of English speakers in hotels, restaurants and shops. If you get out to smaller towns in less-visited areas (such as in Maramures), English may not be spoken.
The country is working hard to provide good tourist services. I went to a museum/memorial site in a former political prison that was way off the general tourist circuit. I was loaned a lengthy packet of explanatory material describing the exhibits in detail in English.
I took an excellent (and inexpensive) two-day small-group tour of Maramures that was organized by the Retro Hostel in Cluj-Napoca. You don't have to stay at the hostel to take the tours. As far as I know, there is no set schedule for the tours; it depends on demand. There may not be a lot going on in late April / early May; I'm not sure how busy a time that is.
As long you don't go remote, you may rent a car and go on your own. Many young people speak more or less English, but in the deep and traditional countryside or in the last villages before mountains is different.
Romanian language may sounds a bit like Italian or Portuguese, but is quite different, even if half vocabulary is originated from Latin or other Romance languages.
We visited Romania several years ago and had no trouble with signs or communication. As others have said, most young people speak English and are very helpful. We really enjoyed our trip- Bucharest to Timisoara with stops in Brasov and Sibiu. Sibiu was our favorite city.