Transfagarasan: The Best Road in the World

This road is included in many of our private tours. Check our offers or ask for a tailor-made option on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

This is the best road in the world – said Jeremy Clarkson in a Top Gear episode while comparing it to a race track. But Transfagarasan hides so much more behind the amazing driving experience, connecting the south of Romania with Transylvania, going straight through the massive Carpathians, crossing five tunnels, carved in rock with 6,500 tons of dynamite.

Transfagarasan

Transfagarasan is 90 km long and reaches an altitude of 2,042 meters, being the second highest road in Romania after Transalpina that has the maximum altitude of 2,145 meters. The road from the clouds uncovers breathtaking hikes, unique attractions and a history that has much to do with the communist regime and its obsession for oversized projects.

A landmark of the communist regime

Transfagarasan was finalized in 1974 after almost five years of hard work performed mainly by soldiers and engineers. The army started working at the same time from the two opposite ends, Arges and Sibiu counties, and the monument ‘the Meeting Gate’ was built in the place they finally met. Another monument built along the road is the Engineers Gate, in the memory of those who lost their lives in this project – officially 40 people died, but some of the witnesses indicate hundreds of deaths among their colleagues.

Transfagarasan

Initially, Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s communist leader from 1965 to 1989, said the road was needed for military purposes since a Russian invasion was possible at any time. However, when the project was finalized, the objectives were to ease the distribution of resources and to create a touristic center at the glacial Balea Lake.

Must-see attractions along the Transfagarasan

One of the first attractions of the road is Vidraru Lake, a major dam built years before Ceausescu came to power. Also done under the communist rule, the dam was a major achievement of its time, being one of the top 10 constructions of this type in Europe. An entire village, Cumpana, was drowned to accommodate the dam and its impressive size: walls 166 meters high, a surface of 900 hectares and 42 km of underground galleries.

Transfagarasan

Another top attraction from the Transfagarasan is Balea Lake, an iconic glacial lake located at an altitude of 2,034 meters and 11,3 meters deep. It’s the main resource for creating a unique attraction in Romania, the Ice Hotel. Every year, the hotel is built from blocks of ice from Balea Lake, and offers besides accommodation an ice bar, an ice restaurant and an ice skating ring as well, along with an ice church where you can even get married. It can only be reached by the cable car from Balea Cascada as Transfagarasan is closed from November until June.

Transfagarasan

If you need even more reasons to visit, you should know that Fagaras Mountains are the highest in Romania and offer spectacular views over the surrounding landscapes of the Carpathians. An easy and popular hike you can take is to Balea Waterfall, the biggest stepped waterfall in Romania with a height of 60 meters. It’s situated between two famous peaks, Moldoveanu (2,544 meters) and Negoiu (2,535 meters), and you can reach it in about one hour starting from the Balea Lake Chalet.

Transfagarasan

Or you can start from the same place and go through Saua Netedului to Netedu Peak for about two hours. The Balea Lake Chalet is also a good starting point to Vanatoarea lui Buteanu Peak, going through Saua Capra. This route is a bit harder, and it also takes around two hours.

If you’re more adventurous and you’re looking for something more difficult, you can go from the Capra Chalet to Capra Lake. You’ll get there in 3-4 hours, and for sure you’ll fall in love with the panorama.

Transfagarasan

The Black Peak is a good starting point for even more intense hikes. After about three hours, you can reach Caltun refuge (2,135 meters), and you can continue from there to Caltun Peak’s twin: Lespezi Peak or even to Negoiu Peak. But, be prepared for the effort because the astonishing views will make you work really hard.

Yes, Transfagarasan could easily be the best road in the world because it offers a complete experience, from a thrilling mountain drive to wilderness hikes, following a route filled with mesmerizing views. It’s the road that strikes your heart and leaves a deep desire to return.

Travel tips

Transfagarasan begins close to Curtea de Arges, so make a quick stop, and visit at least Curtea de Arges Monastery and Poenari Fortress.

Transfagarasan ends in Cartisoara, only 45 km away from Sibiu, the must-see Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2007.

Go back to Southern Romania on the highest mountain road in the country, Transalpina.

This road is included in many of our private tours. Check our offers or ask for a tailor-made option on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

About the author

Alexandra is studying business and economics, enjoys traveling and writing about the beautiful places she sees. You can find Alexandra Balaceanu on Twitter

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