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As slow and bumpy as some of Romania’s roads are, the bright part is that you’ll also enjoy some of the most breathtaking driving routes you can imagine, from high-altitude mountains roads to narrow routes across abrupt gorges. Since we aim to inspire you, here’s our list of some of the most scenic roads in Romania. Drive safely and enjoy the view. For the best experience, avoid summer weekends.
Transfagarasan is one of the most spectacular routes in Romania and the only one crossing Fagaras, the highest mountain in the country. The road starts south of the Carpathians, in Bascov, Arges County, and ends in Cartisoara, Sibiu County. The road is 152 km long and reaches a maximum altitude of 2,042 meters close to the glacial Balea Lake.
The road was built between 1970 and 1974 at the orders of Nicolae Ceausescu, the communist dictator who wanted to create a strategic military route across the Fagaras Mountains in case of a Soviet invasion like the one in Czechoslovakia from 1968. His plans proved once again unrealistic, and Transfagarasan was solely used for tourism from the beginning.
Because of the weather conditions, Transfagarasan is open only from late June to the end of October. Along the way, you can visit Poenari Fortress and stop to take photos at Vidraru and Balea lakes.
Several hiking trails start along the road, from Piscu Negru, Balea Lake, and Balea Cascada.
Transalpina or the King’s Road stretches across Parang Mountains, from Novaci to Sebes. It’s 148 km long, with 20 km above 2,000 meters, making it the highest road in Romania with a maximum altitude of 2,145 meters. It’s a scenic road with numerous winding curves and spectacular mountain views but less abrupt and rocky than the Transfagarasan.
The road was fully modernized in the time of King Carol the 2nd, being inaugurated in 1939 by the king himself. Conceived as a strategic military access route, Transalpina was renovated by the German army during the Second World War. The road was completely unattended during the communist time, and it’s only recently that it was restored and opened.
You should check the driving conditions before you leave, especially in winter. Like the Transfagarasan, this road is only open in summer and autumn.
Several hiking trails depart or cross Transalpina. Check Muntii Nostri for more details.
The road that links Moldova Noua to Orsova is for many the most beautiful in Romania. Bordering the longest defile of the Danube and one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe, this Romanian road is a travel attraction by itself, one of the many from the Iron Gates Nature Park. The impressive rock sculpture of ancient Dacian King, Decebal, the panoramic view of the Serbian shore, and simply the drive along the Danube create a great road trip experience.
Besides a short cruise on the Danube, you can hike on Ciucaru Mare, visit the caves Ponicova and Veterani, the monastery of Mraconia, and the Iron Gates Museum.
To fully enjoy the landscape, plan your trip early morning if it’s the weekend.
The mountain pass Rucar-Bran is one of the most famous routes in Romania. It’s located between Bucegi, Leaota, and Piatra Craiului Mountains, offering superb views everywhere you look. Known today mainly for its beautiful landscapes, the road was for centuries a historical access route between Southern Romania and Transylvania. Bran was a border point from the medieval ages until 1918 when the Romanian Kingdom and Transylvania united.
Besides walks in mountain villages like Sirnea, Fundata, and Fundatica, you can also visit the famous Bran Castle and Dambovicioara Cave.
Transrarau links the villages of Pojorata and Chiril across Rarau Mountains, reaching its highest point at 1,400 meters. The route is open all year round and offers panoramic views, but you should pay extra attention in winter, especially on Christmas when road blockages are frequent. This drive is an excellent option if you have a half-day free after visiting the painted churches of Bucovina.
The road is a popular access route for the hike to the iconic geological formations of Rarau, the monumental ‘Lady’s Stones’. Take your hiking boots as the last part is rocky and abrupt.
Don’t miss the delicious trout dishes from the ‘Pastravarie’ in Pojorata.
Prislop Pass is one of the many panoramic drives in the Carpathians despite some of its bumpy parts. The 50 km long road connects Maramures and Bucovina, across Rodnei Mountains, and reaches a maximum altitude of over 1,400 meters. It’s the highest road in the Eastern Carpathians and the best choice if you’re not in a hurry.
On a clear day, you’ll have great views of the highest peaks of the Rodnei Mountains, and some hiking trails cross the road. A shorter and easier hike is the one to Cailor Waterfall. With a plunge close to 90 meters, this is one of the most beautiful in the Carpathians. You can take the chair lift from Borsa or go on foot if you have enough time, about one hour and a half.
Winter is not the best time to cross this pass. Check the forecast and the road conditions before.
Save around three hours for this superb circuit along the large Bicaz Dam, through dense forests, with splendid views of Ceahlau Mountain. Axialul (DJ155F) on the mountainside and DN15 along the shore of the lake are the driving routes to follow.
Summer and autumn are the best time. Combine it with a drive across Bicaz Gorges.
Izvoru Muntelui and Durau are the main access points to the hiking routes of Ceahlau National Park.
Winding from the Red Lake to Bicazu Ardelean, the road that crosses Bicaz Gorges is one of the most popular and crowded in Romania. Part of Cheile Bicazului-Hasmas National Park, the area is a true paradise for climbers who have here some of the best and most difficult trails in the country. Several hiking routes start from the road, and you wouldn’t believe the wilderness scenery that awaits once you leave the car and road behind.
It’s almost impossible not to stop at the natural dam Red Lake, even if only because of the traffic. If you have at least one hour free, walk on the marked path that follows the shore of the lake.
The lake is the starting point for many breathtaking hikes like the one to Hasmasu Mare Peak (1,793 meters). Check Muntii Nostri for a complete list.
The valley of the Olt River was used since ancient times when the Roman Empire conquered this part of the Dacian Kingdom. Back then, the road had a strategical military and commercial importance, connecting Transylvania to the Danube.
The pass starts in the resorts Calimanesti-Caciulata, crossing Cozia National Park, following the defile of the Olt River until Turnu Rosu. The valley offers spectacular views of the Cozia Mountains, the faraway Fagaras Mountains, and Capatanii Mountains.
Very close to the road, you’ll discover the ruins of the Roman castrum Arutela, the medieval Cozia Monastery, and Turnu Monastery.
This is one of the busiest roads in Romania because of the traffic from Sibiu to Bucharest. Avoid weekends and bad weather.
These are our top choices of popular and scenic roads in Romania, but there are many more splendid roads that will take you far away from the cities, to the hearts of remote and forgotten places. Have a great road trip!