Transfagarasan: Probably the Best Road in the World

Alexandra Balaceanu
Alexandra Balaceanu
Alexandra is passionate about traveling, studying and working on new business projects.

Transfagarasan Road is included in many of our private tours. Check our offers on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

Transfagarasan is the best road in the world or at least so said Jeremy Clarkson in a Top Gear episode. Still, it offers so much more besides the amazing driving experience. It’s, first of all, a major creation of the communist regime and its obsession with oversized infrastructure projects.

Transfagarasan

Transfagarasan Road

The road is 90 km long and connects the south of Romania with Transylvania. 6,500 tons of dynamite were used to break the Fagaras Mountains, the tallest in Romania. It reaches its highest altitude of 2,042 meters close to Balea Lake. This makes it the second-highest road in the country after Transalpina (2,145 meters).

Transfagarasan, a landmark of the communist regime

The Transfagarasan was finalized in 1974 after almost five years of hard work, done by soldiers and engineers. The army started working at the same time from the two opposite sides, in Arges and Sibiu counties, and a monument marks the place where they finally met.

Another monument, the Engineers’ Gate, commemorates the workers who lost their lives. Officially, 40 people died, but some of the witnesses state that hundreds of their colleagues died.

Transfagarasan Road

Transfagarasan Road

Initially, Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s communist dictator, argued the road served key military purposes since a Russian invasion was always possible.  The outcome was, however, completely different.

When the Transfagarasan finally opened, it became a propaganda landmark and a major tourist attraction. Nicolae Ceausescu was the first to take advantage. He had a hunting chalet on the lake, supplied with power from a high-altitude gridline installed just for his needs

Must-see attractions along the Transfagarasan

One of the first attractions as you drive from the south is Vidraru Lake. Another big project of the communist authorities, the dam was a major achievement of the 1960s, back then one of the top 10 dams of this type in Europe. An entire village, Cumpana, disappeared to build the dam of impressive dimensions. It has 166 meters high walls, a surface of 900 hectares, and 42 km of underground galleries.

Balea Waterfall

Balea Waterfall

Another top attraction is the glacial Balea Lake, located at an altitude of 2,034 meters, close to the highest point of the road. Its water is the main resource for creating the only Ice Hotel in Romania. Every year, the hotel is fully booked before it starts to snow in Romania. Be sure to reserve your room in time.

Transfagarasan

Balea Lake

Plan a short or longer hike starting from the Transfagarasan

If you need more reasons to see the Transfagarasan, you should know that the Fagaras offer some of the most spectacular views in the Carpathians. Several hiking trails start from the road, and you can have your pick between short or intense and longer routes.
 
An easy and popular hike of only one hour you can take is from Balea Lake to Capra Lake. You can continue one more hour to Vanatoarea lui Buteanu Peak (2,507 meters) for an incredible view of the ridge. The Black Peak is a good starting point for more intense hikes. You can reach Caltun refuge (2,135 meters) in three hours, and you can continue to Lespezi Peak or even to Negoiu Peak (2,535 meters). But prepare for the effort because this is a difficult hike.
Capra Lake

Capra Lake

Where to stay

If the Transfagarasan is your main destination, we recommend you book nearby accommodation. This way, you have more time to enjoy the driving, the landscapes, and the hiking trails.

In Sibiu County, you can opt for the the guest house Pensiunea Dealu Morii from Cartisoara. You’ll also find great options in the nearby village Porumbacu de Sus: Porumbacu 295, Porumbacu Tree House.

If you prefer to stay on the southern side, in Arges County, you can book a room with a lake view at Hotel Posada Vidraru.

Travel tips

The road is open from July to November. Avoid summer weekends as the road becomes too crowded with cars.

Visit Curtea de Arges Monastery and Poenari Fortress on your way from Bucharest.

Transfagarasan ends in Cartisoara, only 45 km away from Sibiu. Don’t miss the Cistercian Abbey of Carta, a few km from Cartisoara.

You can combine a drive on Transfagarasan and Transalpina on a weekend trip.

Discover more beautiful roads in Romania.

Transfagarasan is included in many of our private tours. Check our offers on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

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2 Comments

  1. Raul B says:

    Transfagarasan and Transalpina are 2 wonderful roads. Here’s how you can drive them in 1 day:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IIf4qA1ZlM

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