Who decides one day: ´I want to go for holiday in Romania! ´. I know, right?! It´s not the first place to come up in mind when thinking about a couple of weeks gettaway and there are so many other places to tick off the list that have a much better tourism promotion and thousands of posts and reviews online.
But somewhere in the South-East of Europe there´s this magical place I come from where nature is majestic and human presence is quiet and perfectly blending its environment.
And the best place to start is the 150 km of impossible sharp turns and breathtaking views – Transfăgărășan .
It´s said to be the best driving road in the world. I don´t know much about that but I can assure you this place is absolutely spectacular and a must-see when visiting Romania.
To make the most of it start early in the morning and arrive at Bâlea cabin before 9 AM. We are lazy people so we didn´t set off until 10.30 therefore
when we arrived the place was packed with tourists.
The place is gorgeous nonetheless but you´ll be having trouble to find parking, you´ll have to queue for hours for taking a ride in the cable car and your pictures won´t look that great.
The cable car takes you all the way to Bâlea waterfall that you can see in the back and then further up the mountains above the Transfăgărășan road. The waterfall is also reachable by a half an hour hike through the forest.
Would I recommend? I didn´t take it but it seemed rather slow and you´ll have to share the space with other people desperate to take pictures and be next to the windows.
It´s not unusual to meet along the way sheperds guiding their flocks through the mountains. Sometimes the sheep would be crossing a road so you might have to wait for the sheperds and their dogs to guide them off.
Be patient, don´t honk, don´t complain and definitely don´t look down on them as poor people. In fact these mountains belong to them and have been theirs for thousands of years. We are just passers-by offered the priviledge to get a glimpse of their universe passed down from generation to generation throughout the centuries.
You´ll be stopping many times along the way for a quick photoshoot of these views.
It looks the same but it is not. It´s all mountains and forests but every new turn of the road unveils a better spot to admire, an even better looking landscape.
The extremely sharp hairpin turns lead you all the way up to a height of 2,042 metres (6,700 ft) which is by far the best part of the experience.
Transfăgărășan crosses Făgărăș mountains and it was build in the ´70s by the former dictator as a strategic military route in case the Soviets decided to pull on us the same invasion trick they did in Czechoslovakia.
It´s open only from June to October due to the heavy snows that fall on the road but sometimes even in August you can be put off by thick fog and cold weather.
It rises up to 2134 meters and yes, the Northern part is the most spectacular one if you´re lucky to get great weather as we did.
These views are hypnotising. You look far into the horizon and it´s impossible to tell where the mountains stop and where the sky begins. The curvy road is the only real human print in this majestic landscape.
As you descended the views of rocks, sharp edges and meadows are replaced by vast pine forests and eventually reach Vidraru Lake and dam, perfect for a stop over, food and drinks.
I would suggest you stop along the way and visit Cetatea Poenari, take a small roadtrip to Capra waterfall and maybe spend a night at Bâlea Lac Hotel for an authentic experience.
We´ve seen people up on their bikes all the way to the top and back, hikers and just simple tourists driving just like us. However you´d like to enjoy this road you´re definitely in for a great day and experience!
Practical info for driving on Transfăgărășan road:
- The road is officially called DN7C (National Road 7C).
- It´s open from June / July to October / November, depending on the weather. In summer the place might be very crowded with tourists so if you want is all for yourself travel mid-week and earlier in the morning.
- It´s forbidden to drive at night so do plan your trip accordingly
- Up on the mountain it can be a bit chilly so pack a few extra layers
- The average driving speed is around 40 km/h (25 mph)