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Romania's Scenic Drives: Transfagarasan


Also labeled “the Road to the Sky”, “the Road to the Clouds”, “the Best Driving Road in the World” and even “A spectacular Monument to Earth-Moving Megalomania” the TransFagarasan climbs, twists and descends right through Moldoveanu and Negoiu – the highest peaks in Fagaras Mountains and in Romania. This is no pass through a gap but a frontal assault, a stark and spectacular reminder of unchecked power stamping itself on an obstreperous landscape.

Also known as the “Transylvanian Alps”, the Fagaras Mountains are rich in unique wildlife and scenic hiking and biking trails.

Built for military purposes at the initiative of Romania’s last communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, this dynamite-forged road connects two of Romania’s historic provinces Transylvania (the Center) and Walachia (the South) through a series of five tunnels, 27 viaducts and 831 small bridges.

The TransFagarasan ranges in elevation from 1,630 feet at Cartisoara to almost 6,700 feet at Balea Lac. The road is below the tree line until about 5,000 ft. and then it opens up and reveals itself.

No visitor should not get discouraged by the significant elevation difference; the road is a relatively easy climb even for bicyclists weighted down with all necessary equipment. The Transfagarasan was engineered to be accessible to heavy military vehicles and the gradient is never too steep, hence the many hairpin bends or switchbacks. Although it is the best-known scenic drive in Romania, because there are faster roadways that connect southern and central Romania, the Transfagarasan is still relatively unperturbed by the motoring masses.


TransFagarasan Facts:

Begins: Cartisoara
Ends: Curtea de Arges

Distance: 71 miles (114 kilometers).

Gateway cities: Sibiu (30 miles W) and Brasov (65 miles E) of Cartisoara,
Pitesti (23 miles S) and Bucharest (96 miles S) of Curtea de Arges

Open end-to-end: late June through end of October (weather permitting).

Road condition: paved, good.

Highest point: 6.699 ft (2042 m) – Lake Balea

Route time: 3 hours, without stops. A leisurely drive can take all day.

Points of note: Curtea de Arges Monastery, Poenari – Vlad the Impaler’s fortress, Vidraru Lake and Dam,
Golul Alpin nature reserve, Balea Glacial Lake, Balea waterfall.