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The Transfagarasan Highway
More than 150 kilometres in length
Tw eet
the Transfagarasan Highway is Romania’s most
1
spectacular and best know n road and, thanks to an
appearance on BBC Top Gear in 2009, now one of the country’s most
popular tourist attractions. Fully open only from June to October, the
road’s highest point is at 2042 metres: the tunnel w hich links the
northern and southern sides at Lake Balea (Balea Lac).
A Little History
The Transfagarasan - as w ith everything else in Romania at the time, it
w ould seem - w as built from 1970-1974 on the personal orders
of Nicolae Ceausescu, w ho, legend has it, w anted to create a strategic
route across the Fagaras Mountains to ferry troops north should
Romania be invaded by the USSR (as Czechoslovakia had been in
1968). This legend of course ignores the fact that a perfectly good and
far quicker route around the mountains (the Valea Oltului) already
existed, and that any strategic impact of a road open for only a few
months each year w ould have been minimal. Still, w ho are w e to
question a good urban myth?
A far more likely explanation for the construction of the road w as the
simple fact that the mountains were there, and that the road across the
very top w ould serve as a proud example of just w hat socialist Romania
- w ith Ceausescu as its leader - could achieve. Much like the DanubeBlack Sea Canal project of the 1980s the Transfagarasan w as therefore
built as a status symbol w ith little regard for cost or usefulness. (Indeed
- w hisper it - but the Transfagarasan is fundamentally useless).
Yet w hereas the Danube-Black Sea Canal is today the biggest w hite
elephant in the country (it carries very little marine traffic),
the Transfagarasan has never been more popular. Alw ays a favoured
w eekend trip for Romanian drivers, its international fame now means
that motoring enthusiasts from all over Europe (particularly Poland, in
our experience) beat a path here each summer. W hile the you can just
about do the Transfagarasan in a (long) day trip from Bucharest, w e
recommend taking a couple of days: besides the Transfagarasan itself
there is plenty to see along the w ay.
Getting There

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To get to the Transfagarasan from Bucharest, the best w ay is to take
the A1 motorw ay to the industrial tow n of Pitesti (best know n as being
the place w here Dacia cars are made). There is little to recommend a
stop in the tow n itself, except perhaps the memorial north of the city
centre marking the site of Pitesti Prison. This – along w ith Sighet in the
very north of Romania – w as the most notorious of the communist
prisons w here countless intellectuals and members of the old ruling
class w ere executed from 1948-1954.
A much better choice for your first pit stop is in fact Curtea de Arges, a
small tow n 38 kilometers north of Pitesti. It is home to the ruins of the
Princely Court (Curtea Domneasca, Open 10:00-17:00) built by Basarab I
in the 14th century. W hile there is not really very much left of the Court
building itself, the w ell-kept church (Biserica Domneasca) is in excellent
condition - it w as entirely renovated from 2003-4 and open to the
public. Basarab I is buried near the church’s altar. A short distance north

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The Transfagarasan Highway
More than 150 kilometres in
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much maligned w hen it first appeared . few remember the even bloodier Mineriada of June 1990..is more popular than ever and is w ithout question one of the best w ays to explore the city. the Valea cu Pesti). From here a series of hairpins and three short tunnels bring you to the next landmark on the Transfagarasan. At the foot of the climb there is a pension. and quite often the w eather w ith it. Bran Castle . Beer & Spirits Cheap and rather good.representing pow er . boycott their products. you should not visit Romania w ithout trying a decent-sized sample of its various forms of booze.. the elegant Hotel Posada Vidraru. Poienari.even in its current. A superb example of Byzantine design. before climbing sharply. Marea Unire (The Great Union) is currently Romania’s National Holiday.. It is not for the faint of heart. The Top of the Transfagarasan: Balea Lac As you exit the Capra Tunnel the landscape changes starkly. Departure times are ad hoc depending on how many visitors there are... December 1: Marea Unire Capatenii Pamantului (w hich rather fittingly translates. Beer & Spirits Sixteen Years of Bucharest In Your Pocket Ski Romania So where am I exactly? The Bucharest Earthquake of 1977 The Bucharest Metro The Civic Centre The Transfagarasan Highway Links Bucharest Life Blog Restaurante Brasov Romania & Moldova Romania Events Romania News Romanian Railways a time. the scene on the northern side is little short of spectacular: a w ide open valley w ith the road serpentining its w ay dow n visible as far as the eye can see. by the w ay. As you come off the dam look out for the electricity pylon disguised as a statue of Promotheus .. and one w hich moved Jeremy Clarkson to call it ‘every great corner from every great race track lined up one after the other.. Bucharest City Tour (Sightseeing Bus) Now in its fourth year of operation the Bucharest City Tour sightseeing bus .. Romanian Wine. from w here there are even better view s of the lake.. Bulevardul Magheru W e have long had something of a soft spot for Bulevardul Magheru .’ converted by W eb2PDFConvert. the Vidraru Dam. The Transfagarasan then follow s the outline of the lake (and another hotel overlooking the lake. but merely an introduction to w hat the visitor to the country can expect w hen eating in a fairly standard Romanian restaurant. Bulevardul Magheru Up the Southern Side (Sightseeing Bus) Bucharest Football Bucharest Metro Challenge Carol I: Romania's First King Carol II: The Playboy King Children's Bucharest Christmas & New Year's Eve in Bucharest The DN7C officially becomes the Transfagarasan at the little village of Albestii de Arges. This is the classic picture postcard view of the Transfagarasan. the w ater often visible through the trees on your left. the Pensiunea La Cetate.. as it is usually less crow ded than the places at the top. (This fact means that the Transfagarasan is not actually the highest road in Romania: the Transalpina further w est reaches a maximum altitude of 2145m).. The valley then gets gradually steeper. the cathedral w as built betw een 1514 and 1526 using materials brought almost entirely from Constantinople. W hereas the southern side is a relatively gentle climb.on the cliff directly in front of you.often marketed as Dracula’s Lair. w e w ould suggest. dow n-at-heel and haphazard state. made in the most part through the trees along the side of Lake Vidraru. at prices often (but not alw ays) cheaper than the supermarkets. very steep steps... During the summer there are boat trips on the lake. Cold W ar-style military parade through the capital that starts up at Casa Scanteii around 11:00 and usually circles around the Arc de Triumf. on the orders of Neagoe Basarab..Bucharest Monopoly of the city (and on the w ay to the Transfagarasan) is the even more impressive Biserica Episcopala Curtea de Arges. Note that there is another hotel along the w ay. You w ill see the impressive castle high to your left as you approach: you can visit the ruins. Lasting 30 minutes they cost 10 lei per person... Markets in Bucharest Bucharest is home to a number of markets. at an altitude of 2042m. the Conacul Ursului.It is celebrated in Bucharest w ith a somew hat pompous.. If you can find a parking space some steps allow you to climb up to the statue.. An Introduction to Romanian Food Note: This is not intended to be a definitive guide to Romanian food.. part of the Curtea de Arges Monastery. A couple of hundred metres further along the road there is a hotel.you should never have to w ait too long. up to its highest point: the 890m long Capra Tunnel. December 1: Marea Unire December 1.. (real in the sense that Vlad Dracul actually lived here for Romania in English Jewish Bucharest Markets in Bucharest No Such Thing as Bad Press Rediscover Bucharest: Calea Victoriei Romanian Revolution & The Mineriada Romanian Wine. w as never Vlad’s home). but doing so involves a climb up more than 1500 very. and offers fabulous view s of the Vidraru lake. but during July and August . the son of Basarab I. Romanian Revolution & The Mineriada Rom ani an Revol ut i on & The M i ner i ada W hile the Romanian revolution of December 1989 remains one of the first images of the country that foreigners conjure up. as The Ends of the Earth) is home to the ruins of the real Dracula Great books about Castle. just before the start of the hairpins on the southern side: its good value restaurant is a decent place to stop for food. w ith the road clinging in places to the cliffs as it passes through a w onderful natural gorge.Bucharest's liveliest street . One of the largest hydroelectric plants in Europe the road passes across the top of the dam (completed in 1966).especially at w eekends .the scenery is already stunning. most of w hich stock a w ide range of produce. The road climbs steadily from here. and by the time you reach Capatenii Pamantului the last village before the serious hairpins begin . 6km north of Curtea de Arges. Just try to ignore the huge ad for a cement company w hich has been painted w ithout thought for the surroundings onto the rock and.com .. often chaotic.

in w inter . Dow n to Cartisoara From Balea Lac the 25km drive dow n the most spectacular part of the Transfagarasan to Cartisoara takes around 45 minutes. In w inter there is a cable car w hich provides access to the cabins and ice hotel from Balea Cascada. See balealac.At Balea Lac. Note that DN7 itself runs along the Olt Valley and is a w onderful drive in itself. This brilliant w ebsite show s all of the marked trails in the Fagaras. A cable car from here runs back up to Balea Lac. w hich w ill get you back to Pitesti and the A1 in around tw o hours. especially the part w hich passes through the Cozia National Park. At Cartisoara (w here the Badea Cartan Museum. have decent boots and have a good map: the Fagaras mountains are not for the casual w alker. including one w hich leads dow n to Balea Cascada. w e advise anyone planning to drive the Transfagarasan to do so during the w eek. Do not attempt any hiking in the Fagaras unless you are w ell equipped for bad w eather. The cabins also have good . There are very few places to stop and take photos (and you w ill see most people trying to do so by hanging out of their car w indow s). but the first main stopping point on the w ay dow n is Balea Cascada (the Balea W aterfall). There is also a rather tacky. there are tw o comfortable pensions (Cabana Paltinu and Cabana Balea Lac) and . as the road is closed. The cable car usually runs during the summer too. avoided Saturday and Sunday altogether. At Balea Lac you can pick up a number of routes. converted by W eb2PDFConvert. In 1986 stained glass w indow s featuring the portraits of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu w ere added to those of Decebal. just 25km beyond Avrig: make sure you pick up a copy of Sibiu In Your Pocket to help you make the best of your time here. touristy market next to the large car park at the exit of the tunnel. As such. selling all sorts of rubbish as w ell as a few decent treats (such as kürtős kalács). and during the w inter (w hen the road beyond this point is closed) is the only w ay up. featuring a collection of painted glass icons and an old shepherd’s house complete w ith thatched roof is w ell w orth a stop) those of you on a day trip should turn left onto the DN1 and head for Avrig and the DN7. w hich are also dotted by mountain huts offering basic food and accommodation. If you have time stop at the 14th century Cozia Monastery: one of Romania’s oldest.it can take double that. Transylvania’s most fabulous city. and one w hich goes up to Negoiu Peak: at 2525m the tallest mountain in the Fagaras range and the second tallest in Romania.restaurants.if not cheap .com . The Fagaras Mountains are extremely popular w ith hikers: this is the some of the best hiking terrain in Europe. If you are in less of a hurry head for Sibiu.an ice hotel if you w ant to stay up here the night. Burebista and other great historical Romanian leaders: they have since been removed.w hen half of Romania can often appear to turn up . There are a number of small memorials to those w ho w orked (and died) on the road. just below the tunnel. There are tens of w ell-marked routes criss-crossing the mountains. although at w eekends .ro for more information.

comment here The Transfagarasan Highway comments Add Yours johnnybegood . Australia 29 January 2013 I traveled to Romania to drive this road after seeing it on Top Gear and thoroughly enjoyed the drive. the Romanian people w ere just great. Add Your Comments Connect w ith: We'll never post anything without your permission Don't w ant to connect via a social netw ork? No problem.Sydney.Cheddar. Miles w asted Wayne Dillow .2013 w e tried to ride this on motorcycles there w as loads of snow so w e turned back that w as 110.com/hub/Transfagarasan-The-BestDriving-Road-in-the-W orld Graham Saunders . The road w as in great condition. so converted by W eb2PDFConvert.com .21 February 2015 this is the best road for every car lover out there. http://cobbw ayne. one of the best w indy road I have ever driven on. Also. Sign Up to see what your friends like. just w ish I could have had my car rather than the BMW X3 hire car. England 20 May 2013 On may 18 .Like 96 people like this. contrary to advice I received before going.hubpages.

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