The Transfagarasan Road

Is the Transfagarasan the Most Beautiful Road in the World?

The Transfagarasan is a 150 km long road that crosses the Fagaras Mountains, the highest in Romania. With stunning mountain scenery, breathtaking lakes, fortresses, historical churches and countless waterfalls, it’s no wonder the Top Gear crew named it the best road in the world. Before you go chasing waterfalls (I had to), let me show you exactly what makes this road so special.

The Transfagarasan starts from the Bascov village in the Arges county and ends in the Cartisoara village in the Sibiu county and there are two ways to get there: driving from Bucharest or driving from Sibiu. The whole road is open for driving between July 1st and October 31st, while the rest of the year only some parts of it are open due to the snow. Seriously, there was snow at the end of May! However, that doesn’t mean it’s interesting only four months a year. In winter, at its highest point, the BΓ’lea Lake, there is an ice hotel that can be accessed by cable car if you drive from the Sibiu side.

Here are the five most interesting stops on the Transfagarasan road if you are driving from Bucharest to the BΓ’lea Lake. You can click on each picture to see it bigger. πŸ™‚

First Stop: Curtea de Arges Monastery

Dating from 1517, the Curtea de Arges Monastery is the natural first stop while driving on the Transfagarasan. While its a beautiful monastery, it became well known due to the master builder Manole. The legend says that the while it was under construction, everything that was built during the day would shatter at night so they agreed to follow the ancient custom and build into the foundation the first woman who came to the site the following morning. Because the other workers warned their wives, the one who showed up was Ana, Manole’s wife. After the monastery was built, impressed by its beauty, the ruler asked the workers if they could build an even greater one and when they said yes, he stranded them on the roof so they won’t build anything to match it. One by one, they fell to their death and in the place where Manole died, a river appeared, forming Manole’s fountain. I promise, your visit to the Curtea de Arges Monastery won’t be as grim as its legend. πŸ˜‰

Second Stop: Poenari Citadel

Speaking of grim, you may have heard of Vlad Tepes and what he used to do with his enemies. He didn’t get the Vlad the Impaler nickname for nothing, did he? On the Transfagarasan, hidden at the top of a hill you will find the Poenari Citadel, one of Vlad’s (not me) key points for defending the country. Nowadays, to get to the citadel you have to climb 1480 stairs, which sounds worse than it actually is. When I last visited, an old man was selling tickets at the entrance and he said he goes up and down those stairs every day. I guess that’s the secret for a long life, huh?

Third Stop: Vidraru Lake

Built in 1965 to prevent floods and to help with irrigation, the Vidraru Lake is the fourth largest in Romania with a dam that at the moment of its construction was the 20th largest in the world. It makes a perfect place to stop for lunch, relax and enjoy a breath of fresh air. Or do some bungee-jumping, if you’re feeling adventurous.

Fourth Stop: Capra Waterfall

Unless it’s summer, you won’t be able to go to this point, the access will be forbidden a few kilometers back. Well, the only thing stopping you is a sign that says “Do not cross”, otherwise you’re free to go. I wouldn’t recommend it though, the road can be icy and there are areas where a lane is entirely blocked by the snow. The Capra Waterfall (which translates as the Goat Waterfall, haha) has a drop of 40 meters and it doesn’t froze in the winter. There is a perfect place to take photos from the bridge in front of it.

Fifth Stop: BΓ’lea Lake

The highest point of the Transfagarasan is the BΓ’lea Lake, a glacial lake at an altitude of 2042 meters. Between the Capra Waterfall and the BΓ’lea Lake there is the longest tunnel in the country, 887 meters long. Between the start and the end of the tunnel, the temperature drops at least 15 degrees, so on one side you can admire the breathtaking landscape with just a tshirt on, while on the other side you will turn on the heat in the car. In August. πŸ™‚

Would you like to drive on the Transfagarasan road? Is it the best road in the world like people say?

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  • Lucy Dodsworth

    That’s some stunning scenery! The top picture really reminds me of a road through the Atlas Mountains called the Tizi n’Tichka pass that winds right up through the mountains, you could still see snow there in April despite being on the edge of the desert.

    • I googled the Tizi n’Tichka pass and it looks absolutely gorgeous, I would love to see the Atlas Mountains one day! πŸ˜€

  • Whaaaaaaat! This is stunning. Had no idea this existed in Romania. Between this and the castles, the country is slowly moving up my travel list. Plus a friend just got back from a week in the mountains there and loved it.

    • I’m sure you’ll love Romania if/when you come to visit πŸ˜€ I’ll buy you a beer or vodka if you do πŸ˜€ John is coming here next week, I hope he’ll like it (and speak highly of Romania on his blog!)

  • I remember seeing the Transfagarasan on Top Gear but didn’t realize how many interesting places there were to see along the way. I’m sure I’ve seen the dam at Vidraru Lake in at least one movie (maybe it was The Debt?).

    Thanks for the great pictures!

    • I couldn’t find any movies filmed there, but I’ll look into it!

  • Your photos are just amazing! What camera do you use by the way? You’re really starting to make me want to go to the Transfagarasan ASAP πŸ˜€

    • You need to go ASAP! πŸ˜€ I have a Nikon D3100 and a few lenses, but the one I’m using the most is the kit 18-55mm one (for now…)

  • Natalie Tanner

    OH, my goodness! Motorcycle heaven! This post in inspirational!
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist

    • There are always a lot of motorcyclists on this road, it’s indeed great for them.

  • JC

    Great Post tanks for sharing

    • Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

  • OMG, I certainly would love to drive on this road, and I do understand why people say that it is the most beautiful road in the world!
    I love the blue skies of your pictures, I feel like I am there. The Poenari Citadel looks amazing, I would love to go there someday… and the lakes are stunning!!

    • I hope you do get to drive there when you visit Romania. You could easily take a day trip from Bucharest or Sibiu there πŸ˜€

      • Really?? I have to do it when I go!! It would be the perfect visit to Romania πŸ˜€

  • WellWornSuitcase

    That is some seriously gorgeous architecture! Beautiful post.

    • Thank you, I am happy you liked it.

  • Gin

    I would love to visit ! It’s not the first time people are praising the beauty of this road. It looks gorgeous πŸ™‚

    • If you ask me, it’s even more beautiful in summer when the snow has melted and the whole road is open. Or maybe I just think that because I’m not a big fan of snow, haha

  • Corinne Vail

    I so want to drive this road…it’s calling me!

    • I hope you can drive there soon! πŸ™‚

  • John Pilkington

    A nice guide and some great photos (as always!). The road is pretty well known in the UK, thanks to Top Gear (though no-one can pronounce or spell it and so just calls it ‘that road in Romania’) – it a popular driving route for Romanians too? Like a ‘rite of passage’ when you pass your driving test or something?

    • Not that I know of, the ultimate rite of passage would be driving in Bucharest without losing your cool, hahaha. Remind me to tell you how it’s pronounced πŸ˜‰

  • Hannah Logan

    That looks gorgeous! I’ve been told about this road before…and now I can see why its so popular!

    • It’s a really beautiful drive, I had my eyes glued to the window the whole time, haha.

  • This is such a spectacular road and the itinerary is perhaps one of the most representatives for the beauty of Romania. I wanted to go on Transfagarasan last year when I was in Romania but the road was closed. Too bad.

    • I wanted to go last year too, I didn’t realized it closes in autumn. Now I saw why, haha.

  • Ruth Rieckehoff

    Vlad,
    Amazing photos! I feel so happy about finding your blog! Wow, this is an amazing road. Difficult to pick a favorite stop but I’ll say I like Balea Lake a lot.

    • Your comment has made me smile, thank you! I love Balea Lake too, even though I haven’t been there in 10 years, it’s still one of my favorite places in Romania πŸ˜€

  • Kimberlee Pociengel

    Romania is on my list of places to see and now I want to see it even more. From looking at the photos, I would want to see the Poenari Citadel because I am into walking and that many steps wouldn’t bother me.

    • It’s a super easy hike up the top to the Poenari Citadel, there are parts of the path where you simply walk. If you want to make it more difficult, you can cheat and take shortcuts, that’s what I did the last time, haha.

  • Justine Jobelle M. Kimoden

    yep. definitely beautiful!!

    • It truly is a spectacular drive. πŸ™‚

  • Tim

    I have never heard of this road but that doesn’t surprise me as I have never been to Romania either. It is posts like this and photos like these that keep the fire burning to keep traveling the world…no matter how much you see there is always so much more.

    • You should really consider visiting Romania, Tim. I am sure you would love it πŸ˜€

  • HelpYaSelf

    just enjoy the pics and don’t go there. the roads are parking lots (not pictured intentionally) and every offering is near you if you try Dorothy. no place like home means within a couple hundred/ one thousand miles of home with effort people. remember global warming people…wah-wah-wahhhhhh………

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  • Thanks for sharing this post – I didn’t know there’s such stunning mountain road in Romania! It reminds me of Grossglocknerstrasse in Austria – I guess both are amazing roads but Transfagarasan fee would be half the price of Grossglocknerstrasse…

    • As far as I know, there is no fee to drive the Transfagarasan, but parts of it are closed during the winter because of snow. The whole road is open only during the summer.