Driving the Transfagarasan Road is an amazing road trip experience and one of the most spectacular drives you will ever take!
What is the Transfǎgǎrǎşan Road, you ask?
Built in the 1970’s, the Transfagarasan Road was relatively unknown until the British TV Show Top Gear proclaimed it “The Best Driving Road in the World”. Now it’s one of Romania’s top attractions and a very unique driving experience.
The Transfagarasan was built under the orders of leader Nicolae Ceausescu who wanted to create a safe passage across the Fagaras Mountains in case the Soviets invaded. Construction of the road took four years, from 1970-74 and required 6 kilograms (6,6000 tons) of dynamite.
The Transfagarasan Road is 150km long and takes 3.5-4 hours to drive, without stopping. Chances are that you will want to stop though, at least a few times, to just drink in the view. Count on adding at least an hour or two to your driving time.
Getting to the Transfagarasan Road
The Transfagarasan Road, or DN7C, passes over the Fagaras mountains in Transylvania. It can be reached from either the north, near Sibiu or from the south, a few kilometers from Curtea de Arges. Some people drive it as a day trip from Brasov or even Bucharest, but be warned, this will make for a LONG day.
What to Expect while Driving the Transfagarasan Road
Although some people say it’s a tricky drive, it’s not that bad! Yes, there are MANY hairpin turns, but the driving conditions are actually quite good! There is a maximum speed of 40km/hr, but with the twists and turns you will rarely get close to that speed. In the summer, the road can be quite busy on weekends, so try to plan your trip on a weekday or plan to leave early in the morning. We visited Romania in October, well out of tourist season, so we didn’t find driving the Transfagarasan Road busy at all! There are a few spots along the drive where you can pull over to get out or take photos (see below for some highlights of the drive) but in most spots, it’s a narrow, two-lane road with minimal shoulders.
What to See while Driving the Transfagarasan Road
**note, we started driving the Transfagarasan Road from the north, so the highlights are listed in that order. If you are starting from the south, simply reverse the order of things to see along the way!
Just before you reach Lake Balea, which is the highest point on the drive, you’ll find Balea Waterfall. With a height of 60m, it’s one of the largest waterfalls in Romania. Balea Waterfall is a gorgeous, fan-shaped waterfall and is a worth a stop for a photo! This is as far as the road is open all year round and where you will find the cable car station that takes visitors to the top of Lake Balea in the winter.
Lake Balea is a glacier lake at the highest point of the Transfagarasan Road at an altitude of 2,034m. It’s a popular spot for hiking and there are several marked trails, ranging from a 10km hike to the Balea Waterfall or longer five- to nine-hour hikes leading to the highest peaks in the Transfagaras Mountains.
On Lake Balea, there are two restaurants and hotels, if you are looking to stop for a rest or even overnight. In the winter, the restaurants and hotels are only reached by cable car, but one of the hotels is a unique ice hotel! After a quick photo, we kept on driving but if you’re wanting to stop, you can find information on the restaurant menu here or the ice hotel here.
Located at the highest point of the Transfagarasan Road, this tunnel is 890m long and it’s definitely one of the most intimidating parts of the drive. There are no lights inside, other than headlights, and although it doesn’t seem like it at times, there is an end to the tunnel!
The Vidraru Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric dams in Europe. Measuring 166 metres tall and 305m long, it’s an impressive sight! The Transfagarasan Road actually passes over the top of the dam. It’s also a popular spot to stop for photos, so be careful to watch for cars parked alongside the road.
The last highlight while driving the Transfagarasan Road is Poienari Fortress. Located high on top of a mountain, it provides a great view of the surrounding area. Centuries ago, Poienari Fortress was home to Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula). Unfortunately, it was closed to visitors when we were there, due to the number of black bear sightings. Even from the road below though, it’s still an imposing fortress!
Leaving Poienari Fortress, the Transfagarasan Road continues south before ending 6km north of Curtea de Arges. The town is a great place to stop for the night if possible, as driving the Transfagarasan Road will have taken most of the day to complete!
Alternatively, you could continue on to Brasov, about a 2.5 hour drive or a little closer is the town of Piteşti.
Check for available accommodation here:
Important things to note:
As we mentioned earlier, the Transfagarasan Road is only open in the summer, from June or sometimes early July, through to October. Specific dates will vary each year, depending on weather conditions. It’s best to check before you plan your trip!
Especially if you are driving the Transfagarasan Road with kids, be aware that the MANY twists and turns, combined with the altitude, may make your children feel unwell. I was prepared though and had extra bags and wipes ready, but luckily it was smooth driving for us! (My kids did sleep through the first half of the drive though…)
The speed limit on the Transfagarasan Road is 40km/hour, but with the numerous twists and hairpin turns, you will be definitely driving much slower. Just something to keep in mind though!
Other Things to See in Romania:
We spent two weeks exploring Romania in a rental car. You can check out our itinerary or browse through the posts below for more information on specific places.
- 2 Week Romania Itinerary: A Romania Road Trip with Kids
- Best Things to do in Brasov
- Top Things to do in Sibiu
- Things to do in Sighisoara with Kids
- The Land of Dracula: Exploring Transylvania
If you do take this road trip and end up driving the Transfagarasan Road, let us know!! Tag us on social media or let us know in the comments below.