Transfagarasan Highway: The Ultimate Guide

Transfagarasan road at sunset

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Dotted with breathtaking vistas and a winding allure that calls out to the adventurous spirit, the Transfagarasan Highway is not just a road – it’s a journey encapsulating the heart and soul of Romania. Stretching across the majestic Carpathian Mountains, it weaves an impressive path that binds Transylvania and Wallachia – two of Romania’s historical provinces. Renowned as one of the most spectacular roads in the world, the Transfagarasan Highway or Transfagarasan Road has captured the imaginations of countless travelers, road-trippers, and even film crews.

Etched into the rugged face of the mountains, the Transfagarasan Highway bears the marks of an intriguing history. It is a product of Romania’s communist period, commissioned by dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in the early 1970s as a strategic military route to mobilize troops across the mountains in case of a Soviet invasion. Yet, despite its grim beginnings, the road has transformed into a symbol of national pride and tourism.

This mesmerizing road trip offers an awe-inspiring journey through Romania’s diverse landscapes. As it ascends and descends, the highway provides a bird’s eye view of Romania’s raw and untamed beauty. You’ll marvel at pristine lakes, towering peaks, and lush valleys.

The breathtaking scenery, combined with the rich history and culture seeping from the rustic villages that dot the route, ensures an unforgettable journey. The road, while challenging at times with its sharp turns and steep inclines, offers an immersive experience – one that highlights the charm, resilience, and natural splendor of Transfagarasan, Romania.

Fagaras Mountains, long winding road in Transylvania

Why Visit the Transfagarasan Highway?

Embarking on a journey along the Transfagarasan Highway isn’t just about ticking a box on a traveler’s bucket list. It’s about embracing an experience that combines thrill, beauty, and a deep dive into Romanian culture. 

An Unmatched Driving Experience

The Transfagarasan Highway is revered worldwide for offering one of the best driving experiences. Its reputation was amplified when the British show ‘Top Gear’ hosted by Jeremy Clarkson presented it to the world as a contender for the “best road in the world”.

Navigating through the 90 kilometers of twisting, turning tarmac that oscillates between steep inclines and rapid descents is nothing short of a dream for driving enthusiasts. This isn’t your typical laid-back scenic drive – it’s a testament to the joy of driving, packed with hairpin bends, long S-curves, and sharp descents that provide a delightful challenge to drivers.

Mesmerizing Landscapes

From serene, crystal-clear lakes to dramatic mountain landscapes, the Transfagarasan Highway opens up views to some of the most stunning natural scenes in Romania. It’s not uncommon to find travelers stopping by the roadside to capture the picturesque views.

The Capra Waterfall, Vidraru Lake, and the glacier-made Bâlea Lake are some highlights that promise awe-inspiring sights. The highway itself, with its serpent-like twists and turns cutting through the rugged mountains, provides an unforgettable backdrop.

Rich History and Architecture

As the road snakes through the Transylvanian Alps, it allows visitors to explore some fascinating historical sites along the way. One such marvel is the Poenari Fortress, a real Dracula castle which stands as a testament to the region’s rich history. The stunning arched dam on Vidraru Lake is another marvel of architecture that adds a unique charm to the journey.

Vibrant Flora and Fauna

The Transfagarasan Highway is a paradise for nature lovers. The diverse altitudes along the road foster a wide variety of ecosystems, making it a haven for numerous species of birds, mammals, and plants. From the elusive chamois to the delicate blooms of the Carpathian bellflower, the region is teeming with life.

Local Delicacies

The road trip would be incomplete without indulging in authentic Romanian cuisine at the rustic inns and restaurants scattered along the highway. Whether it’s the delicious Sarmale (cabbage rolls with meat) or the mouthwatering Papanasi (sweet cheese doughnuts), Romanian dishes add a flavorful touch to the journey.

Transfagarasan highway traveling through the Fagaras mountains in Romania

When is the Transfagarasan Highway Open?

Given the Transfagarasan Highway’s location, winding through the towering Fagaras Mountains, it’s imperative to plan your visit according to the road’s opening schedule. As beautiful as it is, the Transfagarasan Highway faces the challenges of high-altitude weather, leading to seasonal accessibility.

Visiting the Transfagarasan Highway when it’s open will not only ensure your safety but also let you fully experience the breathtaking scenery it offers. Plan your trip during the open season to enjoy the beauty of the Transfagarasan Highway to the fullest.

Seasonal Accessibility

The Transfagarasan Highway is typically open from July to October, with these summer and early autumn months providing the most amenable conditions for travelers. During this period, the weather tends to be milder, and the chances of encountering harsh conditions like heavy snowfall and ice, which can make the road impassable and dangerous, are significantly reduced.

Winter Closures

From late October to June, the Transfagarasan Highway is generally closed due to severe winter conditions. Snow and ice make the road extremely hazardous, and avalanches are not uncommon in this period. It’s essential to note that the exact opening and closing dates can vary from year to year, depending on the weather conditions.

Check the Road Status

Before setting out on your journey, it’s crucial to check the status of the road. Information about the road’s opening or closure is usually available on the Romanian National Road Administration’s website or local travel advisory sites.

Transfagarasan Highway at night

Driving the Transfagarasan Highway

Embarking on the journey along the Transfagarasan Highway, often called the “Road to the Sky,” requires a blend of excitement, caution, and knowledge about the route and driving conditions. Let’s delve into what it entails to navigate this famous stretch.

Driving the Transfagarasan Highway is a thrilling and unique experience, but it does come with its set of challenges. The road, with its numerous hairpin turns, sharp descents, and steep climbs, can test the skill of even the most experienced drivers. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride:

Understand the Road Conditions

Before setting out, familiarize yourself with the road’s conditions and layout. The road is narrow in many places, and some sections lack guardrails, so be prepared for the unexpected.

Safety Precautions

Ensure that your vehicle is in good condition and equipped with the necessary safety equipment. Always keep your seatbelt on and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.

Respect Speed Limits

Adhering to speed limits is crucial. Although it might be tempting to speed on the open stretches, it’s important to remember that the road is winding and unpredictable.

Plan Breaks

Given the length and intensity of the drive, it’s recommended to plan breaks. There are many scenic spots along the route where you can relax and soak in the surroundings.

Getting to the Transfagarasan Road

Navigating from different cities to the Transfagarasan Highway is an adventure in itself. Each of these routes presents an opportunity to experience Romania’s varied landscapes, historical sites, and vibrant local culture before reaching the Transfagarasan Highway.

Bucharest to Transfagarasan

The journey from Bucharest, the capital city, to the Transfagarasan Highway is about 216 kilometers and takes approximately 3-4 hours. The most common route is via the Pitesti and Curtea de Arges route (E81, DN7C), which takes you through scenic countryside landscapes before ascending into the mountains.

Brasov to Transfagarasan

The journey from Brasov to the Transfagarasan Highway is roughly 130 kilometers and takes about 2.5 hours. You can take the E68 and DN1/E60 route to Fagaras, and from there, head south on DN1A to the highway. This route offers a picturesque drive through the historical city of Fagaras.

Sibiu to Transfagarasan

Sibiu, located in the heart of Romania, is approximately 117 kilometers from the Transfagarasan Highway, with a drive time of around 2-3 hours. The most direct route is via the DN1 and DN7C. The journey takes you through the charming landscapes of Sibiu County.

Highlights and Attractions Along the Route

An expedition along the Transfagarasan Highway is more than just an awe-inspiring drive. It is also a cultural and scenic tour of some of Romania’s most prized attractions and hidden gems. As you traverse the winding road, you’ll encounter a mix of historical sites, natural wonders, and culinary delights.

The Poenari Fortress

Poenari Fortress, a sight along the Transfagarasan highway

Perched high atop a cliff and accessible via a climb of nearly 1,500 steps, the Poenari Fortress, also known as the real Dracula Castle, is a must-visit. Built in the 13th century and later expanded by Vlad the Impaler, it offers an exciting glimpse into Romania’s history and provides spectacular panoramic views.

Vidraru Dam and Lake

Vidraru Dam and Lake in the Fagaras Mountains

Just a short drive from the Poenari Fortress, the Vidraru Dam is an impressive feat of engineering. This 166m high dam created the equally impressive Vidraru Lake. A stopover here allows you to appreciate this marvel and the beautiful lake it holds, which offers a host of recreational activities including boat trips and fishing.

Bâlea Lake and Waterfall

Scenic Balea Lake, a popular sight on the Transfagarasan HIghway

Bâlea Lake, a glacier lake situated at an altitude of 2,034m, is one of the most iconic stops on the Transfagarasan Highway. The road leads you directly to the lake. Nearby, you can also find the Bâlea Waterfall, with its waters cascading from a height of 60m. Both the lake and the waterfall provide excellent opportunities for photography, hiking, and picnicking.

The Transfăgărășan Tunnel

Transfagarasan Tunnel on the famed highway in Romania

The longest road tunnel in Romania, the Transfăgărășan Tunnel, is located at the highest point of the highway. At approximately 885m in length, it connects the northern and southern sides of the highway and serves as a gateway to more spectacular views.

Capra Waterfall

Capra waterfall along the Transfagarasan road

Situated on the southern side of the highway, Capra Waterfall is a lesser-known but equally captivating attraction. The waterfall is a peaceful spot perfect for a short break from the drive.

Local Cuisine

Scattered along the Transfagarasan Highway are numerous restaurants and stalls where you can sample traditional Romanian food and wine. This gastronomic journey will introduce you to delights such as ‘ciorba de burta’ (tripe soup), ‘mititei’ (grilled meat rolls), and ‘papanasi’ (fried or boiled doughnuts filled with sweet cheese and topped with fruit jam).

Essential Tips for Visiting the Transfagarasan Highway

While the Transfagarasan Highway offers an exhilarating and unforgettable journey, it’s essential to prepare properly to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some key tips to keep in mind.

Stay Updated with Weather Conditions

Given the Transfagarasan Highway’s high-altitude location, weather conditions can change rapidly. Therefore, it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest weather reports. This will help you prepare for any sudden changes and adjust your plans accordingly.

Pack Essentials

Ensure you have all the essentials for a road trip. This includes a full tank of fuel, plenty of water, snacks, and a first-aid kit. Don’t forget your camera to capture the breathtaking views along the highway.

Plan Your Journey

While the thrill of an unplanned journey can be enticing, having a rough itinerary will help you make the most of your trip. Note down the major attractions you want to visit and plan your stops accordingly. This will also ensure that you’re not driving for too long without breaks.


If you’re planning to explore the Transfagarasan Highway over a few days, you’ll find several accommodation options along the route, from hotels to guesthouses and campsites. It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak season.

Respect the Environment

Remember that you’re driving through one of the most stunning natural landscapes in Romania. Keep it clean by taking any litter with you and respecting the flora and fauna.

Mentally Prepare for Driving in Romania

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – driving in Romania is not for the fainthearted. Getting accustomed with local driving laws, street signs, and road etiquette will help prepare you for your journey down the Transfagarasan road.

Check Your Vehicle

The Transfagarasan Highway can be challenging to navigate with its steep climbs and sharp bends. Ensure that your vehicle is in good condition, with all necessary checks carried out before you set off on your journey.

Donkey on the Transfagarasan Highway

Transfagarasan Highway FAQs

How Long is the Transfagarasan Highway?

The Transfagarasan Highway, also known as DN7C, spans a distance of approximately 90 kilometers or about 56 miles. This distance includes its most stunning section, which winds through the Fagaras Mountains, between the highest peak in the country, Moldoveanu, and the second highest, Negoiu.

How Long Does it Take to Drive the Transfagarasan Highway?

The time it takes to drive the Transfagarasan Highway can vary greatly depending on weather conditions, traffic, and how frequently you stop. However, generally, it takes about 2-3 hours to drive from one end to the other without any stops. If you plan on making frequent stops to enjoy the stunning vistas, explore attractions, or dine, it could easily take a full day to traverse.

Is Transfagarasan Worth It?

Absolutely! The Transfagarasan Highway offers a unique driving experience with its challenging winding roads and breathtaking views. It’s not only a driver’s paradise but also a haven for nature lovers, history buffs, and food enthusiasts. With numerous historical and natural attractions along the route and the chance to taste local Romanian cuisine, a trip on the Transfagarasan Highway is more than worth it.

Why is Transfagarasan Famous?

The Transfagarasan Highway is famous for its stunning beauty, challenging twists and turns, and the unique driving experience it offers. It’s often considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world. It also gained international renown after it was featured on the British TV show Top Gear. The show’s hosts were mesmerized by the road’s beauty and challenge, dubbing it “the best road in the world,” which significantly boosted its fame.

Transfagarasan road with pink clouds in the background

Experiencing the Wonder of the ‘Best Road in Romania,’ Transfagarasan

The Transfagarasan Highway, a marvel of engineering and a testament to human resilience, offers an unforgettable journey through some of Romania’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Whether you’re an avid driver, a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or foodie, the Transfagarasan Highway is one of the best things to do in Romania.

From the serpentine twists and turns that challenge your driving skills to the stunning views that leave you in awe, every moment on the Transfagarasan Road is a memory in the making. The journey takes you through the rich history of the region, lets you witness the raw beauty of the Carpathian Mountains, and indulge in the flavors of traditional Romanian cuisine.

So, get your vehicle ready, mark your itinerary, and set off on a journey like no other on the Transfagarasan Highway. Enjoy the ride and let the road guide you through the wonders of Transfagarasan, Romania. Remember, it’s not just about the destination but also about the journey – and what a journey it is on the Transfagarasan Highway!

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