Transfăgărășan – the Formula 1 circuit in the Făgăraș Mountains

The most spectacular, the most beautiful, the best. This is how most descriptions of the Transfăgărășan usually start. This road crosses the Făgăraș Mountains from North to South and it was made internationally famous by Top Gear, which shot an episode in Romania.

My first time on the Transfăgărășan was back when I was little and went together with my parents. I don’t remember much from that time to be honest so I had to refresh my memory in 2007 and test this amazing road again in my new car 😀 First impression: AMAZING! 😀 You feel really small compared to the greatness of the landscape and of the grey ribbon representing the road which makes its way in a great valley.

I don’t want to bore you with technicalities because I’m sure you can find technical details on the Internet. We want to tell you about our experience here and how it feels to drive on this astonishing road. Each time we’ve been here (because we’ve been here quite a few times :D) we crossed Transfăgărășan from North to South, meaning from the village of Cârțișoara in Sibiu county towards Curtea de Argeș in Argeș county.

From start to finish Transfăgărășan (DN 67C) is 151 km long out of which 91 km are in the spectacular parts of the Făgăraș Mountains. These are the kilometres that you’ll remember undoubtedly because you’ll be stopping a lot to admire the scenery and you’ll be enjoying those perfectly made hairpin curves. My opinion is that the Northern part is the most spectacular with a spectacular winding road. When you look down on it Transfăgărășan will reveal itself to be a perfect Formula 1 circuit!
The first major stop you’ll want to make is at Bâlea Waterfall. Here you can stop to admire this huge waterfall which is about 60 m high! It’s true that you can see it from pretty far away but there is a trail that leads to it signposted with. This is also the place where you can take a cable car up to Bâlea Lake at over 2000 meters altitude. It will cost you about 60 lei both ways (~ 14 Euro).

It’s a good idea to take the cable car in case you’re not so sure about your driving skills since from this point on you gain altitude fast and the road is very, very winding. On the downside, you’ll be missing very spectacular stopping point from Bâlea Waterfall to Bâlea Lake if you take the cable car 🙁 You decide!
I forgot to mention that there is another way you can get up to Bâlea Lake from Bâlea Waterfall: on foot 🙂 From the parking lot at Bâlea Waterfall follow thesignposting then continue on thesignposting. This trail is pretty long time and distance-wise. We never tried it to be honest and we can’t offer more details about it.

Back to the star of the show 🙂 We made many stops to take pictures. About 10 I think 😀 Finally we reach Bâlea Lake! Here you can find a big parking lot which you have to pay for. Bâlea Lake is a glaciar lake and it’s situated at 2040 m altitude. It’s 360 m long and 11 m deep. There are many trails that start from the lake and take you in the high and beaitiful Făgăraș Mountains. Unfortunately we never did a track starting from the lake but it’s on the to-do list for sure :P.
After you finish admiring the stunning emerald – like colour of the lake, you can climb to the famous panorama point from where you can see Transfăgărășan in all its beauty! 🙂 From 2000 meters above sea level you have the complete view of the grey ribbon we call the Transfăgărășan! It trully is a beauty, there’s no other way around it. You’ll want to spend a few minutes here to compile it all 🙂

After so many stops, so many pictures and so many miles you’ll eventually get hungry. For this we recommend Bâlea Guesthouse which you can see in the pictures above and which you can find right on the edge of the Bâlea Lake. They serve great food, including traditional Romanian dishes. You should try it! 🙂
From Bâlea Valley the Transfăgărășan continues it’s way under the Făgăraș mountain tops and goes underground through the longest tunnel in Romania (only 800 m long) and thus we reach the Southern side of the road and these mountains. This side is much softer than the spectacular, rocky and pointy Northern side.

Several tens of kilometres later we reach Vidraru Dam, one of the biggest in Romania. It’s a massive concrete building and you should definitely stop here and admire the dam, the lake and the mountain tops you will see far in the distance. If you have good sight then you’ll be able to see Negoiu Peak (2535 m, second highest in Romania). Hope we convinced you to take a ride on this amazing road! 😀

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