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Have you ever heard of the world’s most beautiful road? No, it’s not the Icefield Parkway in Alberta, nor Hwy in California. It’s the Transfagarasan in Romania. At least according to the folks from Top Gear. During mine and Thom’s trip to Romania we hired a car and set out to drive the Transfagarasan. Personally I prefer a bit more of a coastline or bigger mountains, but there’s no doubt about it that this drive is absolutely stunning. If you’re heading to Romania and want to drive the Transfagarasan then here is a guide for doing exactly that.
About the Transfagarasan
The Transfăgărășan is Romania’s second highest paved road and was built as a strategic military route. It runs for 90km with twists, turns and offers beautiful views to drivers amongst the Carpathian mountain range.
The road climbs to 2,034m with more tunnels and viaducts than any other road in Romania.
In 2009, when the presenters of Top Gear took to the road and raced their cars up and down, they referred to it as ‘the most beautiful road in the world’. It’s not uncommon to see this road feature in first position in lists about beautiful places and roads.
What you’ll see along the Transfagarasan
When you drive the Transfagarasan you’ll see beautiful scenery. Think rocky hills, sheep, green pastures, waterfalls, gorges and depending on the time of year you visit probably some snow too! Once at the top of the road there’s pretty Balea lake with a hotel (details below). This gives you the opportunity to break up the drive into a couple (or more) days if you so wish.
You can also use this road as the way to get to Dracula’s house from Bucharest. This is what we tried to do but found the Balea tunnel at the top was closed.
The Balea Tunnel
The Balea Tunnel closes at the end of October and is the longest road tunnel in Romania at 884 m (2,900 ft). If you’re going south to north then you’re in for some fun descents!
Vidraru Dam & Lake Vidraru
This dam was built in 1966 on the Argeş River. Not only is it impressive itself but it has great views of Lake Vidraru too.
Our experience of driving the Transfagarasan
We headed for the hills in our little Ford KA. We passed through traditional Romanian villages and saw several horse and cart trotting down the road.
As we started to climb the views became even more beautiful. The landscape grew upwards, as mountains appeared and the golden forests looked stunning in the autumn sunshine.
The journey from Bucharest is quite long: you can expect a 3 hour drive to reach the top of the pass. However, the beautiful views will keep you entertained.
There are also plenty of spots to stop, get out and admire the view. Take a packed lunch and have a roadside picnic – whilst there are a few places to grab something to eat, your choices are pretty limited.
There’s a tunnel you can drive through in the summer months, but it’d just closed for repair work when we were in the area, next time!
Top Tips for driving the Transfagarasan
- Daily Car Hire Costs From £30 (with a small extra charge for under 25s). Book with RentalCars.com to find the best deals on your car hire.
- Duration: from Bucharest you can expect a 6hour return journey
- Take a packed lunch and enjoy the views
- Wrap up warm – it’s chilly in the winter!
- In winter snow chains are recommended