Romania is well-known for many reasons, mostly for Dracula’s castles, Merry Cemetery, or delicious papanasi (donuts). But the fans of the automotive know it usually because of the amazing Transfăgărășan road.

Driving through the Transfăgărășan road is on the bucket list of everyone who is planning a road trip to Transylvania. And there are some great reasons for that, like stunning views, or discovering the tracks of Dracula…

Whatever your motivation would be, you should definitely consider visiting the Făgărăș Mountains.

Transfăgărășan Road in Romania from top of the mountain - Transylvania Road Trip

Facts and history of Transfăgărășan Road

The road was built in 1970-1974 by the Romanian dictator – Nicolae Ceaușescu. At first, it had mostly military meaning. Remembering the Soviet’s attack on Czechoslovakia from 1968, Ceaușescu wanted to increase his defense abilities by creating a new road connection through the mountains. The designed road was hard to capture, unlike the existing roads along the rivers.

To build the road, including 830 bridges and 27 viaducts, constructors used 6 millions kilograms of dynamite. Officially, 40 soldiers died during the constructions, but unofficially it could be even hundreds of them.

Viaduct on the Transfăgărășan Road in Romania

Today, the Transfăgărășan Road (national road DN7C) has a length of around 150 kilometers. It is also the second highest road in the country, just behind the Transalpina Road. In one of the tunnels, it reaches the height of 2042 meters above the sea level. The same tunnel is also the longest mountain tunnel in Romania – its length is 884 meters.

The road connects the village Bascov, near the city of Pitești in Muntenia (the part of Greater Wallachia) with Cârțișoara in Transylvania. So it leads from the South to the North through the majestic Făgărăș Mountains (part of Carpathian Mountains).

The Transfăgărășan Road trips gained more popularity among the tourists and travelers, mostly those motorized, after Top Gear’s episode from 2009. Its host, Jeremy Clarkson, called this track the best road in the world. You can check it out on the video below.

Transfăgărășan Road Trip Itinerary

Together with my travel companions, I started my road trip from the Northside, passing through the city of Cârțișoara. The impression is huge from the very beginning since the Făgărăș Mountains look like unexpectedly appearing on the horizon of a flat plain.

To get to the Transfăgărășan Road, you’ll need to have a car. Backpacking in Romania is a wonderful things, but public transport in this location is not the best, so car rental or participating in an organized trip is a must.

Făgărăș Mountains in Romania from the road

After a few minutes we pass by the Bâlea Waterfall, and soon later we discover the most recognizable part of the Transfăgărășan road. Winding serpentines rising on the mountainside take our breath.

It surely also took a breath of cyclists we saw on the road (video below).

The green hills of Făgărăș Mountains, covered by meadows and sheep flocks, intimidate with their majesty. Soon we start to climb on the road serpentines. The drive gets more and more exciting with every passed turn. Every safer place on the roadside is occupied by other tourists taking photos and contemplating the beauty of this landscape.

Sheep in meadow on the Transfăgărășan road in Romania

Once we pass by this most recognizable point on the Transfăgărășan Road, we enter one of the numerous tunnels to watch another great view in the next valley. Obviously, the photos do not reflect the greatness of this place.

The views you pass by on this journey makes it one of the best road trips in Europe.

The Transfăgărășan Road in Romanian green mountains
WC Toilet in the Romanian mountains
The most picturesque WC location I have ever seen

At this point, we start to climb down from the highest places on the road, but it definitely does not mean the end of the excitement. A few kilometers further we stop by a small sale stand with local delicacies: homemade sheep cheese, sausages, bagels, and some sweets. Perfect place to purchase some yummy provisions for the further trail.

Delicious local Romanian food the mountain sale stand
Donkey's nose on the Romania Road Trip

While sliding down the wonderful mountainsides, we entered the valley which was a great place for a picnic. The local authorities took care of tourists’ comfort and built a special area filled with wooden tables and benches. Ideal place to take a break and eat some Romanian delicacies in the beautiful landscape.

Road serpentines on the Transfăgărășan road
The picnic area in the Transfăgărășan road in Romania

Finally, we close to another breathtaking viewpoint during the road trip. We reach the enormous dam on the Vidraru Lake. This man-made dam is considered to be the 5th largest in Europe, and the 9th in the world. The dam’s height is 165 meters and it really makes you frightened when you’re standing on its edge and looking down. And the road leads directly on the dam.

The dam on Vidraru Lake in Romania
Looking down from the dam on Vidraru Lake on the Transfăgărășan road tri
Vidraru Lake in Romania

On the hill above the dam, you will notice the surprising figure. It is the statue of Prometheus, created by Romanian sculptor Constantin Popovici in 1965. You can climb to the statue on the stairs located nearby to get an even better view of whole surroundings.

The statue of Promotheus in Romania

Once you will drive through the next tunnel, you will face the mountain on which’s peak you will notice the mysterious building. In fact, these are the ruins of Poenari Castle – the residence of Vlad The Impaler, commonly known as Dracula.

Many believe that the archetype of the Bram Stoker’s vampire supposed to live in Bran Castle. But the truth is that Vlad most probably has never been in this fortress. In contrary, Poenari was the place where he felt safer and from where he was able to rule the whole region.

Read more: The visit to Bran Castle and vampire hunting

Ruins of Poenari Castle in Romania - Transylvania Road Trip

Even today, when the castle is just a tourist attraction, it is hard to reach. To get to the ruins you need to climb on 1462 steps. But the reward will be worth it. The view from the top of the mountain is stunning. Definitely worth each step.

Mountain view from Poenari Castle in Romania
View from the Poenari Castle on the  Transfăgărășan road in Transylvania, Romania

At this point, the road is almost done. It takes only a few hours to ride it through, including climbing to the Poenari Castle, picnic, and some stops to take a great photo shoot.

If you would still have some time I recommend you to visit Argeș Monastery which is nearby, or to consider visiting one of the cities from the great Transylvania loop. There are still lots of amazing places to visit in this region of Romania!

Tips to ride through the Transfăgărășan Road

  • The road is usually closed from October till June due to hard weather conditions. Heavy rains and snow make it dangerous to drive through this mountain road. But there are no firm dates, since the weather in the mountains changes constantly, so be sure to check it before planning your trip.
  • Due to particular road conditions, the maximum speed is limited to 40 km/h (25 miles/h).
  • The road is not the easiest to drive, so you’d better be an experienced driver. You need to be ready to pass through the touristic buses and give them priority on the dangerous turns. The road surface definitely need some maintenance, so watch out for the holes.
  • Since you will climb to a significant height, the temperature might get pretty low. Be sure to take some warmer clothes with you, even if there is Summer in the rest of the country.

The Transfăgărășan road is not only beautiful but also filled with attractions. Driving through it was a great adventure which I can recommend to everyone visiting Transylvania!

And what are your thoughts about this road? Share them in comments!

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Transfăgărășan Road Trip Itinerary Transfăgărășan Romanian Road Trip