TRANSFAGARASAN & TRANSALPINA ROADS
ROMANIAN HIGH ROADS
“FROM ABOVE, IT LOOKS LIKE EVERY GREAT CORNER, FROM EVERY GREAT RACE TRACK IN THE WORLD HAS BEEN KNITTED TOGETHER TO CREATE ONE UNBROKEN GREY RIBBON OF AUTOMOTIVE PERFECTION”
JEREMY CLARKSON, TOP GEAR
You can reach the Romanian High Roads - with the Transfagarasan Highway and the Transalpine Highway in a day trip from Bucharest. But it won't be enough time to take in the splendour of the Carpathian Mountains and the countless views. Spend at least four days on the road and add Transylvania with Bran Castle, Bram Stokers inspiration for bis book: Dracula to your itinerary - otherwise you haven't seen Romania.
The roads are mostly closed from October till June due to the high altitude and snowfalls. With a bit of luck the road stays open till end of November, but even snow in August can happen. Please check ahead of time on the weather and road conditions. Constantly updated information on the Romania High Roads are available online. The road quality is mostly fairly good with a dirt road here and there - to be on the safe side we recommend to travel the roads in a 4x4 car.
The Arges River gorge is the base of the Transfagarasan. Poenari Castle on the road belonged to Vlad III the Impaler. He was the inspiration Bram stoker's Dracula as was well known for torturing people. 1480 steps will take you to the top, but the views will reimburse you for the effort. The Vidraru Lake is a man-made reservoir retained by a dam. The Transfagarasan runs over the 165 meters high, 305 meters long construction.
Further up the road you will see the tunnel. Caution inside the tunnel and when you get out, the road is often wet and can be slippery. On the highest point of the Transfagarasan you will find the Balea Lake. The water is uninviting for swimming, it is a super cold Glacier Lake.
6000 tons of dynamite formed what is today one of the major tourist attractions in Romania. Mainly because the TV program Top Gear called the Transfagarasan is the best driving road in the world. 40 lives were lost to make its 90 km run trough the Fagaras mountains, a part of the Transsylvanian Alps. The road rises to a height of 2134 meter.
Built in only 4 years from 1970 to 1974 ordered by former Romania dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. There is the theory that he wanted a strategic route across the Fagaras Mountains to be able transferring army troops north should Romania get invaded by the USSR. A far more plausible explanation is that the dictator wanted to give an example of what the socialist country was capable off doing. Probably it is a status symbol, because the Transfagarasan is in general absolutely useless. Apart from one thing of course - driving it!
The TransAlpina Road was built at the beginning of the 2nd Century AD by the Roman legions. The Transylvania treasures such as gold were transported over this road to Rome.
In 1930 the road was paved and later King Carol II inaugurated the new TransAlpina, back then also known as the King's Road. The name TransAlpina was given - because it connects Transylvania with Oltenia. During World War II the Transalpina was rebuilt by German troop for military purposes. With 146 km and on 2145 m it is the highest road in Romania and is only since 2009 completely paved. Since 2012 the road is open to traffic and deserves a listing ion the greatest driving roads in the world.