When we went to Romania we were expecting to see a lot of castles including Dracula’s. But we were definitely not expecting to discover that one of the most beautiful roads in the world is also located there. The road that takes you to the glacier Lake Balea is situated at 2,034 meters of altitude is considered one of the most beautiful scenic routes in the world. Traveling through the Transfagarasan Road was our number one thing to do during our stay in Romania and you can fit it into a day trip leaving from Bucharest early in the morning. If you are into nature and breathtaking views this is the place to be for sure.
Balea Lake is about four hours from Bucharest and we were really surprised with so much nature and beauty, this is one of the places I think of when people ask me where is the most beautiful destination we have ever been. Yes, I was not expecting to find this place in Romania too. The road that takes you there is fully open only from June to October, during the rest of the year cars are not allowed because of the snow. This is all about the journey that takes you there so visiting the lake during the summer is a must. Also another interesting thing we both noticed is that this place is kind of underrated between Romanian people, locals in Bucharest don’t really talk much about this place and surprisingly many of them never been there or even heard of it.
We were so lucky to find a really good private driver/tour guide that drove us there, it was affordable as most of the things in Romania and he was really good. He picked us up around 5am at the hotel and then we started our journey to Balea Lake. Our first stop was at the Poenari Castle ruins, which used to be one of Dracula’s Castle. We parked on the bottom of the mountain and hiked all the way to the top where the ruins are, it can be pretty challenging depending on your physical conditions. On wikipedia it says there are 1480 steps until you get to the castle so get prepared to a moderate-hard hiking. The views from the castle are breathtaking but if you are not willing to spend a couple of hours hiking you can skip it. Remember this is all about the trip itself, not the destination or any of the stops, and the best part of the trip is yet to come as we drove uphill.
Back on the road after Dracula’s castle there is another surprise, we crossed the 9th biggest dam in the world. The road cuts thru this monumental construction and is worth a stop for a picture. After that point, the further we were the more gorgeous the views, as the curvy road starts to reveals the surroundings, we literally wanted to stop at every single view point but our driver kept us on track so we didn’t miss the best spots that were yet to come. We suggest you don’t waste too much time on each of the stops because the best views are at the end of the journey and you will want to get there before the sunset. Also we don’t recommend to drive since it is a very tricky road that can almost make you feel sick because of the many curves. But trust me, once you get to the top you will not regret of any of the efforts you made to get there. There are some other surprises along the way such as a waterfalls running right next to the road, it was beautiful, we were so happy to be there, especially because none of that was planned. We took a chance and literally at the end of the day it was a smart choice and turned out to be our favorite spot in Romania.