Anyone that likes to drive has a favorite road. For some, it’s a forest road invaded by greenery or an excursion on the hills near the clouds, having a panoramic view of the mountains. For others, it’s a coastal road with a cool sea breeze. Despite all of the personal favorites, there are some stunning roads in Romania that beg to be driven on.
Here are 9 roads in Romania you cannot afford to miss in a lifetime:
The road is the highest one in Romania, reaching 2145 m in Pasul Urdele and got its name from the Latin word “Transalpina” that means the land beyond the mountains, as it was called in ancient texts and latin maps. Transalpina is nicknamed “King’s Road” because after it was reconstructed it in 1938, King Charles II and the royal family inaugurated it by taking a trip on the road.
Transalpina was built by the Roman armies on their way to Sarmisegetusa and it was paved with stone by King Charles II after 1930 and then rehabilitated by Germans in World War II. After that, it was forgotten by the Romanian authorities.
That fact that Transalpina was forgotten and it became difficult to ride on it with normal cars „helped” in some way to keep untouched its wilderness and its natural charm; a charm that few places in the country still have it. Transalpina is amongst the few roads in the country where you can reach the clouds and above them, by car. Crossing Parang Mountains, the travelers can see beautiful and untouched picturesque landscapes.
Named the “the best road in the world” by the Top Gear team in 2009, Transfagarasan has enjoyed a great popularity among the most beautiful roads in the world since.
It is the second highest road in Romania and it is known for its spectacular landscapes. This means 151 km of road curves and twists perfectly set for driving enthusiasts, but also for those who want to admire the beauty of nature in a unique location.
The road links Sibiu to Pitesti and it’s sprinkled with many switchbacks, bridges, viaducts, tunnels and a lot of sights such as Balea Waterfall, Balea Lake, Capra Lake (Goat Lake), Vidraru Dam, Vidraru Lake, Poenari Castle and so on.
3. Trans – Rarau
It is the highway from Moldova mountains, that connects Bistrita Valley (from Ciril) and Moldova (to Pojorâta). This road makes it easier for tourists to access the lodge from Rarau, Pietrele Doamnei and Rarau Monastery.
The route is called the Treasure Road by locals and officials, due to its connection to Pietrele Doamnei.
The legend says that in 1541, the ruler Petru Rares found a place in Rarau Mountains where he could shelter his family and a part of his fortune from the Tatar hordes. Being chased by the invaders, Helen – the wife of Petru Rares and their son took refuge in a cave to pray. In that moment huge rocks splited and then fell over the fortune and the thieves, burying them.
The 10 kilometers of the road are marked with traffic signs for a speed limited to 30 km / h, with priority for cars that ascend. High gauge vehicles and coaches are prohibited. The road is classified as the fourth viability, which means that removing the snow in the winter will not be a priority, but the road will be open during the cold season according to existing requests.
4. Cheile Bicazului (Bicaz Gorge)
Bicaz Gorge is crossed by the road that links Harghita and Neamt counties, passing through the center of Hasmas Mountains. This is a narrow pass linking Transylvania to Moldova, which was dug along Bicaz river and now outlines beautiful valleys and gorges. Probably the most spectacular part of this road is DN12C, the Transcarpathian road that links Gheorgheni and Bicaz. Nearby you can visit the Red Lake, and other natural wonders of the Cheile Bicazului-Hasmas National Park.
Bicaz Gorge sprung the spiralling ascent into the limelight, and it is certainly a climb of beauty. The limestone walls of the rocks are hiding caves (such as Pestera Neagra and Pestera Cascada) and ravines (Licas, Avenul cu 3 intrari).
5. Cazanele Dunarii
Cazanele Dunarii offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. It is a part of the Defileul Dunarii, also locally known as Clisura Dunarii and crosses the Carpathian Mountains at the border between Romanian and Serbia near the Iron Gates. The road that crosses this area is bordered by water, on one side, and by abrupt rock-walls, on the other side, offering a unique scenery.
One of the most stunning sight – the tallest stone statue in Europe – is the face of Decebal. There is a legend that connects this statue with the Romanian Giants known as Jidovi. It is said there was an agreement between the Dacian king Burebista and all Jidovi that they were left to live in the mountains as long as they promise to guard with their lives the great Dacian gold treasures. So it is believed that in the deepest caves of the Carpathians Mountains still live some Jidovi, protecting the treasures for generations to come.
Also, you can admire a lot of caves such as Pestera Gura Ponicovei (dug into stone) and Pestera Veterani, visit Mraconia Monastery or you can opt for a boat ride on the Danube to explore the area, you can reach the peaks by doing mountain hikes, you can ride a bike or a carriage and see different monuments. There is also the possibility to have fun playing paintball in the forests or you can climb, rappel, try alpinism or zip line if you are an adrenaline addict.
6. Cheile Gradistei
Located near the city of Brasov, Cheile Gradistei includes two outstanding mountain resorts: Bran and Fundata. The road is spectacular is placed around the Fundata holiday village between Bran and Rucar. Passing through Bucegi Mountains and Piatra Craiului Mountains and rising up from the valley floor, the road offers a sublime picturesque view and also access to a lot of natural attractions such as Piatra Craiului National Park and the hiking trails from Prapastiile Zarnestilor, the Natural Reserve at Chisatoare, Pestera Dambovicioara, Pestera cu lilieci (Bats Cave) and Vidraru Lake.
7. Trans – Semenic
Named Transalpina Banat, Trans – Semenic links Valiug to Slatina-Timis. It was inaugurated in the early December 2014 after his rehabilitation that lasted five years. Although it is not yet, fully finished, and shortens the usual road to Semenic with 50 km, Trans – Semenic is already considered to be amongst the most spectacular mountain roads in Romania. It has 36 kilometers of winding road through the forests of Caras-Severin, leaving a lump in the throat to the travelers at every dangerous turn.
The main attraction is Semenic Moutain, but you can also have a quick trip to Cheile Nerei-Beușnița National Park where you can see one of the most beautiful Cascada Bigar (Bigar Waterfall), Cheile Nerei-Beusnita, Cheile Susarei, Ducin, Izvorul Bigar, Izvoarele Nerei, Lisovacea and Valea Ciclovei-Ildia.
An interesting fact is that in that Izvorul Bigar is located exactly on the 45th parallel north, at the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole.
8. Pasul Tihuta
It is in the heart Bârgău Mountains, being crossed by DN17 and E58. The road connects Transylvania and Bucovina through this spectacular road at 1227m altitude. You should know, however, that this is one of the most difficult roads to travel, but you will have the opportunity to admire a landscape that will make the trip more than pleasant.
Nearby you can visit the famous resort Piatra Fantanele, where you can find a copy of the hotel from the Dracula novel written by Bram Stoker. Also, you can visit Manastirea Nasterii Maicii Domnului, Izvorul La Borcut, Lacul Colibita, Tinovul Poiana Stampei and some traditional small villages that are somehow forgotten in the splendor of the mountain wilderness.
9. Valea Oltului
Situated between Ramnicu Valcea and Vesterm, valea Oltului offers an unspeakable view, a mosaic of history, monuments, legends, nature and gastronomy that you can only discover them by traveling in silence, enjoying the trip to the smallest detail. Having a distance of almost 90 kilometers, the road is bordered by the steep slopes of Capatani Mountains and Lotru Mountains, on one side, and by Olt river, on the other side, thereby forming Olt River Gorge – one of the longest in the country, with a length of 47 kilometers.
In the area, you can stop to the beautiful attractions such as Cozia and Turnu Monastery, Cozia National Park, Castrul Roman Arutela and many others.
For the moment is not safe to take a trip on Valea Oltului since there is some renovation on process.