Cycling the Transfagarasan Highway
At Martin Cycling Adventures, we spend most of our time either cycling the Transfagarasan or dreaming of cycling the Transfagarasan. Since this road means so much to us, I think It's only fitting that we put as much info as we can out there so that it can help other fellow cyclist in making their dreams come true.
History of the transfagarasan highway
The Transfăgărășan (trans [over, across] + Făgăraș) also known as Ceaușescu's Folly, is a paved mountain road crossing the southern section of the Carpathian Mountains. It’s the second-highest paved road in the country after the Transalpina. It stretches 90 kilometers (56 mi) between the highest peaks in the country, Moldoveanu and Negoiu. The road, built in the early 1970s as a strategic military route, connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia.
Key facts about the transfagarasan
was built starting early ‘70's and was finalized in 1980
It has 833 bridges, 28 aqueducts and 5 tunnels
The longest tunnel is 880 meters
It reaches a height of more than 2.100 meters
More than 40 people died (officially) building the Transfagarasan
Cycling the Transfagarasan
North Side CLIMB
If you're arriving from Sibiu, the north side approach is the more straightforward approach to reach Balea Lake, the top of the Transfagarasan. From Cartisoara, which is the foot of the climb, you can reach the top in only a couple of hours.
Average grade: 5.2 %
Length: 29.39 km
Height start: 493 m
Height top: 2040 m
Ascent: 1.600 m
south side CLIMb
If you're arriving from Bucharest, then the north side approach to the Transfagarasan, is a good option. Curtea de Arges would be a good starting point. The best part of the whole 90 km long, are in front of you. So, to get to the actual climb, you have to either ride or drive circa 60 km
Average grade: 4.7 %
Length: 25 km
Height start: 857m
Height top: 2048 m
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ACCOMMODATION ON THE TRANSFAGARASAN
Sibiu, the largest city next to the Transfagarasan and home to an international airport, is situated 45 minutes away by car to the west of the Transfagarasan. As you'll see in the HOW TO GET HERE section below, there are several international flights landing in Sibiu so you could use it as your arrival/departure city. There are a lot of nice hotels in Sibiu and you can check them out on Booking.com.
if you want to stay on the Transfagarasan Highway these are our favorite spots.
Casa Mosului guesthouse opened in 2008. It was built in a thousand year old village, full of stories about colorful characters. The house is made out of wood and rock, decorated with authentic, old items, from the Fagaras Valley.
The cauldron ice age is sheltering the emblematic Balea Lake (4.6 ha, altitude 2034 m) with the most beautiful mountain chalet, is by far the most important sports center on altitude in Romanian Carpathians
Hotel Valea cu Pesti – 4 stars hotel – has an exceptional location, in an area in which on an arc circle of 270 degrees offers a beautiful view over the Vidraru Lake and Fagaras Mountains.
how to get to the transfagarasan
There are a couple of ways you can get to the Transfagarasan and it depends on your arrival city. You could land in Bucharest, Sibiu or Cluj - Napoca.
Bucharest is the more obvious choice because of the numerous flight possibilities. From there on you could choose to do the Transfagarasan via the South side or via the North side. See above for more details about implications.
Sibiu and Cluj are also very good options, that is if you manage to find appropriate flights. Sibiu is just 45 minutes away from the North side of the Transfagarasan while Cluj is an extra one hour further.
Below you'll find a map view where we highlighted the most important cities.
WHEN IS THE TRANSFAGARASAN HIGHWAY OPEN
The simple answer is that the The Transfagarasan Highway closes every year on October 31st. According to the sames rules, the Transfagarasan Highway opens again on July 1st.
Bucharest - capital city of Romania, international airport
Sibiu - 45 minutes away from the N side of Transfagarasan, international airport
Cartisoara - base camp for N side approach, start of the climb, N side
Curtea de Arges - base camp for S side, cycling start
Corbeni - possible cycling start, S side
WEATHER ON THE TRANSFAGARASAN
When planning a trip on the Transfagarasan, do keep in mind that the Transfagarasan in officially open only between 1st July and 31st October of each year. Romania has a temperate-continental climate with hot summers, long, cold winters and very distinct seasons.
Summer is quite warm, with extended sunny days. The hottest areas in summer are the lowlands where 100 F is often reached in July and August. Temperatures are always cooler in the mountains, around 60 F. In the mountains, showers and thunderstorms are quite common.
Check the updated weather forecast online here.