Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania


Bucket List

When we visited Romania several years ago, we never made it out of Bucharest. And a week is simply too short to even see everything in Bucharest. I’ve always wanted to go back, if for no other reason, because we didn’t get a chance to check out Count Dracula’s Castle. But now, added to the bucket list, is biking on the Transfăgărășan Highway.

The road climbs to an altitude of 2,042 metres (6,699 ft), making it the second highest mountain pass in Romania after the Transalpina. It is a winding road, dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents. It is both an attraction and a challenge for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts. The road also provides access to Bâlea Lake and Bâlea Waterfall.

The Transfăgărășan has more tunnels and viaducts than any other road in Romania. Near the highest point, at Bâlea Lake, the road passes through Bâlea Tunnel, the longest road tunnel in Romania at 884 m (2,900 ft). Along the southern section of the road, near the village of Arefu, is Poenari Castle. The castle was the residence of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.

The northern section is used for annual cycling competitions, including the Tour of Romania, and the 22 km (14 mi) section to Bâlea Lake has been used since 2011 for the Sibiu Cycling Tour. These sections are considered to be similar in difficulty to hors catégorie climbs in the Tour de France.

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