When we were looking for more information about these roads we almost gave up. You can find a lot of information about Transalpina which is going to tell you that you need a 4×4, possibly a tank, a week of food supplies and a lot of luck. I decided that we were going to do both, it didnt matter how diffucult it was going to be.
Both roads aren’t open in winter and spring because it would be too dangerous. Usually the opening time is at the end of May (note that the exact date is variable and depends on the weather so it’s worth checking – here) and you can enjoy the roads until the end of October.
The whole Transalpina is 130km, starting in Sebes, finishing in Novaci.
The Transagarasan is a bit shorter at 115km, starting in Cartisoara and finishing in Curtea de Arges.
You can, of course, do them in either direction or start half way through, but we advise you to do the complete road – otherwise you are going to miss some dams along the Transalpina, as well as Poenari castle while doing the Transfagarasan. Also, in the first part of Transfagarasan you can find donkeys walking around and you dont have to queue like you will on the top to feed them and take a photo with them.
How long will it take?
We did the Transalpina in 3,5h, stopping for photos and not being in much of a rush. You can, of course, spend the whole day there going hiking etc.. that’s up to you, but the road itself takes 3 – 3,5h. At the top you have a restaurant, but we didn’t eat anything there. Since it’s the highest road in the country the temperature difference is massive, even as much as 10 to 15 degrees less at the top.
The Transfagarasan took us 3h + 1h for photos at the top and walking around Balea lake. We also tried to find the toilet and food. In terms of carrying out your natural urges you have toilet boxes for 3 lei next to the parking and a normal toilet in the restaurant for 2 lei/free for guests. Like in quite a few places in Romania the toilets doors don’t have a lock. Food starts from 25 lei and the waiting time is around 30-45 minutes. We decided to have pancakes which were next to the parking for 10 lei each and were really rather good.
It costs 4 lei, alternatively you can find a space by the side of the road.
Both roads are in a pretty good condition, the Transalpina underwent extensive work in 2010, now there’s only 2 places where you don’t have asphalt, but you don’t need a 4×4. It’s just for a few meters. Probably after winter it is a bit worse, but going in the middle of the season there’s no problem at all.
The Transfagarasan is in a better condition than the Transalpina, there is asphalt everywhere. The same with tourists 😉
Which one is better?
This depends on what you are looking for. The Transalpina is wilder, more dramatic and with less tourists around. It looks quite like Scotland (in reality not in photos!) in its rugged nature with a lot of clouds and a bit of rain.
The Transfagarasan is more picture-perfect, more crowded and with more stop points on the way. It was much warmer than the Transalpina, as well. At a push Adam would say that if he had to do only one then he would do the Transalpina, thankfully we didn’t have to make the choice.
Do both, there’s only 70km between them. One day for each, don’t try to do both just in case you will have to come back in the dark. You can’t do them between 22-6 so don’t try.
Take donkey food, you will need it especially around Transfagarasan. Alternatively you can also try to feed wild horses, but we prefer donkeys.
Do the whole road, don’t start half way, that’s cheating – where’s your sense of adventure?!
If you like camping then you can check Dracula camping next to Poenari. We didn’t stay there, but it looks quite decent and if we remember correctly it’s only 3 lei
Google somehow doesn’t show you that you can go straight to Bran from the top of Transfagarasan and tells you to come back. You can definitely do it, it’s about 1,5h-2h from the top of the road. We stayed for the first night around Poenari (after doing the Transalpina) and the second night we spent next to Bran castle.
Do you need a 4×4 or a special car for either?
Are you thinking of driving one of these roads, or both? Have you already driven them? Let us know what you think!