Transalpina is the highest paved road in Romania (2145 m / 7037 ft) and is about 150 km / 93 miles long. The road was built by the Romans in 104 CE and was consolidated during and after World War 2. A road trip on Transalpina is both adventurous and rewarding due to its beautiful landscape and thrill of the ride at such a high altitude.
Keep reading to discover one of the least traveled, but most exhilarating routes in Romania.
Romania’s hidden beauty
Transalpina means the “land beyond the mountains” and was also called the “King’s Road" after the Romanian king Charles II. It’s among the few roads in Romania that can be reached by car and it’s where you can literally have your head in the clouds.
This road (67C) connects two geographic regions of Romania: Transylvania and Oltenia, and cuts right through the Carpathian Mountains from Novaci (Gorj County) to Saliste (Sibiu County).
It takes about 3 hours to cross the mountains and everyone who drives on Transalpina is absolutely thrilled by the beautiful scenery, the curvy road and shepherds’ huts sprinkled along the way.
Here is an itinerary that includes the Transalpina:
A. Craiova to Horezu
To enjoy a road trip along the Transalpina, consider starting your journey in Craiova (road 65C), a city 115 km / 72 miles south from the entry point on Transalpina (Novaci, Gorj County). Driving north, you can make a stop at Horezu Monastery, a beautiful edifice built in 1690. The monastery is located in Romanii de Jos village, close to the small town of Horezu.
The monastery’s name comes from the word “Huhurez” (eagle owl), a colorful night bird. The legend says that the craftsmen hired to build the monastery were so afraid of the Turks that they only worked at night when the eagle owl was singing. The monastery is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is the finest example of the Romanian “Brancovenesc” architectural style.
Opening hours are daily between 8 am and 8 pm. Tickets cost 5 RON (1.1 EUR / 1.3 USD).
While in Horezu, don’t miss the many shops selling the famous Horezu ceramics. The craftsmanship of Horezu pottery was also added to UNESCO’s list.
B. Horezu to Ranca Ski Resort
Next, continue your journey north from Horezu to Novaci (the entry point on Transalpina) and further to the Ranca Ski Resort. There are restaurants, hotels and guesthouses, should you decide to stay for the night. You can rent ATVs, explore the mountain trails and enjoy the crisp mountain air.
C. Ranca Ski Resort to Oasa Monastery
The next stop is the Orthodox Oasa Monastery. Situated in a beautiful location, close to Oasa Lake, this can be a great stop on your journey. One of the monks there, Father Sava, is an American who found his way to the Oasa Monastery 16 years ago.
Oasa Lake is right next to the monastery and it’s a great place to stop for a picnic and enjoy the beautiful scenery, as well as see the Oasa Dam. There are a few kiosks with souvenirs and food close to the lake, so you can get some supplies for the road.
D. Oasa Monastery to Targu Mures
It is 197 km / 123 miles from the Oasa Monastery to Targu Mures (the end point of my journey). Located in central Romania, Targu Mures is a unique blend of Romanian and Hungarian cultures. Many of the buildings display the Austrian-Hungarian architectural style with beautiful baroque elements, and the largest Hungarian community in the country lives here.
If you come here, don’t miss the Palace of Culture, one of the finest examples of the Belle Epoque in Transylvania. It has wonderful stained glass, frescoes, two wonderful Venetian mirrors and marble decorations.
The Palace is also home to the Art and History Museums. Opening hours are Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm and Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. Entry tickets cost 12 RON (2.6 EUR / 3.1 USD) and it grants access to the entire Palace.
While in Targu Mures, you can visit the Citadel, a fortress built in the early 17th century. Inside the fortress walls you can also visit the Fortress Church, which is the oldest church in the city, completed in 1490.
Enjoy the picturesque Romania from Transalpina
If you’re planning to visit Romania, immerse yourself into the culture, the landscape and get an adrenaline rush, then I highly recommend renting a car and going on the Transalpina. It is truly a great opportunity to see one of Romania’s hidden gems. A recommended car rental company Autonom. You can pick the car up in Craiova and return it in Alba-Iulia, Sibiu, Brasov or any other major city in Romania.
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