This blog post is about organising a day trip to Balea Lac and the Transfagarasan road. The itinerary includes driving on the Transfagarasan Road, visiting 2 of the most beautiful lakes in Romania and a 2h hike in the Carpathian mountains.
I realised lately that the less you prepare for a trip, the better you enjoy it. Although I knew I would go away the next day, I did not plan much. The only thing I actually did was to spend 10 minutes packing my essentials the night before. The alarm went off at 6:15 am the next day and had exactly 15 minutes to get ready. At 6:30 am I was on my way to one of the most popular places in Romania for tourism: Balea Lac and the Transfagarasean road (see picture below).
Therefore, a piece of advice I have for you is: start early your trip. And avoid, if possible, weekend trips to Balea Lac because the road gets very busy on the weekend.
*Interesting facts about Balea Lac (or Balea Lake in English): Balea Lac is a glacier lake, situated at 2,034 m of altitude in the Fagaras Mountains (a mountain sub-group part of the Carpathian Mountains).
To get to the lake, you must drive on the Transfagarasan Road. The road was named by Top Gear the most beautiful road in the world. The Transfagarasan Road or DN7C is 152 km long. It starts in Bascov, Arges county and finishes in Cartisoara, Sibiu County.
Interesting fact: Did you know that the Transfagarasan Road is the 2nd highest road in Romania? The highest road is Transalpina. However, it is not as breath-taking nor as dangerous as the Transfagarasan road is.
Simply driving on the transfagarasean road is a day trip in itself because it offers spectacular views over the valley. People stop at various viewpoints and take breathtaking photographs. Below is another picture of the road I took.
Tip: I used google maps every time I travel in Romania, and the app is very reliable. A good offline map alternative I recommend is MapsMe which works perfectly fine in this country. You only need to remember to download the region you travel to beforehand.
An additional piece of advice when travelling to Balea Lac and the Transfagarasan road:
The most convenient way to go to Balea Lac (Balea Lake) is by car. The trip to Balea Lac can be quite an experience because you will get to drive on one of the most spectacular Romanian roads.
The Transfagarasean road is known for the stunning views of the Romanian mountains. Yet, be aware that there is quite a lot of traffic in summer.
–the Transfagarasan road closes in winter as well as the lake, so don’t plan any trips there during the cold season
-the best way to experience the Tranfagarasan Road is by travelling in a small car, although you can book day trips too. Personally, I saw tourist buses on the road. However, be aware that in summer the road gets really busy. And parking spots also fill up quickly. So, avoid travelling there over the weekend or during a national bank holiday. I know I already emphasised this aspect, but it’s really important to make sure you’ll have the best time.
Once you arrive at Balea Lake, find a spot to park your car, and from there you can start walking to the lake. There are food stalls (see picture below), and places you can buy souvenirs from. So, plenty of options if you search for some small gifts for your family. There are toilet facilities if you need to use them too. However, I cannot remember if I saw any ATMs around. To be on the safe side, I would advise bringing some cash with you to avoid disappointment.
After you’ve finished taking pictures and wandering around Balea Lake you can visit Capra Lake. For this, you will need to walk around Balea Lake and aim for the mountains. There are quite a few arrows so you cannot miss the trail. However, if you are unsure, you can always ask around. The hiking trail is quite rocky and steep, so I recommend good hiking shoes. You won’t have problems finding the second lake (Capra lake) because the route is popular, and you will meet plenty of people on your way up there. This is a hiking route I totally recommend if you want to see Balea Lake from above (as shown in the pictures below).
Balea Lac is stunning no matter where you take pictures of it. Below are some pictures of Balea Lac before I started my hike. I also included some pictures of the hiking route.
This is Capra Lake (see picture below) which is as beautiful as Balea Lake. Capra Lake is situated at over 2230 m of altitude so consider this if you get altitude sickness. The hike to Capra Lake takes around 1h to complete. I would say the level of difficulty is medium.
From here, you have a few options to choose from if you want to continue your hike. By far, the most popular hike from Capra Lake is Vanatoarea lui Buteanu Peak. According to the information board, it takes 30 min to complete. There are information boards (see pictures below) at Capra Lake and Balea Lake. These can help you decide which route you want to take next.
Based on what you choose, you can even end up hiking to the 2nd highest Romanian peak (Negoiu Peak: 2,535 m in altitude). The route takes 1h to complete. However, make sure you’re suited for this adventure. As beautiful as the Romanian Carpathians are, they can be very deceiving. In fact, at Capra Lake, there is a monument erected for the memory of some people who lost their lives in an avalanche. Other places you go from here are Balea Cascada (Balea Waterfall). Or you can even camp at Capra Lake-this is only allowed in summer.
*Useful tip: as you can see the information broads are in Romanian only. So I suggest downloading a translation app beforehand to translate the information displayed. I used google translate in the past, which is quite good for short text such as menus, tourist information etc.
Personally, I did not choose any of the above routes. Instead, I walked around Capra Lake, reached the other side of it, and started descending towards the Transfagarasan Road. The hike took me more than 1h, but I did stop a lot and took plenty of photos. So I would say it would normally take around 1h to complete or even less. The hiking trail is marked and met a couple of people on my way down. So I can assume it is popular among other hikers. The best part was the incredible view because you get to see the Transfagarasan road in all its glory. Below is my picture of the road before I started descending.
More pictures from my hike are below. The view was simply stunning.
When I finished, I got picked up by my friends on the way back as they did another route and went back to get the car. If you decide to do this route by yourself, you will need to consider that you have to walk back to the parking lot because that’s the only way to get your car back.
The final piece of advice for your trip to Balea Lac and the Transfagarasan road:
-Wear good quality hiking shoes. For someone with sensitive feet, I cannot stress how important a good pair of shoes is when mountain hiking.
-Bring plenty of water and a windproof jacket because the weather is very unpredictable up there. Although the day I went there was really sunny, there were a 10 degrees Celsius difference between where I was and the start point of my trip.
-I found walking sticks very useful especially when descending so I really recommend having one for more stability.
-Be aware that there are areas where there is no phone signal
-And finally on a sunny day do apply sunscreen because you can easily get sunburnt
Below is a video I made summarising my whole itinerary. You are invited to watch it for more visuals of the area:
To conclude, I hope you’ve found my post on Balea Lac and the Transfagarasan road useful. I would like to think you might consider this itinerary for your next escapade to Balea Lake. If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, make sure you check out my other posts on travelling in Romania.
What do you think about this itinerary suggestion to Balea Lac and the Transfagarasan road? What else would you have liked me to cover in this blog post? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, happy travels and stay safe wherever in the world you are right now!