A journey through the clouds
There’s always something special about driving through the high roads in the mountains, and the Carpathians of Romania have plenty of fascinating journeys to offer. Reaching the highest altitude for a road in the country, the Transalpina, also known as the “King’s Road”, truly is one of the most exciting and unforgettable Romania experiences. With infinite twisting bends and a rollercoaster of abrupt ascents and descents, this stunning road over the mountains unravels scenic landscapes and epic emotions. It evokes the raw thrill of exploration and discovery, by crossing ridges and valleys, while sometimes touching the clouds. The Transalpina is among the most beautiful and memorable high mountain roads in Europe. The road crosses the Carpathian Mountains, connecting the historical regions of Transylvania and Wallachia. More precisely, it links the towns of Novaci in Gorj County to Sebes in Alba County. Representing an ancient sheepherding trail, it wasn’t paved until the First World War, considered strategically important. It is also known as the “King’s Road”, as it was traversed and inaugurated by king Carol II of Romania, after being redeveloped in 1939.
Starting from the south, the road begins in the town of Novaci, famous for its sheepherding tradition. It begins to ascend quickly and in a series of tight turns and bends that require some driving skills. After about 18 km, it reaches the mountain resort of Ranca, extremely popular for winter sports. This is also the best place for tourist services like food and accommodation for those who wish to stay longer in these splendid mountains. Leaving Ranca behind, the most stunning and inciting part of the journey begins. The road starts ascending abruptly towards the Papusa Mountain Peak, reaching its highest altitude in Urdele Pass, as 2132 meters. Panoramas are opening up everywhere, with deep glacial valleys and distant wooded ridges, passing by sheep or donkeys that welcome travelers along the way. Nevertheless, drivers should not become mesmerized by the immense beauty of the landscape, as this section of the road is truly challenging. Crossing several high alpine ridges, it begins to descend again towards the Lotru River Valley. Here, the road intersects another one that crosses the mountains from east to west. There are many wonders and magnificent landscapes waiting beyond this point.
First, the road follows the lush valley of Lotru River for a little while, the peaks of the mountains surrounding you from all sides. It then starts to ascend again, firstly peacefully between the dense pine forests, but quickly begins to twist as it reaches the heights of these mountains. Transalpina Mountain Road truly is an existential experience, more than just a feast for the eyes. Travelers get to feel the grand design of nature and the spirit of the wilderness during a trip along this special route. The lake of Oasa is an essential stopover, an artificial lake created by a large concrete dam, surrounded by marvelous landscapes and the starting point for several hiking routes. The monastery of Oasa can also be found on the other side of the lake, a spiritual oasis in the middle of nature. Further along towards the end of the journey, another smaller artificial lake is Tau Bistra, a new exceptional opportunity for photographs and panoramas. Descending further a few kilometers, the views begin to widen and the first villages start to gather along the valley. The end of the road is officially in the small town of Sebes, having traveled about 135 kilometers that stirred countless emotions.