The Fagaras Mountains, named by Emmanuel de Martonne in 1907 „The Transylvanian Alps” are undoubtedly the most impressive mountains in Romania. They are in fact „the loftiest, the highest, the iciest, the most alpine, and less horizontal” as one of the greatest geologists, Marcian Bleahu, stated.
Location: the Făgăraș Mountains are a subunit of the Southern Carpathians (Carpatii Meridionali) and are bordered by the Piatra Craiului Mountains (east), Oltului Gorge (west), Campulung, Bradetu and Jiblea Hollows (south) and the Fagaras Hollow (north).
Access: most tourists that desire to discover the Fagaras Mountains approach this massif from the Fagaraș Hollow, from Sibiu, Brașov, and Fagaras.
If you get to one of these cities by:
Car – we advise you to carry on travelling from Sibiu/Brașov towards one of the villages at the foot of the mountain, where the touristic tracks are.
Train – we advise you to carry on travelling from here towards the mountain with the bus. The low speed trains (CFR personal) that link the small villages with the big cities have an extremely low speed and long estimated arrival time.
The villages near the foot of the mountain where the touristic tracks are:
North of Fagaras Mountains: Sebesul de Sus, Avrig, Porumbacu de Sus, Cartisoara villages, Victoria town, Sambata de Sus, Breaza, Dejani villages;
South of the Fagaras Mountains: Arefu and Bradetu villages
Recommendation regarding access: because the length of the secondary ridges in the north part of Fagaras (that stem from the main ridge) are shorter, in average 10 km (6,5 miles), the access is a lot easier for those that don’t drive, for those who are on foot.
From the main road (Brasov-Sibiu) you will have to head to the secondary road that will turn into an unpaved one, heading to a valley. Many guesthouses and lodges have been built along the valleys of the Fagaras if you want you can stay the night. If you see cars heading in your direction, feel free to hitchhike. Hitchhiking in Romania is widely spread and is quite safe. People are amiable and willing, especially if they see backpackers.
Transfagarasanul road – as hinted by the name, it is the highway that runs through the Fagaras Mountains – DN7C (National Road 7C). The route starts from Brasov, Arges County and ends at Cartisoara, intersecting the European highway, Sibiu-Brasov.
It has 151 km (94 miles) long.
During wintertime, from 1st of November – 30th of June, between the 104th km (Negru Peak) and 130th km (Balea Cascada lodge) the road is closed.
Because it is an ascending paved road that goes up to Balea Lake (till 2042 m), many tourists prefer this route for access.
For those of you who hitchhike, this road is the easiest, due to the great number of cars passing by.
Main Ridge: in strait line from Rudarita to Turnu Rosi the ridge measures 72 km (45 miles). Measuring all its curves it sums up to 87 km (54 miles).
For those of you that consider walking it in its entirety, you have to prepare very good the logistics of the track, food, shelter and weather forecast.
The width of the ridge measures 40 km (25 miles) and a surface of 3000 km (1,864 miles)
Geology – the Fagaras Mountains have undergone subduction, and were formed through orogenesis (252-66 million years ago). The geological thrusting and folding, and the crumble of the Transylvanian Basin made so that by the end of the quaternary, the highest part of the Fagaras was above the permanent snow, thus, leading to the formation of glaciers and ice. The icy zone contains both sides.
Temperature and climate: depending on the season and time you want to visit the Fagaras Mountains, you ought to have the appropriate equipment. The annual average temperature (at over 1800 m) is 2°C (35.6°F). At this height, winter lasts for 6-7 months.The coldest month is January with -9°C (15.8°F) and the warmest is July with +7°C (44.6°F).
In summertime temperatures can peak to even 25°C (77°F). The weather is quite unstable, changing from a cloudless sky and warm temperature to a summer storm.
Regulation system in the Fagaras Mountains – a surface of about 198 ha of the Fagaras region is under protection by Natura 2000.
In order to cover ground in the Fagaras Mountains no entrance fee is needed. The rules that must be obeyed are those of common sense that every mountain-lover should know.
It is strictly forbidden: to litter, to pick up the flora, to feed the wild animals and to use motorized vehicles inside the perimeter.
Accommodation and camping
Guesthouses are found scattered throughout the valleys of the Fagaras Mountains. The most guesthouses are found on low ground. In most cases if you want to admire the beautiful part of the mountains you mustn’t stay at the foot of the mountain. The average price of a guesthouse is 100 RON/night (~23€).
Chalets are found, if you take a look at the Fagaras Mountains map, near the touristic tracks. Most chalets are small and have minimum comfort for a small sum of 20-25 RON (5-6€). The best lodges that offer good conditions, for those of you who are finical, are near Balea Lake (Paltinului Lodge and Balea Lodge). The costs of the rooms here are higher off course.
Refuge and camping: trekking in the Fagaras Mountains can be done by slepeeng during the night at shelters (refuges). These are found at an acceptable distance one from each other, about one day of walking. In full season it is possible not to find place in it since the shelters have a capacity of 10-15 persons maximum.
If you take your tent with you, you can do bivouac (one night camp) while you visit the entire massif. Areas where one can camp the tent are at the Avrig, Caltun, Capra, Podragu Lakes and near the touristic refuges. If you camp near the lakes you will find springs of fresh water.
Advice before you leave from home:
Depending on the activity, do take: a tent (in case you don’t book accommodation, i.e lodges, shelters), sleeping bag (we advise you to take a warm one since even in the summer nights, temperatures drop to 5°C), burner and gas bottle (nothing is better than a hot soup after a day of trekking), waterproof clothes, boots specially made for trekking, warm clothes. If possible do take a set of gloves and a hat.
Don’t forget: to buy either on-line or from a city a map of the massif, because on the mountains you won’t find a place to buy it from.
We recommend: to take light food with you, because you will have to carry it in your backpack. The only area where one could buy supplies is near the Balea Lake. At the lodges you may buy some specific products, more likely sweets, so it is better to come prepared.
Activities that could be done in the Fagaras Mountains:
Hiking – the entire massif is filled with hiking tracks with spectacular views. In order to cover ground you don’t need to be an expert, but you must have the aforementioned, appropriate equipment. Try to dose your effort, because the tracks go on different slopes and sides, one more difficult than the other.
If you decide to cover the whole massif, do set apart an entire week for the adventure.
Climbing – despite the spectacular relief (shaped throughout the ages by the glaciers and the ice) and dispite that they are the highest mountains in Romania, the Fagaras Mountains do not have tall walls, so there is little difficulty in climbing them.
The northern ridges are quite sportive, so in order to cover them one needs to have ropes, flexible/mobile anchor and the entire equipment for climbing.
Interesting areas for climbing are: Sambetei Valley (Colțul Balceni), Vistisoarei Valley (the slope in the back of the valley), Ucea Mare and Podragului Valleys, Vartopel- Arpasel ridge, Vanatoarea lui Buteanu (eastern and western slopes) and the slopes that border the Negoiu Peak and the Caltunului Slope.
Trail Running – one of the most important trail running contests in Romania takes place in this massif – Ultra Trail Fagaras. With a great level of difficulty and over a period of three days, it is considered quite the challenge.
Cycling – many cyclists, Romanian or foreigners, are attracted like a magnet by the Transfagarasan road. Riding their bikes from the highest point (Balea Lake) is considered a real performance. If you decide to do it, you must be fit. Do not underestimate this track. If you manage to do it, you will be fully rewarded once you descend past the other part of the tunnel near the Balea Lake.
Ice climbing – in winter, near Balea lake ice climbing lovers come here at a ice waterfall.
The Fagaras Mountains during winter – many tourists come near Bâlea Lake for ice climbing, ski touring or just to visit the Ice Hotel which is built each year from ice of the Balea Lake.
Access here in wintertime: by car till the Balea-Cascada Lodge. From here you will have to take the cable car (for about 1200 m). The pricing is 25 RON/person (6€).
In order to practice winter sports in these mountains, you must have intermediate skills in skiing and in mountain climbing if you desire to explore the surroundings. Avalanches are a real threat and highly dangerous that mountaineers, skiers and tourists have to face while ascending the Fagaras Mountains.
If you decide to visit Fagaras Mountains, you will surprised for sure by their beauty and wilderness.