I have a feeling deep down that you will absolutely love this article. And let me tell you why. Balea Lake is one-of-a-kind attractions to see if you happen to visit Romania. Not to mention, especially if you have your base in Sibiu. From driving on the best road in Romania, to experiencing breathtaking landscapes, fresh air and nature at its best, Balea Lake has to be on your bucket list when traveling to Romania. In this article I will share with you all the things you will need for a safe and pleasant trip to Balea Lake from Sibiu and also why you should be having this destination on your adventure list. So let’s begin!
What is Balea Lake and why should you visit?
Balea Lake is a glacier lake formed at 2034 m altitude in the Fagaras mountains in Sibiu county. It has a total of 11,35 m depth. Imagine how cold the water there is. I have never seen anyone swimming and I am sure it is not allowed. The lake is formed on a mountain top, on a plateau. Numerous rocky hills and green fields surround it. It feels as though you enter a different world. Is it because of the magnificent landscapes that surround you or the fact that you are 2000 m above the ground? No matter what, this is the feeling you get when visiting Balea Lake. Besides this, I will go in more depth to why you should visit this amazing gem hidden in Romania’s mountains.
1. You will get to drive on the best road in the world – Transfagarasan
If you are a Top Gear fan or if you know about the show by any chance, you will be delighted to hear that the host called Transfagarasan the best road in the world. Built during communist times, Transfagarasan passes through the Carpathian mountains, acting as a passage from Transylvania to the southern region of Romania historically called Wallachia.
Transfagarasan is a combination of a windy road and wonderful mountainous landscapes that one can enjoy while driving. It has plenty of stops on the way, where you can experience spectacular views from different levels. As you drive further on towards Balea Lake, you will slowly leave the dense forest behind. New clear landscapes will prevail, where you will see the tip of the trees and the tortuous road that cuts through them. Further above plain green rocky fields will welcome you to the plateau where the main objective lies unhindered: Balea Lake. If you want to experience Transfagarasan road in depth, check out these other activities.
2. Experience the Carpathian mountains
Whether you are a mountain lover or not, you will definitely get charmed by the beauty of the Carpathian mountains. While in the past they were used as a strategic military spot by the inhabitants of the area, nowadays they are an escape from the crowded city life and unbearable summer heat.
While on your way to Balea Lake from Sibiu, there is a sooner stop called Balea Cascada (Balea Waterfall). Here you can park your car and enjoy a walk and even hike your way up towards Balea Lake. There is a path leading you through the forest and up on the mountain. So, if you have an adventurous soul, here is your chance to satisfy it with a great experience. Personally, I have never walked on that path, but I have seen people doing it. Now that I think about it, I believe next time I will be up for the challenge as well.
3. Relaxing environment
I cannot describe to you the feeling of relaxation one gets when on top of the mountain, surrounded by picturesque landscapes. Even if there are plenty of tourists visiting this place, there is enough room for anyone to find their own meditation spot.
Looking around and seeing the beauty of the nature will fill you with a peace of mind that you yearned for. In our daily lives we are always in a hurry, always rushing to do stuff. Not paying attention to the present. At Balea Lake, you will feel that the time has stopped. You will reconnect with nature and recharge your batteries for months to come.
How to reach Balea Lake?
There are several ways in which you can arrive at Balea Lake. Both ways require you to rent a car/bus for the day. That is because there is no public transport that can take you to Balea Lake. However, if you want you could book a private bus from Sibiu to Balea here.
So, the first way is by renting a car and drive on the Transfagarasan road. I definitely recommend this as your main option, because of the thrill you will get while on the road. Also, you can be the one to choose where to stop on the way to enjoy the landscapes. There is, however, a downside to this choice. During summer, Balea Lake is a popular destination for anyone visiting Romania. It can happen that you are unlucky and will encounter huge traffic on your way (most likely if you visit on a weekend). What I mean is that you will have to stand in line for about 4 km before reaching the plateau. And that can take more than an hour.
That is why there is an alternative to the first option. The second way is also by renting a car, however you will only drive until Balea Cascada, park the car there and then take a cable car. The cable car costs 50 RON (~10 € or 12$) one way so in total 100 RON both ways (~20€ or 22$). The benefits of the cable car are numerous. If you are afraid to drive on the Transfagarasan road, you will still get to see all the beautiful landscapes and reach Balea Lake by using the cable car. Also, you will arrive at Balea Lake faster, as it takes only 15 minutes one way. Lastly, you will get to skip all the traffic, which I absolutely am for.
Things to do at Balea Lake
Arriving finally at Balea Lake, you might wonder where to begin your touristy experience. Here, I compiled some things I normally do when visiting Balea Lake, that truly offer me a perfect one-day journey.
1. Get immersed in the wonderful landscapes
After parking your car or going off of the cable car, you will immediately be welcomed by surreal landscapes. The sight of a glacial lake combined with the untouched rocky hills, green areas and serene water will give you the feeling as though nothing bad can happen in this place. Peace and quiet surround you from all directions and your eyes will only stare upon the beautiful lake’s surface color.
Depending on how you will look at it, from which side or how the sun shines on it, the water will have shifting colors. From a deep emerald shade, to a clear blue sapphire or translucent, you will be delighted to experience them all.
2. Take a short hike around the lake
If you want to see the lake and landscapes from different perspectives, then you should definitely take a hike around the lake. A small gravel pathway will lead you around Balea Lake, offering you plenty of stops on the way for you to rest and enjoy the magical landscapes. And without any other out-of-the-ordinary things to do at Balea Lake, you will fill up your lungs with fresh air and your mind with relaxation.
3. Have some delicious traditional Romanian food
Over the years, plenty of cabins and lodges have been built in the area to offer visitors a room to spend the night in. However, if you are there for the day only, you might still want to try out their food menus.
Personally, I haven’t noticed a difference in the food they are serving, so choosing the place is up to you. It will be a truly deserved meal after wondering about the plateau. Plus, you will get to eat your lunch in a such fairytale like place that you will surely not regret it!
However, if you are not hungry for lunch, then ordering a dessert is still something I recommend you doing. I mean, sitting on the terrace, watching over the lake, breathing in the fresh air and eating a papanas is something that you won’t be sorry for.
4. Look down on the Transfagarasan road
This one really gives you the chills. On one side of the plateau, which is facing the Transfagarasan road, you will find a small glass house. That construction is a super tiny museum where you can overlook the whole area below you together with the best road in the world (for 2 RON ~ 40 € cents).
I was more adventurous and decided to see it from another perspective, where a glass window wouldn’t stand as a barrier between me and the view. So, I went round the house and without paying anything more I got an incredible view of the Transfagarasan road. It was the best thing I could have done. I mean look at this view!
When is the best time to visit Balea Lake?
The best time to visit Balea Lake is of course during summer. However, even in the beginning of September, you might still catch some good sunny days. That is due to the fact that Transfagarasan road is not opened all the time. Sometimes, if the weather is really bad and driving would be impossible, the road is closed at Balea Cascada (Balea Waterfall). This is the case usually in autumn/ late autumn to early spring.
Also, sunny days offer you great views from above and a warm and pleasant atmosphere.
Balea Lake in a nutshell
Balea Lake is not a regular place you will visit. It will be one of the stops along the Transfagarasan road, exhaling dazzling landscapes, where you will feel on top of the world. It is one of those places you visit and never forget. A place of meditation, relaxation and awe. It is one of Romania’s most spectacular travel destinations waiting for you to experience.