What better way to escape the daily routine than spending time in the mountains? We embarked on a thrilling adventure, conquering Romania’s “Roof”: MOLDOVEANU PEAK. The journey started from Balea Lake, a stunning natural wonder perched at 2.042 meters altitude, which serves as the gateway to your journey toward Moldoveanu Peak. We followed a well-marked trail that took us through picturesque landscapes, challenging ascents, and breathtaking views. It was a beautiful and enjoyable experience but a physical challenge that we overcame with determination. We covered 30 kilometers in 14h40′, with several well-deserved rests. At the end of the day, the sense of accomplishment was overwhelming, fueling our desire to do it again. Will we do it again? Definitely, but perhaps we would break the hike into two parts and spend the night at Podragu Cottage. If you’re curious about our journey and want to find out how to get to Moldoveanu Peak on a day hike from Balea Lake, read the complete article! 

Things to Know Before reaching Moldoveanu Peak on a Day Hike from Balea Lake 

A cosy cottage at Balea Lake

I recommend this hike only between June and September since the days are longer and warmer. 

Always check and double-check the weather forecast, especially the humidity. If it is too humid, the possibility of rain at some point is high. The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature and the possibility of rain or even snow, even in the summer months. It’s essential to be prepared for all weather conditions. 

Preparing for the hike is not just important; it’s crucial. The Moldoveanu peak is at 2544 meters above sea level, but don’t think because you start trekking at such a high altitude that it will be easy. You’ll have to cross several mountains to reach Moldoveanu Peak. The trek is quite demanding, with steep ascents and descents, so do not underestimate it. It’s a challenging hike that requires a good level of fitness and endurance.

Remember, it will be a very long day, so start early in the morning to make the most of it. Being well-prepared will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable adventure.

Bring a headlamp if it gets dark, and you still need to reach the final point.

Wear trekking shoes and trekking poles if you have some. Wear a hat, sunglasses and some sunscreen.

Bringing gloves for the chain-crossing part would be a great idea.

Staying hydrated is key, considering there are no water facilities in the area. You could refill your bottles with water from the lakes along the hike, but I must warn you that the water has a distinct taste due to its high mineral content. However, in case you run out of water, go for it! Your safety and well-being are paramount.

It will be a long day, and there are no dining facilities on the way, so bring some energy-rich snacks like granola bars, fruits or sandwiches, whatever pleases you.

The famous Transfagarasan Road 

Balea Lake, a stunning natural wonder perched at 2.042 meters altitude, serves as the gateway to your journey toward Moldoveanu Peak. The road to Balea Lake, starting from Cartisoara and spanning 30 kilometers, is none other than the renowned Transfagarasan Road. This road is a marvel in itself, with its winding and steep sections offering a thrilling drive. 

This awe-inspiring stretch of the Transfagarasan Road is a seasonal delight, open only from June to October. The road’s closure from October to June due to extreme weather conditions adds to its allure and makes it a must-visit for adventure enthusiasts. 

Would you like to enjoy the Transfagarasan Road on a day trip from Bucharest? Maybe this day trip is suited for you: Enjoy a day away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Marvel at the fantastic aerial views. Enjoy magnificent views of the Carpathian Mountains and Transylvanian countryside. Cruise along mountain ridges and through valleys on one of Romania’s highest roads. BOOK YOUR TRANSFAGARASAN ROAD TRIP HERE.

Short info about Transfagarasan Road 

the spectacular Transfagarasan Road

 

Remember the thrilling Top Gear episode where Jeremy, James, and Richard embarked on an exhilarating journey on the Transfagarasan Road, hailing it as one of the world’s most scenic drives?  Now, you have the chance to experience this iconic road, just a short 100 kilometers away from Brasov!

The Transfagarasan Road, a testament to human ingenuity and determination, was constructed between 1970 and 1974 during the Ceausescu communist regime. It was designed to provide a secure passage through the Carpathian mountains, a feat that still inspires awe. But the road is not just a marvel of engineering; it’s also a window into Romania’s history and culture. Along the way, you’ll pass by traditional villages, each with its own story to tell. Stretching over 150 kilometers from Cartisoara in the north to Bascov in the south, it has become a beloved weekend and holiday destination for Romanians and tourists alike, a living testament to its enduring appeal.

Driving the Transfagarasan Road the day before getting to Moldoveanu Peak on a day hike from Balea Lake

gorgeous views along the Transfagarasan Road, Romania

Having already explored Brasov and its surroundings, we were ready for a new adventure. After ensuring the weather forecast was favorable, we packed our bags and embarked on a journey into the mountains. Our first stop was the iconic Transfagarasan road, a thrilling drive that would take us through the rugged beauty of the Fagaras Mountains. 

The journey from Brasov was a breeze, and the drive was nothing short of epic, with its winding turns leading us to a staggering 2,042 meters. At first, the road seemed unremarkable, with a few bends here and there. But then, in a sudden twist, the landscape transformed, revealing a breathtaking panorama of mountains. We couldn’t resist stopping a few times to capture the beauty in photos and simply bask in the awe-inspiring views over the valley. 

As we reached Balea Lake, an unexpected sight greeted us- a young Russian couple dressed in full wedding attire,  capturing their special moments atop the mountain. This unique wedding photoshoot, a rare sight at such heights, drew the attention of a few tourists who paused to wish them well. After taking in the breathtaking views and spending some time at Balea Lake, we made our way to our accommodation.

Undoubtedly, the Transfagarasan Road is a marvel, ranking among the most awe-inspiring roads worldwide. I recommend experiencing it the day before or after your ascent, as it adds an extra thrill to your journey.

Overnight near Balea Lake 

views over the Albota Trout Farm

Our choice of stay was Albota Farm, a unique compound boasting a vast trout farm, a cozy guest house, and a spacious restaurant with a charming terrace. The farm also offers horseback riding facilities, angling options for both children and adults and a store stocked with homemade products. While it wasn’t the closest option, we were captivated by the farm’s offerings over the weekend. After a delightful dinner, we retired early, preparing ourselves for the upcoming ascent.

We loved the rustic Romanian ambiance, the quietness of the area, and the delicious traditional food. During our stay, we encountered many families with children, paragliders, and tourists from all over the world.

Note. If you also plan a one-day hike to Moldoveanu Peak, you can spend the night closer to the ascending point at one of the cottages near Balea Lake and save half an hour.

Moldoveanu Peak – One Day Hike from Balea Lake

Balea Lake (Balea Lac) – Capra Saddle (Saua Caprei)

The gorgeous Capra Lake before sunrise

As the sun was just beginning to rise, we found ourselves at Balea Lake, a serene and peaceful sight. The early hour meant we had the place to ourselves, allowing us to park the car, gather our belongings, and start our ascent from Balea Cottage without any distractions.

The initial part of the climb was a thrilling challenge, with steep slopes and a trail that was still waking up in the early morning. However, the adrenaline and excitement propelled us forward, and in just 30 minutes, we found ourselves at CAPRA SADDLE(Saua Caprei), where a majestic chamois greeted us. 

The few adventurous souls who had spent the night in a tent at Capra Lake were still in the embrace of sleep. We walked softly, not wanting to disturb their peaceful slumber. As we took in the breathtaking beauty and the stillness of the surroundings, we decided to bypass the Capra Lake on the left side and continue our journey. Despite the poorly signposted trail, we knew our direction: EAST (following the white/red rectangles).

Capra Lake (Lacul Capra) – Fereastra Zmeilor – Three Steps to Death (La Trei Pasi de Moarte) 

The difficult ascent at the Three Steps To Death on the ascent to Moldoveanu Peak

Our journey began with a thrilling 2.5-kilometer walk along the rim of Capra Lake, navigating steep inclines and descents. We then arrived at a significant point where two trails intersected.  We left the path to Podragu Cottage (Cabana Podragu) behind and embarked on the adventure known as THREE STEPS TO DEATH (La 3 pasi de moarte). 

As we progressed, we encountered a challenging section of slippery rocks and iron chains. Fortunately, our prior knowledge of this part and our preparedness with gloves made the ascent more manageable. Being well-prepared for such hikes is crucial.

Note. Be careful in this section; it’s pretty challenging and slippery. I’ve heard some ugly stories about people who fell here. Remember that you might find it more demanding on your way back when you’re already exhausted.

Nerlinger Monument – Vartopu Saddle – Mircii Peak – Podragu Saddle 

By now, we’ve made some good friends, two lovely dogs who became our companions on this journey. Their presence added a touch of warmth and camaraderie to our hike, making the experience even more memorable.

Two lovely dogs who followed us all the way to Moldoveanu Peak

Next, at NERLINGER MONUMENT, we encountered another tricky descent with slippery rocks that seemed to never end. But the sight of Moldoveanu Peak, standing majestically in the distance, was a sight to behold. It was a reminder of the beauty that awaited us, and it fueled our determination to keep going.

on the way to Moldoveanu Peak we passed by many mountain lakes

We pushed ourselves further, and on our Moldoveanu Peak one-day hike, we passed some gorgeous mountain lakes and climbed the stunning Mircii Peak, standing at 2.471 meters high. The hike was moderately challenging, requiring a good level of fitness and endurance.

Podragu Saddle – Podu Giurgiului  Saddle – Urcea Mare Saddle – Saua Ucisoarei Saddle – Vistea Mare 

on the way to Vistea Mare

From the Podragu Saddle, we had a gorgeous view of the valley and over the lakes we just passed. The trek continued beneath the imposing Tarata Peak (2400 m), the majestic Corabia Peak(2350 m), the grand Urcea Mare Peak(2434 m), and the picturesque Urcisoara Peak(2390 m). We followed the white/red rectangles, a path that was both straightforward and gently sloping, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the stunning landscape.

The ascent to VISTEA MARE, a crucial part of the journey to Moldoveanu Peak, is a unique challenge. It’s a rocky, slippery, demanding climb requiring your full attention. Despite our eagerness to reach the summit, we found this part particularly tricky. After another half an hour, we triumphantly stood on VISTEA MARE PEAK, the third-highest peak in Romania at 2,527 meters. The ‘best part? You have to descend the same way!

Vistea Mare – Spintecatura Moldoveanului – Moldoveanu Peak 

on top of Moldoveanu Peak

After another 20 minutes from Vistea Mare Peak, we approached the summit. We passed the Spintecatura Moldoveanului, a narrow saddle between the peaks where you needed to mind your steps. The last stretch was the most challenging, with steep inclines and rocky terrain. I remember feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness as we tackled this part of the hike, but the sense of accomplishment at the summit was worth every step. 

After 15 kilometers and 6h40′, at 12:40 a.m., we reached Romania’s highest point, MOLDOVEANU PEAK, at 2.544 m altitude! The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. We took a well-deserved rest, ate for the first time, and enjoyed the view and the silence, cherishing the peace and tranquility that only the mountains can offer.

Moldoveanu Peak – Balea Lake

getting back to Capra Lake right before sunset

The route back was the same, but the motivation was gone. However, the walks along the narrow ridges, despite the steep climbs and descents, were absolutely breathtaking. It took us another 6 hours to reach Balea Lake!  The last section, Capra Saddle, was challenging once again since the sun began to set, but the beauty of the surroundings kept us enthralled.  

Alternative: Balea Lake to Moldoveanu Peak in Two Days  

view over a mountain lake from Moldoveanu Peak

If the thought of reaching Moldoveanu Peak in one day seems daunting, consider breaking the hike into two days. Here’s a plan that could work for you.

On day one, start early and follow the same steps until you reach the junction of Podragu Cottage and Three Steps to Death. Then, track the route to Podragu Cottage and overnight here. Consider hiking for more than 9 kilometers on day one.

On day two, you’ll have to wake up early, hike until you reach the same junction, and follow the steps from above until you reach Moldoveanu Peak. The second day will be long and demanding, with more than 15 kilometers, but the views are nothing short of spectacular, making every step worth it! So, keep your spirits high and your determination strong.

Moldoveanu Peak – One Day Hike from Balea Lake. Interactive Map

Underneath, you’ll find a customized map that includes all the locations mentioned in this article. Just open up this article on your phone and click on the frame in the upper right corner of this map. Google Maps app will open up, and you can check all the details. I hope it helps!

Moldoveanu Peak, one day hike from Balea Lake

Planning a trip to Romania?

Secure your travel insurance for your trip

We never leave home without travel insurance designed to cover our expenses if something goes wrong. If you’re still on the lookout for travel insurance for your trip to Romania, I highly recommend HEYMONDO, a trusted insurance provider for leisure and business trips, backpackers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads. Their travel insurance protects against theft, flight delays, injury, illness, cancellations and much more.

Get an eSIM before the trip

Because phones have become our most important devices, it’s necessary to have a data connection as soon as you step foot in a different country. Your home data plan might only work if you paid for a much more expensive package, finding wifi connections in airports or train stations might be tricky, and seeking a local store to buy a SIM card might be exhausting. Forget all of that!
You just purchase an e-SIM, install it on your phone, and activate the plan when you’re ready to use it. Getting out of the plane and instantly connecting to data was a game changer for me. I didn’t have to waste time standing in line to get a local SIM card or finding a wifi connection to book a taxi to reach my hotel.
If you ask me, getting an e-SIM is a quintessential part of traveling. There is no physical installation and no long-term commitments. And the best part is that you can always top up or purchase a new plan through the app. Pretty convenient, right? Find the best data plan for Romania HERE.

Renting a car in Romania

The easiest way to discover Romania is to rent a car. You can stop whenever you want, visit places along the route, try new activities, and have the freedom to change plans at the last minute. You can rent a car directly in Bucharest or any other location. Check out the best rental deals HERE.

Disclosure: *This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*

Take a look at my other travel guides about Romania:

THE PERFECT 2 DAYS IN SIBIU ITINERARY FOR FIRST TIMERS

A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE DANUBE DELTA

6 DAY TRIPS FROM BRASOV

THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN RASNOV

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