Note: if you’re hiring a car for your trip, be sure to collect it from the airport (Otopeni), not the city centre, which can be an hour’s bus ride in the wrong direction!
Coming out of the airport, turn RIGHT on to the main road (1 / E60) heading north, signposted to PLOIESTI. [This road will take you much of the way to the village.] Once past Ploiesti (don’t turn off) follow signs for BRASOV. You’ll go through places like Campina, Breaza and Comarnic; from there on the road gets prettier, narrower and twistier as you drive through the hills. Sinaia is a big ski resort and has the Peles Palace (former favourite pad of the royal family). Busteni is overshadowed by the spectacular sheer cliffs of the Bucegi Mountains, notably the peak Caraiman. Keep following signs for BRASOV until you get to Predeal.
When you’re through Azuga, you’ll cross from Prahova County to Brasov County (an ugly concrete ‘bridge’ over the road marks the boundary); you’ll pass a Petrom petrol station, and cross the railway line on a long curving bridge at the start of PREDEAL. Immediately after the bridge, turn LEFT on to the insignificant-looking 73A to RASNOV and BRAN. The turning on to the 73A is at the start of a long straight bit of road; if you get into Predeal town itself, you’ve gone too far. The 73A (like a British B road) winds through the wooded hills – it’s a pass through the Bucegi Mountains and offers some great views. From Predeal to RASNOV it’s about 17km but the wiggles and hairpins make it a slow stretch of road. Well worth it for the landscape, though. I saw a bearcub on the road on one trip. Keep your eyes peeled.
PLEASE NOTE: if you come in the winter and there’s snow on the road, DON’T take this short cut unless you’re in a 4×4 with snow chains – some quite steep and severe hairpin bends. Instead carry on to BRASOV – it won’t add much extra time and is a lot easier and safer in winter.
When you reach RASNOV (you’ll see a large citadel high on a hill to your right) you’ll be driving past a string of tatty traditional houses and avoiding cows and horses loose on the road. You get to a T junction – turn RIGHT for BRASOV (left goes to Bran and Campulung) and then very soon afterwards turn LEFT to ZARNESTI – the turning is just after the MOL/OMV petrol station (worth filling up here: loo, shop and cafe).
NB If coming from Brasov: after driving through Cristian (a Saxon village which is a continuous stretch of 19th century houses) and cross the railway, you’ll go through a bit of suburban sprawl before you see the Rasnov citadel up on your LEFT. (It has a helpful Hollywood-style sign saying RASNOV.) After the Penny Market on your right, you cross a small river with the train lines on your right – keep an eye out for the sign to ZARNESTI (73a) which is a slip road to your RIGHT. You can see the petrol station just the other side of the turning.
Once on the 73a to Zarnesti, just follow the road straight to the town. NB some while after crossing the railway line, and soon after the little turning to BRAN on your left, the main road (still the 73A) bears to the right (signposted for Sinca Nou, Poiana Marului and Sibiu) and you need to ‘turn left‘ (although it’s actually straight on) into Zarnesti centre (CENTRU); I think there’s an orange sign there for Magura, too. You’ll cross the railway track again (stop and look for trains – no barrier) and keep going through one or two twists and turns, but don’t turn off. You’ll eventually fetch up in the little triangular ‘square’, with the BCR bank on the left, the town hall on the right, then a church on the left. Bear round to your left past the church; you’ll pass a children’s play area / tiny park on the right, then the post office, then you’ll reach a roundabout. You can see the V-shaped cut in the hills ahead – this is the pass to Magura.
Follow the orange signs for MAGURA and PRAPASTII: go straight across the roundabout (2nd exit) – there will be buses parked on the left; at the T-junction turn RIGHT; at the next T-junction turn LEFT. Stay on this road as it winds through houses; they will end, and then the tarmac will stop (up the hill on your right is a salmon-pink house) and the gravel road continues into the trees – just keep going. This is the start of the Piatra Craiului National Park, so no more tarmac. You’ll go up through trees with the stream on your left; go past the disused quarry on your left, then through more trees and past a spring on your right, until the road widens out a little (often there are one or two cars parked there). Here the road divides – you can go straight on to the Gorges, but for MAGURA you turn LEFT across the stream and up into the trees. Now the climb and the bends begin. Stick at a steady 18 mph in 2nd gear all the way (including round the bends) and you’ll have very little trouble, whether the surface is dust or snow. It’s not a smooth ride, but my Skoda Fabia makes it without fuss, year round.
Eventually you come out of the trees and see the start of the village ahead of you, with the ridges of Piatra Craiului stretching away on your right. Keep going – most of the village is further on.
There is only one main junction in the village – the first turning you come to: either straight on to the church, the school and Moieciu, or right towards Pestera. Ask your hosts for directions from this point.
TOILETS – A word to the wise – use the loo at the airport; on the road they are hard to find and not always fragrant. Large petrol stations with cafes attached are usually OK – but I should take some tissues/loo paper with you en route. The petrol station in Rasnov is your last easy stop before getting to Magura (30 mins).
- Silverstick Discovers Europe’s Wild Places (silverstick.typepad.com)