Balea Lake is a glacial lake in Romania’s Fagaras Mountains. Sitting at more than 2,000 meters high, it is one of the most popular lakes in Romania. Most visitors are drawn to the lake for the landscape and superb views on the drive there; the water is typically too cold for swimming. Two chalets are open near the lake all year round, but it is most easily accessed in the summer months. In the winter, visitors must ride the cable car from the chalet near the Balea waterfall to get there. In 2006, the first ice hotel in eastern Europe was built nearby using blocks of ice pulled from the frozen lake.
Balea Lake is a four-hour drive from Bucharest or Brasov. The nearest airport is at Sibiu, about 77 kilometers away and a better jumping off point. The lake can be accessed from the Transfaragan Road starting from Arefu village in the summer months, but the road is closed from November to early May. In the winter, it is possible to drive from Cartisoara to the Balea waterfall and take the cable car to the lake. The ice hotel may also offer transport in the winter.