Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Cluj-Napoca- ‘Cluj’ to the locals- is a cool university city in northern Romania. Packed with cafes and bars, pubs and clubs, cheap eats, and affordable accommodation, Cluj is a great spot to base yourself when traveling through Romania. It is also the ‘unofficial’ capital of Transylvania, and provides loads of opportunities to get out and explore the stunning countryside and incredible medieval towns of northern Romania.

    A view over Cluj-Napoca

  • Walk around town- Cluj is a pretty small city, comparatively speaking, and is easy to get around on foot. Grab a map from your accommodation, and get out and explore the various squares, streets, and alleys. You’re sure to find a few gems just walking through the city.
  • Visit the Old Town- The medieval center of Cluj is located just north of 21 Dec. 1989 Blvd., and is well worth wandering through- museums, universities, heaps of cafes and restaurants, and even a few open-air market stalls set up along the streets. The Old Town is a great place to grab a seat and watch the world go by.
  • Unirii Square and St. Michael’s church- Unirii (Union) Square is the heart of the city, and is impossible to miss. There are aways people milling about, chatting on the benches, climbing on the massive statue of Matthias Corvinus. The gothic Church of St. Michael is the centerpiece of the square, and is worth visitng to see the 15th century murals and architecture.

St. Michael's Church

  • Hike Fortress (Cetatuia) Hill- Fortress Hill is at the north end of town, just across the Somesul River. There are some good views of the city, along with a cafe or two to visit. The majority of the hill is parkland, and you’ll find locals exercising, walking their dogs, and snoozing in the sun. Join in!
  • Hit up the Student Scene- There are something like 7 universities in Cluj, and all these students have to do SOMETHING to relieve the stress of college life. Enter the countless cafes, bars, pubs, and clubs strewn throughout the city. There is something for every taste and palette, from quiet cafes to thumping underground clubs. Ask at your accommodation (chances are, the people that work there are students themselves), ask a group of students you’re sure to see in the public squares, go into a cafe and ask for recommendations there- whatever you do, GET AMONGST IT!
  • Hang out in Museum Square- Museum Square is located in the center of the medieval district of Cluj. It is well-known for its outdoor cafes, historical architecture, and popularity with the local students. A great spot to sit and relax for awhile when exploring the city.
  • Eat like a local- Traditional Hungarian food is AMAZING, and Cluj is a great spot to get your fill. Ask for a reputable local spot, and try out the ‘Varza a la Cluj’. Cluj is also home to a wide range of cuisines, and prices are usually manageable since it is a student town. If you like kebabs, you’ll love how they serve them in Cluj- as spicy as you like, with fries rolled in!
  • Stroll through Central Park- This park is a sprawling green space at the west end of town, just south of the river. There are plenty of places to sit and relax, and more than enough food vendors to satiate your appetite. There’s a small lake to relax by, and several paths for walking and jogging.

Central Park in Cluj

  • Explore the Turda Gorge- The Turda Gorge is about 15 km outside of Cluj, and is a great day trip out of the city. Towering cliffs rise along the flanks of the river that formed the gorge, and there are plenty of walking paths and rock-climbing opportunities along the gorge. You’ll find a restaurant and a few food trucks at the mouth of the gorge as well.

The Sighisoara Citadel

  • Visit Sighisoara- If you’ve got the time, a day trip to this medieval town is definitely worth it. Sighisoara is widely considered to be the best-kept example of medieval architecture in Europe- the castle and citadel stand the same today as they have for centuries. Walking among the towers, along the citadel walls, and through the alleys of the village feels like walking into a time warp. For you vampire hunters, Sighisoara is also the historical birthplace of Vlad the Impaler- the inspiration for Dracula. Whether you believe those tales or not, there a definite chill in the air once the sun goes down...

Sunset in Sighisoara