Cluj-Napoca (in Hungarian: Kolozsvár), or Cluj, as it is informally known, is among one of the most visited cities in Romania after Bucharest. The local airport servicing the city provides a great deal of flights from, and to European cities, while the trains as well as the roads connect it to other major cities in Romania. Cluj-Napoca is continuously growing as well, as it is currently home to over 320,000 residents.
If you’re planning to travel to Cluj, I can assure you that you will love this city. For me, it is one of the Romanian cities I would definitely return to whenever I get the occasion. Being Romania’s 2nd largest city, Cluj has a vivid character (young-hearted as well as always-up-to-something). There are lots of places to visit in Cluj, as the city is a major cultural as well as university center, full of creative power as well as great vibes! Having also a mix of middle-age landmarks, it offers a variety of places to see and activities to do.
When is the ideal period to visit Cluj?
One of the questions I am usually being asked is: when is the ideal time to visit Cluj? Being a lively city, with a whole lot of things to visit, Cluj can be seen all year long. However, certain months are best, depending on what you intend to do, of course. For instance, if you want to visit the Botanical Garden (which by the way, is one of the most interesting places to visit in Cluj), then you need to plan your trip in spring (during April or May) or in autumn (during October you’ll have the best views in the garden).
Also, If you dislike cold, you should avoid February, as it is the coldest month (but also of course, it does snow, so you may like it if you are a snow lover). Otherwise, Cluj is good to visit anytime of the year.
While Cluj is a big city, it’s historic center is small and very simple to deal with on foot. Get a city map and plan your sightseeing beginning in the Museum Square (Piața Muzeului). From here, you can stroll towards the Union Square (Piața Unirii), where you can find the stunning statue of Matei Corvinul (Matthias Corvinus), king of Bohemia.
Walk in the direction of the National Theater and also, after that make your way to the Tailors’ Bastion (Bastionul Croitorilor). Once you finish visiting the Tailor’s Bastion, go towards Avram Iancu Road, pass by the City center, and keep direction to the Central Park (Parcul Central or Parcul Mare). Then you can stroll right to the top of Citadel (Cetățuia) for stunning panoramic sights of the city, where you can take memorable photos of your Cluj stay. Now let’s dive into more detail on things to do and places to see in Cluj and around.
The Union Square (Piața Unirii)
The Union Square (Piața Unirii) and the streets around it are among the most important sights in Cluj where people love to hang out, especially in the evenings. It is the best area where you can find beautiful places to eat and drink. I personally love it, and love to hang around this area especially on warm weather.
Also, close to the Piața Unirii there is Napoca street, a lively boulevard filled with good areas where you can dine, have a drink, as well as absorb local life. There’s a specialty coffee mania currently happening in Cluj. On this street you can discover Narcoffee Roasters, Olivo, Origins and also Meron, every one of which offer wonderful coffee – and also throughout evenings red wine!
On another close street, I.C. Brătianu, which is parallel to Napoca street, there’s a great place specialised on French patisserie – A La Tarte. Here you can appreciate a tasty quiche or the best pies in town. Also, you can try Joben Bistro, which is a fancy place, among the coolest areas to head out in Cluj-Napoca.
If you do not have a craving for the fanciest places in town, you can try one of the best bistros like Baracca or Bujole. Here you can indulge in traditional Romanian or Hungarian foods – such as: sarmale (cabbage rolls), mămăligă cu smântână (polenta with sour cream), gulaș de cartofi (potato goulash) or varză a la Cluj (cabbage a la Cluj).
The Central Park (Parcul Central)
Next on the list for a great walk is the Central Park, where you’ll see people jogging, laying on the grass, hanging hammocks as well as appreciating life. There’s always an interesting event taking place in the Central Park during summer.
You may wonder why I recommend a park for a site to visit? Well, this is not just a simple park, it has lots of places where you can do different activities, during both the day or the night. It has a beautiful restaurant, a summertime club, a lake where you can rent swan-boats for water pedaling. It is also a perfect place for picnics with your friends. It has a beautiful fountain and a pavilion where you can relax reading a good book.
If you are into sports, you can find here a basketball court, and a small area where you can do aerobic exercises. There is also a beautiful old Casino which was recently refurbished. The Casino is built in a Viennese old style, and it hosts various cultural events, fairs, and many concerts.
If you stroll out of the park through George Barițiu street and walk straight ahead, you will get to the Mill Canal (Canalul Morilor). In this area you can find great deals of beautiful houses that were developed between the 2nd World War and are very well maintained to this particular day. If you keep strolling through the park and enjoying the city’s feeling you will eventually reach the Someș river walk.
The Botanical Garden
For sure one of the best places to visit in Cluj, I found the Botanical Garden fascinating years ago when I visited Cluj for the first time. It was in spring, and it was a splendid visit. The garden is sensational year-round however, if you are looking for amazing walks through nature, either during spring or in autumn. The colours and shades of the nature are impressive here; and it makes an excellent place for exercising your photographic skills.
Just make sure you put on excellent walking shoes, as it’s sloping and you’ll be doing a lot of strolling through the garden. Bring water and treats. If you’re a photo maniac, like I am, and want to catch some fascinating panoramic views of the area, reach the top of the Water Tower (Turnul de Apă).
Turda salt mine
Close to Cluj-Napoca and also easily achievable by bus or car there’s Turda Salt Mine. The mine has actually been opened up as a visitor destination back in 1992 and supplies a great deal of intriguing tasks. As soon as you go into, there’s a mining museum, depicting the background of mining in Transylvania and also at Turda particularly.
Turda salt mine is an enormous underground wonderland with a brilliantly lit amusement park. It is located 120 meters beneath the Earth surface, inside one of the oldest salt mines known in Romania.
Salt extraction on the site’s surface began in the very old times, yet the work extended underground during the Roman control over Dacia. The mine was shut in 1932, yet it was utilized again during World War II as a reinforced hideout. After the war, the mine filled a few needs, one of which was a distribution center for putting away cheddar.
Despite its history, this salt mine isn’t only a colossal exhibition hall, yet an epic vacation spot. It was even positioned by Business Insider as the most delightful underground spot on the planet.
The creative look of this enormous event congregation appears as though something out of a sci-fi film. It contains attractions like an amphitheater, an underground lake that might be investigated with oars and rowboats, a Ferris wheel, spa treatment rooms with normal mist concentrates, bowling alley, small scale golf, sports field, table tennis, pool tables.
Hoia Baciu forest
If you visit Cluj-Napoca and are passionate of fantastical stories, you ought to not miss the Hoia Baciu forest. Here tales claim that paranormal activities take place. Go there during daytime or wintertime, however never ever alone! If you are curious, there you can find persons that could assist you with getting to the forest, and likewise share stories about the haunted place. For example, according to an old story in Hoia Baciu forest an UFO was seen 50 years ago.
People visiting this forest have historically told stories about strange happenings, such as: nausea, anxiety, the feeling of being followed by entities, and the sudden failure of their electronic devices. The forest really looks creepy in some areas, but a stroll here is really worth the experience, especially for those passionate about horror movies.
Having a perfect blend of middle ages landmarks, building gems and stylish city hotspots, Cluj-Napoca is a beautiful and easygoing city, where individuals enjoy life at a slower pace than in the crowed capital, Bucharest.
Accommodation I can recommend in Cluj
Cluj has many hotels, hostels and guest houses which offer good accommodation conditions at fair prices. But among the best I like, and tried as well, I have listed below:
- Hotel Opera Plaza
- Hotel Platinia
- Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Cluj – City Plaza
- Hotel Beyfin
Have a wonderful stay in Cluj! 🙂
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