Traveling to Cluj-Napoca – 5 reasons to visit this wonderful city

Do you love traveling, and would like to go to Cluj-Napoca this summer? Cluj-Napoca, or just Cluj, as it is usually called by people, is located in Transylvania, an area full of mystery and beauty.
traveling to Cluj-Napoca

If you visit Cluj by car, during the trip you can enjoy wonderful views, traditional villages, splendid mountain landscapes and you can experience the traditional local culture.

Etymologically, according to historians, the name of the Cluj-Napoca city probably comes from the Latin castrum clus, name given to a medieval fortress (translation: “closed camp”; reference to its sheltered and inaccessible position, because it is located between several hills). The first Romanian name of the city was Cluş, but the name of Cluj became popular after it became part of the Kingdom of Romania (1918). In 1974 the name was changed to Cluj-Napoca, Napoca being the name given to the first settlement, in the Roman period.

Here are 5 reasons why you you should travel to Cluj-Napoca as a tourist:

Gastronomic reasons

The food in Cluj is very delicious, and the city has many restaurants with tailor-made dishes. Arriving as a tourist in Cluj-Napoca, it is mandatory to try the famous and traditional “cabbage à la Cluj”, the famous traditional dish of the area.

The cuisine of Cluj-Napoca is a fusion of traditional Romanian dishes, Hungarian and Transylvanian local influences, and a modern twist. Some popular dishes you can try in Cluj-Napoca are:

  • Sarmale: Sarmale is a traditional Romanian dish made of minced meat, rice, and spices, wrapped in cabbage leaves. It is usually served with sour cream and polenta
  • Paprikash: Paprikash is a Hungarian dish made of chicken or pork stewed in a rich paprika sauce. It is usually served with dumplings or noodles
  • Langos: Langos is a deep-fried bread topped with sour cream, cheese, and garlic. It’s a popular street food in Hungary and Romania
  • Chimney Cake: Chimney cake is a sweet pastry made of dough wrapped around a cylinder and baked over charcoal. It is usually coated in sugar and cinnamon.

Touristic reasons

According to opinions of tourists, the Botanical Garden of Cluj would be in the top of the most beautiful in the country, the arrangements that make the difference being the Japanese garden (it includes a Japanese style house) and the Roman garden (it includes archeological remains, from the time when the place was a Roman colony).

At the northern end, there is the bank of the Someş, a local well-known river, from where the Cetățuia hill dominates, where the tourists can discover the ruins of a fortress dating from the beginning of the 18th century; it is worth this walk especially for the grandiose panorama over Cluj.

Another wonderful view over the city is in winter, from Feleacu hill (the top of the ski slope).

If you’re traveling to Cluj-Napoca, you should not miss Turda Salt Mine, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Romania. It hosts an amusement park (associated with multiple health benefits). This “interesting but hidden gem” is very old and dates back to 50 BC. Hr.

Also near the city is the famous Haia-Baciu haunted forest, where people in the area say that mysterious things are happening – from unexplained lights, unknown creatures wandering through the forest, changing temperatures and even UFOs. For mystery lovers it is definitely a goal to check.

Cultural reasons

Cluj is the cultural and economic heart of Transylvania. The historic center can be covered in an hour, but abounds in wonders, so you will surely want to linger a few days in the city.

The city center is a mixture of medieval buildings (with high walls and large courtyards), Hungarian and Habsburg. The Austro-Hungarians are grouped around the Union Square.

Once you travel to Cluj-Napoca, we recommend you to visit:

  • Gothic buildings: the Franciscan Church, the house of Matthias Corvinus and the Church of St. Michael (the second largest Gothic church in the country);
  • the statue of Matthew Corvinus (most often photographed) in the vicinity of St. Michael’s Church;
  • one of the most picturesque buildings, the sumptuous Neo-Baroque Continental Hotel, which retains the decor of the period between the two world wars;
  • The National Museum of Art of Transylvania (which operates in one of the palaces belonging to the Transylvanian nobles Bànffy – the leading family of Transylvania) is the owner of the largest Romanian collection of fine and decorative arts in the region from the XV-XX centuries;
  • National Museum of History of Transylvania – exhibits old maps of the city and collections from the Bronze Age;
  • Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania (hosted by a former palace from the 16th century) – Romulus Vuia National Ethnographic Park (open-air village museum, being the oldest of its kind in Romania); it is located on the meadow of a hill from where there is a beautiful view over the city and there you will discover the popular life of Transylvania.

Educational reasons

Cluj is a university city. Students are the ones who bring a young spirit to the city. They come from different parts of the country, but also from the world, to study here.

The largest university in Romania, Babeș-Bolyai (its name formed out of the names of two scientists, one Romanian and the other Hungarian, to highlight its bilingual status) is also one of the oldest in the country.

Social reasons

Every year, the city of Cluj hosts the three important music and film festivals of the country, held in spring and summer. The International Film Festival (TIFF) – a launching pad for Romanian films, Electric Castle (usually held in July at Bánffy Castle) and Untold (already a phenomenon that has gained popularity, attracting the best DJs in the world). So, if you’re ever traveling to Cluj, maybe you can plan in advance, so you enjoy some of these important events that happen every year.

During the rest of the year, Cluj is a less touristic city compared to, for example, Bucharest. Therefore, it is less crowded during these periods, and you will be able to enjoy the city and the cultural objectives in peace.

If you’re traveling to Cluj-Napoca, you will definitely find something new to explore. It is a city offering for all budgets, for nature lovers but also for explorers eager for the city. There is also a lot to see around the city.

In addition to all of the above, you also have to know that:

  • it is easy enough traveling to Cluj; the city has an airport very close to the city center;
  • it is a safe place where you can travel alone;
  • service prices are affordable;
  • in Cluj you will find a mixture of superb cultures and architectures. The city center is beautified by Renaissance and Baroque buildings, complemented by a nostalgic note rendered by the blocks from the communist era.

We hope we have given you enough reasons for traveling to Cluj this summer, and to enjoy the experiences that this city has to offer.

All resources from category: Places to visit

Picture of Iulia Serban

Iulia Serban

Travel guide and advisor

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