Top Things to Do in Cluj-Napoca for the First Time Visitor

Alexandra Balaceanu
Alexandra Balaceanu
Alexandra is passionate about traveling, studying and working on new business projects.

If you are planning a trip to Transylvania, be sure to save a few days for Cluj-Napoca. You’ll be delighted for sure as this is today one of the trendiest cities in Romania for the young.  Our insider guide to the top things to do in Cluj-Napoca will help you make the best out of your time in this cool place that dates back to ancient times.

1. See the city from above

This should definitely be on your list of things to do in Cluj-Napoca. In fact, we suggest you do it before visiting the city. You’ll get the best view from an old fortification point known as Cetatuia that dates from the time of the Habsburg Empire. The fortification was built in 1735, on q taller hill outside the city, as a strategic point of defense and observation.

Catch the sunrise from Cetatuia for some great photos of Cluj-Napoca.

2. Visit the Botanical Garden

A visit to the Botanical Garden is one of the great things to do in Cluj-Napoca for a first-time visitor. One of the must-see attractions, the Botanical Garden was founded by Professor Alexandru Borza from the University of Cluj-Napoca back in 1925. It’s today one of the most popular places in the city, with over 150,000 visitors every year.

Things to do in Cluj Napoca

The Botanical Garden

3. An evening at the National Theater or the Romanian Opera

Spending an evening at the National Theater or the Romanian Opera will be one of your favorite things to do in Cluj-Napoca if you enjoy cultural events. Across the street, in Avram Iancu Square, you’ll see the Metropolitan Cathedral, built between 1920 to 1930, the third-largest cathedral in Romania and a symbol of the Orthodox Church in Transylvania.

Check the events schedule on www.operacluj.ro

things to do in cluj-napoca

The Opera House

4. Visit Saint Michael Church

Unirii Square is the central attraction of the city and the place where you can find the second largest Gothic church in Romania. The construction of Saint Michael Church began in the 14th century and the monument remains until today one of the most impressive in the country. The church is guarded by the statue of Matias Corvin, one of the greatest rulers of the Hungarian Kingdom, the son of Ioan of Hunedoara, a true hero of the anti-Ottoman wars.

You can discover more about the two princes at Corvin Castle.

Things to do in Cluj-Napoca

Saint Michael Church

5. Relax in the Museum Square

The dense network of small streets in this area makes it a great place for walking around the historical part of Cluj-Napoca. Important old monuments you’ll see are Matias Corvin’s house, the 13th-century Franciscan church, Mikes Palace, and the 1817 Obelisk dedicated to Francis the 1st and his wife, Carolina, the first Austrian emperors who visited the city.

6. Travel back in time

A visit to the open-air Romulus Vuia National Ethnographic Museum is for sure one of the top things to do in Cluj-Napoca. The traditional houses and installations people used back in the day will take you on an interesting and interactive cultural trip. You will see what methods were used for woodworking, grinding grains, modeling clay, how gold used to be obtained, and many other bygone activities.

7. Walk as much as possible

Cluj-Napoca has lots to offer, especially if you take longs walks and you let it surprise you. Check the Central Park, ride a bike, or just experience the feeling of being surrounded by nature right in the middle of a crowded city. Lose yourself on the streets and don’t be shy to ask for advice, locals are friendly and proud to show off their beautiful city.

Things to do in Cluj-Napoca

Decorative elements, historical house

8. Engage in an original pubbing experience

Not only the city has some of the best universities in the country, but also some of the coolest pubs. For sure, one of the best things to do in Cluj-Napoca is to explore its trendy pubs and bars where you can grab a beer or enjoy a delicious meal. You have plenty of options to keep your evenings occupied.

9. Join the festival fever

Romania is quickly becoming a major festival destination, and Cluj-Napoca is no exception. The city hosts some of the most popular events. Are you a film fan? There is Transylvania’s International Film Festival with select international participation. Do you love jazz music? There is Jazz in the Park. And let’s not forget major music festivals like Untold and Electric Castle.

Things to do in Cluj-Napoca

Untold Festival

10. Go outside Cluj-Napoca

There is plenty to see and do everywhere in Transylvania, including close to Cluj-Napoca. You can visit the world-famous salt mine from Turda, spend a day at Belis Lake, or take a one day trip to Apuseni Mountains. Horseback riding, paragliding, and hiking are among the best options for an active day away from the city.

Things to do in Cluj Napoca

Turda Salt Mine

Photo by Cristian Bortes via ro.wikipedia.org

We hope our guide to the top things to do in Cluj-Napoca for first-time visitor will make you curious because the city has so much more to offer.

If you’re already planning your vacation in Cluj-Napoca, don’t forget to book your accommodation in time especially if you’re going to one of its many festivals.

Where to stay

You have many options, depending on your budget and preferences. If you prefer a hotel, we recommend Hotel Capitolina City Chic and Lol et Lola Hotel. Booking an apartment is also a solid option as there many available choices. We recommend Cluj Apartments, Apartament Belvedere, Cluj ApartHotel, and Central River Apartment.

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