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 city in Romania for the young. We hope our insider guide to the top things to do in Cluj-Napoca will help you make the best out of your time in this beautiful city that dates back to the ancient times.
This should definitely be on your bucket 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 Austrian domination. In 1735, after conquering Transylvania, the Habsburg Empire built a fortification on the top of one of the hills surrounding the city, today’s Cetatuia, meant to be a strategic point of defense and observation.
Catch the sunrise from Cetatuia for some great photos of Cluj-Napoca.
Photo by Eduard Benedek
A visit to the Botanical Garden is top of the list of things to do in Cluj-Napoca for the first-time visitor. One of the must-see attractions, the Botanical Garden was founded by Professor Alexandru Borza from the University of Cluj-Napoca and opened to the public in 1925. It’s today one of the most popular places in the city, with over 150,000 visitors every year. The Botanical Garden is open every day, from 8 am to 8 pm.
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. You’ll find both venues under the same roof, an iconic Baroque-Rococo style monument built right after Transylvania’s union with Romania in 1918. 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
The Union 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, the greatest ruler 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.
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 of the Habsburg Empire and his wife, Carolina, the first Austrian emperors who visited the city.
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.
Cluj-Napoca has lots to offer, especially if you take longs walks and you let it surprise you. Go to 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.
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 original pubs and bars where you can grab a beer or enjoy a delicious meal. You have plenty of options to keep your evenings occupied.
Romania is quickly becoming a major festivals’ 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 a 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.
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.
Photo by Cristian Bortes via ro.wikipedia.org
We hope our guide to the top things to do in Cluj-Napoca for the first-time visitor will make you curious because the city has so much more to offer. Book your tickets and start planning your trip.
If you’re already planning your vacation in Cluj-Napoca, don’t forget to book your accommodation in time especially if you’re going for one of its many festivals.
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.