Exploring Cluj-Napoca

Nestled in the heart of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca is a city that captivates visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture. As the unofficial capital of the region, this Romanian gem offers a unique blend of old world charm and modern amenities, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking a one of a kind experience. Intrigued? Join us as we embark on an unforgettable journey to explore the beauty of Cluj-Napoca.

Cluj-Napoca Romania

Key takeaways

  • Explore the historical and cultural attractions of Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
  • Discover iconic landmarks in the city centre or relax in its Botanical Garden and Central Park.
  • Enjoy a vibrant festival scene, day trips to nearby sites, food and drinks experiences as well as accommodations for all budgets while staying safe and connected.

Discovering Cluj-Napoca

Cluj-Napoca, the second most popular city in Romania and the county seat of Cluj County, has a rich and fascinating history dating back to its foundation as a Dacian settlement known as Napuca in the 2nd century A.D. Later, it became known as Colonia Aurelia Napoca during the Roman period. Over the centuries, Cluj-Napoca, also referred to as Cluj Cluj Napoca, has evolved into a bustling Cluj Napoca city with a population of over 286,000 residents within its city limits and more than 411,000 in the Cluj Napoca metropolitan area. As a vibrant cultural and economic hub, Cluj Napoca hosts numerous events and attractions throughout the year.

This historical gem is home to a myriad of iconic landmarks, such as:

  • St. Michael’s Church.
  • The Statue of Matthias Corvinus.
  • The New Synagogue, which was designed by architect Hegner Izidor and restored in 1951 with the support of the Romanian government.

Exploring the city reveals a diverse cultural scene, marked by a large student population and a multilingual environment including English, French, Italian, Hungarian, and Romani.

One popular area to visit is Banffy Palace, an imposing former residence of the Austro-Hungarian governors, designed by the German architect Johann Eberhard Blaumann and located at Strada Iuliu Maniu 30. Wandering the streets of Cluj-Napoca captivates visitors with its remarkable atmosphere, fine dining, and engaging cultural activities.

The city’s accessibility is enhanced by its public transport system, which includes buses, trolleybuses, and trams, connecting different parts of the city. Taxis are also readily available for transportation within the city, making it easy to navigate and explore Cluj-Napoca’s rich history and culture. For a more specific option, downtown Cluj cabs are at your service. Whether you’re a history buff, a culture vulture, or simply a curious traveler, Cluj-Napoca offers a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.

Navigating the city centre

Cluj-Napoca’s city center is a captivating mix of architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, and Modern. The principal square, Piata Unirii (Union Square), can be considered an open-air museum due to its historical and architectural significance. In the heart of the city, you’ll find some noteworthy landmarks such as St. Michael’s Church, Catedrala Mitropolitană Adormirea Maicii Domnului, Bastionul Croitorilor, Fabrica de Pensule, Szeki Palace, and Babos Palace.

Old Town charm

Wandering through the Old Town of Cluj-Napoca is like stepping back in time, as you’ll find well preserved buildings from various eras and a dynamic atmosphere that’s hard to resist. One of the highlights of the Old Town is the Tailors’ Bastion, a noteworthy section of the medieval wall that has been preserved and is situated southeast of Union Square, near the City Hall.

In the vicinity of Union Square, you’ll also find several other impressive buildings and locations worth visiting, such as Union Square Nr:

  • The Teleki and Banffy Palaces.
  • The Franciscan Monastery.
  • The world’s first Unitarian Church.
  • The Piarist Churches.
  • The Mirror Street.
  • The birthplace of Matthias Corvinus.

The Old Town also offers a range of accommodations for visitors, including the City Plaza Hotel, ensuring that you’re never far from the heart of the action. Take your time to soak in the beauty of Cluj-Napoca’s Old Town, a place where history and culture come alive around every corner.

This area, as much as the centre of Cluj Napoca, is full with modern coffee shops, where you can find some of the best speciality coffee, roasted in Cluj Napoca, and also restaurants and cafeterias that will delight your senses.

Museum Square

For those seeking to dive deeper into the city’s history and art, Museum Square is the place to be. Home to the Franciscan Monastery, the Transylvanian History Museum, and the historic Obelisk of the City, Museum Square offers a wealth of cultural experiences for visitors.

At the Museum of Transylvanian History, you can explore a permanent exhibition highlighting the culture and history of Transylvania, as well as temporary exhibitions featuring paintings, artworks, and other artifacts by Transylvanian artists from different eras. Take your time to immerse yourself in the fascinating world of Cluj-Napoca’s history and art at Museum Square.

Botanical Garden and Central Park

When you’re ready for a break from the bustling city, Cluj-Napoca’s green spaces offer a tranquil retreat. The Botanical Garden and Central Park provide idyllic locations for leisurely walks and picnics, allowing you to relax and unwind amidst lush landscapes. Founded in 1872 by Hungarian linguist Sámuel Brassai and officially known as the Alexandru Borza Cluj-Napoca University Botanic Garden, the Botanical Garden is a must visit attraction for nature lovers.

With its Japanese garden, lake with fishes, and vast selection of flowers, plants, and trees, the Botanical Garden offers a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The garden also hosts events such as the International Children’s Day, the International Day of Seniors, and the Bonsai Tree Exhibition, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the botanical museum located within the garden, showcasing the fascinating history and diversity of plant life.

Central Park, on the other hand, is a spacious park featuring ample open green spaces and a multitude of trees, plants, and flowers. It’s the perfect spot for strolling, picnicking, and other outdoor activities, making it a favorite among both locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply in need of a break from the urban environment, the Botanical Garden and Central Park offer a refreshing escape within the heart of Cluj-Napoca.

Cluj-Napoca’s vibrant festivals

One of the many highlights of visiting this city is experiencing Cluj-Napoca’s lively festival scene. With events such as the Transylvania International Film Festival, Electric Castle and Untold Festival, a visit Cluj Napoca truly comes alive with an exciting array of cultural and musical celebrations.

The Transylvania International Film Festival, scheduled to take place from 14 to 23 June 2024, offers a broad selection of films, including feature films, short films, and documentaries from both international and Romanian filmmakers. The festival hosts two international competitions – feature fiction and feature documentary – and has become a significant film related event in the country.

Another must-attend event is the Electric Castle and Untold festivals, typically held in July and featuring a diverse range of music genres, such as:

  • Pop.
  • Rock.
  • Electronic.
  • Reggae.
  • Indie.
  • Hip hop.

Day trips from Cluj-Napoca

While there’s plenty to see and do within Cluj-Napoca, venturing beyond the city limits can provide even more unforgettable experiences. Popular day trips from Cluj-Napoca include:

  • Turda Salt Mine.
  • Corvin Castle.
  • Alba Fortress.
  • Rimetea.
  • Turda Gorge.
  • The Bride’s Veil Waterfall.
  • Marisel.
  • Rosia Montana.

For those seeking a more mysterious adventure, the Hoia-Baciu Woods, often referred to as the “Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania” is renowned for its strange and unexplained phenomena, including UFO sightings, ghostly apparitions, and mysterious occurrences. This haunted forest covers an area of approximately 3 square kilometers and offers hiking and biking paths for the brave to explore.

Another stunning natural attraction is the Apuseni Mountains Nature Park, a protected area in Romania covering more than 1,000 square kilometers and home to a diverse array of wildlife, such as bears, wolves, lynx, and chamois. The park offers various activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and skiing, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Food, drinks, and nightlife

Cluj-Napoca’s diverse culinary scene offers something for everyone, from traditional Romanian and Hungarian dishes to international cuisine. Be sure to sample local favorites like Varza a la Cluj (sour cabbage with pork chops) and Mamaliga Cu Smantana (corn polenta with cream).

In addition to its rich food culture, Cluj-Napoca boasts a lively nightlife, thanks in part to the presence of over 60,000 university students in the area. The city is home to a variety of bars, cafes, and clubs catering to all preferences and budgets, ensuring a night out in Cluj-Napoca is never dull.

Some of the most popular bars and clubs in Cluj-Napoca include:

  • Flying Circus PUB.
  • My Way Retro Club.
  • Shto College Bar.
  • Old Shepherd Pub & Bar.
  • Sax Speakeasy Wine Bar.
  • Steampunk Bar & Bistro Joben.
  • O’Peter’s Irish Pub & Grill.

If you are a coffee passionate, don’t miss the first coffee roastery in Transilvania, Olivo Coffee Culture, and also some speciality coffee shops like Meron, where you can enjoy a perfectly balanced coffee or a smooth cappuccino that will impress you with its latte art as well.

No matter where you end up, you’re sure to find a lively atmosphere and a memorable night out in Cluj-Napoca.

Accommodations for every budget

Cluj-Napoca Romania

No matter your budget or preference, the Cluj lodging scene in Cluj-Napoca offers a wide range of accommodations to suit your needs. Some options include:

  • Lol et Lola Hotel.
  • Capitolina City Chic Hotel.
  • Hotel Confort.
  • Campeador Inn.
  • Hotel Sunny Hill.
  • Vila Meteor.

For those seeking a more luxurious experience, Cluj-Napoca is also home to upscale hotels like:

  • Hotel Platinia.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cluj – City Plaza.
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Cluj.
  • Sungarden Golf & Spa Resort.

With such a diverse range of accommodations available, you can rest assured that you’ll find the perfect place to rest your head after a long day of exploring the beauty of Cluj-Napoca.

Transportation options

Cluj-Napoca Romania

Navigating Cluj-Napoca is a breeze, thanks to the city’s various transportation options, including the public transport Cluj route. To reach Cluj-Napoca, you can take a bus from:

  • Several major cities in Romania.
  • Most cities in Transylvania.

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find that the city offers an extensive public transportation network, including 25 bus lines, 7 trolleybus lines, and 3 tram lines, making it easy to explore different parts of the city.

For those looking to venture beyond the city, Cluj-Napoca provides train connections to numerous Romanian cities, including rapid intercity connections to:

  • Oradea.
  • Arad.
  • Timisoara.
  • Brasov.
  • Sighisoara.
  • Ploiesti.
  • Bucharest.

With a plethora of transportation options available, navigating Cluj-Napoca and its surrounding areas becomes effortless, allowing for a maximized visit.

Shopping in Cluj-Napoca

Cluj-Napoca Romania

For those who love to shop, Cluj-Napoca offers a wide range of malls, boutiques, and markets to explore. The city’s primary shopping centers, Iulius Mall and Vivo Shopping Center, house a variety of stores and international brands to suit all tastes.

If you prefer smaller shops, you’ll find plenty of options in the city center, particularly in the Mihai Viteazu Square area and Marasti Square. Browse through unique local crafts, such as handmade jewelry at Chic Bijoux, handmade products from local artists at Oranjerie, and traditional pottery from the Horezu and Korund areas.

For a more authentic shopping experience, visit Piaţa Oser, which offers a variety of items including:

  • Fresh produce.
  • Clothes.
  • Shoes.
  • Antique home décor.

Whether you’re on the hunt for local crafts, international brands, or simply looking to indulge in some retail therapy, Cluj-Napoca’s shopping scene has something for everyone.

Staying safe and connected

Cluj-Napoca Romania

Although Cluj-Napoca is generally a safe city with a low level of criminal activity, visitors should remain aware of potential hazards and familiarize themselves with how to access emergency services. The emergency number in Romania, and also Cluj-Napoca is 112, which can be used to reach police, ambulance, or fire services, it’s essential to remember this information for your safety. In terms of safety, it’s advisable to avoid certain neighborhoods during the evening hours, particularly the suburbs of Manastur, Marasti, and Iris, as well as the train and inter-city bus station areas.

By sticking to well-lit, busy areas, you can minimize any potential risks. In the unfortunate event that your wallet is lost or stolen, it’s important to act quickly by contacting your credit card company and freezing your card as soon as you notice it’s missing. While it’s possible that your wallet may reappear eventually (albeit without the cash and credit cards), taking these precautions can help minimize any potential losses. By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Cluj-Napoca while staying connected to vital services.


In conclusion, Cluj-Napoca is a captivating city that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern amenities, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking a one of a kind experience. From its iconic landmarks and charming Old Town to its vibrant festivals and lush green spaces, there’s no shortage of attractions and activities to discover in this Romanian gem.

So why not take the plunge and embark on an unforgettable journey to explore the beauty of Cluj-Napoca? With so much to see and do, you’re sure to create lasting memories and leave with a newfound appreciation for this remarkable city.

Frequently asked questions

What language do they speak in Cluj-Napoca?

Romanian is the official language of Cluj-Napoca, but many locals speak and identify as Hungarians. Additionally, English, French, and Italian are spoken by many residents.

What are some must see historical landmarks in Cluj-Napoca?

St. Michael’s Church, the Statue of Matthias Corvinus, and Banffy Palace are must see historical landmarks in Cluj-Napoca.

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