Buckle your seatbelts because we’re heading to Cluj Napoca! One of the coolest cities in Romania and the unofficial capital of the Transylvania region! Filled with landmarks dating back to Saxon and Hungarian rule plus some super fun nightclubs, Cluj is a place you don’t want to miss out on!
In this post, I’ll point you to the 8 best things to do in Cluj Napoca, Romania! But you better not leave right after you finish that section because I’ve added a bonus with some cool day trips from Cluj, a section with great hotels, and some practical information on how to get to Cluj from Bucharest capital of Romania.
Cluj Napoca is one of the most beautiful places ever! And I’m not saying this just because I’m Romanian! I’m sure you’ll feel the same once you get here, and I want to know your take on it, so tell me all about it in the comments!
Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Cluj Napoca, Romania!
- If you are in a hurry
- 1. Explore the Unirii Square and St. Michael’s Church
- 2. Take a walking tour to learn about the Old Town
- 3. Learn new things at the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania
- 4. Escape the city noise in the Botanical Garden
- 5. Attend a show at the Romanian National Opera
- 6. Admire the Bánffy Palace Museum of Art
- 7. Check out the famous Casa Matia (Matthias Corvinus House)
- 8. Relax in Central Park and catch a sunset from Cetatuia Park
- 9. Visit the National Museum of Transylvanian History
- 10. Go to a festival
- BONUS: Top day trips from Cluj Napoca
- Where to stay in Cluj Napoca
- Practical info
- Frequently asked questions about things to do in Cluj Napoca
If you are in a hurry
I know some of you don’t have the time to read this whole post with things to do in Cluj Napoca so here is a quick summary of the main points.
Here are the main things to book in advance:
1. Explore the Unirii Square and St. Michael’s Church
Welcome to the social heart of Cluj Napoca! Unirii Square (or Piata Unirii) is the largest square in the city, and one of my favorite spots!
Set in the Old Town, the Union Square is home to many major attractions dear to my heart, including the famous St Michael’s Church, an astonishing 15th-century piece of Gothic architecture set just opposite the Matthias Corvinus Monument.
Coming in 2nd place as the largest church in Romania after the Black Church in Brasov (one of the best things to do in Brasov), St. Michael’s Church remains Cluj’s biggest landmark after hundreds of years!
PRO TIP: Visit the Church on a Saturday around 5 pm to enjoy a heavenly free organ concert
It’s not just these popular sites that make Piata Unirii so fantastic. I think the vibrant atmosphere, the lovely local people, and the architecture will make you fall in love with this place.
Hope you didn’t think there are no market stalls and restaurants around Unirii Square. They’re just the cherry on top! Some great spots where you could stop for a drink and something delicious to eat (definitely try traditional Romanian food) are Toulouse or Bujole Bistro. After that you can explore the alleys at night just when the light bulbs turn on, it’s such a magical moment!
P.S. If you love exploring old churches, stop by the Reformed Church and Assumption Cathedral (Theotokos Cathedral). Combining Renaissance and Byzantine architecture, the Theotokos Cathedral was inspired by the Hagia Sophia, one of the most impressive attractions in Istanbul, which you’ll probably notice after admiring the Dome.
2. Take a walking tour to learn about the Old Town
I don’t know about you but I find walking tours super insightful!
Cluj Napoca’s Old Town is quite big, and it’s filled with hidden gems and historical sites, including the famous Matthias Corvinus Monument, and smaller squares like Museum Square, where you’ll find all the museums (keep reading to find out about the best ones).
So if you’re intrigued by the city’s interesting history and want to learn more about how the Roman Empire invaded the area, I recommend going on a walking tour, the best way (in my opinion) to find out super exciting information.
During this 2.5-hour walking tour, you’ll stroll through the Old Town, admire its unique buildings and squares, and even visit the house where King Matthias Corvinus was born! You’ll also learn a lot about this famous King and the tumultuous times of the Middle Ages!
3. Learn new things at the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania
One of the most interesting places in the city has to be the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania. This open-air museum is set in the Ethnographic Park, where you can dive into the Romanian culture and admire some interesting rural buildings and traditional Romanian clothes.
They brought pieces from all over Transylvania and the Apuseni Mountains in the Western Carpathians and rebuilt around 200 historical buildings!
The Ethnographic Park is pretty big so I would take a few hours to explore the whole grounds and go inside the Ethnographic Museum.
4. Escape the city noise in the Botanical Garden
I don’t know about you but when I’m visiting a city (especially during summertime) I need a few breaks from the crowds and car noises! Usually, I go to a park, garden, or whatever place I can find that has trees and flowers.
Luckily for you, there are many spots in Cluj Napoca, Romania, where you can do this!
The Botanical Garden is one of those places (I’ll mention more in the next sections so stay tuned) and it’s set only a few minutes walks from the city center.
Founded in 1872, this green oasis is a real paradise for plant lovers. The Botanical Garden in Cluj is home to around 10.000 species of plants from all over the world that you can find in the greenhouses and gardens that are built according to geography.
My favorite bit is the area that’s specialized in ornamentation and design. Here you’ll find the rosarium (prepare to be blown away by the incredible fragrances), the Roman garden (Mediterranean garden), and the unique Japanese Garden.
Depending on how slow or fast you are, it might take you a while to go through the whole grounds of the Botanical Garden but my advice is to take your time and enjoy every minute of it! And definitely stop at the Botanical Museum inside the Garden, which holds different collections of plants.
5. Attend a show at the Romanian National Opera
Known as the fanciest building in Cluj, this building is one of the most iconic institutions and a lovely place that you should at least admire if you can’t catch a show (although I highly recommend you try that).
It was a couple of Austrian architects that built this interesting place, and they made sure the National Opera house is just as fabulous as the buildings in their home country, Austria!
The exteriors of the Romanian National Opera feature a neo-baroque style, but you have to go inside to admire it in its full glory! I think catching a show here will make your whole Cluj Napoca trip memorable!
6. Admire the Bánffy Palace Museum of Art
Spend a few hours at the Museum of Art, admiring the art exhibitions and sculptures. The building used to be the home of the Governor of Cluj, and you’ll probably notice that its grandeur is fitted for such an important character!
Turned into an art museum in 1951, this place should be at the top of your list of things to do in Cluj Napoca if you are interested in art!
7. Check out the famous Casa Matia (Matthias Corvinus House)
This is an essential landmark in Transylvanian history! King Matthias Corvinus was born here, hence the name of this place. The Matthias Corvinus House is not only famous for that, but its beautiful architecture also puts it at the top of things to see in Cluj Napoca, Romania.
Although you can’t go inside the Matthias Corvinus House as it is used by the Design and the Fine Arts University of Cluj-Napoca, you can admire it from the outside! There are also 2 plaques that commemorate the importance of this building!
8. Relax in Central Park and catch a sunset from Cetatuia Park
Known as one of the first public spaces for relaxation in Eastern Europe, the Central Park (or Parcul Central) is set north of Someșul Mic River and south of the Cluj Arena.
Although Central Park isn’t as big as the ones near the Old Town neighborhood in Bucharest, the capital city, it sure is charming! Here you can hide under the tree’s shade from the hot burning sun in the afternoon, sit on the benches and admire the beautiful fountain, or go on a boat and pedal-operated bicycle rides during the summer! They also hold lots of events here like the Jazz in the Park Festival, which usually takes place in September.
NOTE: You’ll probably need cash to rent the boats, and pedal-operated bicycles in Parcul Central in Cluj, so definitely take some with you
Once the sun is setting you can head to Cetatuia Park, located just across Someșul Mic River, from Central Park, to admire a stunning panoramic view of Cluj Napoca! You’ll have to climb up some stairs to reach Cetatuia, a historical monument and the best viewpoint in the Park but the walk up is pretty easy and pleasant, and the scenery will take your mind off all the climbing!
9. Visit the National Museum of Transylvanian History
Eager to find out cool stuff about Cluj Napoca? Then head to the National Museum of Transylvanian History that’s located in the Museum Square.
Its exhibitions will make you fall in love with Romania even more (and I’m not saying this just because this is my home country)! Most of them tell the stories about the history of Cluj Napoca and you’ll be able to see items brought from different archeological sites in Romania.
10. Go to a festival
Now that we’ve gone through all of the major attractions in Cluj Napoca. It’s time to have some fun!
Many of you might’ve already heard of the summer festivals in and near this busy city. Maybe you are even coming, especially for that reason. But for anyone who just happens to visit Cluj during that time, then stop scrolling for a minute.
There are 2 main festivals in Cluj Napoca, Romania, and I’ll tell you all there is to know:
Usually held in August, at the Cluj Arena, Untold is an electronic music festival that brings people from all over Europe and the world to have the time of their lives.
If you’re planning to visit Cluj, Romania, during that time, get ready to see how the city gets super packed instantly and how fast all the hotels sell out. I highly recommend booking your accommodations in Cluj many months in advance if you’re coming during the festival (check out my section on hotels below). Prices usually triple during this time, and it’s worth securing your spot at a fair price as early as possible!
Another big summer festival, Electric Castle takes place in mid-July, outside of the city limits at Banffy Castle. If you love electronic music, hip hop, rock or indie then you shouldn’t miss the chance of partying a few nights (and mornings) at Electric Castle.
The location is set a 50-minute drive away from the city center in Cluj Napoca, and while there is the option of camping at the festival, you’ll have to book these places the minute the festival goes public (this also goes for the hotels in Cluj) as they sell out super fast.
As an alternative, many people stay in the Cluj hotels and catch special busses put on by the festival to take you between the city and the castle.
BONUS: Top day trips from Cluj Napoca
You can’t leave Cluj Napoca without going on at least 1-day trip! Why? There are so many unique places, not too far from the city, that is definitely worth the effort.
Here are the best ones:
1. Visit Turda Salt Mine
I visited this Mine a really long time ago, but I vividly remember the feeling of being underground in the salty air. It’s such a unique memory and I can’t wait to return.
Located in Turda city, one of the oldest settlements in Romania, besides Alba-Iulia, Cluj-Napoca, Iași, and Timișoara, this Salt Mine is one of the most spectacular attractions in the Transylvania Region.
Prepare to see stalactites of salt hang from the ceiling, and climb down many stairs! You’ll be able to explore the underground salt labyrinth and trust me when I tell you that you’ll leave this place in such a great mood!
Its pure air is super beneficial for your health and you’ll notice that after a few hours spent here, your mood will improve considerably!
Alongside the mine, you’ll also find an amusement park (that has lots of stuff, including bowling alleys and ping pong tables), a spa center, a swimming pool, and salty lakes. But for all this you’ll probably need more than 1 day, so think beforehand if you’d like the whole experience. There are accommodations and restaurants in this area if you’d like to spend more time here and you can check their website for more information
- By bus – From Piata Garii Nord take a bus marked “Turda” for around 45mins to Autogara Sens Vest Turda (~US$4.30). From there, either walk into the town center and take bus 17 to Salina Turda or take a taxi.
NOTE: Carry cash with you in case payment by card is not possible.
- By car – Drive yourself by renting a car. It will take you around 40 minutes to get there from Cluj and the rental prices start from around US$80 per day.
- On a tour – If you prefer not to drive or take the bus, you can visit Salina Turda during a day trip tour from Cluj Napoca for around $133 per person, including your entrance ticket
PRICE: Adults US$10, Children US$7
2. Explore the haunted Hoia Baciu Forest
If you love spooky stories and unusual places, you’re in for a treat! Hoia Baciu Forest is located just 9 miles (12 km) west of Cluj Napoca.
There are many stories about this forest and most of them say that it’s haunted! Apparently, some strange things happened there over the years, including the disappearance of a shepherd and his 200 sheep, which were never found again, and some UFO sightings as well (wow)!
Now many people (who are super brave if you ask me) come here to explore the woods! Hoia Forest was even cited as one of the most haunted forests in Romania and in the world!
I guess now many of you are super curious, especially people who love these spots. The best way to hear all the stories about this forest is to go with someone who knows the area on a guided night tour. The tour is not designed to be scary, but the guide will tell you all about the mysterious things that have happened here.
|💯 Top attraction:||St Michael’s Church|
|🖼️ Best museum:||Banffy Palace Museum|
|😋 Must-try food:||Varza a la Cluj|
|🚗 Best day trip:||Salina Turda|
|🔦 Unusual attraction:||Hoia Forest|
|🤑 Best free activity:||Central Park|
|💃 Top festival:||UNTOLD|
Where to stay in Cluj Napoca
I’m so excited you’ve decided to stick with me until the (almost) end! I’ve prepared a fascinating section with the best places where to stay in Cluj Napoca! I’ve found some fabulous accommodations that I’m sure you’ll love so let’s not waste any more time and check them out!
Luxury (US$200 and up)
- Hotel Platinia – A modern hotel set within walking distance from the Old Town and the Reformed Church that has comfortable rooms with elegant decor and balconies. The accommodation offers all the necessary facilities, including buffet breakfast and complimentary coffee.
- DoubleTree by Hilton – Set just a short walk away from attractions like the Botanical Garden and St. Michael’s Church, this Cluj hotel has a fabulous swimming pool and spacious rooms with modern features.
Mid Range (US$80 – US$150)
- Golden Tulip Ana Dome – Relax at the wellness center of this hotel that has comfortable rooms with lots of space, a restaurant, and a bar. The city center and St Michael’s Church are accessible by public transport or walking.
- Hampton by Hilton – Get one of the rooms that offer panoramic views of Cluj Napoca! The hotel offers business facilities, a lounge, and a fitness center. Guests will also have access to shuttle service to Cluj Napoca Airport for an extra charge.
Budget (up to US$80)
- Brickyard Apartments – Feel at home at this super cozy apartment in Cluj with family rooms, a kitchen, and free wifi. There are a few restaurants nearby the accommodation but you’ll most likely have to use public transportation to reach the city center.
- Modern Central – This apartment is super close to Unirii Square and comes with everything you need while visiting Cluj, including a fully equipped kitchen, a dining area, and comfortable rooms.
Let’s wrap up this post with some additional information that will be super helpful when planning your trip to Cluj!
How to get to Cluj Napoca from Bucharest
Below you’ll find all the ways to reach Cluj Napoca from Bucharest, the capital city, where most people usually come from. If you’re also spending some time there, check out my post with the best places to eat in Bucharest.
As you probably know, the easiest and most comfortable way to travel around is by car. If you use a car rental service, you’ll get to Cluj in around 6h. Rental cars start from around US$50 per day
A cheaper way to travel to Cluj Napoca is by train from the North Railway Station. But bear in mind that the journey is pretty long. You’ll get there in around 9 h but the ticket will cost you just US$18.
Luckily there are planes that go from Otopeni International Airport in Bucharest to Cluj Napoca Airport. The flight is super short only 40 minutes and prices start from US$50, check Skyscanner for the best prices.
Frequently asked questions about things to do in Cluj Napoca
🔝Is Cluj-Napoca worth visiting?
Yes, visit Cluj Napoca, Romania and you won’t regret it! This city is a wonderful place in Transylvania that you should visit if you’ve got the chance! It’s worth visiting for its architecture, vibe, cafes, and nightlife.
🌆 What is Cluj-Napoca famous for?
Cluj Napoca, Romania is a student city famous for its music festivals, plus many cultural attractions, and the fact that it’s home to the country’s largest university.
⚠️ Is Cluj-Napoca safe?
Yes, Cluj Napoca is a safe city; however, as I always say, be careful when walking in crowded areas and avoid roaming the streets alone at night.
🌞What are the best outdoor activities in Cluj-Napoca, Romania?
Some of the best outdoor activities in Cluj Napoca are exploring the Old Town, visiting Central Park, and catching a sunset from Cetatuia Park! There are also some nice hikes nearby.
Woho! Cluj Napoca sure knows how to show its travelers a good time!
I hope this post with the best things to do in Cluj Napoca, Romania helped you plan your holiday and decide which attraction you want to see while visiting Cluj Napoca.
As I mentioned, besides all the activities that you should try in the city, I added a bonus with some really fun day trips, a section with some great hotels in the city, plus a few practical tips on how to get to Cluj from Bucharest, the capital city.
I’m sure you’ll love every minute here and for anyone who’s got any questions about the city or maybe other suggestions, leave me a comment below, and I’ll answer it ASAP!
Have a wonderful trip,