If you are visiting Cluj-Napoca or you are here on a business trip for more than a few days, you are probably getting tired of the fuss and rush of the city and in the mood for a quiet walk thru nature, exploring, hiking or a quick road trip that will fill your social media accounts with fabulous pictures.
I live in Cluj-Napoca and I often find myself wanting to get away from the city even if is just for a few hours, so I put together a list of my favorite locations that are just an hour or under an hour away from the city.
You can get there easily with a bus or you can rent a car for a day and not depend on a bus schedule. The get pony cars are a great option or any other car renting companies will do just fine.
The Turda Salt Mine (Salina Turda)
Even though this is a well-known visiting location with a great historical and touristic value, it is worth mentioning here also. The salt mine is offering a great way to relax and enjoy your time in Romania, at just under 45 minutes drive from Cluj-Napoca.
The access to the mine is really easy because of the excellent conditions of the mining compartments. Inside you will find various galleries and rooms with different stories and equipment, also a staircase and an elevator which will take you to the best view in the mine. The main attraction seems to be the small island surrounded by boats that can be rented and the Ferris wheel/ Big wheel.
The Turda salt mine has a microclimate and various factors that provide optimal conditions for rehabilitation therapies of many internal diseases, respiratory diseases or chronic evolving infections or allergies, so a trip there goes a long way for your health as well. And if you are wondering, yes, you can totally lick the walls!
The salt mine program entry is from 9:00 to 16:00, and the tickets are 15 lei for children/ students and retirees and 30 lei for adults. For more information, you can access their website.
The Turda Gorge ( Cheile Turzii)
Without getting too far from the salt mine, you will find a natural reserve formed through the erosion of limestone by the Hășdate river. The narrow path is 1650 m long and the walls have heights reaching 300 m.
The Unesco natural reserve presents a wide variety of karst reliefs and various caves. It is also renowned for its wildlife, the protected area has over 60 species of birds and various wild medicinal plants.
You can easily walk the entire length of the gorge in 2 to 2 and a half hours, just make sure you have your running shoes or hiking boots and plenty of water.
The Turda Gorge accommodate over 350 climbing routes, from initiation routes to high difficulty ones. You also have the possibility of practicing paragliding and mountain biking.
The gorge is located in Cheia, Cluj, at about 40 km of Cluj-Napoca, but you can also access it from the village Petreștii de Jos, which is on the other side of the gorge, at 30 km from Cluj-Napoca. The side from Petreștii de Jos also hosts a camping site.
The Windmill Recreation Park (Parcul de agrement Moara de vânt)
Cluj-Napoca is one of Romania’s biggest cities, so you will not find different animals in every courtyard like you would in the Romanian countryside, so this next location will melt you hart with the beautiful animals that call it home.
The Windmill is actually a petting zoo, where you can feed and pet over 250 animals from 45 different species like bunnies, ducks, chickens, Guinea pigs, small cows, bearish bears, peacocks, donkeys, squirrels, deer, houses and many more. They even host a monkey.
The park also offers recreational activities like horse or pony riding and also riding lessons, wagon rides for the kids or sleigh rides if it’s winter, a playground, a trampoline and also a minigolf court. There is a restaurant with a terrace on site where you can have a drink and enjoy some grilled food.
Their pricing is modest, 8 lei for children and retirees, 12 lei for adults and 10 lei for students, and for an additional 2 lei you will get a small bucket of food to feed the animals.
You will find the park in Ciurila, Cluj, at a 30 minutes drive from Cluj-Napoca.
The Gecko Adventure Park
While visiting the Windmill Park make sure to get your sports shoes because in the same location you will find the Gecko Park, an adventure park with suspended routes thru the trees.
The climbing park offers five routes with various grades of difficulty. The purple route is intended for children aged 3 to 6 years. The games are light weighted and represent a good opportunity for the kids to get used to the climbing gear. This route is at a maximum height of 1 m and has a length of 90 m, it does not require any prior training or any special physical condition.
The yellow route is an average route for kids. The games are mainly light but a little more challenging and exciting than those on the purple route. At a maximum height of 2 m and a 70 m length, this route also does not require any prior training.
The green route is a route for adults and children over 1,5 m in height. The height of the route is higher, 4 m and the games have increased mobility and are more demanding physically and also psychologically. It runs 100 m and it requires a minimal physical condition.
The blue route is a route for kids and adults with a good physical condition. It is characterized by heights up to 7 m and the games are more demanding than the green route, that’s why is mandatory to pass that route before entering the blue route. This route has a length of 115 m.
The red route is a difficult route that has tricky games. In order to enter this route, you must pass the green one and prepare for a 180 m long difficult route, both physically and psychologically. The red route reaches heights of 9 m.
The Gecko Park also thought of the ones that are not climbing, just supervising and installed a few hammocks that make their stay enjoyable as well.