5 things you must do in Cluj-Napoca
January 28, 2019
by Lucia Sigmirean
Cluj-Napoca, the city with three different names, Hungarian: Kolozsvár and German: Klausenburg. I like to say that Cluj-Napoca is more like a state of mind than a city. I am living here for almost 3 years now and I love its cultural versatility. During the last years, Cluj-Napoca went through a social and cultural metamorphosis that makes it the new youth capital of Romania. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Transilvania and also Romania, the right place to be if you want to get the real Romanian experience.
Here are the top five things I love the most about this city and you don’t wanna miss if you get to Cluj-Napoca. Enjoy and hope to see you soon!
1. Explore the gates, doors, and streets of Cluj-Napoca.
One of the main attractions for me when I first got to this amazing city, were the gates and doors of the buildings. Buildings from the historical center are representative for Baroque Age of Cluj-Napoca. The jewel of the Baroque architecture is the Art Museum, the Banffy Castle surrounded by the buildings from streets like Eroilor, I.C. Bratianu, Avram Iancu, Potaissa, Iuliu Maniu, Museum and Unirii Square. I was so impressed by all this history spoken through the old city buildings, that I started a Ph.D. program in Art History. So, If you want a guided tour of the most significant gates, please feel free to contact me.
2. Visit the churches of Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca is a city known for its religious diversity and the architecture of the churches. If you choose to look at the city on the top of Citadel, you enjoy an overview of all the towers of the oldest churches in Cluj.
The most impressive churches are located in the center of the city, especially in the old center. The first church built in the Baroque style is the Church of the Piarists, located on University Street, very close to St. Michael’s Gothic Cathedral that dominates Unirii Square.
One of my favorite churches is the Franciscan Church, located in Museum Square. It was built in 1260, on the site of the first Roman-Catholic church in Cluj, completely destroyed in 1240 during the great invasion of the Tatars. Also in the Museum Square, you will find the Obelisk Carolina, built in honor of Empress Carolina Augusta and her husband, Emperor Francis I.
3. Body and Spirit Experience
Achieve your daily steps target with a nice walk at the sunset in Central Park, feed the ducks on the lake and then climb the stairs to the Cetatuie. Enjoy a full wide view over Cluj-Napoca. Since you are now close to one of my favorite places in Cluj, I recommend you to walk to Samsara Tea House. I won’t share any pictures of this tea house because I would like you to discover it as I did and not ruin the surprise – believe me it will worth it.
4. Eat local food
People that know me and my husband, know that I love to eat. Good food of course. It is well known that Cluj-Napoca has one of the best restaurants in Romania. As in any other touristic city, there are a lot of traps for you, so, as a local, I will make you some recommendations.
House Rhedey is the restaurant of one of the oldest noble families in Cluj, a piece of history in itself. Here you will find a rich menu, made up of the favorite recipes of the ancient Transylvanian nobility. During the summer you can enjoy your meal on a beautiful terrace with an amazing view over Unirii Square.
This place is my recommendation for traditional Transylvanian food with prices suitable for all kind of travelers. Bulgakov Cafe is the favorite spot of the locals, its cool courtyard being the perfect place for the hot summer days.
If you plan to try a more fancy restaurant, I recommend you Chios. It is the symbol restaurant of the city of Cluj-Napoca, completely renovated in 2016. Located in Central Park, the terrace of the restaurant offers an overview of the lake and the casino. All the events of the old nobility took place in Chios, so I advise you to adopt an aristocratic attitude as you are here.
During the past years, Cluj-Napoca became famous for the festivals hosted here. The city offers the perfect multicultural and dynamic environment for a full year of events. I will mention here the most important ones. Enjoy!
ClujShorts – International Short Film Festival
Cluj-Napoca is a continuous growing cultural scene, so ClujShorts is the perfect event if you are eager to start a film or television career. All film enthusiasts are more than welcomed to Cinema Victoria a round of ‘’shorts’’.
TIFF – Transilvania International Film Festival
Founded in 2002, TIFF quickly becomes the most important and the largest film festival in Romania. Member of the Alliance of Central and Eastern Europe Film Festivals (CENTEAST) and supported by Creative Europe – Media Programme is one the most spectacular annual events in Romania and Eastern Europe.
The main goal of the festival is to encourage the cinematic art by presenting the most innovative and spectacular films of the year, based on originality and independence of expression.
Since 2002, TIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award has been assigned to worldwide cinematic personalities like Sophia Loren, Franco Nero, Claudia Cardinale, Jacqueline Bisset, Catherine Deneuve, Geraldine Chaplin, Wim Wenders, Nastassja Kinski, Alain Delon.
Jazz in Park
End of June
Are you a fan of Jazz music? Then this is the place to be. The entire Central Parc in Cluj-Napoca will be your new home for the week full of music, good vibes and a lot of new artists. Bring your good energy and your hammock and see you at the Casino.
Electric Castle Festival
The first Romanian music festival held in a castle, Banffy Castle, just a few kilometers away from Cluj-Napoca. You will experience 5 genuine days of electronic, alternative and rock music, a unique architectural concept at one of the top festivals to attend in Europe.
Voted The Best Major European Festival in 2015, Untold features both international and local artists, but keeps the focus on electronic and dance music. Located in the middle of Cluj-Napoca, in Central Parc, festival-goers get a full city experience and the best artists of the year.
I recommend you to choose Cluj-Napoca for a city break or as a long-term work remotely place.