Welcome to Cluj-Napoca! Bine ați venit! Üdvözlöm! Willkommen! T'aves baxtalo!
The heart of Transylvania and Romania’s second largest city, Cluj-Napoca, or simply Cluj, is a young, bustling city, known for its nightlife, cafés, and festivals. Cluj is also home to 10 universities, including Babeș-Bolyai University, the country’s biggest and in many ways the most prestigious university in Romania. These universities combined make for 90,000 students, which statistically means that every fourth person you’ll meet in Cluj is most likely a student!
Cluj, or Kolozsvár or Klausenburg as it also called, has a significant Hungarian population, who has greatly influenced the city’s architecture, cuisine and culture, as well as local slang. The city’s multicultural background has also attracted many expats. Summer is the best period to visit the city, as it hosts a number of great festivals, such as TIFF – Transylvanian International Film Festival (happening in the same time with NSF) or the music festivals Electric Castle and Untold.
Transportation & getting around in Cluj-Napoca
Cluj is a very walkable city, so you will be able to go on foot to most places. Public transportation is also widely available and affordable. When in doubt how to get to a place by bus/ tram, just use Google Maps – it works well.
From/ to the airport
By taxi or Uber/ Bolt
From the airport you can take one of those taxis that are parked right outside the Arrivals Terminal. Keep in mind that you may not always be able to pay by card. Alternatively, you could get an Uber or a Bolt, they may be more comfortable and they cost as much as a taxi.
A ride from the airport to the centre should cost around 40 RON.
Right outside the airport, slightly to the right, you can take bus no. 5, which will take you to the centre (Sora Station). It leaves every 10 minutes on weekdays and less often on weekends (check the schedule here). A bus ticket is 3 RON and you can buy it on the bus and pay by card. Use the smaller blue machines onboard. Keep in mind that the machines don’t issue a receipt, so you will have to show a proof of payment on your phone.
From the train station
The train station is located around a 20-minute walk from the city centre. You can also take a tram (101 or 102) right outside the train station or bus no. 9 across the street, depending on where you’re going, of course. There are also taxis available right in front on the main entrance.
What to see & do in Cluj-Napoca
A city tour in Cluj must include, in our humble opinion, a visit to the Tailor’s Bastion (Bastionul Croitorilor) to see the medieval wall of the city, then a walk to Avram Iancu Square, where you can find the National Theatre and the Orthodox Cathedral. We recommend continuing on Eroilor Boulevard and to Unirii Square, where a visit to the fourteenth century Saint Michael’s Gothic Church is a must. The next stop we recommend is Museum’s Square, where you can stop for food and drinks and, optionally, a visit to the Franciscan Church. From there you could walk up to Cetățuia Hill, where you have a great panoramic view of the city. You can then end or tour in the Central Park, where you can enjoy the lake, a good rest on the grass and a kürtőskalács, a Hungarian sweet pastry that we’re all crazy about.
This is what the walking tour looks like on Google Maps. 😊
Also worth seeing is the Botanical Garden in Cluj, the lake and park at Iulius Mall, and the Steampunk Museum. If you have time, we also recommend a hike in Cheile Turzii, about a one hour drive from Cluj.
Where to eat & drink
Cluj is a popular destination for gourmets and gluttons alike, so there are plenty of bars, cafés, and restaurants to choose form.
Restaurants & cafés
Some of our favourite spots with international menus include Euphoria Biergarten (yes, it has a great garden), Fabrica de Bere, Marty, Casa Boema (which has a gorgeous patio), Samsara Foodhouse (with delicious vegetarian and vegan food), Bujole and Bistro 1568.
If you’re looking for great breakfast and brunch spots, then we recommend Roots and Eggcetera.
For a more traditional experience, where you can indulge in Romanian and Hungarian food, we recommend Roata, Zama and Bulgakov.
For truly fine dining, check out Via, Baracca, and the Italian restaurant Da Pino.
Some of our favourite bars in Cluj are The Soviet (for a truly original menu), Klausen, Che Guevara, /Form Café, Yolka and Hemingway. If you want to explore the student party area, then we recommend a trip to Piezișă Street and a couple of drink at Booha and Hash Bar.