Cluj-Napoca is known as the unofficial capital of Transylvania mostly because is one of the biggest cities from the region and it also hosts many minorities and cultures. It would be unfair to say that this is the most beautiful town in Transylvania, but it sure is the most iconic one. Let’s have a look at the top 15 best things to on a vacation in Cluj-Napoca.
1. Admire European art at Bánffy Palace
Built in the 18th-century, Bánffy Palace is a stunning building in Cluj-Napoca that features a Baroque architectural design. It is a masterpiece of Johann Eberhard Blaumann, a prominent German architect. According to professionals, this palace is the most accurate representation of the Baroque architectural style of Transylvania. It was owned by György Bánffy, a Hungarian duke and former governor of Transylvania. At present time, Bánffy Palace serves as a museum that features art pieces from Romanian artists. Some pieces here are works of Dimitrie Paciurea, Nicolae Grigorescu, Camil Ressu, and more. Also, it has works from international artists.
Address: Piata Unirii 30, Cluj-Napoca 400098 Romania
Opening hours: 10am- 5pm (daily)
2. Catch a football match at Cluj Arena
Cluj Arena is a multipurpose arena in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Owned by the council of Cluj, this vast recreation space was completed in 2011 as a modern replacement to Stadionul Ion Moina. Its stadium can accommodate more than 30000 guests at a time. Home to the football club, Universitatea Cluj, this arena serves as a venue for the most-sought-after football tournaments in the country and even on international levels. Some of the matches held here were Romania vs. Montenegro and Romania vs. Denmark in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification. More so, because of its mammoth space, it has also become a popular concert venue.
Address: Aleea Stadionului 2, Cluj-Napoca 400375, Romania
Website: Cluj Arena
3. Enjoy a historical tour of Matthias Corvinus House
There are tons of reasons why visiting the fascinating scenes of Matthias Corvinus House should be on the list of your destinations to go when in Romania. For one, its unique architecture that stems from the Renaissance period is something to behold. This historic landmark is also famous for being the birthplace of one of the most prominent kings in Hungary, Matthias Corvinus. Aside from being one of the oldest buildings in the city, it is also near some of the exciting medieval markets which take place all year round. You can buy yourself some keepsakes that will remind you of your visit.
Matthias Corvinus House
Address: Strada Sextil Pușcariu 1, Cluj-Napoca 400111, Romania
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)
4. Climb up Cluj Tailors' Tower and enjoy stunning views
If you’re someone who loves visiting places rich in history and culture, consider putting Cluj Tailor’s Tower on your list of places to visit when in Romania. This majestic tower underwent restorations after a lot of devastation. Cluj Tailor’s Tower served as a protective wall in the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1475, 18 bastions and towers stood tall in an area of 45 ac (18 ha). Its proximity to the famous Orthodox Cathedral also makes it an ideal venue for devotees. The best part? You can climb the tower and enjoy watching scenic views.
Cluj Tailors' Tower
Address: Strada Baba Novac 2, Cluj-Napoca 400097, Romania
Website: Cluj Tailors’ Tower
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)
5. Take Instagram-worthy pictures of the stunning Berde Palace
Cluj Napoca is famous for many things, including scenic streets and unique buildings spread around the city that will instantly captivate you. One of the prominent architectures in this charming place is Berde Palace. It’s a fascinating building that boasts a Secession style built in the 19th century. Some of the features of the palace include banks, towers, and three floors. Its location in Strada Dacia makes it an accessible place, especially if you’re walking the streets. If you’re someone who loves to take artsy pictures, this is the perfect place for you. Even the outside of the palace is picturesque enough to post on your Instagram.
Address: Strada Dacia, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Website: Berde Palace
6. Take a walk in the Botanical Garden
The last time I visited the Botanical Garden of Cluj-Napoca was over ten years ago, but I still remember how amazed I was at all the plants that I was able to see there. These plants made me realize how diverse the flora of this world can be. And that sentiment came from a simple botanical garden in Romania.
The garden is spread over 14 acres (5.6 hectares) in five big sectors of plants. Over 10,000 species from all over the world can be found in the following sectors: ornamental, geobotanical, systematic, economic, and medicinal.
The Botanical Garden of Cluj-Napoca
Address: Strada Republicii 42, Cluj-Napoca 400015
Price: from 10 RON (2.3 USD) for adults, 5 RON (1.16 USD) for children
Opening Hours: Mon to Sun 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Duration: around 1.5 hours on average.
Access: 11 min walk from Memorandului Bus Station
Contact: +40 264 592 152
7. Look at the stars through the Astronomical Observatory
At the edge of the botanical garden, lies the astronomical observatory of the Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca. Although it is a working observatory, this place is open to the public, and tourists can take a look.
You can’t watch stars with so many lights in the city, but still, you can observe the most significant meteor showers, the phases of the moon, eclipses, and other annual events in the sky.
The Astronomical Observatory
Address: Strada Cireșilor 19, Cluj-Napoca 400487
Price: from 5 RON (1.16 USD)
Opening Hours: Fri 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Access: 7 min walk from Spital Recuperare I Bus Station
Contact: +40 264 594 592
8. Visit Unirii Square
The Unirii Square was always the center of Cluj-Napoca city, although it had several names in the past such as King Matia Square or the Grand Square.
In the square, you will find more places to visit such as Saint Michael Church, the Statue of Matia Corvin, the Art Museum, the Old Town Hall, and the National Bank.
9. Visit one of the oldest Gothic churches in Romania
St. Michael Church is one of the most representative Gothic buildings in Transylvania, and at 70 m (230 ft) tall, it the fifth tallest religious building in Romania, after churches from Brasov, Alba-Iulia, Sibiu, and Oradea. The building of this church lasted for more than two centuries and was finished under the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg of the Holy Roman Empire.
Near Unirii Square, you can take half an hour to view all the architectural elements of this church and its decorations that have lasted for centuries.
St. Michael Gothic Church
Address: Piața Unirii, Cluj-Napoca 400015
Access: 3 min walk from the Memorandumului Bus Station
Contact: +40 264 592 089
10. Take a walk in the Central Park of Cluj
The most significant green space from Cluj-Napoca has a history of over 180 years when an organization decided to close the area to construct a recreational park. Here you can visit an old casino, the park’s lake, a fountain, the statues of famous Romanian writers, restaurants, and of course, its main paths.
The Central Park of Cluj-Napoca
Opening Hours: 24 h
Duration: 1 h on average.
Access: 6 min walk from “Spitalul de Copii” Bus Station
11. Walk around Museum Square and its nearby streets
The Museum Square is one of the few streets from Cluj-Napoca’s Old Town where cars aren’t allowed, and you can enjoy a peaceful walk or a drink at one of the coffee shops in this area. Even if the name suggests that it is a museum, the cafes and the boutique shops of this square get more visitors than the History Museum.
12. Visit the National Theatre and the Romanian Opera
Both the National Theatre and the Romanian Opera have their primary place in this building, which was designed by two architects from the 20th century. If the architecture of the exterior amazed you, wait till you see the interior with your own eyes. A theater play here will bring you back to the bohemian times from the beginning of 20th century.
The National Theatre
Address: Piața Ștefan cel Mare 2-4, Cluj-Napoca 400192
Opening Hours: open only during performances
Access: 1 min walk from Opera Bus Station
Contact: +40 264 590 272
Website: National Theatre
13. Have fun at famous Transylvanian festivals: Untold and Electric Castle
These two festival have made the Cluj County even more crowded than it was by gathering the most passionate music fans from all over the country and even from abroad. Every year some famous DJs and bands come here to the delight of many young visitors. If you’re not into these festivals and you want to visit Cluj-Napoca in the same period of the year, you better book your stay sooner because the city is always fully booked during these festivals.
14. Take a day to visit Ethnographic Park
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
The old village of Transylvania is always a great attraction for tourists that come here every year. The traditional rural regions start to modernize, and the customs tend to disappear. That’s why many ethnographic parks started to rise in the most visited cities in Romania, to preserve the heritage of the traditional village.
You’ll need a full day to visit the entire Ethnographic Park of Cluj-Napoca, but it might be worth it if you like to learn more about the traditional parts of a country. In the 70 acres (28.3 hectares) of the park, you may find 13 households with over 90 buildings specific to the regions of the Apuseni Mountains, Nasaud, Bistrita, Transylvania’s Plain, Maramures, Szekler region, and many other minor regions from Transylvania.
Romulus Vuia Ethnographic Park
Address: Aleea Muzeului Etnografic, Cluj-Napoca
Price: from 6 RON (1.4 USD)
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Access: 2 min walk from the Tetarom Bus Station
Contact: +40 371 113 733
Website: Ethnographic Park
15. Explore National Museum of Transylvanian History
If you had a great coffee (check #6) and you’re a fan of history, you might want to check out the National Museum of Transylvanian History. This museum holds over 24,000 archeological objects from domains such as botany, zoology, and mineralogy.
The objects were gathered here for over 140 years under the lead of the University of Cluj. After you walk by the first displays, you may realize that you can’t get enough of these exhibits and the history behind them.
The National Museum of Transylvanian History
Address: Strada Constantin Daicoviciu 2, Cluj-Napoca
Price: from 3 RON (0.7 USD) for access and 25 RON (5.8 USD) for photography
Opening Hours: Tue to Sun 10:00 am to 4:00 pm | Monday closed
Duration: around 2.5 hours required.
Access: 3 min walk from “Opera Maghiara Est” Bus Station
Contact: +04 264 595 677
Fulfill your passions
After a walk through all ten of these attractions, we can all agree that Cluj-Napoca is a place to visit for every person passionate about nature, customs, architecture, astronomy, history, or even festivals. It might not be the best city in Transylvania, but it is one of the greatest.
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