Declared by Forbes to be one of ‘Europe’s Most Idyllic Places to Live’, Sibiu is certainly one of Romania’s most romantic cities. Boasting a soothing atmosphere and, as the French would say, a certain joie de vivre, Sibiu is a lovely city, one of the main cultural centres of Romania and the 2007 European Capital of Culture.
If the romantics would most surely go for Sibiu, Sighisoara is the perfect spot for history lovers. Housing Europe’s best preserved inhabited medieval citadel, Sighisoara’s fortress is adorned with colourful houses scattered along cobbled streets, centuries-old Gothic churches and impressive gates and towers, creating the citadel’s particular charm.
While both cities are great for history buffs and culture lovers alike, one may quickly cover Sighisoara’s landmarks, as they are all to be found in the medieval citadel, from the History Museum to the craftsmanship workshops. In addition, those passionate about Dracula’s myth will be thrilled to visit the house where Vlad the Impaler, who allegedly inspired Dracula’s character, was born.
A city to be discovered over several days, Sibiu boasts sites that will delight the culture lovers. The very first museum of Transylvania, the Brukenthal Museum, founded in 1790 by the Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, opened its art collection to the public in 1817. Sibiu was also home to the first pharmacy, opened in 1494, whose heritage can be visited today at the Pharmacy Museum. Also, let’s not forget the second largest open-air museum in the world, the Astra Museum of Folk Civilisation, showcasing Romania’s traditional architecture. And to these, we can add plenty of other places to discover as well.
When it comes to Romanian food, both cities have great traditional restaurants. From the gorgeous bean soup served in a bread bowl to the delicious sarmale, cabbage rolls with rice and meat, to the toothsome papanasi, these items are never missing from the menu of a traditional restaurant, and there are plenty in Sighisoara and Sibiu alike.
Nevertheless, if you are searching a more varied cuisine and gourmet dishes, Sibiu has the edge. From Romanian to German to Italian to Portuguese restaurants, Sibiu’s fantastic restaurants serve amazing dishes. More than that, in September, Sibiu hosts the Gastronomic Transylvania Festival and becomes a gastronomic paradise for a period of ten days.
If you are a party person, then you might prefer Sighisoara’s lively nightlife. With plenty of cocktail bars and nightclubs, you can surely find a place to go out and have fun until the wee hours of the morning. That does not mean you can’t do the same in Sibiu, but the city is not exactly renowned for its nightlife, as the locals prefer vintage pubs, where they can go out for a drink and chat all evening long.
Sighisoara might have its well-liked Medieval Festival, but Sibiu has also one of its own. In fact, from film to theatre to music festivals, Sibiu has them all. The city’s effervescent performing arts scene gets the locals out and invites visitors to discover the city’s creative minds. Then again, the only event that might tip the scales in Sighisoara’s favour is dedicated to horror film lovers, the International Vampire Film Festival.
Certainly two of Romania’s outstanding places to visit, Sighisoara and Sibiu are charming destinations. Nevertheless, Sighisoara is a better destination if you have just a few hours to visit. Its main landmark, the Medieval Citadel, can be discovered in two to three hours, and there are surely fewer things to visit than in Sibiu. If the nightlife is more vivid in Sighisoara, during the day you can easily get bored – unless you go during the Medieval Festival, when the citadel comes back to life, transposing you back to its medieval times.
For a weekend break or a romantic getaway, Sibiu is a better option. To fully discover the city, you will need two to three days. With so many museums, art galleries, fantastic restaurants and things to do, you will undoubtedly enjoy your stay and fall under Sibiu’s charm.
In the end, it all comes down to what you want and what you are looking for on your holiday.