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Travelling to Romania can be both exciting and unexpected. So what do you do when you go to a new country and a city that you only heard about before arranging your trip? Don’t worry, as you have chosen the most friendly and lively city in the country and right in the heart of Dracula’s region. Take your friends and explore the city’s beautiful squares, hidden streets, out-of-the-ordinary cafés and vivid nightlife.
Start your day with breakfast at the bakery Panemar, or just have a pretzel from the local bakeshops situated on Heroes Boulevard. The avenue that connects the two main squares of the city is brimming with beautiful buildings that display a variety of architectural styles. Follow the boulevard until you reach Unirii Square, and you’ll soon be right in the heart of the city. Take a picture with the statue of Matthias Corvinus and the majestic Gothic church that dominates the square, as this is one of the places you’ll best remember from Cluj. You can enter the church, and if you are lucky, you’ll be able to enjoy the mesmerising sounds of the church’s organ.
Before lunch, visit the Art Museum, located in a 18th-century Baroque building. It exhibits pictures of some of the most appreciated Romanian painters such as Ion Andreescu, Nicolae Grigorescu and Stefan Luchian.
For lunch, visit the Matei Corvin restaurant for a traditional meal. You will be surprised, as the owner may speak your language. One thing is sure, though: he will warmly give you recommendations on the best local dishes.
Spend your afternoon strolling along the little streets of Museum Square and wandering through Central Park. You can either take a nap in a hammock, read a book in the middle of nature or go and revisit your childhood by taking a boat ride on Chios Lake. If you are visiting the city in summer, various events, such as Jazz in the Park and Cluj’s Days, take place there; you can enjoy live music, funny workshops and meet the locals. Before leaving, buy a kurtoskalacs from the little stall between the park and the stadium.
If you want to discover the city with a local, go for a free guided tour with Cluj Guided Tours; the tour occurs every day at 6 pm, in English. It starts at Unirii Square, and the guides will answer all of your questions, whether they are about history, culture, places to see or dishes to eat.
You won’t be bored in the evening in Cluj. The city becomes more vivid at night, as locals go out for a drink. If you are a student, go to Piezișă Street, where students gather by the end of the day. If you prefer something out of the ordinary, go to the Enigma Cafe, situated in one of the most original places in Cluj, complete with a kinetic steampunk design and lovely summer garden. Other locals besides students also gather on the Piezișă Street or at Euphoria Music Hall. While these places are great for mainstream music lovers, if you prefer electro style, party until the morning at Midi Club.
In Cluj, ‘a good day starts with a coffee’ is some kind of an unwritten rule that all locals follow, so there are coffee places everywhere. While there is nothing unusual by taking a ‘coffee to go’, if you prefer enjoying your coffee in a cosy place, having a quiet moment after last night’s fun, then head to Roots or Olivo Caffe & Bistro for an excellent cup of coffee.
After you wake up completely and gain some energy, start your second day with a visit to the Pharmacy Museum. Find out the secrets of medicine from centuries ago, and learn how they prepared love potions. If you think about making it yourself, be careful, as it can lead to dizziness and uncontrolled euphoria if taken in large doses.
To refresh your mind, take a walk to Cetățuia Hill where you will be able to witness a magnificent panoramic view over the city. Take a moment to breathe it all in before snapping some of the most beautiful pictures of Cluj.
Start your afternoon with a picnic on Cetățuia Hill’s plateau, or if you prefer a restaurant, descend back to the city and have lunch with a view of the Somes River at Bricks (M)eating Point. If you plan to stay outside all day and want to discover some more about folk culture, then plan a whole afternoon at the Ethnographic Park Romulus Vuia. Meander down the little alleys, take a look inside the traditional houses and imagine how they used to live with just one room and one kitchen. If an afternoon spent between peasant households isn’t exactly what you were looking for, then put on your best clothes and go to a theatre performance in the Baroque hall of the National Theatre.
Spend your last moments in Cluj having a great dinner at Rhédey Café, a classy restaurant with jazz music in the heart of the city. Go on one final walk in the city centre and take a moment to say goodbye to Cluj before going back home.