The Best Things to See and Do in Cluj Napoca

Discover the best ways to experience Cluj
Discover the best ways to experience Cluj | © Alex Ionas/Shutterstock
Roxana Coman

Cluj Napoca is the most dynamic and young city in Romania. European Youth Capital in 2015, Cluj, as locals call it, is a mix of Eastern European hospitality and Western European modernity. To make sure you don’t miss the very best of Cluj, we’ve prepared a list of the greatest things to discover.

1. Explore the city with a local guide

When arriving in a new city, it’s always helpful to have someone showing you around. Start with a guided tour in the city centre with one of Cluj Guided Tours’ guides. Discover the city with a local and learn about Cluj’s history, landmarks and legends while enjoying a walk in its heart. The tour comes with local hospitality, tips about what to do, see and eat in Cluj, lots of stories and good humour. The tours are offered on a daily basis, in English, starting at 6 pm from the Unirii Square. And it’s all free!

Piața Unirii, in front of the Mathia’s Corvin statue, Cluj Napoca, Romania

Cluj Guided Tours team | © Courtesy of Cluj Guided Tours

2. Enjoy a panoramic view over the city

Cathedral, Church, Stadium

For those who want to have an overview of the city, the best place to go is the Cetățuia Hill. At 400 meters (1,300 feet) high, Cetățuia Hill was home to an 18th-century Austrian citadel. Today, there are only two gates left as the upper plateau was transformed into a promenade and touristic place. The second biggest gothic church in Eastern Europe, the most modern stadium and polyvalent hall in Romania and the monumental Orthodox Cathedral of Cluj, can all be glanced at a distance. Take your time to enjoy the view while having a drink on the Pergola terrace.

Dealul Cetățuii, Cluj Napoca, Romania

3. Spend your afternoon in the Central Park


Parcul Central
© Cristian Bortes / Flickr
Green heart of the city, the Central Park is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy a calm moment. In summer, the park becomes one of the favourite meeting places of the locals and the main venue for the Jazz in the Park Festival. Summer is also the season of hammocks as locals love reading a book or taking a nap in their suspended bed. In autumn, the park becomes the favourite place of photographers, offering fairytale scenery.

4. What about relaxing on a beach in the city?


While it’s nothing like a Mediterranean beach, the Grigorescu beach is perfect if you like lying on sand or taking a bath in the Somes River without getting out from the city. Nowadays, the Somes Beach hosts events like Jazz in the Park, Vamos a la Playa or the Cluj’s days. Concerts, workshops and parties are some of the activities you can enjoy during these events. But on a regular day, go there to chill, read a book, sunbathe, listen to good music, dance and meet the locals.

Plaja Grigorescu, 124 1 Decembrie 1918 Boulevard, Cluj Napoca, Romania

5. Travel in time and discover the traditional Romania

And no, you don’t have to travel outside Cluj for that. You just have to visit the Ethnographic Park Romulus Vuia. Discover traditional Romanian architecture while strolling in the country’s first open-air museum. The Ethnographic Park was opened in 1929 and today displays the traditional peasant architecture from the 17th – 19th-centuries. The museum is divided into two sectors: one including technical installations and a second showcasing traditional peasant households. Take a picnic for lunch and don’t worry about time. As writer Lucian Blaga said in one of his poems: “I believe eternity was born in the village.”

Parcul Etnografic Romulus Vuia, Aleea Muzeului Street, Cluj Napoca, Romania

Muzeul Etnografic al Transilvaniei © Cristian Bortes / Flickr

6. Learn how to prepare a love potion


In medieval times, medicine was not about pills, but about odd plants, miraculous powders and magical potions. In Cluj, you can find all these in the Pharmacy Museum. Home of the oldest pharmacy in the city, the museum offers an insight into medieval medicine. Explore the laboratory, the deposit room and the ‘oficina’, where coral powder and mummy powder were sold as natural remedies. But in a time when love was hard to find, there was something even more precious: the love potion. Find the recipe inside the museum.

Muzeul Farmaciei, 28 Piata Unirii street, Cluj Napoca, Romania, +40 264 597 567

7. Dare to experience paranormal activities


A mysterious place that raised questions over the years, the Hoia Baciu forest near Cluj is considered the ‘Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania’. The forest received the name of a shepherd that vanished in the area together with his sheep. But the place gained its reputation when biologist Alexandru Sift captured a flying disc-shaped object over the forest in the 1960s. Since, people who visited the forest have experienced unusual phenomena such as unexpected lights, odd voices and whispers and strange shades. Will you venture to one of the world’s most haunted forests?

Padurea Hoia-Baciu, Cluj, Romania

Hoia Baciu Forest © Swithun Crowe / Flickr

8. Surround yourself with flowers and exotic plants

If you are passionate about botany or just love seeing flowers everywhere, you should not miss the Botanical Garden. Spread on 14 hectares, there are 10,000 types of plant that are exhibited in the ornamental sector, the greenhouses and the themed gardens – the Japanese Garden and the Roman Garden. You can spend half a day wandering on the alleys and learning about exotic plants.

Botanical Garden Alexandru Borza, 42 Republicii Street, Cluj Napoca, Romania, +40 264 592 152

Gradina Botanica © Cristian Bortes / Flickr

9. Study the sky from the Astronomical Observatory

Botanical Garden

Placed near the Botanical Garden, the Astronomical Observatory of Cluj will introduce you to the sky map and its configuration. While the Observatory is used mainly for academic and scientific purposes, every Friday evening visitors can observe the sky and discover some of its mysteries.

Observatorul Astronomic, 19 Ciresilor Street, Cluj Napoca, Romania, +40 264 594 592

10. Test your detective abilities


In case you never tried an escape room game, now is the moment. Cluj has several places where you can try them, such as The Museum, The Dungeon, Xcape Room and ParaPark. No matter which one you choose, you’ll have to use your observation, spirit and imagination as the only way out is by solving the mystery. Usually, you have one hour to complete it. It may seem long, but being under pressure, you won’t see the time elapse. Will you solve the puzzle?

The Dungeon, 13 Petru Maior Street, Cluj Napoca, Romania, +40 785 473 278

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