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!
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.
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.
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.”
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
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?
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.
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.
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