Maybe you have to be in Cluj for a few days, and in one of the day you don’t have any activities planned, or perhaps you are planning your next trip and wondering what places to visit. Either the case, there is a variety of day trips and private tours for people who want to see a little more.
Cluj-Napoca is the unofficial capital of Transylvania and a major city in Romania. The city’s position in the Transylvanian Plateau makes Cluj-Napoca the perfect landing place for travelers to visit the central and the northern part of Romania.
You may have already heard of Bran Castle and Dracula from Bram Stocker’s novel but did you think you could go ahead and compare it with the castle The Nun was filmed in? In what castle was the Nun filmed? It’s the Corvin Castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle. Also, if you are in the area, you can visit Alba-Carolina Citadel, an enormous seven bastions Citadel where you can watch the guard changing ceremony. And if you’re aiming to leap through time to visit Saxon medieval cities, you can quickly get to Sibiu and Sighisoara.
With a day trip from Cluj-Napoca, you can visit Turda Salt Mine and Alba Carolina Fortress.
Start your day early in the morning on the road to Alba Iulia. There you will find the most extensive Roman castrum, and its star-shaped fortification, Alba Carolina. The foundation is inherited from the Roman Empire and by the German and Hungarian populations enriched the settlement’s cultural diversity. The influences imprinted over centuries Baroque, Romanesque and even Babylonian architectural styles on buildings and churches.
Aerial view of Alba Carolina Citadel, photo by viziteazaalbaiulia.ro
Alba Carolina is a seven bastions Vauban type Citadel surrounded by 12 km of walls. Every entrance we’ll enchant you with its Baroque decorative elements considered unique in European military architecture. At the gates, you will be greeted by the Austrian guards in their vintage clothes who protect the citadel even nowadays. You should also look forward to the Changing of the guard ceremony which takes place every day at noon on the Three Fortifications Route.
Turda Salt Mine
After lunch, your day trip from Cluj continues with Salina Turda, the world’s largest salt mining history museum. There are three mines: Terezia, Andon and Rudolf, at a depth of 90 meters under the ground. The deposit started being exploited by the Romans 2000 years ago, and nowadays the rooms reached enormous proportions, having a unique salt lake at the bottom of the mine.
Besides the museum, the Salina Turda also hosts an amusement park where you can play tennis, mini-golf, ride Ferris wheel, or even take a boat ride on the underground salt lake.
Sighisoara it’s widely remarked for being the only inhabited citadel in Europe. Most of the architecture has been well preserved making the city one of the best medieval towns in Europe. Before reaching Sighisoara, your guide will take you to Medias, which is also called The Citadel of Light. In Medias, you will have a short walking tour to admire the 15th-century buildings with their Masonic architectural elements and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
The next destination is Biertan Fortified Church, an extraordinary 15th-century construction surrounded by thick medieval walls.
After Biertan, you’ll finally get to Sighisoara and get to step through time to the medieval ages. Together with your guide, you’ll get to explore the wander through the narrow winding cobbled streets and listen to the calls of the town crier, who to this day announces the town's events, accompanied by his drum. You’ll also get to visit Sighisoara’s defensive towers (there used to be 14 towers, but only nine remained intact) and the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler.
Before going back to Cluj, your guide will show you an 800 years old gypsies settlement where local craftsman will teach you smithing methods used in medieval times.
If you have three days on your hands, you can visit almost every main landmark of Transylvania.
In the first day, after visiting Turda Salt mine and Alba Carolina Fortress, you will head to a quaint village near Sibiu, called Sibiel. There you will enjoy a carriage ride and having a traditional dinner with a local family.
In your second day, you will be exploring the nearby villages by bike and get to an old mill where you will taste authentic bread.
After the bike trip, you will head to Bran Castle and discover more about its connection to Dracula, and after that, you will head to Brasov and visit The Black Church, is the largest Gothic church in Transylvania.
After spending the night in Brasov, in your third day, you will Head back to Cluj-Napoca but not before visiting Sighisoara and Biertan.
Besides Transylvania landmarks, you can head north from Cluj to one of the most beautiful well-preserved region of Romania, Maramures. In Maramures, you will be getting closer to nature, traditions and the people.
In the first day, you will head to Breb and explore the picturesque village. There you can enjoy traditional food and discover more about the local culture.
In the second day you will visit the Merry Cemetery – the most colorful cemetery you will ever see. Later in the day, you will get to see two of the Wooden Churches of Maramures - Poienlie Izei and Barsana. Of course, before heading back to Cluj-Napoca, we will visit the homes of some local craftsman and admire hand-carved traditional wooden gates, and the pottery.
Maramures hand-carved traditional wooden gates