Cluj-Napoca is a lively city with a remarkable potential. A place where art, sports, theatre, film, music, and education all bind together in harmony. Filled with both new and old squares, streets, museums, parks, and buildings that hide mysteries from centuries long-forgotten, Cluj impresses through its baroque style combined with picturesque architecture that creates a unique bohemian atmosphere. Thousands of people visit Cluj each year, especially because of two of its most famous festivals: UNTOLD Festival and the Transylvania International Film Festival.
If you find yourself in Cluj, it would be a pity not to enjoy your time to the fullest. So here's a small list of things to do in Cluj.
Cluj is a city renowned for its Bavarian atmosphere and unique cafes. You can visit the Mirror Street, where the architecture of the buildings is identical on both sides of the street.
The Union Square is the largest and most important squares in Cluj-Napoca, and it is also one of the largest in Romania. The square is home to some of the city's most significant landmarks, such as the old town hall, the statue of King of Hungary Matthias Corvinus, the National Museum of Art, and the Josika Palace.
But if you want to explore the city and get an in-depth historical tour, we highly recommend booking a city tour of Cluj. A professional guide can help you make the most out of your day, and you will discover the amazing stories behind some of the hottest attractions in Cluj, such as the Matthias Corvinus House, St. Michael's Church, and the Museum Square.
Cheile Turzii is a natural reserve outside of Cluj, near the village of Cheia. This historic site has been inhabited ever since the Neolithic period, and it is one of the richest and most scenic karst landscapes in Romania, filled with steep cliffs, sharp ridges, and towers of limestone.
The Turda gorge formed through erosion over millions of years, and it has a length of 2.9 kilometers and a height of 300 meters. This natural reserve is home to over 1,000 species of plants, animals, and insects, some of which are marked as endangered species (such as wild garlic or some species of eagles).
Just like Cheile Turzii, the Turda Salt Mine is located outside of the city, but we can assure you that the trip is well worth it. Inside this antique salt mine, you will find an underground theme park, which was deemed by BusinessInsider as one of the most stunning underground places in the world.
Turda Mine Salt
The Turda Salt Mine is the perfect place to spend a fun day – you can play bowling, mini golf, ping pong, ride the Ferris wheel, have a family picnic, or even take a boat ride in the underground lake. If you decide to book a day trip from Cluj, you'll also visit the Alba Carolina Citadel, one of Romania's most beautiful fortifications, as well as the quaint Rimetea village, a place where the sun rises twice.
The Cluj Arena is the main stadium in Cluj Napoca. It has a capacity of 30,000 people, and it is located next to the „Simion Barnutiu” Central Park. When there are no games, you can play football on the training field, or even go for a run. The Cluj Arena is also a popular spot for concerts. It hosted numerous famous artists over the years, and since 2015 it is home to UNTOLD Festival.
Close to the Cluj Arena, you will find the largest urban park in Cluj, the Central Park. The construction of the park started in 1827, and it was officially opened to the public in 1830. Today, the park is a popular recreational spot for both tourists and locals, where one can enjoy relaxing bike rides, take a long walk, jog, or even take a boat ride on park's lake.
Bike ride through the Cluj Central Park
If you want to see the city from above, Cetatuia Clujului is your go-to place. The citadel was built between 1715 and 1735, and it is located on top of a hill close to the city center. From up there, you can enjoy the beautiful architecture of Cluj, and its busy streets seen from above will make you feel like a giant.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for something more unique, make sure to stay and watch the sunset.
Officially called the “Alexandru Borza” Botanic Garden, it is located in the south part of the city and it officially founded in 1920 and opened to the public in 1925. The garden stretches over an area of 14 hectares, and it is home to more than 10,000 plants from all over the world. Some of the most jaw-dropping sections of the Botanical Garden are the Japanese Garden and the Roman Garden.
Besides being a touristic hotspot, the botanical garden is also used as a research center by the Babes-Bolyai University.
Built between 1316 and 1487, St. Michael’s Church is the fifth largest church in Transylvania and it is an important tourist attraction in the city. Over the years, the church was witness to several significant historical events, such as the election of numerous Princes of Transylvania or the speech of Áron Márton, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Transylvania, in which he strongly condemned the deportation of Jews.
Near the church, you can also see the statue of King Mathias Corvinus, the legendary King of Hungary.
Saint Michael Church at twilight
And we're not talking about just visiting some of the museums, such as the National Museum of Transylvanian History, the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania, or the Art Museum. There are many other places in Cluj where you can experience the wonderful sense of art and culture. For example, Fabrica de Pensule is a hub of contemporary art founded in 2009, where independent artists can display their works for the world to see.
The artistic sense of the city can also be observed in its cafes. If you plan on having a coffee, a beer, or any kind of drink in Cluj Napoca, use this chance to enjoy a unique location. You can visit the steampunk-themed Enigma Cafe, the Cuban Che Guevara Socialist Pub, or the Bas Tattoo Cafe, a former tattoo salon turned into a coffee shop.
Inside Enigma Cafe. Photo source: Enigma Cafe Cluj, Facebook