As the second largest city in Romania and the capital of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca is considered the country’s main hub for arts and culture. The city’s thriving student population adds to its bohemian café and bar culture which plays out against the backdrop of its Baroque buildings and boulevards.
Known locally as simply Cluj, the city boasts a large number of historic attractions most notably the buildings found in Union Square. In particular the 14th Century St. Michael’s Church that looms over the square, which is one of the most striking examples of Gothic architecture found in Romania. Visitors come to marvel at its medieval frescoes and the 50 foot neo-Gothic tower which was added almost half a millennia later. Also found close by is the Baroque Banffey Palace, the Franciscan Monastery and Luliu Maniu Street, famed for its eclectic architecture. Cluj-Napoca offers an impressive portfolio of museums and galleries, many of which will deepen the visitors’ understanding of the city, most notably the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania. For something more unusual, try the unique Pharmaceutical Museum or The Dungeon, a haunting attraction you have to work your own way out of. The Botanical Gardens offer a quiet retreat where visitors can enjoy the Roman or Japanese gardens. By evening the city comes alive with theatre, opera and music. The most notable venue is the National Theatre, a jewel in Cluj’s architectural crown.
Cluj has a typical continental climate which means the summers are warm and pleasant whilst the winters are cold. High season in July and August coincides with the city’s best weather but also Romanian school holidays making accommodation and travel prices higher. The shoulder seasons of May – June and September are better for those who want to make savings and prefer to visit when the weather is mild. Film lovers should try to time their visit in late May when the Transylvania International Film Festival takes place. Another great time to visit is in October during the Transylvania Jazz Festival. Visitors should be aware however that both travel and accommodation prices are higher during both of these events.
Getting around Cluj-Napoca is easy with a choice of bus, trolleybus or tram serving every corner of the city. It’s important to purchase tickets before entering the bus from the specified booths and for passengers to punch their own tickets on board to avoid a fine. Whilst the taxis are affordable by most standards the one-way system means it might take you longer to get there than on foot. There are a number of city tours covering the historical and architectural features of the city which can be purchased from the Tourist Information Office, along with maps and more information, on Eroilor Boulevard.