Cluj-Napoca, a city in northwestern Romania, is the unofficial capital of the Transylvania region. It's home to universities, vibrant nightlife, and landmarks dating to Saxon, Hungarian and event Roman rule.
Want to see Transylvania? Start from Cluj-Napoca
When you hear of Transylvania you immediately think of Dracula's Castle, a national landmark, situated near Brasov. The original name is the Bran Castle and the resident of it was Vlad the Impaler, voivode of Wallachia, the inspiration for Dracula’s character. But Transylvania means more than that: there are a lot of historical attractions like the Peles Castle, the Corvin Castle or the Black Church in Brasov.
The unofficial capital of the region is considered to be Cluj-Napoca, which, thanks to its geographical position and transport connections is a very good base to explore the region of Transylvania. The main attractions around Cluj that you shouldn't miss: the Turda Underground Salt Mine and the Alba Iulia Citadel. For those looking for something different - and courageous enough -there is a haunted forest near Cluj-Napoca where a UFO was sighted 50 years ago, with strange activity ever since - you can go on a tour in Hoia Baciu forest either by day or night.
From Cluj, you can also go on a day trip to visit the most popular sights in Transylvania such as the famous Sighisoara Citadel and Saxon fortified villages. Or go to Northern Romania to discover the traditional and picturesque region of Maramures with its unique Wooden Churches.
The city is close to Apuseni Natural Park, part of the Western Carpathian Mountains, where lots of caves, wild trails, and natural wonders await - so outdoor fans will be pleased! There are many hiking trips in Apuseni Natural Park you can do of varying difficulty, but if you're looking to also see traditional village life this is a good place to experience it!
Located 30 kilometers northwest of the city, Lake Tarnița is a major point of attraction in the summer. Watersports lovers flock to the lake, a 70-meter reservoir fueled by the waters of Someșul Cald River, to swim, waterski, and, if brave enough, compete in a triathlon.
Discover the best sights of Cluj-Napoca
Walk the city’s central streets and you will discover buildings in Gothic style, such as the Franciscan Church, the house of Matthias Corvinus, and the Saint Michael Church, the second largest Gothic church in the country.
A visit to Romulus Vuia Museum of Ethnography, the oldest open-air museum in the country, will allow you to discover Transylvania’s rich folklife without even leaving the city. Also located in the center, the art museum housed in the Bánffy Palace, an 18th-century Baroque building, will introduce you to the most important Romanian masters.
Finally, you should also consider visiting the Botanical Garden in Cluj-Napoca, the largest and, according to some, most beautiful in Romania with many unique sights. During springtime, there are 40.000 tulips on display which makes it the biggest tourist attraction in Cluj. Find out more and about visiting hours on the official website.
The currency of Romania is leu. Almost every shop accept credit cards and there are a lot of cash machines around the city.
From the Cluj-Napoca airport to the city there are 2 options: public bus number 5 or 8 that runs every 10 min (20 min in weekends) from outside the airport's perimeter, journey time to the city around 30 min and tickets for 5 Lei. Second - which we recommend - taxis waiting outside the arrivals gate where you will find an official waiting line. Journey time to the city center around 15-25 min for 5 -7€ (~30 Lei), depending on destination and traffic. Always make sure that the meter is running.
The best way to navigate Cluj-Napoca is by foot: the main landmarks and squares are all within walking distance. For anything else, catch a taxi for 2,25 Lei/km. You can also use Uber which is even cheaper or get the Clever Taxi app to order a cab on your smartphone and pay cash. Public transport is available through bus and tram (two ride ticket for 5 Lei), but routes are very local. Renting public bikes is, unfortunately, not available for tourists (yet).