11 Sights to See in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

View of Cluj-Napoca

Looking back at my posts from Romania, I realised that I only ever shared a post on places to eat from the Transylvanian city of Cluj-Napoca. That’s a pity, as the cosmopolitan Cluj was probably my favourite big city stop during my Romanian travels. Found in the country’s northwest, it is considered the unofficial capital of Transylvania and is one of the more popular tourist destinations in the country.

The most likely focus of a visit to the city will be around its central Old Town, made up of several pedestrian streets and squares that have a welcoming atmosphere to them. As it happened, the city was having a massive festival going on during my visit and that only added to its upbeat, positive atmosphere. I never got a clear answer on what the festival was for, but it was good fun regardless.

Anyway, without further ado, here is my list of 11 sights to see in Cluj-Napoca.

 


1. Cluj-Napoca Central Park

Central Park Cluj-Napoca

It may seem kind of lame to start with a park, but I honestly really liked this park and always got the sense that Romanians really value these green spaces. That’s partly because they are never empty, there’s always people sitting having a chatting or getting some exercise and just a general community feel. The park runs along the river and stretches out towards a small lake that was clearly a very popular spot for wedding receptions and photo shoots.

Lakeside Wedding Parties Cluj-Napoca

 

2. Morii Canal

Canalul Morii Cluj-Napoca

Just over the road from the park towards Old Town was this cute little canal. Morii Canal may seem like a small spot, but it’s a nice little canal that flows through the old town and was nice, unexpected find. You can find the canal again further to the east on Andrei Șaguna Street, where things have a little less polish and you get a more realistic, balanced look at Cluj’s development and progress over the recent years.

Andrei Șaguna Canal, Cluj-Napoca

 

3. St. Michael’s Church

St Michael's Church Cluj-Napoca

Quite likely the major landmark of Cluj-Napoca, St Michael’s Church is quite an impressive church in particular for its style and shape. You don’t often see the church spire coming from the centre of the church like this and its roof was exactly what I thought of when I heard the word “Transylvania”. Before the church is the dignified statue to Matthias Corvinus, a medieval king of Hungary who was born in the city of Cluj in 1443.

Corvin Statue Cluj-Napoca

 

4. Piața Unirii

Banffy Palace Cluj-Napoca

Cluj-Napoca is home to some beautiful buildings from a range of architectural periods, but for Baroque architecture the central Unirii Square is the place to be. From this square, you can see spy some graceful buildings like the Banffy Palace opposite the church. There’s also the twin buildings either side of Iuliu Maniu Street that represent the equally common eclectic style from the 19th century. It’s also the place to be when a festival is happening in town, with a free concert on while I visited.

Piața Unirii Crowd Cluj-Napoca

 

5. Piața Muzeului

Piața Muzeului Cluj-Napoca

This small square secluded within the streets of the Old Town is probably one of the prettiest spots in the city. Surrounded by an elegant church and plenty of restored buildings, plus full of outdoor seating for restaurants, Piața Muzeului is definitely a nice place to stop for a break while out exploring.

Piata Column Cluj-Napoca

 

6. Old Town Streets

Old Town Street Cluj-Napoca

Working your way into the minor streets of the Old Town can help you escape the bustle of the modern city that surrounds it. Unlike many European old towns, you can still find plenty of buildings that have seen better days. I found the atmosphere tends to fluctuate from quiet and peaceful before and after lunch to lively and social at lunch and in the evenings. As Cluj-Napoca has quite a large student population it can be a lot of fun in the Old Town with its many laid-back bars.

Old Town Street Cluj-Napoca

 

7. Old Fortifications

Fortifications Cluj-Napoca

Walking around Cluj-Napoca, you don’t really find many too many spots that truly indicate its long history and that’s because they’re often tucked away or further out. This definitely goes for remains of the City Walls that are hidden in the pedestrian part of Strada Potaissa in a corner of the Old Town. There’s also the nearby Tailors’ Tower, with its rather wonky, abstract shape that now hosts a small museum I believe.

Tailors' Tower Cluj-Napoca

 

8. Cluj-Napoca National Theatre

Cluj-Napoca Theatre

One of the more beautiful buildings to admire in the city of Cluj-Napoca has to be the city’s National Theatre. It certainly has the style and colour scheme you often associate with Eastern European architecture and is surrounded either side by some pleasant squares. The Courthouses over the road are also worth a look.

Cluj-Napoca Courthouses

 

9. Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral

Orthodox Cathedral Cluj-Napoca

Wholly different to St Michael’s Church is the Orthodox Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral. This Byzantine-style cathedral built in the early 20th century, almost looks like a fortress with its imposing shape. Inside, you can see some gorgeous gilded murals and other fine craftsmanship. Definitely one to go into – for free mind you.

Cathedral Interior, Cluj-Napoca

 

10. Piața Mihai Viteazu

Piața Mihai Viteazu. Cluj-Napoca

There hasn’t been much in the way of Communist architecture up to this point, but that all changes around Piața Mihai Viteazu. This square sits in front of a rather unattractive building that harkens back to the socialist period. The square itself is quite nice, with a small war memorial and a statue to Mihai Viteazu, a Romanian national hero who effectively ruled Transylvania during the 16th century. A monument I really liked.

Mihai Viteazu, Cluj-Napoca

 

11. Cetatuia Park

Cetatuia Park Views over Cluj-Napoca

Fittingly left to last because it makes for such a wonderful spot to watch the sunset, is the hilltop viewpoint Cetatuia Park, where the old city fortress once lay. While you can explore the park and the occasional ruins from the old fortress, its big selling point is the great views you get and its unsurprisingly a popular spot with both local students and families alike. Just be prepared for plenty of steps to get up there.

Cluj-Napoca Sunset

 


Have you visited Cluj-Napoca before? If so, where else would you add to this list? If not, which of the above would be your first stop? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a booking, I may make a small commission, but at no extra cost to you. 

 


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11 Sights to See in Cluj-Napoca, Romania via @travelsewhere

 


This post is part of Wanderful Wednesday at SnowinTromso and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Albom Adventures. Please head on over for more great posts.

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14 Comment

  1. Looks like an interesting town! So much different architectural styles! I especially like the look of the markets along the Old Fortifications. It really feels quite Medieval! #WanderfulWednesday

  2. Wherejogoes says:

    A lot to see in this town and such a variety. Thanks for sharing with WanderfulWednesdays

  3. What amazing architecture! I think St Michael’s Church is the most beautiful though, looks a wonderful area to explore. #WanderfulWednesday

  4. Sarah says:

    I love the mix of old and new architecture 🙂

  5. I’ve heard good things about Cluj! 🙂 Didn’t make it there, we were centered in Brasov, but it’s not too far from Budapest so I’ll have to go!

  6. Tanja says:

    I didn’t know it was this pretty:) #wanderfulwednesday

  7. vanbrune says:

    Okay I can’t pronounce any of these names, let alone remember them but they all look incredibly charming! I absolutely love old towns with market squares and little alleyways though so the Piata would be where you could find me first!

  8. Glad you included a post on the town! Looks very appealing, and I can see why the focus is on the Old Town – very charming! It definitely looks like the sort of area we’d enjoy exploring. The more we see and learn of Eastern European countries, the more intrigued we become and the more we feel drawn to the area. Thanks for showing us around!

  9. Ruth says:

    I am glad your shared your recommendations for this city since I barely know anything about it. I think people who visit Transylvania do not necessarily stop in here. Big city stops are sometimes needed! #WednesdayWanderlust

  10. Cynthia says:

    I’d love to go to Romania sometime! When I do, I’ll be back for more tips 😉

  11. This year I will be in Romania, in the area of Sibiu and Sighisoara. I think I need to visit a Cluj-Napoca too. It looks very beautiful city in your photos.

  12. I have not yet been to Romania but it is on my list. I like that there is still plenty of legacy buildings and architecture left after the communist rule. Old and “seen better days” may mean that the town has not been gentrified and turned into a tourist mecca – that’s my kind of place to visit.

  13. I’m so glad you posted this article David. Cluj-Napoca is one of the destinations available to us on Wizz Air for a ridiculously cheap fare. Now . know there is plenty to do we’ll make this a weekend trip in the future. Thanks for linking up, see you next weekend! #wkendtravelinspiration

  14. I love how European people appreciate concerts and attend them. Cluj-Napoca looks a lovely place to visit.

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