Cluj-Napoca is the second biggest city in Romania and the most important town in Transylvania. Let’s look at sights, places to eat and things to know.
With its 324.000 inhabitants is Cluj a big and vibration city. Cluj it’s home to
Babeș-Bolyai University with over 40.000 students. This in association with many big IT companies makes Cluj-Napoca to a city full of energy.
Where to start and stay in Cluj-Napoca?
The city center of Cluj is easy to reach from the airport, located just 8 km away. I taxi costs maximum 5 Euros. Watch out for unbranded taxi cars, because they can be very expensive. They are though not that common anymore. As always in Romania, cab rides are fast and “requires” no seat belt.
Why are almost none in Romania using a seatbelt? Probably tradition. Until 2006 it was legal to drive or ride a car without a seatbelt in cities and villages.
Hotels in Cluj-Napoca
Due to many travelers from the IT business, there are plenty of hotels to choose from. The most and biggest are located in the city center except for Grand Hotel Italia, which instead has a beautiful view over the city and located near a shopping center. Grand Hotel Italia is also known for its “Gentlemen’s club” wall in the wall.
Other known hotel brands represented is Hampton by Hilton, Ramada. I choose to stay at Hotel Beyfin because of its central location. A better location and view is hard to find in Cluj but beware of the church bells on Sundays 😉 The sound pretty loud from 10 AM.
Shopping in Cluj-Napoca
Shopping in Cluj is centered to two large shopping malls; Polus Center and Iulius Mall. Polus Center is the biggest but located 4-5 kilometers from the city center.
Polus Center also has a casino (Game World) which is open 24/7.
Sights in Cluj-Napoca
Matthias Corvinus House
Matthias Corvinus House is one of the oldest buildings in Cluj-Napoca and is dated in the 15th century. It’s a small house that has served as jail, hospital, and museum. In this house, the king Matthias Corvinus was born.
St. Michael’s Church
St. Michael’s Church is a Gothic-style Roman Catholic church. The church is one of the main landmarks in Cluj-Napoca.The church was completed between 1442-1447 and is the second largest in Transylvania. Many important historical events have taken place here.
Hazsongard Cemetery is home to many noble people of Transylvania. The cemetery is really big and tombstones dated several hundred of years ago could be found.
Lucian Blaga National Theatre
The Lucian Blaga National Theatre is located in the same building as the Romanian Opera. It’s considered to be one of the most prestigious theatrical institutions in Romania.
Avram Iancu Square
Avram Iancu Square is a central plaza and surrounded by many old and beautiful buildings. The name is from the lawyer and revolutionary Avram Iancu who’s had a key role in the protests against the Ceausescu regime in 1989.
Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral
The most famous Romanian Orthodox church in the city. Visit a church service here on Sundays, could be a great experience.
And old bastion and defense wall of Cluj, built in the 15th century.
Eat and drink in Cluj-Napoca
It’s easy to find really nice food in Cluj. Traditional Romanian food is more uncommon in Restaurant because when Romanians eat out, they want to eat something that they do not eat every day at home. Great pizza, hamburgers, and dishes with meat and fish are well represented.
Since Cluj is the most expensive city in Romania is also the dishes here slightly more expensive. Prepare to pay around 4-6 Euros for a main dish and 1-2 Euros for something to drink on better restaurants.
Personally, I think Klausenburger is top of the line. They have a nice selection av dishes and also an own brewery! From the brewery the offer 8 different beer sorts in glasses from 0,33 L to 1,0 L.
Klausenburger, which also is the German name for Cluj, could be tricky to find. It’s located on the third floor in a shopping center. You have to walk 4 stairs in a dark shabby stairwell but it’s worth it. From Klausenburger, you also got a great view over Cluj.
Giving tip in restaurants means that you are satisfied. When you tip, it’s enough to round up to the nearest tens.
If you just want something to drink in a unique environment, you should check “The Soviet” which is located in the old town. The whole bar has a Soviet theme, both with furnishings and drink list.
Prostitution, strip clubs and erotic massage in Cluj
This is not an issue that I promote, but I still think that the information should be free.
Prostitution in Cluj
In Romania, prostitution is illegal but still pretty widespread. There are to main roads in Cluj where this kind of activities is presented. Ask a taxi driver en he will drive you there. Prices are from 6-7 $ and up.
Most prostitutes are available through ad pages on the Internet for example Ro24. Their services are more expensive than they by the roadside, but on the other hand, they are also more professional. Most of them are only possible to contact by phone.
Strip clubs in Cluj
There are a few strip clubs in Cluj. The most central one is “Sugar Club” and is located between the two main squares. Beer and drinks are more expensive than in bars and restaurants, but the most expensive experience is if you decide to offer a girl a drink when she asks for one.
Some of the erotic massage (massaj in Romanian) houses also work as a brothel, but not officially. Then can be found in neighborhoods around the city and they are for example Red Lips and Fullmoon massage. Prices per hour starting at 18 Euros (90 lei). Almost every erotic massage saloon prefer pre-booking by phone.
Best time to visit Cluj?
It depends on your interests but I would say spring. Cluj-Napoca (Napoca was added by dictator Ceausescu) has many nice parks and the summer could be too hot.
Winter is also good, but you maybe can’t visit the mountains around because of high levels of snow.