Cluj-Napoca

Travel Guide Europe Romania Transylvania Cluj-Napoca

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Introduction

Cluj-Napoca is the capital of Cluj county and the unofficial capital of the historical region of Transylvania. The city, with 310,243 people, is very pleasant, and it is a great experience for those who want to see urban Transylvanian life at its best. Along with fine dining, excellent cultural activities, a wonderful historical legacy and a great atmosphere, the city will not disappoint those who add it to their travel itinerary. What's more is the fact that Cluj (as it's called for short) is so easy to access and get around.

In Cluj-Napoca, the biggest ethnic group are Romanians. However, this was not a case as many different groups inhabited the city throughout the history. The first trace of life was neolithic settlements which were dating back thousands of years. Later the settlement was conquered and inhabited by Romans. The archaeological reminder of Roman can be seen in Unirii Square in the city centre. Saxons were next to occupy the city: they built the wall around the city which still stands. The city carries German name of Klausenburg. In the 19th century, ethnic Hungarians were the majority of the population and remained so until 1955. They call the city Kolozsvár. The construction of non-Catholic religious buildings in the city centre was forbidden for a while, yet eventually, Romanians were allowed to build Orthodox churches. During communist times, the remaining minorities migrated for a higher standard of living, for example, Jewish people migrated to Isreal and ethnic Saxons migrated to Germany.

Cluj-Napoca has reminders of its past all around the city. You might wonder why Cluj-Napoca architecture is similar to ones in Germany. This happened during Austro-Hungarian period when local architects been educated in Vienna and returned back with similarish ideas. Moreover, communist buildings could be found just outside city centre.

Many people still refer to Cluj-Napoca to its previous name, Cluj, because the ending "Napoca" was added in 1974 by the Communist Party.

Cluj-Napoca has emerged as a tech hub being informally named as a silicon valley of Romania. Technology related events organised all around the city includes conferences attracting speakers from all around the world. Technology companies mainly offering out-sourcing services yet startups exist too. This continues to increase prices in the city which is high compared to other cities in Romania but still much cheaper than in Western Europe.

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Neighbourhoods

Grigorescu - a neighbourhood situated in the west part of the city.
Mănăștur - one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, the first historic mention is in 1895. At the beginning of the year 1965, most of the old houses in Manastur were demolished in order to make room for a large neighbourhood.
Zorilor - a neighbourhood located in the south part of the city.
Mărăști - is a neighborhood situated into the north-east part of the city. Its name comes from the homonymous locality that was an important battleground in the First World War.
Dâmbul Rotund - is situated in the north-west part of the city. It is a neighbourhood that connects the central part of the city with the city's exit towards Zalau.
Gheorgheni - a neighbourhood established in 1960 in the east part of the city that includes a lot of parks and green spaces.
Gruia - situated above the hill, it houses the fort called Cetățuia. It is also an older neighborhood of Cluj-Napoca, dating from the Second World War.
Bună Ziua - located in the south of the city, it was established after the revolution and it is expanding at a rapid pace. Although its population is not very high at the moment, it is anticipated to grow very fast in the following years.
Iris - this northern neighbourhood got its name after the porcelain factory nearby, called Iris.
Andrei Mureșanu - is a residential neighbourhood located between Calea Tursii and Constantin Brâncuși street.
Bulgaria - is a neighborhood located between the railroad and the Someș river, on the north side of the city.
Centre - is primarily a cultural, administrative, commercial, and financial area. The centre of the city is composed from three large squares: Piața Unirii, Piața Mihai Viteazul and Piața Avram Iancu.
Între Lacuri - is situated in the east part of the city.
Someșeni - is currently a neighbourhood of Cluj-Napoca and was previously known as Someșfalău.

Other known areas are
Gară - train station
Grădini Mănăștur
Hidelve - the oldest neighbourhood in the city.
Sopor - recognized 2005.
Borhanci - recognized 2005.
Becaș - recognized 2005.
Făget - recognized 2005.
Zorilor Sud - formerly known as Observatorului Sud or Europa.
Tineretului

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Sights and Activities

The area around the Union Square is a must see for the visitor, with the Teleki and Banffy Palaces (the latter now housing the National Art Museum), the Franciscan Monastery, the first Unitarian Church in the world, the Piarist Church, the Mirror Street (Iuliu Maniu Street - a unique architectural accomplishment dating back to the late 1800s) and Matthias Corvinus' place of birth, a 15th century hotel now home to the Visual Arts Academy. Smaller streets around the Square can take you into splendid inner courts, old houses and isolated Churches.

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Events and Festivals

The International Film Festival of Transylvania (TIFF) is one of the major European film festivals and it is a landmark when it comes to local community involvement in cultural activities.
Electric Castle is a music festival that takes place in Bonțida, Cluj county, at the Bánffy Castle. It is a very popular festival that combines various genres such as rock, hip hop, electro, trap, or indie, with street art, culture, and alternative art. The 7th edition won the Best Medium-Sized Festival Award at the European Festival Awards, a category in which Electric Castle was nominated every year. Some of the artists that performed in the previous editions were Florence + the Machine, Thirty Seconds to Mars, The Prodigy, Skrillex, Deadmau5, alt-J, Bring Me the Horizon, Fatboy Slim, Rudimental, Jessie J, Limp Bizkit and more.
Untold Festival is the largest music festival in Romania and it takes place every year on Cluj Arena in Cluj Napoca. The first edition took place in 2015 and it was a huge success, winning the Best Major Festival award and gathering over 60,000 participants each day. In 2019, the festival had a total of 372,000 participants with a budget of 26 million euros. Some of the artists that performed during the 2019 edition are Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Bastille, James Arthur, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Timmy Trumpet, Boris Brejcha, Steve Aoki, Busta Rhymes, Tinie Tempah, Solomun, Fedde le Grand, Nicky Romero, Don Diablo, Robbie Williams, and Armin van Buuren.

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Weather

Cluj-Napoca has a continental climate. The climate is influenced by the city's proximity to the Apuseni Mountains, as well as by urbanisation. Some West-Atlantic influences are present during winter and autumn. Winter temperatures are often below 0 °C, even though they rarely drop below -10 °C. On average, snow covers the ground for 65 days each winter. In summer, the average temperature is approximately 18 °C the average for July and August), despite the fact that temperatures sometimes reach 35 °C to 40 °C in mid-summer in the city centre. Although average precipitation and humidity during summer is low, there are infrequent yet heavy and often violent storms. During spring and autumn, temperatures vary between 13 °C to 18 °C, and precipitation during this time tends to be higher than in summer, with more frequent yet milder periods of rain.

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Getting There

By Plane

Cluj-Napoca International Airport (CLJ) has direct flights to Bucharest, Paris, Rome, Timisoara, Munich, Budapest, Constanta, Madrid, Vienna, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Dortmund, London, Milan, Palma de Mallorca, Pisa, Turin, Valencia, Venice, Warsaw and Zaragoza, among a few domestic flights.

The airport of Cluj-Napoca has transport connections to downtown Cluj-Napoca. To get there, travelers can choose between car rentals, taxi, limo service and public transport (bus line 5 and 8 running from 5:30am till midnight, 3.5 lei for two travels). For the public bus, you need to exit the airport, turn right at the main street and walk to the next bus stop. There is a ticket machine. One way to the city center costs 2 lei (11/2015). Remember to stamp your ticket onboard. You are not allowed to buy tickets from the driver.
Also, WizzAir company introduced a bus-shuttle to the center of fixed price of 15 lei.

By Train

Cluj-Napoca railway station (Gara Cluj-Napoca) is the main train station serving Cluj-Napoca. There are a couple of others which are of no interest to the traveler. As with many other Transylvanian cities, the train is the easiest way to reach Cluj. (Because it is an important Romanian railway hub.) There are 4 trains daily to Bucharest and 4 trains daily to Budapest (via Oradea). There are train connections to most Romanian or Transylvanian cities, including fast InterCity connections to Oradea, Arad, Timisoara, Brasov, Sighisoara, Ploiesti and Bucharest.

By Car

Cluj-Napoca has good road connections. European road E60 links it to Bucharest and Brasov to the south, Oradea and Budapest to the west, through Bors customs. E81 leads to Zalau and Satu Mare to the north, Brasov and Bucharest to the south. E58 links Cluj-Napoca to Dej, Bistrita, Baia Mare and Vatra Dornei.

By Bus

Cluj-Napoca can be reached by bus from Bucharest, major cities in Romania, most cities in Transylvania, and a number of major cities in Europe.

OrangeWays has modern buses that circulate between Budapest and Cluj-Napoca. You can catch a bus to Cluj-Napoca from the Nepliget bus station in Budapest.

On demand bus to Cluj Napoca from Budapest by Eurobusways

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxis are relatively more expensive than in other parts of Romania, but still cheap, and very convenient. The tariff is around 2.25 lei per kilometer, and the same is applied as start fee. All the respectable companies charge the same price. Typically you won't pay more than 13 lei for a travel between the city center and some point in the suburbs. Payment is always done in cash, and paying by credit card is not possible. It is customary, though not mandatory, that the sum is rounded up to 0.5 lei multiples (e.g., if the meter shows 3.2 lei you will probably be expected to pay 3.5 lei, leaving the extra 0.3 lei as a tip). If you do not have exact change, the driver might keep this tip himself when paying back the change. If he tries to keep too much (like rounding from 3.5 to 5 lei, for example), do ask for the change.

Taxi cabs come in all shapes and colors, they are identified by the company logo on the sign on top of the car, which will also be placed somewhere on the car body. Taxis cluster around important locations in the city, and clusters are usually no more than 1 km apart. Take care to always use respectable companies, such as Atlas, Diesel Rapid, Diesel Taxi, Pritax, Nova, Terra & Fan, Pro Rapid. There might be underground, "shark" drivers as they are called, which try to exploit unknowledgeable strangers by overcharging. You should avoid them as they charge at least several times the normal fee. They mostly hang around the train station and the airport. Shark drivers might sometimes "helpfully" offer a ride themselves; you won't see a usual driver do that. Usually shark drivers' cars are marked TAXI and nothing else. Search for name of company on the door of car! Respectable firms typically have several cars parked at each station; that's an easy way to identify them. Elseway, the price per kilometer is sometimes displayed on the cab door. It should be no more than 2.25 lei.

Cabs can also be phoned in. You typically need to give a name, and wait for the number of the car to be relayed to you. Cars will arrive after a period on the order of minutes.

It may happen that you will be driven around on a longer route if you don't know the city. This may happen even with respectable firms. You can't do much to help that, unless you are able to read a map very well, especially if you're easy to spot as a foreigner. The best thing to do is to appear confident, jump in the car and state your destination unhesitantly as if you knew exactly where it was.

By Public Transport

Public transport in the city is possible by means of 25 bus lines, 7 trolleybus lines, and 3 tram lines, all operated by the RATUC company (Regia Autonomă de Transport Urban de Călători). For most lines servicing the city center you won't need to wait more than 15 minutes. The tariff is 4 lei for two trips. Tickets can be bought for cash only at special booths at most stops, identifiable by the RATUC logo and possibly the text "Bilete si Abonamente" (meaning "short and long-term tickets"). Be careful to correctly punch an unused half of your ticket once in the vehicle, ticket control is relatively common and the fines are sizable.

Transport in the Cluj-Napoca metropolitan area is covered by many private bus companies, one of the most important is FANY which provides numerous daily connections to neighboring towns and villages.

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Eat

Cluj dining is some of the best in Romania. Ranging from traditional Romanian, Hungarian and Transylvanian (a combination of the previous two) to Italian (very good Italian food), Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, American and International Cuisine, the city can offer great dining for all tastes. Fancy restaurants are available as well as local fast food shops and a few international chains (McDonald's, Pizza Hut).

Academia More - Pizzeria, Clinicilor st. 9A. Pizza & pasta, sports bar. Near University campus and downtown, with biggest summer garden in Cluj-Napoca (more than 400 seats). Pizza delivery also available: 0040-264-590823, 0040-745-983100. Big groups reservations.
Agape. Cafeteria-style restaurant with good Hungarian and Romanian food.
Elite Pizza. The oldest pizza place in town. Pizza delivery also available: 0040-264-597.
Vărzărie. One of the few restaurants that Cluj had during the communist times. Today the food is pretty much unchanged and the place still maintains a bit of the old atmosphere. They serve simple and cheap Romanian food. Varză à la Cluj is a must try local specialty.
Casa Ardelenească, Bd. 21 Decembrie 1989 no. 5 (in the Sora Shopping Center). Traditional Romanian menu, popular with the locals, and decorated with local art.
Ciuleandra, inside the Best Western Topaz Hotel. Specializing in Romanian/Transylvanian food.
Roata. Romanian food. A place to try typical Romanian dishes. Menus have described a history of main dishes within few paragraphs and pictures. The restaurant might (or might not) serve homemade spirit on the house as a starter. Soups 12-17 lei. Mains 18-40 lei. Homemade spirit 50ml shot 10 lei.
Matei Corvin Intim, ☏ +40 264 597497. Str. Matei Corvin nr. 3. International cuisine. This restaurant frequently receives national and international celebrities.
Topaz, ☏ +40 264 414066. Str. Septimiu Albini no. 10 (inside the Best Western Topaz). Refined menu of international selections in an elegant atmosphere.
Via. Located in a wonderfully restored old house.
Zama, Strada Napica, nr. 16 (two blocks west of Piata Unirii). Modern restaurant serving traditional Transylvanian cuisine. Mains 20-40 lei.

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Drink

Cluj has a vibrant night life, guaranteed by the over 60,000 university students living here. There are bars, cafés, clubs for all preferences and budgets.

Flying Circus Club. Mostly rock music. Every night they are open they broadcast a movie around 20:00. Entrance is free including popcorn.
Insomnia (opposite the cinema, next to the bookstore in Piața Unirii. Enter the alley and go upstairs.). Bohemian and ever-changing decor and nice personnel. Also serve light meals.
Janis la stuf (Janis), 19, Piata Unirii, ☏ +40 736365807. Bar and club. Open every day until very late. Special discounts: From 21:00-22:30 unlimited beer for 7 lei (8 lei on Friday and Saturday). Sometimes free shots for students.
Kharma, ☏ +40 722 365342. Piaţa Păcii nr. 1-3. Nice decor and good DJs.
The Jack Pub. The smallest pub from the town.
L'Atelier, Str. Memorandumului, 1st floor. Also known colloquially as the cardboard place. A relaxed café-bar with furniture made from cardboard and scrap materials. Music ranges from jazz to alternative rock.
La Gazette. A place to meet students and to get to know new music, especially electronica.
Molotov Pub, Str. Virgil Fulicea nr. 13, ☏ +40 756 393785. A popular place in a medieval house, in the historical center, close to Matei Corvin House. They have a very good coffee and tea specialties, and the famous, personal, recipe of the 'Molotov Cocktail'. Bohemian and challenging decoration.
The Soviet, Strada Clemenceau Nr. 2 (Close to Piata Muzeului), ☏ +40 749902484, ✉ uzina.the.soviet@gmail.com. M-F 10:00-02:00, Sa Su 12:00-02:00. Bar in Soviet style. Has a nice cocktail menu.
Umbra de Noapte, str. Georges Clemenceau 7. It's a place where you can meet with friends or relax and read dark literature or international magazines. Enjoy varieties of coffee and tea specialties, soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits; Romania's largest variety of absinthe; nonalcoholic, alcoholic and absinthe-cocktails as well as season-specials like iced coffee and fresh ice tea in summer or spiced wine and spiced coffee in winter. Dimly-lit atmosphere; listening to dark music (mainly Gothic, Darkwave, EBM, Industrial, Horrorpunk, Gothabilly, Medieval).

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Sleep

The last three years have seen a boom in the Cluj lodging scene. There are lodging options for all budgets, including a 5-star hotel. Other than that, you can find something that suits your needs.

The Spot Cosy Hostel, Piata 14 Iulie, nr 25 (15-minute walk away from the city centre), ☏ +40 758350037. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Opened at the end of 2014. The hostel is a cozy place and includes a nice garden. 62 lei.
Sport, George Cosbuc nr. 15, +40 268 593921.
Transylvania Hostel, Str Iuliu Maniu 26, ☏ +40 264 443266. A comfortable hostel in the city center with a friendly knowledgeable staff. Large social areas including a lounge, a game room, a guest kitchen and an outdoor terrace.
Belvedere (ex. Transilvania), Călăraşilor nr. 1–3, +40 264 432071. Facilities include a pool, gym, conference rooms. Nice view, on top of Fortress hill close to the city centre.
Best Western Hotel Topaz, Septimiu Albini nr. 10, ☏ +40 264 414021. Quiet area close to the city center. Besides its own restaurant, also contains the Ciuleandra Romanian-food restaurant.
Olimp, Observatorului 82–86, +40 264 595900. Facilities include WiFi, conference room.
Panorama Hotel, Calea Baciului nr. 28D, ☏ +40 755 084342. Accommodation in hotel management at apartments.
Pensiunea Orient, str. Caisului nr. 22, ☏ +40 731 996746. A place furnished in oriental style, inspired by a trip to Morocco, approx. €35 for a double room.
Agape, Iuliu Maniu nr. 6, ☏ +40 264 406523. Set in the city center a few minutes walk from the statue of Matthias Corvinus.
Casa Albă, Emil Racoviţă nr. 22, +40 264 432277.
City Plaza, Sindicatelor nr. 9-11, ☏ +40 264 450101. Near the Municipal Park in the historic city of town.
Deja Vu, Ion Ghica nr. 2, +40 264 354939.
Golden Tulip Ana Done, Observatorului, nr. 129, ☏ +40 264 540000.
Onix, Septimiu Albini nr. 12, ☏ +40 264 414076. Situated in the centre of the city, the Onix has 3- and 4-star rooms and suites, all of which have a jacuzzi, PCs with Internet access, air-con, cable television, minibar, and telephone.
Opal, Constantin Brâncuşi nr. 148-152, ☏ +40 264 403136.

View our map of accommodation in Cluj Napoca

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes exist in most cities and towns. The number of internet cafes seems to be declining in bigger cities recently because of cheap availability of computers and the rising living standard here. Wifi is widely available in University areas, airports, public squares, parks, cafes, hotels and restaurants. Pay-as-you-go Wifi is also available in many venues. If uncertain, look for plazas near the Town Hall, large parks or other important buildings. Most (if not all) McDonald's restaurants and Starbucks in Romania have Wifi access and so do most 3-star (and higher) hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Romania's country code is +40. To dial to other countries from Romania, dial 00 and then the international number usually without the first 0.
Public phones work well and are available in all areas. You must purchase a phonecard from a kiosk to use them. When dialing within Romania, dial 0 + three digit area code + six digit telephone.

There are five networks - four GSM/3G (Orange Romania, Vodafone, Cosmote and DigiMobil) and one CDMA (Zapp). Orange and Vodafone have almost full national coverage (98-99% of the surface of the country), while the newly-merged Cosmote+Zapp are expanding quickly. Tariffs are average for the European Union (€0.08-0.30/min, €0.04 per SMS). Both pre-paid cards and subscriptions are available, and special options for discounted international calls exist with some pricing plans. Roaming is available but is, like in most of the EU, rather expensive. Pre-paid cards or recharge codes can be bought in almost every shop, either rural or urban.

On prepaid SIMs you can activate extra options ("extraopţiune") starting from €5 (+ 24% VAT) in total = RON27-32, with a validity period of 30 days, containing thousands (200 -3,000) of minutes and SMSs within the same network and up to 100 minutes outside the network, including most European Union fixed land-line networks and two or three mobile networks.

Post

Posta Romana is the national postal service of Romania. Postal services are generally very affordable, reliable and reasonably fast. Post boxes are red and can be found near the post offices, along the street or in main train stations. Post offices can be found in even the smallest towns and the opening hours are generally Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 6:00pm and Saturday 8:00am to 12:00, closed on Sunday. You can buy stamps here or at kiosks. Prices for international mail start at around €0.55 and takes at least 3-5 days to countries within Europe. It's slightly cheaper and faster for domestic mail to be send. Intercontinental post is slightly more expensive but takes much longer. For slightly more expensive but faster and more reliable services you can also try international courier companies like TNT, DHL, FedEx or UPS.

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Accommodation in Cluj-Napoca

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Cluj-Napoca searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 26. Last edited at 13:51 on Jun 24, 20 by Utrecht. 17 articles link to this page.

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