Cluj-Napoca

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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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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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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 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).

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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.

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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.

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. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Cluj-Napoca and areas nearby.

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This is version 12. Last edited at 10:12 on May 17, 18 by Utrecht. 17 articles link to this page.

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