Sibiu

Travel Guide Europe Romania Transylvania Sibiu

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Introduction

Entrance to Sibiu old town

Entrance to Sibiu old town

© AAY

Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, located in central Romania. The old town centre is very attractive. Sibiu is also a good base for exploring elsewhere in Transylvania.

In the Middle Ages, the land that was to become Romania was in three main principalities: Transylvania to the west, Moldova to the east, and Wallachia to the south. Transylvania was particularly under Hungarian influence, and its rulers encouraged settlement by German-speaking Saxons. Sibiu was the chief town of this region and became known in German as Hermannstadt and in Hungarian as Nagyszeben.

Many terrible things have happened in this region, including at the hands of Dracula, Vlad the Impaler. (Though born nearby at Sighisoara, as ruler of Wallachia he was often at war with Transylvania.) It has been continually fought over, by Ottoman Turkey, by Hungary and Austria, by revolutionaries; the 20th C alone saw two World Wars then the hardships of communism. Romania’s modern period began on Christmas Day 1989, with the crack of the firing squad felling dictator Ceausescu and his wife Elena.

After that, relative peace and prosperity, as Romania looked west, joined the EU, and promoted tourism. Borders were opened, independent hotels and restaurants flourished, budget airlines flew in, and above all the city centre was renovated in 2006 to be European Capital of Culture. The German minority mostly left – in Sibiu they were only 1% of the population at the 2011 census, with similar small numbers of Hungarians and Roma – though that 1% holds a prominent position, supplying the city’s mayor and a former national president. You’ll often hear German spoken, but they’re either tourists, or folk keen to trade with them. Sibiu today is vibrant and multicultural because the city has worked for that position, not because some foreign princeling invited in some other foreign colonists 800 years ago. It’s a place where Romania can smile and show its best side, can relax in the cobbled square with a coffee or beer, can shrug off the dark past. It’s even okay nowadays to chuckle over the misdeeds of Dracula.

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Sights and Activities

The Old Town is beautiful. It was mostly built in the late medieval period by the German merchants who were encouraged to settle in and around Sibiu. It’s in excellent condition, having escaped modern encroachments, and being thoroughly renovated to be European Capital of Culture in 2007. (All kudos to the city elders for keeping up standards in the following decade, in spite of economic woes.) Within Old Town, the Upper Town, containing most of the historic sights, is ranged around three squares: Piate Mare the Great Square, dominated by the RC Cathedral, Piata Mica the Little Square has most of the bars and cafés, and Piata Huet is an attractive Gothic conglomeration around the Lutheran Cathedral. The Lower Town is home to many charming buildings and cobbled squares.

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Events and Festivals

The Sibiu International Theater Festival FITS is hold every year in mid June for 10 days. Theater, mobiles, music, artistic shows, etc. The first unofficial festival was held in 1993, and from then official and yearly, now with participants from 70 countries.

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Getting There

By Plane

Sibiu International Airport (SBZ) offers direct flights to Vienna, Cologne/Bonn, London, Madrid, Stuttgart, Valencia, Timisoara, Munich, Bucharest, Antalya, Zakynthos and some more charter flights mainly to Turkey and Greece.

By Train

Sibiu is on the crossroads of several train lines across Romania, with many daily connections to other cities like Timisoara, Brasov, Bucharest and Sighisoara.

By Bus

Long distance buses like Flixbus stop in Sibiu at the Autogara Q7, Strada Școala de Înot 1 in the south of the town.

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Getting Around

Walk. The city is large, but almost all the sights of interest are within the compact old centre, much of it pedestrianised. You can hire a guide via the TIC or main hotels, but wandering at random among the cobbled alleys is half the fun.

You’ll need a bike (hire available), car or # 13 bus to reach the ASTRA outdoor folk museum, listed below. The fascinating Transylvanian villages (eg Biertan) are within cycling range but the main roads are busy and not much fun by bike, though bike-on-train to Medias is an option. Otherwise either hire a car – eg from Autonom at the foot of Str Balescu, also at the airport – or arrange a tour, eg with Tursib. The only other excursion for which you might consider the train is to Sighisoara. Reckon 2½ hours, it’s an infrequent service, but the bus connections are worse.

Sibiu taxi drivers are generally decent, and switch on the meter without being nagged. But if you’re silly drunk and wearing a “Please rob me” T-shirt.

Alas, Sibiu’s network of trams and trolley-buses has recently been ripped out, just as other cities are expensively re-installing theirs.

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Eat

Food & drink here is to a good standard, and cheap by West European standards – reckon €30 for two people with two courses and drinks. The main concentration of restaurants, cafes and pubs is in and around Piata Mica. Hearty Transylvanian fare includes "ciorbă" (sour soup with various meat or veg), “sarmale” (stuffed cabbage leaves), stews and grills, often with mamaliga (polenta). Vegetarians and vegans shouldn’t starve but will need to enquire carefully. Also lots of fast food from familiar chains, but you can do better.

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Drink

A local speciality is a "meter" of beer served in pubs.

Club Liquid on Str Somesului is a night club which plays mainstream music. The audience is about 50% tourists/locals.

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Sleep

  • Centrum Hostel, Str Gheorghe Lazar 6, ☎ +40 747 534 998. 100 m from Piata Mare. Formerly "Flying Time Hostel", no reviews since change. Beds for 35 lei.
  • Old Town Hostel, Piata Mica 26, ☎ +40 269 216 445. In a 450-year-old building looking onto the Small Square. Breakfast is not included but you can use the kitchen all you want. Laundry is available for €2. Dorms have about 10 beds per room. Rooms from 50 lei.
  • Felinarul Hostel, Str Felinarului 8, ☎ +40 269 235 260. On a quiet street just a few minutes walk from the centre. It's welcoming and decorated in a traditional style, with a courtyard and an adjoining restaurant/cafe serving a range of international cuisine. 2 dorms and a private double available. Book in advance in the high season. 55 lei per person (includes breakfast).
  • Zanzi, Str Constitutiei 1, ☎ +40 724 528 348. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Small pension near railway station. €22.
  • Hotel Apollo Hermannstadt, Str Nicolae Teclu 14, ☎ +40 269 212 465. Comfortable and modern hotel. Internet is available in rooms. Rooms start at €56.
  • Hotel Continental Forum, Piata Unirii, ☎ +40 372 692 692. This modern 13 floor, 182 room hotel is plain but well maintained. Its rooms often have nice views. Often accommodates tour groups. At the edge of the pedestrianised centre of Old Town. Street parking outside is vigorously policed, get permit at reception for checking in, take their advice on medium-stay parking. 60€.
  • Hotel Imparatul Romanilor, Str Nicolae Balescu 2-4 (just off main square, taxis drop off at end of Str Xenopol 50 metres away), ☎ +40 269 216 500. Grand 18th C pile, very central, atmospheric but in need of sprucing up.
  • Noblesse Boutique Hotel, Str Blanilor 17 (200 m from railway station), ☎ +49 369 418 000. Friendly pleasant place just E of old town, close to railway & bus stations 60€.
  • Villa Santa Maria, Str Livezii 43 (3 km west of centre, off highway to airport), ☎ +40 269 224 451. Cosy 3-star, rooms are well equipped and well kept. Breakfast is included. Free wireless Internet available. English-speaking owners. 40€.
  • Ana Airport Hotel, Soseaua Alba Iulia 120 (On main hwy 1 km east of terminal, 3 km west of old centre), ☎ +4 269 228 875. Simple 3-star near airport.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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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 Sibiu

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This is version 21. Last edited at 9:28 on Jun 20, 18 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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