Cluj-Napoca, commonly known as Cluj, is the second most populated city in Romania, following the national capital Bucharest, and is the head town of Cluj County, in the northwestern part of the country.
The city is considered the unofficial capital of the historical province of Transylvania.
Cluj-Napoca has a continental climate, characterized by warm dry summers and cold winters. The climate is influenced by the city’s proximity to the Apuseni Mountains, as well as by urbanization. Winter temperatures are often below 0 °C (32 °F), even though they rarely drop below −10 °C.
The city’s population is over 300k inhabitants, or 1.6% of the total population of Romania. Just over 80% of the population of the city is ethnic Romanian, with the second largest ethnic group being the Hungarians, who form 16% of the population.
- Location: Central Romania (County: Cluj)
- Size: 42 sq. km
- Population: 340,000
- Inhabited since: 200 BC
Things to do
Cluj-Napoca has a diverse and growing cultural scene, with cultural life present in various fields, such as visual arts, performing arts and nightlife.
As an important cultural centre, Cluj-Napoca has many theatres and museums. The latter include the National Museum of Transylvanian History, the Ethnographic Museum, the Cluj-Napoca Art Museum, the Pharmacy Museum, the Water Museum and the museums of Babeş-Bolyai University—the University Museum, the Museum of Mineralogy, the Museum of Paleontology and Stratigraphy, the Museum of Speleology, the Botanical Museum and the Zoological Museum.
Cluj-Napoca hosts a number of cultural festivals of various types. These take place throughout the year, though are more frequent in the summer period. “Sărbătoarea Muzicii” (Fête de la Musique) is a music yearly festival on 21st June, organized under the aegis of the French Cultural Centre. In September, the Transilvania Philharmonic hosts the “Toamna Muzicală Clujeană” Classical Music Festival. Additionally, Splaiul Independenţei, on the banks of Someşul Mic River, hosts a number of beer festivals throughout the summer; among them the “Septemberfest”, taking after the German Oktoberfest.
The Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) held in the city since 2001 and organized by the Association for the Promotion of the Romanian Film, is the first Romanian film festival with international features.
Cluj-Napoca has a number of landmark buildings and monuments. One of these is the 14th century Saint Michael’s Church in Unirii Square, following the Gothic style of that period. In front of the church is the equestrian statue of Matthias Corvinus, built in honour of the locally born king of Hungary.
The Orthodox Church’s equivalent to St. Michael’s Church is the Orthodox Cathedral in Avram Iancu Square, built in the interwar period. The Romanian Greek-Catholic Church also has a cathedral in Cluj-Napoca, called “Transfiguration Cathedral”.
Opera & Ballet – Address: Piata Stefan cel Mare 24 – http://www.operacluj.ro/
Saint Michael – Address: Piata Unirii
Cluj National Museum of Art – Address: Piata Unirii 30
History Museum of Transylvania – Address: Str. Dr. Daicovici 2
The national currency is RON (leu/lei).
The Euro – RON exchange rate varied from 4.2 to 4.6 in 2015.
Usually, all exchange offices update their rate daily, according to the official one issued by the National Bank of Romania, published daily on www.cursbnr.ro
You can pay With a credit card in most of the public places in Bucharest.
However, you should always have some cash with you, as small shops or restaurants might not have the card payment available.
Cluj-Napoca has a complex regional transportation systrem, providing road, air and rail connections to major cities in Romania and Europe. It also features a public transportation system consisting of bus, trolleybus and tram lines.
- By Air: The Cluj-Napoca International Airport (CLJ), located 9 kilometers (5.6 mi) east of the city centre, is the fourth busiest airport in Romania, after the two Bucharest airports (OTP and BBU) and Timişoara airport. The airport is connected to the city centre by the local public transport company, RATUC, bus number 8. The airport serves various direct international destinations across Europe.
- By Bus: Cluj-Napoca operates a full trolleybus/bus network, which will take you almost anywhere you have to go.
Most trolleybus/bus/tram journeys are paid using a paper ticket which can be used for two journeys. Tickets can be bought only from stations and they cost 3.5 Lei (approximately 1 Euro). There is no possibility to buy the ticket from the bus driver. There is no metro running underground, although the city had a mayor who tried to start a metro project.
- By Taxi: There are many taxis and quite enough taxi companies in Cluj-Napoca. Taxi stations are situated near major public transport stations and near all points of interest. The charge is around 1.79 RON (50 eurocents/ 0.7 $) per kilometer, and the same amount is applied as start fee. All the respectable companies charge the same price. Usually, you won’t pay more than 10 RON (3 EUR) 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.
- By Train: There are train connections to most Romanian cities, including fast InterCity connections to Oradea, Arad, Timisoara, Brasov, Sighisoara, Ploiesti and Bucharest. There are also international routes connecting Cluj-Napoca to main European cities.
There are daily trains from/to Budapest (journey time – 8 hours). Trains to other western European cities run via Budapest.
- By Car: Cars can be rented from the numerous operators in the city. Many small tourism agencies also intermediate for renting cars, so you might be able to get better rates there. You can find such agencies scattered throughout the city centre.
Cluj-Napoca has everything a tourist may need: from average-price shops, to brand shops, cheap clothes and expensive cosmetics, kiosks, boutiques and supermarkets.
Most of the shops are open daily from 9-10 am until 8 pm, and from 10 am until 3-5 pm on Saturdays. General stores, clothes shops and some bookshops are open on Sundays as well and there are shops with non-stop program.
Cluj-Napoca is one of the best cities in Romania for shopping, hosting two of the largest malls: Iulius Mall and Polus Center.
Food and Drink
Cluj dining is some of the best in Romania. Ranging from traditional Romanian, Hungarian and Transylvanian (a combination of the previous two) dishes to Italian, 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).
The official language is Romanian and most people will speak English very well. Also, Romanians will likely be proficient in one or more second Romance languages; most people will speak French, Spanish or Italian reasonably well.
ln biggest cities like Bucharest you will be able to find English speakers in most of the cases, as young people usually speak English fluently.
However, the basic expressions in Romanian below might help you communicate in Romania:
- Hello – Bunä / Salutl
- Thank you – Multumesc
- I – Eu
- You – Tu (informally) or Dumneavoasträ (formally)
- Please – Te rog (informally) or Vä rog (formally)
- Good day – Buná ziua (used as a greeting)
- Where is… – Unde este… ?
- |’m hungry – Mi-e foame
- I’m thirsty – Mi-e sete
- May |…? – Pot sä…?
- I like I don’t like to…- ími place / Nu ïmi place så…
- I want I I don’t want to…- Eu vreau så / Eu nu vreau sä…
Bucharest is the primary entry point into Romania. It is is a booming city with many large infrastructure projects changing the old face of the city. Known in the past as “The Little Paris,” Bucharest has changed a lot lately, and today it has become a very interesting mix of old and new that has little to do with its initial reputation.
Finding a 300 year old church, a steel-and-glass office building and Communist-era apartment blocks next to one another is a common sight. It offers some excellent attractions, and has, in recent years, cultivated a sophisticated, trendy, and modern sensibility that many have come to expect from a European capital.
Bucharest has been undergoing major construction and modernization works in recent years, such as the Basarab Overpass and the National Arena. Also, has benefited from an economic boom along with the EU grants that have helped rebuild neglected parts of the city, such as the historic Lipscani area.
Life in Bucharest
- Café Culture
Cafés are plentiful (that’s a huge understatement) in the Old City as well given the strong café culture, but the unique and infinitely more atmospheric gathering establishments in the neighborhoods that you would never visit unless a local Romanian told you to are just off the beaten track.
That’s how you’ll come across the splendid Reader’s Cafe in Dorobanti, the very cool Ceai La Metoc in Cartierul Armenesc and the very laid-back Serendipity Cafe in Gradina Icoanei, all of which are some of the favorite local hangouts in Bucharest.
Of all the wonderful things that Bucharest has to offer, nightlife is not the least of them. There is something for everyone in this town: and we mean everyone. From trendy bars to Irish pubs, lounge clubs and jazz clubs.
For many years all that was lacking in Bucharest was a central nightlife strip: an area where you know you will always find lively people and a good atmosphere. Now that Old Town/Lipscani has been revived and is packed with bars and cafes, that problem has been solved.
Bucharest has a diverse and growing cultural scene, with cultural life exhibited in a number of various fields, including the visual arts, performing arts and nightlife. Unlike other parts of Romania, such as the Black Sea coast or Transylvania, Bucharest’s cultural scene is much more eclectic, without a defined style, and instead incorporates various elements of Romanian and international culture.
Bucharest has an eclectic mixture of elements from traditionally Romanian buildings to buildings that are influenced by French architects. It is because of this French influence that Romanian Capital was once called “the Paris of the East” or “Little Paris.”
Performing arts are one of the strongest cultural elements of Bucharest, and the city has a number of world-renowned facilities and institutions. The most prominent is the neoclassical Romanian Athenaeum, which was founded in 1852, hosts classical music concerts, the George Enescu Festival, and is home to the “George Enescu” Philharmonic.
Bucharest is also home to the Romanian National Opera, as well as the I.L. Caragiale National Theatre. There is also a large number of smaller theatres throughout the city that cater to specific genres, such as the Comedy Theatre, the Nottara Theatre, the Bulandra Theatre, the Odeon Theatre, and the Constantin Tănase Revue Theatre.
Old center (Lipscani)
A part of the city’s historical heart was not demolished by Nicolae Ceauşescu. The area (stretching approximatively between the Dâmboviţa river to the south, Calea Victoriei to the west, Calea Moşilor to the east and Regina Elisabeta boulevard to the north) today contains an assortment of middle 19th century buildings, ruins of the Wallachian princes’ medieval court, churches, bank headquarters, a few hotels, clubs, restaurants and shops.
Narrow cobblestoned streets retain the names of the ancient guilds that resided on them. The area was mostly renovated and is now a place of gathering for the young generation of the city.
Moving around in Bucharest is assured by the Bucharest Metro (Metrorex) and a surface transport system run by RATB: buses, trams, trolleybuses, and light rail.
The surface transport system RATB has ticket sale points at most of the stations.
The price are ranking from 1,3 RON (for a ride on 1 bus / tram / trolleybus line) to 50 RON (for an unlimited monthly subscription valid on all lines). Tickets are issued on electronic cards that must be validated inside the bus.
- By plane
Bucharest has reasonable connections with most European capitals and with the largest cities in Romania, but it can be difficult to find a direct flight to Bucharest from outside of Europe or the Middle East.
The city is also reached by a large number of low-costs flights, mainly from destinations in Italy and Spain as well as from some major cities in Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, Hungary, Turkey, Austria, Israel etc.
All scheduled flights, including those operated by low cost airlines, land at Henri Coandă International Airport, located in Otopeni, 18 km north of downtown. Henri Coanda airport is often referred to as Otopeni on airline bookings, because of its location.
- By train
Bucharest is linked through direct daily trains to most neighboring countries’ capitals (Budapest, Chişinău, Kiev, Sofia), as well as to Vienna, Venice, Istanbul, Moscow and of course to main cities in all of Romania’s forty one counties.
All international trains and most long distance internal trains arrive at Gara de Nord (Northern) station, located quite near of the city center, to which it is linked by subway and several buses, trolley, and tramway lines.
- Metro (Subway)
The metro, which has four lines (M1, M2, M3, M4) and covers the city quite extensively, is usually a cheap (4 RON for 2 trips, 15 RON for 10 trips and 60 RON for a monthly pass) and easy way to get around even though there are surprisingly few stops in the city center, since the system was originally built to transport workers and commuters from outlying neighborhoods through the city to peripheral industrial areas.
If you’re staying outside the city center, or even if you want to travel within it, the Metro can be a very fast and convenient way of traveling to your destination, avoiding the traffic jams and crowds that frequently characterize surface transport.
- Buses, Trains and Trolleybuses
Bucharest has a very complex network of buses, trams and trolleybuses which is, at first glance, fairly confusing to the tourist. This is not because of any inconsistencies within the network, but rather due to the intricate web of hundreds of bus, tram and trolleybus routes found in the city.
Make sure you know the stop you’re getting off at – even though in most trolleybuses and in some modern buses and trams, following stops are announced automatically and displayed on a screen inside the vehicle. However, these displays tend to be not very reliable, pointing to either a wrong stop or not working at all.
In addition, the older buses (most commonly found outside the core center) do not have any displays or announcements. If you are uncertain if a stop is the one you want, you can always ask your fellow travelers.
- By Taxi
There are a lot of taxi companies in Bucharest and you’ll easily find a cab here. But be aware! Don’t take any independent cab drivers, but use only the services of big taxi companies. Cars from these companies have the rates displayed on the door. Each door used to contain an initial “sitting” fee (between 1.6 to 3 RON), a per km fee (1.4 to 3.6 RON) and per hour fee.
Check out below details on some of the most common expenses:
- Meal, inexpensive restaurants: 25 RON
- Combo Meal at McDonalds or Similar: 18 RON
- Milk (per Iitre): starting with 3 RON
- Eggs (per piece): 0,5 RON
- Bread: starting with 0,80 RON
- Gasoline (per Iitre): 5,5 RON
- Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught): 5 RON
- Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle): 8 RON
- Cappuccino (regular): 7 RON
- Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) 4 RON
- Water (0.33 liter bottle): 3 RON
- Internet (monthly subscription): starting with 30 RON
- Electricity (monthly cost for a one bedroom apartment): starting with 40 RON
- Rent (monthly cost for a one bedroom apartment): Starting With 800 – 900 RON
- Utilities (heating, water, garbage monthly cost for a one bedroom apartment): starting with 100 RON
Though not the most adventurous culinary mavericks, Romanians still know how to make some tasty masterpieces. Though the national custom is to cook at home, in Bucharest you’ll find no dearth of delicious eating options from traditional fare to five-star fusion and everything in between.
Traditional Romanian dishes to try include sarmala – meat and rice stuffed cabbage leaves, mici – unspecified fried minced meat served with mustard (best with a beer), mamaliga – a polenta side dish covered in sour cream, and a variety of ciorba, or sour soups, the most popular of which is ciorba de burta made from cow intestines. Pofta buna!
Bucharest, like most of Romania, has a temperate-continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. This region of Romania gets all four seasons with the average high daily temperature in summer in about 29ºC and in winter about 2ºC.
- (Monthly) Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment: 400.00 RON
- 1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans): 0.80 RON
- Internet (10 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL): 30.00 RON
Rent Per Month
- Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre: 1,500.00 RON
- Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre: 1,000.00 RON
- Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre: 2,500.00 RON
- Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre: 1,774.72 RON
Hostels and hotels