If you recently moved to Cluj or planning to visit the city in the near future, here are 10 ideas that you could try this autumn:
1. Enjoy a hike through Hoia Baciu Forest just outside the city. It is located in the west of the city and generally used as a recreation destination. You can get there either via Uliului Street where you can have a spectacular view over Cluj, Florești and the hills nearby or via Aleea Muzeului Etnografic and try to find haunted places as the forest is known for it’s alleged frequent and varied paranormal phenomena. Some trees are twisted and distorted misshapen like those depicted in old fairy tales. Additionally, there’s a clearing where no trees grow. Paranormal investigators suppose this is because of the high activity in this particular area. Do you feel the anxiety previous visitors of the forest talk about?
2. “Gara Mică” which means the “small train station” aims to become a permanent cultural space that promotes emerging artists and builds a network between different artistic disciplines. Located right next to the newly renovated one it is definitely worth a visit. The entire street was recently renovated and looks quite nice now. Just convince yourself! In Gara Mica they have some events in October like theatre plays and guest lectures. Stay tuned and follow their activities on Facebook.
3. Eat a sample of fresh, homemade cheese or other traditional food at one of Cluj’s markets. There’s the Central Market in Piata Mihai Viteazul, another one in Zorilor, as well as in the west of the city Piata IRA in Strada Dâmboviței. Try a sample of Romanian “brânză”, a creamy cheese made out of sheep milk, or some “Telemea” which is a semi-soft, white cheese with a creamy texture and a tangy aftertaste. Or how about some fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables? Maybe you’ll discover some delicacies you didn’t know before!
4. Visit Turnul Croitorilor (Tailor’s Tower). As part of the Cluj-Napoca citadel it once functioned as a defense tower for the southeast corner of the expanded medieval city. Nowadays it is a Center for Urban Culture housing a cafe and almost all the time interesting exhibitions you can visit for free.
5. Join a free walking tour to get to know Cluj even better. There are some offered by Cluj Guided Tours where you get the tour around the city center for free or just pay a tip if you liked it. Probably the tour will last about an hour, for more information contact the tour guides. If you prefer alternative ways of discovering a city Cluj Greeters is probably your choice. You’ll discover the authentic Cluj while your personal greeter shows you around according to your preferences – interesting places, architecture, parks, shopping, the national culture as well as culinary and traditions included (if you like!). The tour will last about 2-3 hours and is free of charge.
Remember the Transylvanian weather and don’t forget scarf and gloves!
6. Visit the Central Park. It is more than 200 years old and though in the past no one paid much attention to it, today it’s one of the city’s main attractions. A project was started to remodel the entire park and it now contains a number of paved roads, a new fountain and pavilion, a renovated Casino building and a restaurant that is right next to the lake. Take your time to walk around, relax, observe the two swans on the lake or feed some ducks. Visit the Casino which is a Cultural Center with free admission.
You can even work out in the Central Park since there is an outdoor exercise station. Christmas is coming, so how about losing some weight before all the delicious food and sweets come up?
7. Listen up, street art fans and Instagram lovers! In Cluj you can find plenty of street art. Some are pretty good ones but as always, there are even ones that unfortunately ruin the nice facades of the house. Catch your favorite one with a photo and share it on your social media accounts. Don’t forget to use hashtag #clujlife 😉
You’ll find the graffitis in Ion Bob Street, Potaissa, Bratianu and Fortaretei str.
8. Enjoy the panoramic view of Cluj from the fortress “Cetatuia” Hill at Hotel Belvedere. Located in the city center at a height of 405 meters it is a plateau from where you can admire the beautiful view of the river and the city center. It takes like 20 min by foot from the Central Park to get there. After climbing up the hill and enjoying the view you can rest and have a coffee at the bar upstairs. If you come during night or early morning enjoy the sunset or sunrise and see the bright city lights.
9. See a movie at Cinema Dacia or Cinema Marasti. Both were built during the communist era and abandoned after the revolution, but now they are newly renovated. Especially if you’re a fan of old movies, you are going to like this place. AND: the entry is free!
10. For those interested in arts, Fabrica de Pensule (The Paintbrush Factory) is a place to see. It was founded in 2009 by a group of gallerists, artists and cultural operators because they thought there was not enough space for exhibitions and opportunities for young artists in Cluj. So they converted the former abandoned factory into one of the most relevant examples of industrial building conversions in Romania. Art students from Cluj as well as other young artists get the chance for artistic practices and to shape cultural change and artistic advance in general. Enthusiasts are always welcome to visit their exhibitions. Oh yeah, and you probably heard of Adrian Ghenie.
Do you know any other free things to do in Cluj?