There are a lot of articles (and by this we really mean – a lot) that present Cluj as a really cool city, and to be honest it actually is! You should definitely come and visit if you get the chance. If you simply type on Google – ”must see in Cluj-Napoca”, you will find yourself struggling to choose from the multitude of recommendations. Some say you can not leave without visiting Saint Michael’s Church, the second largest Gothic church in Romania, or without seeing the city from above, from the old fortification known as Cetățuia. Others consider that a walk through Central Park is a must do in the heart of Transylvania. If you are brave enough, you can experience some paranormal activities in one of the world’s most haunted forests – the Hoia Baciu Forest, considered to be some kind of ”Bermude Triangle”. All these are very cool places indeed and we are proud to have them, but this not everything that Cluj has to offer and you shouldn’t limit your visit to tourist only sights. Dare to explore and you will be fascinated.
We think that nobody knows the city better than its locals, so we asked #PeopleOfCluj to share their recommendations for a first-time visitor. We spoke to a few passionate locals who have valuable advice for any newcomer. Where would they take someone who comes to our cute, little city in order to fully experience the Cluj vibe?
I really enjoy walking the streets of Cluj and often I find myself around lunch time still in the city center, or adjacent streets. My favourite place to go eat there is the Marty Eatery. This cozy, small place recently opened downtown (Unirii 6), with a cut down version menu from what Marty usually offers. You can find here amazing soups and very cool lemonades. I can eat and then work on editing my photos there, looking outside the window at the people passing by. Is a great place for ideas and business meetings too if you are a nomad or constantly preoccupied about your work – Valentin Vesa, who is most likely to take a photo of you without you even knowing it. Always photographing, always searching for new faces, places and feelings, Valentin is a really caring guy, always paying attention to people.
We had to talk to Kero Zen, one of the most known artist in Cluj, and his suggestions are quite awesome.
Like any other cosmopolitan city, Cluj-Napoca has its urban culture and sub-cultural effervescence. If you are in the city centre, you will soon discover small ”artistic interventions” that invites people to look at the other side of the urban landscape, where citizens play an active role by building and imagining the public space. Some of the most representative street works in Cluj-Napoca are: Mărăști bridge, with its feet painted during TIMAF 2014 Festival; The Sfinx from Teleorman Street, no. 16A; The graffiti train, parked in front of the Train Station; The MicroMacro Cosmos Human from Horea Street, no. 33 (in the back yard); The Price of Art from Calea Dorobanților, no. 72, The Aquarium from the CBC Office building and you will surely see what we called ”Art Gallery on Wheels”, meaning 3 tramcars wandering around the city. If you are a explorer, you will love searching for this points through the city.
Maybe we should mention that #PeopleOfCluj really like to eat and a well spent day for them usually means good food, good friends, good wine.
A good day for me, and I am not talking about the ideal day, just one that would make me happy, looks pretty much like this: I start with breakfast at Roots, then I grab a to-go coffee from Narcoffee and go to Cetățuie; I enjoy the fresh air and the view, take photos from there because Cluj from above is fantastic, then I come back downtown and go to Da Pino, where I order a pizza Margherita. If the sun is up and it is hot outside, I get in the car and drive to one of my favourite places near the city: La Mesteceni. Don’t forget your swimming suit because you will find a pool over there and the water is great. While enjoying the sun, you can also taste one of their fine wines. You will be hungry soon, so you better plan your next stop – A camponeza, where you can find the best seafood in town, in my opinion. In the evening, you can take a walk through Museum Square, drink another glass of wine, and you should definitely check if there is an Alandala party in town as for sure you don`t wanna miss that – Dan Ciulea, blogger & wine enthusiast (if you couldn’t tell by now), passionate about people, travel, work and a zero inbox mail. Most likely you’ll run into him in the streets of Cluj, just look for the colorful clothing.
We didn’t see this coming, but Mihail told us about a great place right in the city centre. We must soon go there and see for ourselves this beautiful place.
Maybe it is a little bit odd to talk about a neglected monument, but I think that Filstich House from Unirii Square is one of the most impressive jewels of the former “treasure town”, as Cluj was called in the medieval period. You will find this building, which belonged to Filstick-Kemeny family, next to Hintz House (where the Museum of Pharmacy is at the moment). In the yard there is a witness of the past times waiting for you, a Renaissance portal with the family`s heraldry in the middle. There stands written, in capital letters “VIRTUTIS COMES INVIDIA”, which translates to “The companion of virtue is envy”, and also the year 1597. The framing around the door is considered to be one of the most beautiful expressions of the Renaissance in Cluj and I think it is worth a visit. – Mihail Onaca, passionate about fashion, travel and street photography.
And the culinary recommendations go on and on…
One of my favourite things to do in Cluj is to indulge myself with all the good food the culinary scene here has to offer. From traditional Romanian and international cuisine, to fine dining and specialty coffee, from all day breakfast places to crunchy pizzas and tender burgers, you name it, Cluj has it all! So be ready to go on a grand culinary adventure and to discover the appetizing side of Cluj! You can start your day with a luscious breakfast at one of my favourite spots – Roots, Eggcetera, Olivo or Bujole. They also serve specialty coffee here, but don’t miss the other cool coffee places, like Narcoffee or Let’s Coffee. If you want to explore the Romanian Cuisine, then Zama is the place to visit. Do try a traditional soup here, they have plenty to choose from. You can find the best desserts at the best fine dining restaurant in Cluj: Baracca. Their famous tiramisu will win your heart and excite your taste buds; their entire menu is exquisite, so make sure you visit them. If you are on the prowl for a juicy burger, visit Old and Tasty or Chop. The foodies of Cluj love Italian cuisine, so there are a lot of Italian places to choose from: Da Pino, where you can try their pasta, pinsa or fresh fish, Ciao New York, with their delicious comfort food, D’Autore, with crunchy pizza or Napoli Centrale, where they serve Neapolitan style pizzas. If you want more culinary advice, visit my Instagram account. You will find all the inspiration you need here!
It is Alexandra`s turn to tell us what`s on her mind when it comes to tourist advice and, as surprising as ever, she nicely combines her love for food with the curiosity of getting lost in the city and her new guilty pleasure: studying art.
When I have friends visiting Cluj, I always make them check these places, which are also my top choices when it comes to deciding where to eat, walk or simply get inspired. When it comes to food, I always recommend breakfast at Eggcetera, brunch at Roots (the Duck Salad is incredible) and dinner at Dish and That. You should try here the chocolate dessert and the Shrimp Salad. Also, you will need good coffee to keep you energized, so don’t forget to make a pit-stop at Let`s Coffee or Narcoffee. I am currently studying History and Arts Theory so I like spending some time at the museums also. You can go to Centrul de Interes if you are interested in contemporary artists, White Cuib if you fancy small galleries or at the Arts Museum, a beautiful baroque palace where you will find a collection of romanian artists from XVI-XX century. When I am not working, eating or studying in a museum, I like wandering around the streets and I advise you to add Andrei Șaguna street in your itinerary, where you can have a lovely walk around ”Canalul Morii”, Potaissa street, where you can see the wall of the old citadel of Cluj, but also Kogălniceanu street, a beautiful appearance in the city`s map, emerging different styles of architecture and also a good place to observe the evolution of Cluj over the century.
Finally, we talked with one of our favourite contemporary writers, Victor Miron, a dreamer with his head well anchored in reality. You will recognize him by the large smile on his face and, most likely, the book in his hands.
My favourite spot is the Botanical Garden, officially known as ”Alexandru Borza Cluj-Napoca University Botanic Garden”. The garden is over 14 hectares in area, with over 10,000 plants from throughout the world and as you walk in, you will slowly realize you entered another world. It’s not just a world of flowers, but also a world of sounds, sounds that are very different from the ones you hear in the city. I think this place is an oasis of beauty and you can always recharge your batteries while being here.
So, dear wanderer, which of these recommendations do you plan to visit? Let’s hear them in the comments section.