Cluj Napoca is my college town, but also a city I lived in for many years as an adult. It’s also the place I visit quite often, either for meeting dear friends, for enjoying a good coffee, for shopping or going out.
Why do I think you should visit Cluj?
1. A vibrant city
Even if it’s your first time in Cluj and you have nothing to compare with, you will feel that Cluj is a growing city. Its energy will tell you, but also the crazy traffic and the booming construction projects spreaded all over.
To better comprehend the developing rhythm of Cluj-Napoca, let’s just mention a few of its awards:European Youth Capital in 2015 (European Youth Forum), Capital of Tolerance, 2014, Friendliest City in Europe, 2014 (Eurostat), The City that will Shake Up the Art World in the 21st Century (Huffington Post).
2. Easy to reach
Cluj has an international airport with 26 EU/pan-EU destinations and growing. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest (324 kilometres), Budapest (351 km) and Belgrade (322 km), which opens other options for transportation.
Once you get to Cluj, I’m sure you will appreciate the walkable distances. The downtown area is maybe one hour by foot, at a fairly fast pace. Of course, you can explore it in circles, which will give you the time to admire the architecture and observe the locals, and it can take you a day or two.
If I would be to make a recommendation, I would say you the best way to visit Cluj is to stroll the streets, visit museums, enter in the small stores … and take a lot of coffee breaks in its many great specialty coffee shops.
4. Food, coffee, nightlife
Yep, you will find it all in Cluj! A lot of good restaurants, serving everything from Romanian traditional food, classic and modern, to Indian, Japanese, fusion… The street food scene is also rapidly growing and you will have good options to grab a great meal on the go. And if you only want a snack, then definitely try one of the many pastry shops with lots of cheap and tasty treats.
When it comes to coffee, Cluj is the place to be. Not only that you will find amazing specialty coffee from local roasters, but the design and the atmosphere of the shops will make you want to stay for the whole day.
Romanians know how to party. If you have the chance to get invited, definitely go to a weeding, and you will understand what I mean. We love to dance, and dance, and dance. Cluj has clubs and bars for all musical tastes, so for sure you’ll have something of your liking and dance the night away. Before I forget, a honorable mention are the great drinks you’ll be able to enjoy. Going from nice Romanian wines, to local craft beer and “over-the-top” mixology, there is a full bar menu.
5. Festivals, festivals, festivals
Again, it’s only a matter of what you like … the choices are plenty. Untold, with 330.000 tickets sold in 2017 and with a line-up including Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Martin Garrix, is the largest electronic music festival held in Romania. Then, there is Electric Castle, that takes place in July, on the spectacular Transylvanian domain of the Bánffy Castle, near Cluj. My personal recommendation is TIFF, the international feature film festival, founded in 2002, happening in the end of May in 20 locations around the city, including outdoor and unconventional places.
If you want to explore Romania even further, read also my article Why should you visit Romania and get to know Romanians!
Photo credits: Adrian Ciorba