A lesser known Romanian city (and cheap Wizz air destination) is student paradise Cluj-Napoca. Also located in Transylvania, Cluj, as the locals call it, feels like medieval town meets modern times. I was so fortunate to have a few local friends as my guide to give me a speed tour through their city. They showed me the crème de la crème of the of this place, the very best and hidden Cluj.
Romance at fortress hill
Who says you have to go everywhere to see the entire city? The best way to get your morning exercise is to climb up the fortress hill, or Cetăţuia to get a good view over everything. People say that a lot of love stories began at the fortress hill, don’t be surprised to see some couples as you go along. Also great at night time.
Have lunch in the university cafeteria
If you really want to eat amongst locals, eat at the university cafeteria. The food is incredibly cheap and you get to share your table with students and other people who like to join in. Prepare to have a big lunch, as it is typically Romanian to have a good meal to get through your day. Who knew you could make friends and feed yourself for such a tiny bit of money?
Visit Central Park
Who needs New York if you have Cluj. Parcul Central or Central Park is not only quite big, it’s also extremely photogenic. One thing I found in every park in Romania were chess tables, where elderly people like to meet up and play. Also, Romanian parks are filled with benches. Extremely handy when you’re tired from all the walking (and eating). Sit down on any bench and watch the park for a while. Most Romanian parks are popular and everyday life is sometimes most visible there.
Have dinner at Vikings
Another way to eat bucket loads of food. After a total of five weeks in Romania, Casa Vikingilor even surprised me. The portions are absolutely huge, so beware of what you get. Finishing your plate is a well known value in Romania, so you’ll have to explain yourself to a waiter once in a while. Mostly they will understand. The food is pretty cheap so it’s great if you’re on a budget. Tip: Get 1 meter of hamburger meat to share with a friend. The meat is traditionally Romanian, so go as local as you can.
Have a drink in one of the many bars
Strada Piezișă is the place to go for beer, food and cocktails. The street is famous for its many bars, restaurants and night shops. If you want to engage in some local partying, try and watch a soccer match at a small café. We watched the qualification match with some friends and people kept joining in. Later, drunk and dressed in Romanian flags, we climbed the fortress hill to watch the city sleep.
You can always choose to stay in Cluj longer than 24 hours, which I didn’t and still regret. A great way of getting some travel inspiration is by checking out Facebook pages dedicated to this beautiful city and country. I love Cluj shares many, many photos and they will all tickle your wanderlust for sure. Other great pages are Transylvania Trip and Romania Redescoperita, which is more about Romania in general. Have fun!