Cluj-Napoca (Romanian) or Kolozsvár (Hungarian) , as capital of historical region Transylvania, is one of the most visited cities in Romania. The city, with 310,243 people, is very pleasant, and it is certainly a great experience for those who want to see urban Transylvanian life at its best. Along with fine dining, excellent cultural activities, a wonderful historical legacy and a great atmosphere, the city will certainly not disappoint those who add it to their travel itinerary. What's more is the fact that Cluj (as it's called for short) is so easy to access and get around.
The official language is Romanian, a Romance language which is unique in that it is the closest currently-spoken relative to Ancient Latin. Most educated people born after about 1970 will speak reasonably good English and will likely be proficient in one or more second Romance languages; most educated people born before about 1970 will speak reasonably good French and Italian. Hungarian is a commonplace language, spoken by the relatively large Hungarian minority. The Roma people (Gypsies) speak their native Romany, as well as Romanian, and sometimes English as well. Beyond that, as in any major city, there will be a smattering of other languages.
Getting to Cluj-Napoca is easy due to its position and its status as a major Romanian city.
As with many other Romanian cities, train is the easiest way to reach Cluj from Bucharest. There are train connections to most Romanian cities, including fast InterCity connections to Oradea, Arad, Timisoara, Brasov, Sighisoara, Ploiesti and Bucharest. Many trains to Budapest leave early in the morning.
The International Someşeni Airport of Cluj-Napoca is offering flights to Bucharest, Timisoara, Budapest, Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Dortmund,Milano, Bologna, Ancona, Bergamo, Florence, Rome, Treviso, Verona , Lviv, Paris, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid and London provided by TAROM, Austrian, Lufthansa, Iberia, Alitalia, Carpatair, Malev and Wizzair).
WizzAir, the Polish-Hungarian budget airline, started flying to Cluj-Napoca in October 2007.
For European travellers, a budget alternative is to fly to Budapest Ferihegy Airport with a low-cost company, and then shuttle to Cluj-Napoca. The shuttle takes six to eight hours to make the travel. Many companies travel this route, for instance Amasis Tours, Calibra, Huben, Optimus. You can find shuttles from early morning till late night. Reservations have to be made in advance, make sure you leave at least two hours between your flight arrival and the departure of the shuttle, to account for any flight delays. Prices are around 60 to 80 RON (25 EUR), check AMASIS, KAMELEON, Nemeth Speed.
Car rental by Avis, Budget, Europcar and several local providers is available, as well as on request by Hertz.
The Airport of Cluj-Napoca has transport connections to downtown Cluj-Napoca. To get there, travelers can choose between car rentals, taxi, limo service and public transport (bus line 8 running from 5:30 AM till midnight, with cheap prices). For the public bus, you need to buy a ticket from the booth in front of either the Arrivals or Departures terminals. You are not allowed to buy tickets from the driver.
Also, WizzAir company introduced a bus-shuttle to the center of fixed price of 15 RON (about 4 EUR/ 7USD).
Cluj-Napoca has good road connections. European road E60 links it to Bucharest and Brasov to the south, Oradea and Budapest to the west, through Bors customs. E81 leads to Zalau and Satu Mare to the north, Brasov and Bucharest to the south. E58 links Cluj-Napoca to Dej, Bistrita, Baia Mare and Vatra Dornei.
Public transport in the city is possible by means of 25 bus lines, 7 trolleybus lines, and 3 tram lines, all operated by the RATUC company (Regia Autonomă de Transport Urban de Călători). Complete routes can be found on . Schedules are not available online, but for most lines servicing the city center you won't need to wait more than 15 minutes. The tariff is 3 RON (about 85 eurocents, or 1.3 USD) for two travels. Tickets can be bought for cash only at special booths at most stops, identifiable by the RATUC logo and possibly the text "Bilete si Abonamente" (meaning "short and long-term tickets"). Be careful to correctly punch an unused half of your ticket once in the vehicle, ticket control is relatively common and the fines are sizable.
Taxis are relatively more expensive than in other parts of Romania, but still cheap, and very convenient. The tariff is around 1.79 RON (50 eurocents/ 0.7 $) per kilometer, and the same is applied as start fee. All the respectable companies charge the same price. Typically 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. It is customary, though not mandatory, that the sum is rounded up to 0.5 RON multiples (e.g., if the meter shows 3.2 RON you will probably be expected to pay 3.5 RON, leaving the extra 0.3 RON as a tip). If you do not have exact change, the driver might keep this tip himself when paying back the change. If he tries to keep too much (like rounding from 3.5 to 5 RON, for example), do ask for the change.
Taxi cabs come in all shapes and colors, they are identified by the company logo on the sign on top of the car, which will also be placed somewhere on the car body. Taxis cluster around important locations in the city, and clusters are usually no more than 1 kilometer apart. Take care to always use respectable companies, such as Atlas, Diesel Rapid, Diesel Taxi, Pritax, Nova, Terra & Fan, Pro Rapid. There might be underground, "shark" drivers as they are called, which try to exploit unknowledgeable strangers by overcharging. You should avoid them as they charge at least several times the normal fee. They mostly hang around the train station and the airport. Shark drivers might sometimes "helpfully" offer a ride themselves; you won't see a usual driver do that. Usually shark drivers' cars are marked TAXI and nothing else. Search for name of company on the door of car! Respectable firms typically have several cars parked at each station; that's an easy way to identify them. Elseway, the price per kilometer is sometimes displayed on the cab door. It should be no more than 1.79 RON (17900 lei, in the old currency).
Cabs can also be phoned in. You typically need to give a name, and wait for the number of the car to be relayed to you. Cars will arrive after a period on the order of minutes.
It may happen that you will be driven around on a longer route if you don't know the city. This may happen even with respectable firms. You can't do much to help that, unless you are able to read a map very well, especially if you're easy to spot as a foreigner. The best thing to do is to appear confident, jump in the car and state your destination unhesitantly as if you knew exactly where it was.
Some of the taxi companies in Cluj-Napoca:
Nova Taxi - (0264) 949, +40-745 151000
Diesel Rapid - (0264) 946
Atlas Taxi - (0264) 969
Diesel Taxi - (0264) 953, +40-744 646663, +40-745 381532, +40-722 859093
Pritax - (0264) 942, +40-744 159720, +40-788 550000
Pro Rapid - (0264) 948
Terra Fan - (0264) 944
Cars can be rented from the following operators:
Aerocenter, Cipariu Square nr. 15, +40-264-439117; http://www.rentacar-romania.ro/
Aerotravel, Horea nr. 1, +40-264-536940 / 926; http://www.aerotravel.ro
Autorent, Cluj-Napoca International Airport, international arrivals; http://www.rentcar.ro/
Avis, Hotel Victoria, 21 Decembrie 1989 nr. 54-56, +40-264-439403, also available at the airport; http://www.avis.ro/
Delta rentals, Cluj-Napoca International Airport, +40-723-349930;
Europcar/Jettour, Constantin Brâncuşi nr. 2, +40-264-594498, also available at the airport;
Hertz, Cluj-Napoca International Airport, +40-264-307528; http://www.hertz.com.ro/
Linea Blu Travel, Hotel Victoria, 21 Decembrie 1989 nr. 54-56, +40-264-591037, http://www.lineablutravel.ro/rent_a_car.php
Rodna Rent a Car, Traian Vuia Nr. 62, +40-264-416-773; http://www.rodna-trans.ro/
Zolicar, Constanta 400158, +40-264-433-524; http://www.zolicar.ro/
Many small tourism agencies also intermediate for renting cars, and you might be able to get better rates there. You can find such agencies scattered throughout the city centre.
You should see Matthias Corvinus' mounted statue and the old St. Michael's Church in the Union Square -- right in the middle of the city. This gothic architecture piece is one of the most valuable in Transylvania. Its murals date from the 15th century, and the 50m neogothic tower was built in 1860. The statue is always scaled by tourists, although officially this is not allowed.
The area around the Union Square is also a must see for the visitor, with the Teleki and Banffy Palaces (the former now housing the National Art Museum), the Franciscan Monastery, the first Unitarian Church in the world, the Piarist Churches, the Mirror Street (Iuliu Maniu Street - a unique architectural accomplishment dating back to the late 1800s) and Matthias Corvinus' place of birth, a former 15th Century hotel now home to the Visual Arts Academy.
Smaller streets around the Square can take you into splendid inner courts, old houses and isolated Churches. The Tailors' Bastion and the corresponding section of the medieval wall is very well preserved, South-East of the Union Square.
The Museum Square, a 2 minute walk from the Union Square, is home to the Franciscan Monastery (a combination of baroque and gothic architecture dating back to the 14th Century), the Transylvanian History Museum and the old Obelisk of the City, offered to the City as acknowledgement of its statute by the Austrian Emperor Franz Ferdinand in the 19th Century. You can have a nice coffee right by the Obelisk, as during daytime the surrounding clubs and cafes move out of their inside locations into cool, relaxing terraces.
The (Republicii no. 42) spreads over 14 hectares and contains among others a small Japanese garden, greenhouses for ecuatorial and tropical plants, a small water course through its middle, and a tower which can be climbed to get a better view of the garden arrangements.
The Central Park is a welcome break from the rush of the city. The middle of the park hosts a small lake and the Chios Casino, from the terrace of which you can rent rowboats and hydrobicycles to circle the small island in the centre of the lake.
The Cetatuia hill (Fortress Hill) used to hold a stronghold, as its name implies. People were also jailed there. Not much of the old fortress remains, but the Transylvania Hotel (also known to the locals as Belvedere) was built on top of the hill, and besides the great view offers a good restaurant as well. The hill can be climbed by stairs from the centre of the city. On the way you will also find a large iron cross monument. A walkway circles the crown of the hill just below the Hotel, offering a nice view to the city.
Other objectives include:
National Theater, Ştefan cel Mare Square nr. 24
Hungarian State Theater, Emil Isac nr. 26-28; http://www.huntheater.ro/
Palace of Justice, Calea Dorobantilor nr. 2
Babeş-Bolyai University, Mihail Kogălniceanu nr. 1B; http://www.ubbcluj.ro/
The Hazsongardi Cemetery, Museums:
National Art Museum, Union Square nr. 30
National Museum of the History of Transylvania, Constantin Daicoviciu nr. 2
Emil Isac Memorial House, Emil Isac nr. 23
Etnography Museum of Transylvania, Memorandumului nr. 21;
National Etnography Park "Romulus Vuia", Tăietura Turcului
Zoology Museum, Clinicilor nr. 5-7
You can see many objectives live on the on top of a tall building on C. Daicoviciu Str. Cetatuia hill, Transilvania Hotel, the St. Michael Cathedral, the Hungarian State Theatre, as well as most of the city centre, can be seen by rotating and tilting the camera via the webpage controls (you might need to wait to get your turn in controlling it).
Somesu Rece fortress
Bocskai castle in Aghiresu
Banffy castles in Bontida, Rascruci and Borsa
Beldi castle in Geaca
Haller castle in Coplean
Kemeny Banffy castle in Luncani
Kornis caslte in Manastirea
Teleki fortress in Luna de jos
Ciucea, with the memorial house of Octavian Goga
Belis agrotouristic village with the Fantanele lake
Nowadays Cluj Napoca is one of the most important shopping city in Romania, with two of the biggest malls: Iulius Mall and Polus Center.
You can also visit Sora Shopping Center, Central and Galeriile Ferdinand (very expensive).
For a lower budget you can find lots of cool clothes in Piata Marasti (shopping center).
Another 2 malls are going to be built in Cluj Napoca. Atrium Center and (the construction of Akademia will be completed by 2009)
Cluj dining is some of the best in Romania. Ranging from traditional Romanian, Hungarian and Transylvanian (a combination of the previous two) to Italian (very good Italian food), 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).
Academia More - Pizzeria, Clinicilor st. 9A. Pizza & pasta, sports bar. Near University campus and downtown, with biggest summer garden in Cluj-Napoca (+400 seats). Pizza delivery also available: 0040-264-590823, 0040-745-983100. Big groups reservations.
Akropolis, Str. Moţilor nr. 40, tel. 40 264 439228. Greek dishes. The restaurant is actually a fast-food restaurant and a bar, with separate entrances.
Agape - Transylvanian/Hungarian.
Aroma, on the Feleacu hill. International cuisine with a great view.
Beijing, Str. A. Iancu nr. 12-14. Chinese eatery.
Bolero - International.
Casa Vikingilor - International cuisine with huge portions.
Chicago's - American fare.
Ciuleandra, inside the Best Western Topaz Hotel. Specializing in Romanian/Transylvanian food.
Fahid - Middle-eastern cuisine.
Fair Play - International.
Hao Yi - Chinese.
Il Milanese, Str. Avram Iancu Nr. 85, Comuna Floreşti. 12 kilometers from downtown Cluj-Napoca in neighboring Comuna Floreşti. Specializing in Italian dishes.
Lugano, Str. Roosvelt no. 3. International cuisine.
Maestro - International.
Marco Polo, in the City Plaza Hotel. Japanese food.
Pizza Y - International.
Red House - Transylvanian/Hungarian.
Roata, near the City Hall. Romanian/Transylvanian.
Roland Garros - International.
Shanghai, Str. Constantin Brâncuşi nr. 98, tel. 40 264-409905. Located in a residential neighborhood a few kilometers from the city center, Shanghai has one of the most varied selections of Chinese dishes.
Vila Tusa - International.
Baracca Str. Napoca, nr. 8A, tel. 40 0732.155.177. New restaurant, opened up in October 2008. Very good mediteranean food with french cuisine influence, great atmosphere.This restaurant change his menu on every 6 months in colaboration with Chef from France .
Matei Corvin Intim, Str. Matei Corvin nr. 3, tel. 40 264-597497. International cuisine. This restaurant frequently receives national and international celebrities.
Topaz, Str. Septimiu Albini no. 10 (inside the Best Western Topaz), tel. 40 264-414066, . Refined menu of international selections in an elegant atmosphere.
Cluj has a vibrant night life, guaranteed by the over 60000 University students living here. There are bars, cafés, clubs for all preferences and budgets.
La Gazette, Calea Turzii Str. A place to meet students and to get to know new music.
Euphoria, café-bar style with a popular and large out-door setting in a square. Nice food.
Insomnia, opposite the cinema next to the bookstore on Piata Unirii. Bohemian and ever changing decor and nice personel. Also serve light meals.
King, next to the house of Mateus Corvin. Hungarian and Moldavian club.
Oscar - A good after-hours haunt.
Stone, Str. Gheorghe Fulicea nr. 17, 40 264-408167.
Umbra de Noapte - Gothic music and style.
Corvinus - Str. Memorandumului - The most visited pub by hungarians.
The last three years have seen a boom in the Cluj lodging scene. There are lodging options for all budgets, including a newly opened 5 star hotel. Other than that, you can find something that suits your needs.
Do - Re - Mi, only between July and August, Str. Braşov nr. 2-4, +40 264 186616.
Meteor, Eroilor nr. 29, +40 264 591060. Situated in the commercial center of Cluj, close to important economic and administrative sites.
PAX, Station Square nr. 1-3, +40 264 432927.
Sport, George Cosbuc nr. 15, +40 268 593921.
Vlădeasa, Regele Ferdinand nr. 20, +40 264 594429.
Victoria, 21 Decembrie 1989 nr. 54-56, +40 264 591441.
Belvedere (ex. Transilvania), Călăraşilor nr. 1-3, +40 264 432071. Facilities include a pool, gym, conference rooms. Nice view, on top of Fortress hill close to the city center.
Olimp, Observatorului 82-86, 0264 595 900. Facilities include WiFi, conference room.
Onix, Septimiu Albini nr. 12, +40 264 414076. Situated in the center of the city, the Onix has 3 and 4-stars rooms and suites, all of which have a jacuzzy, PCs with Internet access, air-con, cable television, minibar, and telephone. .
Casa Albă, Emil Racoviţă nr. 22, +40 264 432277.
Deja Vu, Ion Ghica nr. 2, +40 264 354939.
Cluj-Napoca is in general a safe city. Even after dark, it is safe to walk through the city center and some of the other neighbourhoods. To be on the safe side, unless you know exactly where you're going and how to get there, suburbs should be avoided at night, especially the neighbourhoods of Manastur, Marasti, and Iris, and the train and inter-city bus station areas.
You should, as always, take care of your belongings and pockets. In the unfortunate event that your wallet is stolen or lost, it is likely that it will resurface after a while, but without the money and credit cards (so be sure to call your credit card company and lock the credit card as soon as you notice it's missing).
As throughout the rest of the European Union, the police, ambulance, and fire department are reachable at the number 112.
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Andrew Berreth, Marc Heiden, Morariu Sorin, David, Thomas Waltz, Michele Ann Jenkins, Gobbler, Lucian, Vlad Calin Nistor, Tom Holland, Evan Prodromou and Jani Patokallio, Wikitravel user(s) ChubbyWimbus, Tatatabot, Texugo, Episteme, Deni120, DorganBot, Calbookaddict, Ghita, InterLangBot, Hypatia and Anca
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