Having lived in Cluj for several months, I finally uncovered the best of what Cluj, Romania, has to offer and hidden gems that only the locals know of.
Cluj-Napoca is sandwiched between the bustling metropolises of Bucharest and Budapest. Both are fascinating cities, but both lack the city charm that Cluj offers its guests.
The region only has a population of 412,000, But that doesn’t stop it from producing an electric atmosphere. With over 100,000 students, numerous clubs, and an entire street dedicated to bars and fast food stalls, it’s no surprise Cluj is a fun and exciting place to visit!
In general, Cluj is off the beaten track. But if you keep reading, you’ll discover the places most tourists miss!
The Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in Cluj, Romania
Cluj is packed with attractions to put on your travel itinerary. But below, you can find the top things to do that you cannot afford to miss while in town!
Admire Cetățuia Park
By far my favorite place to spend time in Cluj at any time of the day!
The park is perched upon a hill overlooking Cluj Old Town. You can admire the medieval buildings and modern architecture at the Cluj Arena with one glance.
When the sun is out, you can venture through the paths surrounded by nature. And stumble across historical monuments.
After admiring the sunset and the evening draws closer, you can enjoy the night over a meal and drinks in one of the eateries here.
Explore Hoia Forest
A top attraction that’s known by many but braved by few.
The forest is less than 7km West of Cluj Old Town. And its beautiful terrain can be viewed for free.
So why do so many people avoid visiting the area?
Because it’s known as one of the most haunted forests in the world!
Stroll Through Strada Inocențiu Micu Klein
This postcard lane is only steps from Urnii Square but is missed by thousands of visitors in Cluj.
The cobblestone lane is hidden away, just off one of the busiest streets in town. You’ll find the only remaining part of the city’s medieval walls along the path.
In the evening, locals pack out the bars and restaurants to sample some of the best cuisines in Cluj. And you might find out which restaurants further down in this article!
Party Along Strada Piezișă
Another street adored by the locals. And after visiting, I can see why.
Cluj has cheap drinks in general. But drinks on this street go down another level. You can easily find pints of beer for under 10 LEI (2 EUR)!
The street is about 15 minutes from the downtown area, and every establishment is either a bar or a fast food stall! This is the place to come if you want a vodka-fueled night at rock-bottom prices!
Visit Iulius Park
Iulius Park is located in the Gheorgheni distrcit of Cluj-Napoca. Bus number 22 goes from the city center and stops outside the park. But the best way to reach the area is by renting an electric scooter!
There is a short walk and cycle trail around the peaceful lake. You can even rent paddle boats and get out onto the lake.
There are plenty of green spaces where you can relax with a coffee from the food stalls littered around the area. During the summer, there are many free open-air concerns here.
In the winter, you can take shelter in the large shopping center adjacent to the lake.
Best Non-Touristy Places To Drink in Cluj, Romania
Cluj is the perfect spot for a night out. You can find vodka-fueled parties that continue till the early morning hours, or you can enjoy a delicious cocktail in a relaxed atmosphere.
EC Garden is one of the town’s best places to eat and drink.
Inside the open-air space, you’ll find plenty of bars, food stalls, gorgeous surroundings, and fire pits for those wishing to stay up until the early hours.
You name the drink, and you’ll probably be able to find it here. Beers, cocktails, shots, and even seasonal beverages can all be found at affordable prices.
The only reason why visitors avoid this pub is that it’s not in downtown Cluj. It’s located a 10-minute walk from the main square, and it’s just outside Parcul Central.
Bright lights swing from tree to tree, giving the outdoor space a fun atmosphere. Inside, you’ll find modern furniture and a stage for live music.
This is the place to be if you enjoy pub-grub with your drinks.
With an entire street dedicated to bars in Cluj, I couldn’t make a list without adding one of the bars here. Studio 26 is the place to be if you want drinks and laughs, above all else.
You’ll be forgiven if you think you’re standing outside a residential building. But when you step inside its sliding doors, you’ll discover a world of craft beers and rock and roll music during the day.
You can find beers here for as little as 9 LEI! (1.80 EUR).
Best Non-Touristy Places to Eat in Cluj, Romania
Eastern European cuisine is one of the most underrated foods on Earth. Romania has one of the best meals in this part of the globe. And the best place to try this nation’s cuisine is in budget-friendly Cluj.
Vărzărie is a gem, but it’s not a hidden one. It’s situated in plain view along the busiest streets in Cluj.
This cheap eat is packed with locals and receives few tourists.
Many avoid this cozy store with the best flavors in Romania as it doesn’t have the bright lights to draw tourists through its doors.
This delicious restaurant serves delicious Romanian food. From soups to pickles and from dumplings to sausages, this place has the lot. And of course, cold beers.
The restaurant is hard to find, but when you finally discover it, you can enjoy a traditional meal in a pretty little garden.
Makeba is one of the few places in Cluj where you can enjoy a meal and admire the medieval walls.
It’s every you’d expect from a bistro. A stylish interior, great-tasting food, and reasonable prices. There is indoor seating, but most seats wrap around the picturesque cobblestone lanes.
They have a daily menu, so be sure to check out their Facebook page for today’s meals.
Get Off The Beaten Track in Cluj
As a travel destination, Cluj is off the beaten track. But if you’re one of the 500,000 people that visit here each year, stay off the beaten path and uncover more of Romania’s history, cultures, and locals.