Never heard of Cluj-Napoca? Nether had I … but after a little research, I’m trying to find when I can see this part of Romania ASAP because it’s gorgeous!
Don’t have this European country on your bucket list? Time to change all of that! There are some dreamy fairytale-worthy churches and endless castles to explore … not to mention tons of other rad spots to explore in Romania. Plus, we just found one more weekend (or short vacation) getaway for you to see for yourself — a little place called Cluj-Napoca.
Want to see more of Romania than you would on a week long visit? Come volunteer at a Romanian Orphanage for a whole semester! Get your questions answered by talking to an ILP Representative.
Volunteers involved with this humanitarian program will be living in Iasi, which is only a short flight (or an overnight) bus ride to this total hidden gem (known as Cluj for short). Here’s what you can’t miss while visiting:
- Bike The Quaint City
- Float In Salty Lakes
- Hike To A Flooded Village
- Visit This Underground Theme Park
- See Parks, Museums, Churches & Gardens
Bike The Quaint City
Wanna see the most of this red-roof topped city? Go by bike. There are lots of spots where you can rent a bike for the day and see more than you could by walking. Downton Cluj is pretty flat but the whole city is in a valley, so be prepared to bike uphill if you want to explore the apartments … Oh, and don’t forget to stop by and taste a Kurtoskalacs (a traditional Transylvanian pastry) on your bike ride! They’re yummmmm.
Float In Salty Lakes
After a day in the city, head outside of Cluj to explore some gorgeous sites, like the Cojocna Baths. There are two lakes here (the Cojocna Salt Lakes) that are salty enough that you just float on the surface of the water, instead of sinking when you jump in. Plan on hanging out on the sandy beaches to play volleyball, badminton or to build a sandcastle or two after your soak.
Hike To A Flooded Village
Another site to see is Tarnita Lake, just about 20-30 minutes away from downtown Cluj-Napoca. The whole area is gorgeous, made up of four dams that were meant to produce electricity for the nearby city during communist times. But now, you can visit for some boat rides, a swim in the water or the chance to even see the flooded village: On the bottom of Lake Belish, there used to be a village there, that is now completely submerged. Rumors have it that you can see the top of the church’s steeple during summers where the lake’s water levels are low.
Visit This Underground Theme Park
So Turda isn’t technically in Cluj-Napoca, but it’s close and worth seeing! There’s lot a to do in Turda but the biggest draw is the underground theme park — yep! Come see a ferris wheel and other attractions deep in an ancient salt mine. Get more info about this awesome day trip right here.
There are buses that go from Cluj to Turda every twenty minutes, which makes a visit very easy.
See Parks, Museums, Churches & Gardens
Cluj has it’s very own Central Park that is worth seeing, and the Botanic gardens here can’t be beat. There are also dozens of gorgeous cathedrals and ancient churches you could explore in an afternoon. The city also has an odd collection of museums that talk about everything from art, this history of Transylvania and what medicine looked like 500 years ago. Like most cities in Europe, there are free walking tours you can check out that may take you to most of these places.
Now that you’ve mapped out your Cluj-Napoca itinerary, it’s time to plan out your semester living in Romania, right? When you’re not on vacation in your own country (and other nearby, like Poland, Germany, France, Greece and Italy), you’ll be helping out in a local orphanage and hospital — as a volunteer with International Language Programs. It originally started as a BYU Orphanage Program, but is now run by us … ILP! (And anyone can volunteer now, not just BYU students).
Get the details to get you excited about your semester here by clicking that button: