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Sibiu, Romania

View of the centre of Sibiu, Romania - where to stay?

Sibiu is a beautiful city in Transylvania, Romania. Nicknamed The City with Eyes, the city is a well-known tourist destination for both domestic and foreign visitors. It is known for its culture, history, gastronomy and diverse architecture, which includes the iconic houses with eyes that gave Sibiu its nickname. 

Located at 275 km north-west of Bucharest, the city straddles the Cibin River, a tributary of the river Olt. 

Now the capital of the Sibiu County, between 1692 and 1791 and 1849–65 Sibiu was also the capital of the Principality of Transylvania. 

Sibiu is also known for its Christmas market. In 2007, Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture. This was the most important cultural event in the city in recent memory, and resulted in a huge boost to local tourism, both domestic and international.

The city of Sibiu and its surroundings are one of the most visited areas in Romania, as it holds one of the best preserved historical sites in the country, many of its medieval fortifications having been kept in excellent state. So, without further ado, let me show you why you should visit Sibiu, and what are the best things to do in Sibiu, Romania.

sibiu eyes houses
The houses with eyes, which give Sibiu it's nickname 'the city with eyes'
sibiu market square

How to get to Sibiu

Air:
Sibiu is served by one of the newest international airports in Romania. Sibiu (SBZ) has connections to many major European cities including London, Dublin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Madrid.
The airport is just 6kms from the city, and can be reached via both bus (approx €0.45 one way) , or taxi (around €4-5).
Other airports include Cluj-Napojca (175kms) and Targu Mures (109 kms).
 

Train:

Sibiu is served by five rail stations: the Main Station (Gara Mare), the Little Station (Gara Mică), Turnișor, Sibiu Triaj, Halta Ateliere Zonă . It has an important diesel-powered locomotives depot.

Numerous Inter Regional trains connect Sibiu to other major cities in Romania: Cluj-Napoca, Brașov, Craiova, Timișoara and Bucharest. This is by far one of the cheapest way to see all major cities in Romania.

Road:

Sibiu is an important node in the European road network, being on two different European routes (E68 and E81). At a national level, Sibiu is located on three different main national roads, DN1, DN7 and DN14. Sibiu is also an major hub for the international bus links with the biggest passenger transporter in Romania, Atlassib, based here. Transport companies are also providing coach connections from Sibiu to a large number of locations in Romania, and it is a great place to start tours to all of Romania.

Where to stay in Sibiu, Romania

As Sibiu is a fairly small and compact city, with a great infrastructure for pedestrians, most hotels are well located for tourists.

Pretty much anywhere in Center or The Lower Town will be perfectly located for a visit to the city. The closer you are to Piata Mare (the Large Square) you are, will likely mean higher prices. But you may also find a bargain, especially out of season.

Some of our recommendations for best hotels and accommodation in Sibiu are:

  • ART HOTEL
  • Hotel Marabella
  • My Continental Sibiu
  • Apartament Aima

 

sibiu-1617806_1280 (1)

What to see and do in Sibiu, Romania

Central Square

This is the historic center of Sibiu, first mentioned in documents in 1411 as a cereal market, the square existing since 1366 when the third fortification belt of the city was finalized. Starting with the 16th century, the large square became the center of the old city. 

During the middle ages, numerous important events in the everyday life of the city took place here, such as public gatherings and executions. 

“The eyes of the city”, as the roof windows are known, must also be mentioned here because they are most visible from this location.

sibiu market square

Brukenthal Palace

The Brukenthal Palace located at no. 4 in the Central Square is among the most representative buildings of Sibiu. This building is different from other palaces built in open spaces because it was limited by the initial parcels existing here.

A closed plan with an inner courtyard was adopted for the construction of the palace, the organization of the space being made by highlighting the first floor, where, looking onto to the façade, are the most important five halls (the drawing room, the visit chambers, offices) decorated with wallpaper, items of artistic woodwork and furnished with tile stoves.

The Brukenthal Palace is one of the best museums in Sibiu. This museum is divided in multiple buildings:

 

  • The art galleries
  • The museum of history
  • The Museum of Pharmacology
  • The Museum of Natural History
  • The Museum of Arms and Hunting Trophies
  • The Brukenthal Library

My personal recommendation is The Museum of Arms and Hunting Trophies!Central

Astra Museum

ASTRA Museum is the largest open air museum from Europe and the most complete (traditional architecture, crafts, events, exhibitions a.s.o.). With more than 10 km alleys and over 400 buildings of wood, stone, brick reconstructed in the museum to illustrate the everyday/ daily life of the ancestors who lived in villages of Romania.

Diversity, multicultural and tradition preserved and relived in The Open Air Museum from Dumbrava Forest are the main assets of the ASTRA Museum. I promise you, you will lose yourself by exploring every building, and reading about it (origins, what was it used for, etc…). If you’re lucky, you might get the chance to feed birds, by putting the food that is offered by the museum in one of the many bird houses.

In the center, there are shops to purchase food and water, which you can enjoy by the lake placed right in front of the shops, and also toilets. You need to be prepared for visiting this museum and do not rush, as there are many things to do, and you might stay there over 5-6 hours. 

The Council Tower

One of the most famous monuments of Sibiu, the tower will be one of your most photographed images from your stay.

It bears this name because it used to defend the entrance gate into the second precinct, situated in the immediate vicinity of the building which once hosted the City Hall of Sibiu. Nowadays the edifice is the result of several construction phases, the building having been super-elevated and even incorporated in a group of buildings. Only the core of the building erected at the level of the first floor is preserved from the initial building. 

The tower had various uses over time, from a granary to an observation deck for fires, a temporary jail and even a museum of natural sciences in the middle of the 18th century.

Between 1962 and 1998, the tower hosted a section of the Brukenthal Museum displaying medieval exhibits. It’s a must visit, and very cheap, with a ticket costing 2 RON(0,41 eur)

Bridge of Lies

Considered to be a forged iron gem, The Bridge of Lies is one of the most important symbols of the city. Rebuilt in 1859 by Friedrich Hütte in the former location of a wooden bridge, The Bridge of Lies is the first forged iron bridge in Romania.

Due to the fact that it was the first bridge not built on pillars, it was called “the lying bridge”. In German the word “lying” (lugenmarchen) was homonymous to the word “lie” and thus the locals began calling it the Bridge of Lies –  which is why the legends around its name appeared.

The legend says that the bridge will collapse if someone will sit on it and tell a lie. In the local oral tradition circulates various legends about this bridge, legends about the lovers lies or those of the merchants that sold in the area.

The bridge of lies in Sibiu, Romania

The Small Square

The buildings existing in the Small Square date from the 14th to the 16th centuries with one exception: they do not include the massive arched portal, characteristic for the Large Square and for Bălcescu Street.

The loggia at the ground floor, arched and semi-opened towards the square, with semi-circular arcades sustained by supporting elements is characteristic for the houses situated in the Small Square. The buildings in the Small Square hosted craftsmen workshops and the merchandise was displayed within these spaces.

The buildings are tall and include those lens-shaped skylights known as the “the eyes of Sibiu”.

sibiu what to see, the houses with eyes

Nicolae Balcescu Street

This is the main street in Sibiu, with many main shops and restaurants located on the street. The route of this street was set up in 1492 when it was called Platea Heltensis.

The majority of the houses found here are from the second half of the 19-th century and they are built in a provincial baroque style or the eclectic architectural style.

The houses are located with the short side to the street, the access being provided through massive gates and vaulted corridors, which lead to inner courtyards, enclosed on all sides.

Today it is a pedestrian only shopping street lined with impressive buildings in Renaissance style. It connects the Large Square with the Unirii Square.

On the map below, it is the street that starts at Parcul Astra and runs towards the North East (there is a McDonalds pin on it too)

Zoological Gardens

Sibiu Zoological Garden is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It was established in 1929 and is the first zoo in Romania. Several animals like lion, zebra, jaguar, tiger, wolf, lemur, and lynx call it home. Many of the animals are donated to the zoo over the years. There is also a small lake on the premises of the zoo where you can spend some relaxing time, by renting boats. The zoo has maintained a wonderful playground for children as well.

It is also situated next to the ASTRA Museu, so when you are planning things to do in Sibiu, this zoological garden is the place to be!

Stairs passage

It connects the Upper Town with the Lower Town by means of two ramifications of stairs and arcades surrounding the city walls around the Evangelic Church. Built in the 13th century, they preserve their original aspect.

At the crossroad of Turnului Street with Alexandru Odobescu Street, on both sides, one can find old houses dating from the 17th century.

The Evangelic Church

The Evangelic Church is one of the most impressive buildings in Sibiu. It was raised in the 14th century on the location of an old Roman church dating from the 12th century.

 

The building is dominated by the seven level tower with the four towers on the corners, a mark showing that the city had the right of condemnation.

 

With a height of 73.34 meters, the tower is the tallest in Transylvania. 

 

The mobile inventory of the Evangelic Church in Sibiu, one of the most impressive gothic halidoms in Romania, is particularly valuable.

 

Starting with 1496, for a period of 300 years, the Church served as a burial place for mayors, county administrative leaders or other personalities in Sibiu. In 1796 burials in the church are prohibited, but an exception was made in 1803, when baron Samuel von Brukenthal’s body will be laid for eternal sleep in the vault built near the pulpit.

Clay Castle

This Fairy Tale castle was built near Porumbacu de Sus, a village situated 40 kilometers West of Sibiu, in a beautiful area: raw nature, beautiful mountains and amazing green grass everywhere you look. As the name suggests, the Fairy Valley Clay Castle is built entirely from natural materials, mostly clay, but also stone and straws. And, despite it’s complete impressiveness, it’s built by a family of two who decided to put their corporate life behind and risk it all by investing in this castle situated in an area that nobody had really heard of before, Porumbacu de Sus.

You can visit it and experience a day of awesomeness here. The Fairy Tale Clay Castle has an entirely organic restaurant (where even the plates are edible!).

clay castle romania near Sibiu, a great thing to see and do

Sub Arini Park

It is one of the oldest parks in Romania having been founded in 1856. Engineer Seifried had the task of elaborating the project and leading the actual works. At present the park stretches over 22 hectares on which 68 tree species, among which 30 exotic species and 38 local species. Some of them have their origins in Japan, China, Himalaya, Asia Minor, North America, Central America, Algeria or the Alps.

Potters Tower

It was built in stone in the 15th century and it was consolidated a century later.

Its superior part, standing out from the main body, is supported by a row of consoles with holes used for launching. Five firing holes for arquebuses are placed all around it.

Eating. Drinking. And Partying... When in Sibiu.

There are plenty of great places to get some traditional Romanian food in Sibiu.

We highly reccommend Crama Sibiul Velchi for local food. The waiters also dress in traditional clothing and they sometimes play music too – a great fun restaurant.

If you like to get your moneys worth, Super Mama Balacescu is also a great option. This is a serve yourself/buffet restaurant specialising in Romanian popular dishes. Expect to pay around 16 RON (less than €4).

If you’re looking for something healthy, head to Local. They offer a selection of international dishes, including lots of vegetarian and vegan food too.

Like all of Romania, the nightlife in Sibiu is very lively. You will find pubs and bars scattered around Strada Nicolae Balacescu in the centre of Sibiu. There are also many nightclubs, but be careful you don’t end up in one of the many strip clubs (unless that is what you’re looking for of course).

Imperium Pub is a good choice for those looking for a lively local atmosphere and live music too.

 

Read more tips for travel advice on the uGOamigo blog.

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