Hamburg is Germany's second largest city and, much like Liverpool, as a port town is home to many vibrant neighbourhoods and a plethora of fashion, music and cultural hot spots.
Named as Lonely Planet’s top region to visit in 2016 Cluj-Napoca in the Transylvania region of Romania is certainly a hidden gem – we visited in February to find out why.
Here are our top tips for your culture filled break in Cluj, taking in some of the best sights this fascinating city has to offer.
Where to visit?
Turda Salt Mine
Number one on our list is the Turda Salt Mine; as one of the oldest salt mines in the world, dating back to the 17th Century, it has been transformed into a popular tourist attraction and the world’s largest underground museum!
The salt mine is located in the town of Turda, approximately 30km away from Cluj and is easily reached by bus from the centre of Cluj.
From the outside you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in the wrong place but as soon as you step inside you’ll be blown away by your spectacular surroundings.
The journey into the mine starts with a 0.7km walk underground taking you into ‘The Echo Chamber’. Top Tip- make sure you don’t tell any secrets in this area as the depth and shape of the mine means that sounds in here can echo up to 30 times!
Once you descend the 13 floors into the museum (we took the lift!), you’ll discover a Ferris Wheel, Amphitheathre, Bowling Alley, Gift Shop (for all those essential souvenirs!) as well as activities like golf and table tennis.
A further descent takes you to the lake at the bottom of the mine where you can take a rowing boat out on the tranquil water.
Ethnographic Park ‘Romulus Vuia’
Ethnography is the study of people and cultures and there is no better place to get to know Cluj than a visit to the Ethnographic Park, ‘Romulus Vuia.’ The park is home to a large collection of buildings dating from as early as 1678 and offers a fascinating insight into the history of this region of Transylvania. You will be able to explore spectacular churches, farmsteads and houses from days gone by.
Fortress Hill ‘Dealul Cetatuia’
Offering an unrivalled, panoramic view of the city there’s nowhere better to take in Cluj than from Dealul Cetatuia. A walk up Fortress Hill is a must while you’re in Cluj; we went up at night when the city is beautifully lit up.
Where to eat...
‘Livada’ offers a tasty, modern mix of cuisine from traditional Romanian dishes to Italian favourites. It’s a very popular restaurant that often has live entertainment so booking is recommended.
Top tip: If you’re visiting the Turda Salt Mine there’s a great restaurant approximately 100m outside that offers a selection of traditional Romanian cuisine – it’s delicious!
The best way to explore the city is a wander through the picturesque streets; the city isn’t too big so you can get everywhere on foot, but for a city of this size it certainly has a LOT to offer!
There’s plenty to do and see as well as these particular highlights including:
- Banffy Palace/Museum of Art
- Hoia Forest – The worlds most haunted forest
- St. Michael’s Catholic Church
- Eastern Orthodox Cathedral
- There’s lots of shopping too!
Blue Air flies to Cluj-Napoca twice a week from Liverpool John Lennon Airport, click here to book your flights now!
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