Known in German as Hermannstadt and in Hungarian as Nagyszeben, Sibiu has always been the centre of Romania's German minority since medieval times. Even today, it contains Romania's largest German community, and due to initiatives by the local government, the Germanic feel of the area has been maintained. Sibiu also has a significant Hungarian minority, remnants of Transylvania's past as part of the Hungarian Empire and, later, Austria-Hungary. Despite this, Sibiu is also distinctly Romanian (95% of the population today are ethnic Romanians) and manages to fuse these three cultures, as well as smaller minorities of Roma, Slovaks and Ukrainians into a city that is as wonderful as it is vibrant.
Today, Sibiu is one of Romania's cultural and tourism landmarks, attracting tourists due to its wonderful medieval charm, excellent views of the surrounding landscapes, great food, and stunning parkland. Sibiu today is also doing excellently economically, having an income per capita higher than the Romanian average.
Much of the city was reconstructed due to it being the European Capital of Culture in 2007. The people in Sibiu are much more relaxed and friendly than in Bucharest, and much of the city is pedestrian-friendly. There are even bicycling facilities (a rarity in car-obsessed Romania)!
Sibiu is well connected to Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca. From Cluj-Napoca there are buses almost every hour, provided by Dacos, Fany and Transmixt, taking around 3.5h. The buses are smooth-running, very comfortable and cheap.
Despite Sibiu's location in the center of the Romania, it is quite a lot harder to get here than to other cities like Brașov and Cluj-Napoca, mainly due to Sibiu's location outside the main railway line which joins Bucharest to Hungary and beyond. However, train remains the easiest, cheapest and most comfortable way to get here. Remember, though, that from Bucharest, there are just two direct trains daily to Sibiu (one in the morning, one in the afternoon), but it is possible to make a connection in Brașov, as there are five Regio (local) train to/from Brașov (approx. 3h). Coming from Cluj-Napoca is much more convenient. The train schedule changes every summer and winter so it is better to check it online.
- Sibiu International Airport. If you're not coming to Sibiu from another Romanian town, plane is an excellent option, as there are direct connections from many European cities, especially those in Germany and Italy.
Austrian Airlines fly to Vienna.
TAROM, Romania's national carrier, as well as Lufthansa fly to Munich. For those with money to splurge, there are also flights three times a week to Bucharest, even though you're better off taking the train if you're coming from inside Romania. There are frequent specials, though, so look at the TAROM website before deciding one way or the other.
Blue Air, direct low cost flights to Stuttgart.
Sibiu, a city of 170,000 people, seems quite large for its population, even though most tourists won't have to venture outside the conveniently-walkable city central area. In fact, try to walk as much as you can, as only in this way can you sample Sibiu's more remote gems, hidden behind lanes in the middle of the city and crooked, cobbled alleys taking you a step back in history.
If you need a guide to take you on a private and personalized tour of the city and the surroundings ask at Casa Luxembourg and they will recommend reliable people. Bike rentals are available also from the info centre at Casa Luxembourg.
If you do need to venture outside the medieval city limits, the local public transport operator TurSib offers reliable services. These services may be useful if you're staying in hotels, pensions or homestays outside the city centre or would like to visit some of the wonderful villages surrounding Sibiu, for a taste of Romanian country life and stunning Transylvanian scenery.
Consider enquiring beforehand on the price of the journey from the taxi driver.
- The Old Town The old medieval town is perhaps Sibiu's main attraction, and it is indeed very beautiful. Most of the buildings in the old town were built by German settlers and merchants who came to Sibiu in the late Middle Ages. Today, the buildings remain in very good conditions, and the streets are peppered with small, secluded lanes, corner cafes and wonderful churches. The old town is divided into two parts: the Upper Town, which contains most of the city's historic sights, and the Lower Town, which is home to many charming buildings and cobbled squares.
- Turnul Sfatului. Climb the tower and get a panoramic view of Sibiu.
- The Citadel of Sibiu was, in the Middle Ages, one of the best fortified in Europe and today remains very well preserved. The towers and bastions of the area are well worth a visit.
- The Great Square (Piața Mare).
- Huet Square (Piața Huet). Home to a jumble of Gothic buildings and is dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Sibiu. Here, you can also find the city's only fully-German school, the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium, which shows the city's proud German heritage. In fact, Huet Square stands to be the most German of all places in this city which is as much German as Romanian, and, all the same, 100% Transylvanian.
- Brukenthal National Museum (Muzeul Național Brukenthal). Said by many to be the second-best museum in Romania (after the National Art Museum in the capital, Bucharest), the Brukenthal is a must see in Sibiu, containing 1090 paintings. The museum is named after Samuel Brukenthal, the governor of Transylvania. There are paintings from the Dutch and Flemish schools, Italian schools and, of course, German, Austrian and Romanian collections. The museum also displays Governor Brukenthal's own collection dating from the 15th-18th centuries.
- "ASTRA" Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization (Muzeul Civilizației Populare Tradiționale "ASTRA"). Is part of ASTRA National Museum Complex and with over 300 buildings in an area of about one square kilometer the biggest open air museum in Europe. Not only does it have interesting and very picturesque exhibits but it also lies in a very beautiful area with a nice view of the mountains. The museum is located about 3 kilometers south of Sibiu, reachable by bus or tram.
- "Franz Binder" World Ethnography Museum (Muzeul de Etnografie Universala "Franz Binder").
- "ASTRA" Museum of Transylvanian Civilisation (Muzeul Civilizației Transilvane "ASTRA").
- "Emil Sigerus" Museum of Saxon Ethnography and Folk Art (Muzeul de Etnografie și Artă Populară Săsească "Emil Sigerus").
- Steam Locomotives Museum (Muzeul locomotivelor cu abur).
- Holy Trinity Cathedral (Catedrala Ortodoxă Sfânta Treime).
- Explore Sibiu and the surroundings of Sibiu. For example the bathing resort Ocna Sibiului which is about 15 kilometers from Sibiu.
- Hike Fagaras Mountains and Cindrel Mountains.
- Guided bike tours around Sibiu.
- Guided enduro trips in the mountains, riding levels from tourist to hard.
- Go on the Transfagarasan road, that crosses the Fagaras mountains with dramatic views.
T-shirts and other souvenirs from Casa Luxemburg located in the Piata Mica.
In addition, there are tons of great souvenir shops around the old town if you wander around. There is a House of the Arts in the Piata Mica. It is a huge building right beside the Liar's Bridge and it has all of the traditional Romanian crafts you could want.
In the old town there are many restaurants, fast foods and cafes where tourists and locals can enjoy not only good food from the local and international cuisine but also good music and cosy atmosphere. The Small Square (Piata Mica) became in the last few years the best place to go out in Sibiu because of the big range of restaurants, cafes and pubs which also have terraces during the summer. The quality of restaurants and the service delivered is also generally higher in the Small Square as it is more for the locals.
When staying in Sibiu you should try the local dish "Ciorbă", a sour soup which has different variants with meatballs and/or vegetables.
The food and drink available in Sibiu is of a higher standard generally than the equivalent restaurant in Bucharest and is cheap by Western European standards, though prices are comparable to Bucharest. You could expect to have a good meal for two people with drinks and 2 courses for around €25 total.
- Crama Sibiul Vechi (The Old Sibiu Restaurant), ☎ +40 269-210461. A.Papiu Ilarian nr.3. Celler/basement restaurant offering traditional Romanian cuisine at reasonable prices.
- La Cuptor.
If you want to splurge, dine at the Golden Barrel (Butoiul de Aur), the oldest restaurant in Romania, which sits at the end of the Stairs Passage.
A local speciality is a "meter" of beer served in pubs.
- Club Liquid (Somesului str.) is a night club which plays mainstream music and was renovated in 2012. The audience is about 50 % tourists/locals.
- Undercover Society.
- The Flying Time Hostel, Str. Gheorghe Lazar nr.6, ☎ +40 369 730179. Around the corner from the Big Square (Piata Mare), all common services including a bar area, kitchen, laundry, wifi, internet, beautiful decorations, friendly and competent staff. Beds for 35 Lei/€10.
- Joly Hostel, filozofilor 12, ☎ +40 369 426079. Breakfast is not included, but you may use the kitchen as much as you want. Laundry is available for €2. Door rooms average about 7 beds per room. Rooms from 40 Lei.
- Old Town Hostel, Piata Mica 26, ☎ +40 269 216 445. In a 450 year old building looking over one of the 3 main squares. Breakfast is not included but you can use the kitchen all you want. Laundry is available for €2. Dorm rooms average about 10 beds per room. Rooms from 50 Lei.
- Sibiu Travelers Hostel/Villa Teilor, Str. Teilor nr.4, ☎ +40 7 66242874, +40 269 238161. In a quiet area close to the train and bus station (5 min walk) and another 9 minutes walk from the ancient centre. Breakfast, coffee, tea and mineral water included. 2 PCs and fast wireless Internet everywhere, personal lockers & towels for free, spacious, cozy garden with wooden benches & tables and a patio curled around by wine ranks. Two bathrooms & toilets, a fully equipped kitchen and free laundry. €10.80 per night, including breakfast and tea, coffee and cooled mineral water day & night and free laundry.
- Felinarul Hostel, Strada Felinarului Nr. 8, ☎ +40 269 235 260. On a quiet street just a few minutes walk from the centre. It's welcoming and decorated in a traditional style, with a courtyard and an adjoining restaurant/cafe which serves up quite a range of international cuisine. 2 dorms and a private double available. Best to book in advance in the high season. 55 lei per person (includes breakfast).
- Guesthouse Zanzi, str. Constitutiei nr. 1, ☎ +40 733 979931. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Opened in 2008 in the centre. €22.
- Hotel Apollo, Nicolae Teclu 14, ☎ +40 269 212 485. Comfortable and modern hotel. Internet is available in rooms. Rooms start at €56.
- Hotel Continental, Calea Dumbravii 2-4, ☎ +40 269 218 100. This 13 floor, 182 room hotel is plain but well maintained. Its rooms often have nice views. It is two minutes from Old Town. Rooms start at 256 RON.
- Pension Santa Maria, Str. Livezii nr. 43, ☎ +40 269 224 451. A ten minute drive from the centre. Rooms are well equipped and well kept. Breakfast is included. Free wireless Internet available. English-speaking owners. Rooms start at 132 RON.
In addition to Sibiu's wonderful historical and cultural attractions, the city is also very picturesque in the natural dimension. Paying a visit to some more outlying attractions enables you to sample the amazing Transylvanian environment. Sibiu is a good base to explore the medieval fortified churches of Transylvania. Mediaș is accessible by train from Sibiu, but to see many in one day you will need your own transport or try and seek out a guide from the local travel agencies. UNESCO World Heritage sites are the villages Biertan and Valea Viilor.