Sibiu

Sibiu "Piata Mica"

Sibiu is a town in southern Transylvania, Romania 282 km from Bucharest. The city's historical center has been recently renovated in 2006 and looks spectacular.

Understand

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)!

Get in

By bus

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.

By train

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.

By plane

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.

Get around

The Gothic Evangelical (Lutheran) Cathedral of Sibiu

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.

Public transport

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.

Taxi

Consider enquiring beforehand on the price of the journey from the taxi driver.

See

Interior of the Holy Trinity Cathedral (a Romanian Orthodox cathedral built from 1902-1906)
  •   Stairs Passage (Pasajul Scărilor). The wonderfully charming passage connects the lower part of the citadel with the upper part.

Do

Buy

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.

Eat

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.

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.

Drink

A local speciality is a "meter" of beer served in pubs.

Sleep

Hostels

Hotels

Go next

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.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, December 20, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.