Sibiu City Guide: top things to do & places to visit
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Sibiu is one of the most popular and visited Romanian cities, and for good reason: old beauty restored, Saxon (German) heritage, welcoming folks, lots of local events going on and cobbled streets with lovely old houses to get lost on and snap some great pics!
It is a 'must see' Romanian city, representative of Transylvanian culture and life. You need about 1-2 nights to explore this beautiful city and its surroundings.
Your Romanian Friend wants to help you visit major cities in Romania with the help of locals so we've our one of our friends to write this small guide.
If you're a first time visitor to Romania be sure to check our 10 travel tips for visiting Romania.
Last but not least, have a look at our selection of the best tours and day trips from Sibiu
Sibiu – love at first sight!
You may have heard about Sibiu from various sources: the 2007 European Capital of Culture, the Guardian stories, German travel magazines or stories, Lonely Planet features, Bored Panda or Instagram shots – and for good reason. It’s a beautiful city that will capture your heart and become an instant travel memory!
Ranked as Europe's 8th-most idyllic place to live by Forbes, Sibiu is located in the heart of Romania and South of Transylvania. In the distance you can see the majestic Carpathian Mountains guarding the city and offering splendid views to admire from Sibiu’s outskirts or highest points. The city vibrates with warm people, beautiful squares (the main two named simply Big Square (Piata Mare) and Small Square (Piata Mica)), 100+ years old houses on cobbled and narrow streets and a tasty cuisine with old cheese, fresh fruits and multi-cultural dishes. The entire city is an attraction and a favorite weekend getaway even for Romanians – come and find out why!
Get lost on the old streets
Also known as Hermanstadt in German, Sibiu was a seven walled citadel built by the German Saxons in the 12th century and quickly became an important trade center. Sharing a similar history with Brasov, numerous traders, craftsmen and culinary specialties producers settled in the city and helped it flourish over time, developing a multi-national and mixed cultural background in the region. Their legacy can still be seen today: from old and beautiful bourgeois houses to handmade quality leather, homemade jams or other local goodies.
The first thing you should know when visiting Sibiu is that the main attraction is the historic part of the city around the Upper and Lower Town, a pedestrian area where the old town feeling will instantly capture your mood. Walking around the cobbled streets, admiring its buildings and feeling the local vibe is what you should do so please enjoy every minute of your journey and don’t be afraid to take a turn on a narrow street – plenty of hidden gems, lesser crowded streets and lovely cafes tucked away are waiting to be found.
- Insider tip: the deeper you venture into the city, the less tourists you’ll find and a more authentic feeling of the city you’ll get
Explore Sibiu like a local
My favorite exploration route starts from Citadel Street (Strada Cetatii) one of the most beautiful streets in Sibiu where you can admire the old Citadel Wall, The Potter’s Tower and The Carpenter’s Tower. These hundreds of years old buildings will quickly introduce you to the old town vibe of Sibiu. Insider tip: you can stop for a delicious outdoor breakfast or a tasty coffee at nearby Pardon Cafe.
Continue your journey on the picturesque streets of Sibiu and don’t miss Schiller Square before joining other travellers heading into Big Square, the largest square of Sibiu that will capture your eyes and heart instantly! This has been the city’s beating heart since the 15th century and lots of events, open fairs, street pop up shows or film shootings always going on – keep an eye out! And the Christmas Market is simply wonderful – try to put that on your list!
The church you see is Jesuit, on its left is the City Hall and further on the left is the Brukenthal Museum opened in 1817. Probably the most important attraction in the Big Square is the Council Tower (Turnul Sfatului), a fortification-observation tower from the 13th century with a clock that echoes in the quietness of the city (if you’re hiding on a lesser crowded street!). The tower is open for visitors and for the 141 stairs that need climbing (compared to the 528 to the top of St. Paul Cathedral in London), the breathtaking city panorama you get is worth every effort!
At the base of the tower is the access passage leading into Lower Town’s Small Square. A smaller square full of beautiful houses, cafes and restaurants waiting to delight your journey and an easy-life feeling that will help you relax. Here you will also find another major attraction of Sibiu, the Bridge of Lies, named after an old legend according to which the bridge has ears and when whenever it hears a lie from people crossing it, a piece of its scaffolding or a small rock detaches – thus signalling the lie. So be careful with what you say, especially if your partner is nearby!
- Insider tip: don’t miss the House of Arts, on the right side bridge, which hosts a charming little museum of traditional arts and crafts from Sibiu and the region.
The Small Square is the no.1 spot for locals going out but in recent years more and more tourists are finding their way over there. Insider tip: during spring and summer, Atrium Café nearby has live piano concerts in the evening, so make plans for dinner (and a reservation!) but don’t forget that the Bridge of Lies is very close!
From the Small Square you can continue discovering the narrow streets of Sibiu and make your way to Huet Square, the third main square of Sibiu where you can visit the Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral built in the late 12th century. From there, the Passage of Stairs takes you to the streets of the Lower Town which is the main spot where local craftsmen and manufacturers gathered and opened their shops. You’ll find lots of wonderful handmade things, small jewelry, fashion pieces or house decorations and lots of other cute and quirky trinkets.
- Insider tip: if you’re looking for an authentic souvenir or something original from Sibiu or Romania as a gift for close friends or family – this is the place!
From this point on, you’ll have to explore and discover the Sibiu Old Town by yourself. Venture on lesser populated streets, admire the beautifully preserved houses and don’t be afraid to see or ask what the locals do – we’re all very friendly! There are many hidden spots, narrow alleys and little gems to be found and that’s the authentic feeling of Sibiu Old Town.
Around Sibiu there are lots of major attractions nearby that make for a great day trip: the Transfagarasan Road, Alba Iulia Citadel, the UNESCO Saxon fortified villages or culinary trips in nearby villages. You can also grab a taxi from town and visit the outdoor and wonderful ASTRA Museum of Folkloric Traditional Civilization, situated in Dumbrava forest which is around 4 km away from Sibiu (around €10 for a round trip by taxi, official website). The museum stretches over 96 hectares and hosts unique and original pieces that are representative for Romanian village life and values. It’s a great way for you to see the beauty of simple life in the countryside, unless you want to experience it live by visiting nearby villages where you can see traditional Romanian weddings taking place on weekends!
If you want to visit Sibiu and learn about its beauty and history from a knowledgeable local, go with Adela on a city tour of Sibiu.
Sibiu is also a great starting point to visit Transylvania best sights and some of the most important landmarks in Romania. You can visit Corvin (Hunyadi) Castle & Alba Iulia Citadel or Transfagarasan Highway dubbed 'the best road in the world by Top Gear'
After so much walking, you’re probably hungry by now and need to refuel. You’ve probably seen lots of nice places to eat during your walks either in a lively square or on a quiet narrow street. Sibiu serves great food and also boasts a regional cuisine with multi-cultural influences worth discovering. Old cheese from local shepherds, pear brandy or fruit cakes and, of course, traditional Romanian cuisine with a modern twist. Expect to pay around €6-12 per person for a decent meal with a drink and desert.
If you want to enjoy dinner with friends on a cozy terrace try Felinarul Restaurant for great burgers or Kulinarium Restaurant for a more traditional ambiance, though both are on the pricey side. Coffee Archives (Arhiva de Cafea) offers delicious origin based coffee and Refresh is your place to go for smoothies, freshly squeezed juice or cereal yoghurt breakfast.
My final travel tips
Sibiu has a tourist-friendly weather from early spring until late fall, with warm days and chilly nights. You should consider packing a light sweater in the summer or a light jacket in spring or autumn.
Traffic in Sibiu is light so you can choose between taking the bus (ticket costs about 0.5 Euro/trip) or a taxi (around 0.5 euro / km). All bus stops indicate bus schedules and all taxi companies have the same fare, just make sure the taximeter is running to avoid any quarrels.
Sibiu also hosts lots of major events, both local as well as international. The International Theater Festival, Jazz Festival or Sibiu International Film Festival (check the Local Feed events list for exact dates) should not be missed – they will make your Romanian cultural experience even better, just do some planning ahead because the city usually gets really crowded during these events.
And lately, the city has started to attract more and more digital nomads looking to work remotely in Sibiu. The city is beautiful, affordably, vibrant and in the heart on Transylvania, so what's not to love?
- Romanian Friend tip: during winter, Sibiu turns into a magical city: beautiful decorations light up the city and the most beautiful and traditional Romanian Christmas Market takes place each year in the Big Square, with mulled wine, lots of local food and handmade products, concerts and joyful people all around! Don't miss the 2017 Sibiu Christmas Market, between 17 Nov - 3 Jan!
That's it - I hope you'll come visit and enjoy Sibiu like I do!
Your Romanian Friend
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- Medieval & Historical Attractions (6)