Tours & Day Trips in Sibiu
Ah, Sibiu. Rated as one of the most idyllic places to live in Europe, Sibiu is at the heart of Transylvanian lifestyle. Slow life, happy and friendly people, a multicultural and intellectual history which gives the city a bohemian air. Beautiful anytime of the year, Sibiu is worth visiting on your trip to Romania!
Why visit Sibiu? It's one of the most popular tourist cities in our country both for locals and foreign tourists. Sibiu is famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture, many cultural events and festivals (jazz, theatre and arts) and a gastronomy scene with many high-end, gourmet restaurants that reinterpret traditional Romanian recipes. Sibiu is also an ideal base to do day trips and visit top attractions in Transylvania.
Check our guide for things to do in Sibiu made by locals to get a better idea of what to visit in the city!Have a look at our selection of the best tours and day trips in Sibiu, and if you need help with planning your trip contact us!
Start from: Sibiu
Start from: Sibiu
Start from: Sibiu
Start from: Sibiu
Start from: Sibiu
Start from: Sibiu
Start from: Sibiu
Start from: Sibiu
Reviews about Tours & Day Trips in Sibiu
Une journée magnifique ! Ce tour d'un jour a été parfaitement organisé et s'est déroulé à merveille. Adela a une connaissance très impressionnante de la région et de l'histoire des sites visités. Elle a su prendre en compte nos demandes et est très sympathique ! Je recommande vivement ce tour !
Great tour - friendly, knowledgable guide and the castle and fortress were really interesting and beautiful to see.
Adela was a fantastic guide and is very knowledgeable about Transylvania… she got us everywhere on time and also took us to a beautiful village in the mountains outside Brasov . Our vehicle was very comfortable and had air con. I would definitely recommend any tour with Adela. Booking via Romanian friend is very easy and the site has lots of options. You won’t be disappointed! Ruth
Nach meiner Anfrage für eine Tour kam schnell eine Antwort mit Bestätigung und Zusage für unsere Tour. Es war sehr schon. I requested a tour and an answer came quickly with confirmation and commitment for our tour. It was very nice, thank you.
Best Tours & Top Things to Do in Sibiu
Tourists and locals alike see Sibiu like one of the most charming old cities. From modern establishments which make life easier and in tune with the times, to its well-preserved heritage, Sibiu is the perfect blend between new and old, function and tradition, innovative and historical. If you’re planning to visit the city you’ll be surprised at the many tourist sights the city has as well as the numerous day trips from Sibiu you can do on your holiday in 2022!
The town of Sibiu or Hermannstadt, in its original name, was built in the 12th century by German settlers from Rhine-Moselle region on the ruins of Roman outposts and is home to the largest German minority in Romania. Two centuries later, the city became a modern trading post – the very city center being a testament to this, as trade was the initial destination of the two main city Squares, with 19 guilds and a community which encouraged investment and cultural events, step by step leading to the evolution of the city into the modern hub of civilization in the West of an Eastern country. Go on a guided tour of Sibiu if you want to find out more about the city’s fascinating culture and history.
In 2007 the city was designated European Capital of Culture. This was an important achievement because it coincided with the year Romania joined the European Union and it was also the first time this title was given to an Eastern European country since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
A Sibiu food tour abounds in Romanian food options (Fantanita Haiducului, Crama Sibiul Vechi or Butoiul de Aur which is the oldest restaurant in Romania and part of the Sibiu historical patrimony). Besides the usual international options (like the Osushi Japanese restaurant, among the best rated on Tripadvisor) you’ll also find restaurants that reinterpret traditional Transylvanian dishes with a modern twist. A mere trip through the city center will leave you baffled by the choice of restaurants, cafes, brasseries, ice cream or crepe parlors, confectioneries and tea rooms. A guided food tour of Sibiu will help you discover regional dishes as well as visit a farmers’ market and family-owned boutiques with unique products.
Situated in the center of Romania and in the heart of Transylvania, Sibiu offers numerous opportunities for short trips to famous tourist attractions. Go on a guided day trip with a local guide to discover how Romanian, German and Hungarian heritage blend into the architecture, cuisine and customs of the region.
Book a guided a daytrip in Sibiu to discover Romania’s culture, history and natural beauty. From medieval castles and Saxon villages, to hikes in Faragas Mountains or thrilling rides on Transfagarasan highway.
The most popular tourist destination on day tours from Sibiu are to the medieval city of Sighisoara, one of the best preserved and still inhabited fortresses in the world, Corvin Castle with its impressive and scary stories, world renowned Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle) and the 300-year-old Alba Iulia Citadel.
- The Grand Square (Piata Mara)
The touristic epicenter of Sibiu is its very own Grand Square. This is where tourists and locals alike flock to while taking a walk through the old town, this is where festivals are held, protests are organized, and the place of the Sibiu Christmas Market, one of the most appreciated ones in Romania and in Europe.
It was drawn up in 1366 and measures 142 by 92 meters, one of the largest in Transylvania and a perfect place for markets and fairs. Trade is at the heart of Sibiu development, like it was for all medieval cities, but it was the cultural scene that made the square flourish. It has undergone some major construction works in 2007, to consolidate and upkeep its historical buildings. Now, the Grand Square is home to several UNESCO historical monuments which you can learn more about on a guided tour of Sibiu.
The Brukenthal Palace, an imposing Baroque edifice built between 1777 and 1787 by baron Samuel von Brukenthal, hosts art galleries (Romanian and European), and an impressive palace library. Another Baroque structure next to the Palace is the Jesuit Church, or the Holy Trinity, a Romano-Catholic religious establishment. It is a beautiful church, with valuable altar paintings, which can be visited throughout the day. Moringer House, Council Tower, Haller House, Hecht House, and Lutsch House are other popular sights in the Grand Square.
- Brukenthal Museum
Originally Brukenthal Palace and the residence of nobleman Samuel von Brukenthal, Habsburg governor of the Grand Principality of Transylvania and personal advisor to Empress Maria Theresa. The baron’s statue is in front of the museum in the Grand Square.
He was also and art collector so on his birthday, July 24, you can visit the art museum for free. Upon his death, he made provisions for the palace to go to the city and become a museum.
His own art collections are impressive and the palace itself is great to visit. This institution first started displaying Brukenthal’s collection more than 200 years ago and you’ll be able to see approximately 1200 German, Dutch, Flemish, French, Spanish and Italian paintings from the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods. To give you an idea of the standard of the art collection, you’ll find works by Albrecht Dűrer, Peter Paul Rubens, Van Eyck, Memling, and Titian.
The Romanian Art Gallery was first curated in the 19th century, and it holds paintings of famous Romanian painters such as Nicolae Grigorescu, Theodor Pallady, Corneliu Baba, Theodor Glantz, Robert Wellmann, and many more.
- The Jesuit Church or the Church of the Holy Trinity
This Roman Catholic church is immediately adjacent to the Brukenthal Palace and is listed as a historic monument by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs. More than being a place of historical importance, this is the Church where Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis and his wife attend important services, as they are from Sibiu, part of the Saxon community, and Roman-Catholics. This only goes to show how diverse the country is and why some minorities were so well integrated.
When Austrian troops arrived in Sibiu in the late 17th century, they also brought with them Jesuit monks, forming a small catholic community which implied the building of a catholic church. Construction started in 1726 and it was consecrated by the Bishop of Transylvania, Baron Georg von Zorger, on the 13th of September 1733.
The architecture is Viennese Baroque inspired with simple exterior elements and rich interior decoration. The confession chairs date from the Jesuit period and the interior fresco from the main shrine is an extremely valuable representation of the Virgin and Child. The church’s present organ was made by Viennese organ manufacturer Karl Hesse and was installed in 1860.
The church tower is built over a passageway connecting the Grand Square to the Small Square. In order for the Jesuits to be allowed to build this tower, the authorities asked them to guarantee this passageway, so as to ensure easy access between the two main squares.
- Get a panorama of Sibiu by climbing the Council Tower
Another interesting passageway connecting the two squares is through the Council Tower and it was open to the public in 1930. However, the building is mentioned in documents in the 14th century, but it is presumed to be even older than that. In the 16th century, the upper stories collapsed, and it has since undergone a number of repairs and structural changes, most of them done in the 18th century.
Historically, the wealthier Saxons lived in the Upper Town where the Grande Square is located, while the peasants lived down the steps, in Sibiu’s Old town, where you’ll find the Little Square.
The tower is now used for exhibition and is regarded as the town’s most iconic building. If you climb the 141 steps, you can see the clock mechanism located on the 5th floor and enjoy a view over Sibiu’s rooftops.
It’s a bit of a climb, depending on your fitness level. But it is certainly not a challenge. The entrance fee is very small (RON 2), but the view of old Sibiu center is priceless. Some describe it like looking through a snow globe. Try to avoid large crowds, pick hours at the beginning or the end of the program. This way you will have the time to take in the sights and make your climb really worthwhile.
- Small Square (Piața Mică)
The Grand Square boasts most of the big markets and fairs, and it is usually busy and filled with people. No matter how much we like it, a little break is always welcome. So, if you take one of these quaint little passageways, through the Council Tower or next to the Jesuit Church, you will find yourself `far from the maddening crowd`, but still in the center of Sibiu.
The Small Square is actually not that small, but it has a very irregular shape, being divided in two by Ocnei Street that descends under the Bridge of Lies (or Liar’s Bridge, according to some translations) towards the Lower Town.
This was the center for craftsmen and merchants where you would have found gold workers, pelt dealers, tanners and furriers and is now home to many cafés and restaurants where you can relax, enjoy a delicious meal, and watch the locals go about their business. Extensions of the Grand Square events are usually present in the Small Square as well, like some merchant kiosks, some food trucks, but the place is considerably less crowded, and you can sit down for a relaxing coffee at one of the many restaurants and cafes in the area.
The Bridge of Lies itself is a sight for the postcards. The iron cast bridge dates back to the end of the 19th century and legend has it that the bridge creaks if you tell a lie while crossing it. Find out for yourself during your tour in Sibiu!
- Holy Trinity Cathedral
Still in the city center, yet not in the old town part of Sibiu, the Holy Trinity Cathedral is a Byzantine architectural gem. This Orthodox Cathedral is located on Mitropoliei Street no. 35 and is the seat of the Romanian Orthodox Archbishop of Sibiu and Metropolitan of Transylvania (Mitropolitul Transilvaniei). It was built between 1902 and 1904 in Byzantine style after the plans of Budapest architects Virgil Nagy and Kommer Jozsef.
It has a capacity of 2000 people, a dome 25 meters high and four towers. The Northern tower hosts a bell weighing almost one ton and a half, installed in 1904 and used to call the faithful to mass and prayers on the holly days. The interior frescoes are quite impressive, a tour through the cathedral feels like passing from one Biblical scene to another, giving you an insightful look into the Orthodox faith.
- Food tours in Sibiu and gastronomy
In 2019, Sibiu was in the spotlight again as European Region of Gastronomy, a title it received from the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Art, and Tourism (IGCAT) for its distinctive food culture.
Go shopping for Traditional Local Food at the Ecological Products’ Fair: local producers from the areas surrounding Sibiu gather every Friday between the hours of 8 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, to sell their homemade products. You’ll find high-quality cheese, sausages, warm bread, fruit, and vegetables, all from the producer’s farms and gardens. During the Covid pandemic most food events were paused but now in 2022 they’re planning a comeback so watch out for signs and posters in the city!
The best way to get a better picture of the food culture in the region is to go on a food tour in Sibiu. You will be given the context and you will be presented with the source and taste of various types of regional foods. Our friendly guide will take you to a restaurant where you can really take in all this info with your taste buds. We recommend skipping a full breakfast and preparing to taste fresh cheese, fruits, and vegetables, cured meats and saussages. Hopefully, the walk over to the restaurant will burn some calories and make room for a Romanian traditional meal. And since there is always room for dessert, it will be served separately, at a café, to enjoy another brisk little walk and talk and to give you the opportunity to check out another establishment.
Poteca Slow Food: This project was designed to teach children how important it is to know the source of the food products they eat. It is a tour that explores the local cuisine and traditional dining customs of the surrounding villages, and there is even a brochure for children with explanatory stories.
A special treat, but only for the lucky few who happen to be in Sibiu when locals were to organize it, would be an EcoBrunch. This is a special picnic, organized on location in various parts of Transylvania by EatLocal, a group who has gathered certified partners in tourism and agrotourism, to bring something truly authentic to the table. Occasional brunches are organized in idyllic places all over Transylvania, locals bringing their best foods to these events and inviting you to taste and enjoy a lovely meal outdoors, in a beautiful setting. Check the program when you visit Sibiu and talk to our guides about going to these events on a day trip from Sibiu.
- Cultural events in the post-Covid world
Some places hold festivals for tourists, but Sibiu’s cultural scene is vibrant in itself, the locals having a real appetite for them. This means a large number of small and grand events to be on the lookout during your trip to Sibiu. During the Covid pandemic these events were paused but most of them are planning a comeback in 2022!
Depending on when you’re planning to take one of the day trips from Sibiu or maybe one of the Sibiu guided tours, you might have the chance to attend one of the town’s many interesting events. In winter you can enjoy the Christmas Market in the Grande Square, in August there’s a Medieval Festival where for three days you can watch dance and theatrical performances and in October, they organize the Astra Film Festival which is dedicated to European documentary films.
You can either pick a big festival, be it historic, music or art festival, or simply come whenever and let yourself be surprised by some special little event. There are many more like the Sibiu International Theatre Festival (end of June), Feeric Fashion Days (July), Jazz Festival (May) and the Potters’ Fair (September).
Day trips and tours from Sibiu. Top attractions to visit
- Transfagarasan Road
This is probably one of the most spectacular daytrips from Sibiu you can book and a must see attraction in Romania. The Transfagarasan road is the second highest road in Romania with an altitude of 2,042 meters.
The Transfagarasan, however, although a remnant of Communist constructions which was keen on oversized infrastructures, is incredibly beautiful and offers a thrilling ride by car. It starts near a village called Bascov, in the vicinity of Pitesti, and ends after 90 km (56 miles) in Cartisoara, another village located only 47 km away from Sibiu.
Part of it is closed for driving between 1 November – 30 June due to snow and high risks of avalanches. When this happens, the road is accessible only on a day trip from Sibiu which will take you on the road to Balea cable car and from there you’ll go over it to Balea Lake where you can enjoy the superb views of Fagaras Mts and Transylvania’s plains.
Transfagarasan Road took almost five years to build and was finalized in 1974. Nicolae Ceausescu, the former communist dictator of Romania, ordered its construction in response to the Soviet Union invading Czechoslovakia in 1968. The aim was easy military access through the mountains since the existing mountain passes went mainly through river valleys and could be blocked by the Soviets. Or so he said.
Ceausescu himself was the first to inaugurate the Transfagarsan Road, a parallel to king Charles II being the first to drive on the Transalpina. The dictator, known for his lush way of life, contrasting greatly with the conditions imposed on common people, had a luxurious hunting chalet built on Balea Lake (currently Balea Cabin). To power it up he had his very own high-altitude gridline installed.
Later on, the Transfagarasan entered the local tourist circuit and became an item of communist propaganda, boasting with its impressive construction effort and how it was done for the benefit of the Romanian people.
In 2009, it was featured on Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson gave it the title of “best road in the world”. Because of its steep turns, long S-curves and sharp descents, the Transfagarasan is indeed very attractive to drivers, motorcycle enthusiasts, cyclists and hikers. But it’s much more than that. Driving on or simply being a passenger is an experience in itself. There are a couple of hairpin turns that will make this ride compete with fair rollercoasters. The winding road gives you the impression of going round and round only to look at the landscape over and over again, but each time from a difference altitude.
On a guided tour to Transfagarasan Road from Sibiu you will see other attractions such as:
Vidraru Lake – if you drive down South on the road you will arrive at another good example of communist mega-structure, this artificial lake with a circumference of 28 km (17 miles), was created in 1965 when Vidraru Dam was built for hydroelectricity production. It was then the fifth largest in Europe, with walls as high as 166 meters, covering a surface of 900 hectares, and needing a network of 42 km of underground galleries to keep it functional. On the right bank, you will be able to see a statue, done by sculptor Constantin Popovici, of Prometheus holding two lightning bolts to symbolize the production of electricity.
This is one of the main stops on the Transfagarasan Road day trip and you’ll see a lot of cars pulled over. Some tourists will opt for boat rides and other recreational activities on the water while others are there for bungee jumping, an extreme sport made even more exciting against such a scenery. Talk to your Sibiu tour guide about what activities you can do while visiting the dam.
Poienari Castle - further down South on the road you will arrive at Poienari Castle. Although Transylvania holds the promise of Dracula, vampires, and Tepes stories, this tourist objective is one that delivers some true information about Vlad Tepes. Get an insight on who the man was and why Romanians do not regard him as the villain depicted in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Balea Lake – the winding Transfagarasan road will take you up to Balea Lake, a glacial lake located close to the highest point on the road, at an altitude of 2,034 meters. The area is accessible by car only when the road is open from July - October. The rest of the year, you can take the cable car and enjoy the frosty views. Food and refreshments can be found at two chalets open all year round, as experienced skiers love the slopes in the vicinity.
Another impressive feature of Balea Lake in winter is the ice hotel. First built in 2006, this was the first ice hotel in Europe, and it has been built every year since, except for the winter of 2020 – 2021 due to the Covid pandemic. It is built from scratch every year with ice blocks taken directly from the lake. The incredibly low temperatures keep it in great shape throughout the colder months.
You can spend the night at this hotel for a unique experience, but if it all sounds too extreme for you, you can simply visit the ice church. The idea behind the construction is pretty much the same, and you can get the vibe of it without having to spend the night at such low temperatures, sleeping in furs on ice blocks.
Although still chilly, even in the summer months, the view of the Balea Lake changes from frosty white to cool green, as high-altitude specific plants and grass cover the rugged stones of the Fagaras Mountains. You might find the tour up the Transfagarasan Road worth it in itself, but the view you find up here is just as worthy.
Balea Waterfall – as you slowly try to peel away from the magnificent view of the lake and its surroundings, make your way further down South on Transfagarasan Highway to Balea Waterfall, situated between Moldoveanu and Negoiu peaks. The water from this waterfall springs from Balea Lake and the stream travels along Transfagarasan Road as you begin your descent. At around 1400 meters, it forms a 60 meters high superb waterfall.
To see it, you need to park your car near the Balea Waterfall Chalet (Cabana Balea Cascada) and go for a light hike. A well-trained individual (like the people had in mind by those who estimate these hikes) should get to the waterfall in 30 minutes-time, according to the sign located at the start of the trail. Although there is an area with very accessible rock climbing, the course is not considered difficult, or even medium.
If you are taking the cable car, look out for the waterfall as it is splendid even seen from above. On our Transfagarasan Road day trip our guide will make sure you see this superb natural attraction.
- Corvin Castle
Take a memorable day trip from Sibiu to Corvin Castle and see this impressive Gothic-styled historical attraction in the neighboring county of Hunedoara. It is one of the largest in Europe and made the list of the Seven Wonders of Romania. You’ve probably already seen parts of it if you watched the horror movie “The Nun”. In reality, the castle is made to look more “fairy tale” than “house of horrors”.
Even so, as it goes with many castles, there are rumors of it being haunted and people have claimed to have felt a strange vibe within the castle walls. And no wonder, once you hear the stories our guide will tell you on a tour.
Corvin Castle was built over the site of an older, 14th century fortification, while the 15th century construction works done by Iancu de Hunedoara aimed at turning the fortification into a castle with it’s a massive, commanding structure with strong walls, tall towers, bastions, multicolored roofs, numerous windows, and balconies decorated with intricate stone carvings and an inner courtyard.
Three circular towers, the Capistrano Tower, the Drummers’ Towers and the Deserted Tower were used for defense purposes and had living quarters. The Buzdugan Tower, also known as the Painted Tower, has only one defense level and it is adorned with frescos on the exterior. The rectangular towers of the castle are the entrance towers, with paved walkways, mobile bridges, and serious defense structures.
The castle itself, a rare example of architectural refinement for the times and place, has the Knight’s Hall, the Diet Hall, and the circular staircase. Changes to the castle structure were made in the 17th century, for military and living purposes. The addition of the White Tower and the Artillery Terrace were military additions, while the construction of the Grand Palace meant the addition of a living room along with quarters. The castle’s present-day aspect is due to restoration works carried out in the 19th century.
- Sighisoara Citadel
You simply cannot travel to Sibiu and not visit Sighisoara on a day trip. This touristic gem is situated in the neighboring county of Mures. There, you will visit the Sighisoara Citated (pronounced See ghee swahr' ah), which refers to the old, historic center of Sighisoara town. In 1999, Sighisoara was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its rich history and its importance in depicting the culture of Transylvanian Saxons.
This is Europe’s best preserved and still inhabited medieval fortress. If you have the extra time, you can even spend the night in the wonderful boutique hotels located right in the fortress. This would really make for a unique and authentic experience.
If you only have time for a day trip then hire a friendly guide to take you on a guided tour of this important attraction in Romania and Transylvania. You can reach the citadel center by car, but there are a lot of pathways from the city. It’s a bit of a climb, yet accessible and with plenty of look-out points. All the alleys in the citadel are paved with cobble stone so make sure to wear comfortable shoes on your tour from Sibiu. Avoid shoes with high heels or soles too smooth as you can slip, especially in the areas where there is a bit of a slope. Child strollers, although are not forbidden, are hard to manage.
The citadel dates back to the Dacians (ancestors of Romanians) who built a fortification called Sandava, which the Romans (also ancestors of Romanians) later called Castrum Stenarum. In the 12th century, Saxons settlers built a new citadel over it which they called Schäßburg. Sighisoara also happens to be the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler (the ruler who inspired the fictional character Dracula) and you can even visit his house but that’s just one of the many attractions this well-preserved 16th century cultural treasure has to offer.
The Citadel Square is the tourist central attraction, and the place where people used to gather for public trials, events, and trade markets in the past. Now, you can find a Tuk Tuk or a little train to take you around the citadel on hot summer days when you want to avoid walking everywhere.
Geographically located at the border of the Ottoman Empire, like the rest of the area, the old city of Sighisoara was constantly under the threat of sieges and attacks from the Turks. Nine defense towers were built, and they all made it to the 21st century, when you can visit them peacefully. The city various guilds were tasked with building and maintaining the towers, accounting for the Blacksmiths’ Tower, Butchers’ Tower, Cobblers’ Tower, Furriers’ Tower, Rope-makers’ Tower, Tailors’ Tower, Tanners’ Tower, and Tinsmiths’ Tower, along with the famous Clock Tower.
The towers can be visited, and you can find out how people from different guilds used to live in the citadel all those centuries ago. The Rope-Makers’ Tower is a particularly quaint as a small dwelling was build next to it. Its crooked beams and narrow windows and doorway make it look like something from a children’s book.
The most representative building in Sighisoara is the Clock Tower dating back to the 14th century. In 1676, craftsman Johann Kirtschel made and added the wooden figurines set in a dial and representing the days of the week. Every hour on the hour, you can admire the show of the old clock wooden figurines, which is something to look forward to if you have to queue to go up the tower. In the holiday season the place can get a bit crowded, especially in weekends. The tower is closed for visits on Mondays.
The ticket you purchase to visit the Clock Tower is also valid for three museums, two of which are in the tower building, consisting in the History Museum and the Torture Room. The third ticket gives you access to the weapons’ collection which can be visited at the first floor of the Vlad Dracul House. This is the house where Vlad Dracul was born in 1431. He was the source of inspiration for Bram Stoker’s novel. The ground floor is a medieval style restaurant.
The Covered Staircase with almost 200 steps (there were 300 initially) links the Upper Citadel to the Center Square. It dates back to 1642 and its purpose was to protect school children from the harsh weather as they made their way to the old school in the Upper Citadel.
Also, in the Upper Citadel you will find the Evangelical Cemetery and the Church on the Hill, two blissfully relaxing destinations. Make sure to look for the oldest tomb in the cemetery as you can find some dating back a few centuries. The Church on the Hill is a 15th century Gothic building.
There are more cafes and restaurants that you have time to check out during a day trip from Sibiu. And there will be plenty of temptations spread throughout the citadel. From international gourmet meals, like the Joseph T. Restaurant or the Georgius Krauss Restaurant, two of the best rated restaurants in the city of Sighisoara, to highly accessible pizza places such as the Burg Hostel or Gourmet Lunch. If it’s only a coffee and a dessert you are after, your options are just as varied. The best rated café at the moment is the Bean Specialty Coffee Sighisoara, the perfect place for a late breakfast and a good cup of coffee.
Another one is the medieval festival it hosts every year. If you’re in Sibiu at the end of July, you can take a day trip with your local guide and see it for yourself. Up to one point, the Sighisoara festival, although called medieval, was in fact a rock and folklore festival. Not without its charms, the festival with its music component took away from the historical side. Eventually, the authorities decided to make the festival a purely historical one and focus on one concept alone and to do it great. Which they did. Up until 2020, when the world of tourism was met with the greatest of challenges due to the pandemic, the festival meant medieval music, costumes, jesters, medieval themed events, even jousting. The festivities started once again in 2021 and they promise great events in 2022 as well.
- Saxon Villages with fortified churches
One of the things tourists love to visit on their tours from Sibiu is the unspoiled countryside and picturesque sceneries of Transylvania. This can be seen best in the Saxon villages surrounding Sibiu.
If you’re a history buff, Transylvania is a great place to explore the legacy Saxon communities developed over the centuries. Once you start wandering through this network of villages with on a guided day trip, you’ll experience a fairytale kind of atmosphere.
Sibiu may be in the top ten idyllic European cities to live in - but the countryside of Sibiu is probably the top choice for most Romanians living in a city and dreaming of a bucolic escape. There are great facilities, people are nice and good humored, the villages are orderly and inviting.
Since this region was sparsely populated and under constant threat of Ottoman and Tartar invasion, in the 12th century, King Géza II of Hungary invited Saxons to settle here and defend the area. They received special status and formed strong communities of farmers, artisans, and merchants.
They also built fortifications for military purposes and now this region boasts one of the highest numbers of fortified churches dating from the 13th to 16th centuries, being listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Viscri: the most famous Saxon village
Viscri (Weisskirch) is another major tourist attraction that can be visited on a day trip from Sibiu. It’s located about 40 km from Sighisoara and 120 km from Sibiu. It’s part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is probably one of the most authentic villages in Romania. Viscri made Prince Charles (of Wales) fall in love with the place and buy a house here. According to Prince Charles, this is one of his favorite places in Romania. With the help of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, he has made efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of the village. Due to His Highness’ interest, the village became famous in the country and internationally and attracts many visitors on guided tours.
The community was first founded by Szekely residents, but they moved further East and in the center of the country, in today’s Covasna and Harghita counties, their place being taken by Saxons. Even after 800 years, some of the locals have managed to keep a specific dialect, resembling the one in Luxembourg.
Viscri’s fortified church is the main attraction point. It was first built by the Szekely community and taken over by the Saxons in the 12th century. In the 14th century, the eastern part of the church was built, and the first fortification walls were completed. A second wall was added in the 18th century. The altar dates back to the 19th century and depicts the Blessing of the Children, painted by J. Paukratz. Further major renovations were completed between the years of 1970-1971. If you go up the tower of the church, you have a great view of the entire village, with its specific Saxon style of rural architecture.
What’s special about Viscri is that you can easily find accommodation in a traditional home, and they give you the whole experience: food, drinks, guided tours, you can visit artisans and see what authentic village life feels like. The locals are very used to tourists from all over and they’re very friendly and welcoming. Another great surprise for visitors consists of the EcoBrunches organized by the EatLocal group. Local producers and guesthouse administrators in the area come together to organize a picnic and promote specific local products and recipes. This picnic is a great experience as it is also held outdoors, always a blessing in these post-Covid times. These are not set events and they are only organized when the producers are available. If you are lucky enough to visit Viscri and enjoy an EcoBrunch, we are sure you will enjoy it. If you do not know how to look for these culinary events, ask our guides in Sibiu.
- The village of Biertan and its fortified church
Biertan is a commune located about 80 km north of Sibiu and is usually included in guided day trips from Sibiu into Transylvania. This is one of the oldest villages in Transylvania, attested since the 13th century. It received a place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1993 because it’s one of the most significant among the Saxon villages. The commune is actually made up of three villages: Biertan, Copsa Mare (Gross-Kopisch) and Richis (Reichesdorf), each with their own fortified church.
The main tourist attraction now and the center of the community life in the past is the Fortified Church. The church belonging to the village of Biertan was built between 1500 and 1525 in late Gothic style. The altar has 28 icons and was built between 1483 and 1513 by artisans from Vienna and Nuremberg. The organ is more recent, it was built in 1869 by a Viennese company.
It served multiple purposes, that of a religious, cultural, social, and defensive center as people took shelter within the church walls whenever the village came under attack. Because it’s situated high up on a hill and has three tiers of 35-foot-high walls it was impossible to conquer at that time. They could live inside the city walls for weeks in case of a siege.
As the community and their wealth took shelter within the church walls, protection mechanisms had to be put in place. One such mechanism is so impressive that it won an award at the 1900 Paris World Expo, centuries after it was created. It is the 19-points church door lock designed in 1515 by a Saxon craftsman, a mechanism so secure that people book guided tours from Sibiu to Biertan only to admire it.
A stroll along the church walls is nothing less than splendid, the massive walls are 4 -6 meters deep and 10-14 meters high, and they are covered by green vegetation in the warmer seasons, making it look like a maze of grey and green.
A local curiosity is the Divorce Room, where married people who wished for a divorce, had to first spend two weeks imprisoned in a small room with only one bed, one chair, one table, one fork, and one spoon. No knife, for obvious reasons. Legend has it that this is a highly effective method as only one couple went through with the divorce in 300 years of the practice.
Every year, at the beginning of August, Biertan hosts the Full Moon (Luna Plină) festival, part of the prestigious Transylvania International Film Festival, which is centered entirely on horror and fantasy films. Apart from the obvious film screenings, there are music and sports events, horror themed parties, fantasy make up workshops and, if you do not wish to camp, there are numerous lodging options with local guesthouses, B&Bs or even hotels spa centers. Restaurants are available at hotels, like the Unglerus Medieval Restaurant, at the hotel with the same name, or with locals enlisted in the gastronomic index. They are usually signaled, but your Sibiu guide should know exactly where to take you for a hearty meal in Biertan.
- Traditional Transylvanian Villages on the outskirts of Sibiu (Marginimea Sibiului)
18 villages and about 300 settlements with a unique mix of Romanians, Saxons and Hungarians, make up the area known as Marginimea Sibiului (meaning the area on the outskirts of Sibiu) at the foothills of the Cindrel and Lotru mountains. Each is an oasis of peace and quiet and a time pocket where the years have stopped rolling over the land and the people and has let them preserve their beautiful traditions. Situated at the border between Transylvania and Tara Romaneasca, Marginimea Sibiului is seen as a crafts center, locally appreciated for its preservation of the traditional way of life.
Many a tourist, while searching for evidence of the fictional Dracula, have fallen in love with the picturesque, unaltered charm of Transylvanian villages. It’s by now one of the most popular tourist regions in Romania. Maybe this is because the region offers tourists a glimpse into what the comforts of urbanization took away: the joy of a simpler, ancestral way of living.
A guided tour to Marginimea Sibiului means relaxing walks or even hikes among picturesque mountain villages, with colorful Szekely and Saxon houses, visiting orchards and rural food and produce fairs, church icon museums, Romanian traditions, and postcard worthy views. Sibiel, for example, has the Icon Glass Museum, a special Orthodox craft appreciated by locals and visitors alike. The exhibit allows you to see how different icon painting styles have evolved during the ages.
Village museums can be visited in Rasinari, to see wooden painted furniture, various ceramic and other crafted items, in Gales, to see a collection of folkloric costumes, in Jina, for an impressive ethnographic collection. Jina is also the place where you can see a wonderful folklore festival.
It really feels like stepping back in time. On a hiking day trip from Sibiu you’ll not only see some unique architecture but also charming things like peasants tending to their cows or sheep, wrinkled, old ladies coming out in the evening to gossip with their friends, you’ll hear roosters dutifully waking people up in the morning, kids actually playing outside. It’s an entirely different world and on our guided tour the guide will take you to a sheepfold for a traditional lunch with homegrown products.
In a globalized world where many travel experiences start to feel similar and mainstream, as cities are looking more and more alike, visiting Marginimea Sibiului will feel authentic and special.
- Hiking in Fagaras Mountains
Hiking in the Carpathian Mountains is one of the biggest reason so many outdoor enthusiasts visit Romania every year. The untamed and spectacular scenery makes for a very authentic q and Fagaras Mountains near Sibiu are perfect for this.
With the Moldoveanu peak, its highest, reaching a height of 2544 meters, Fagaras Mountains are also called “Transylvanian Alps” and are known to be the most challenging and difficult. They offer amazing views of glaciers, lakes, endless pine forests and picturesque huts, and isolated, yet inhabited hamlets. The natural heritage of the Fagaras includes almost 200 species of mammals and birds, and almost 900 species of plants, which accounts for an impressive biodiversity and an area ecologists would prefer to keep unspoiled. This is why the trails through the Fagaras Mountains were never made more accessible and tourist friendly, to keep human intervention in the area to a minimum.
Most of the easier trails are long and strenuous even for a hiking day trip. The shortest one is the Balea Lake – Capra Lake – Vanatoarea lui Buteanu Peak and back to Balea Lake, and it takes 3 hours. Or the Balea Lake – Cascada Balea Station (the base for the Balea waterfall, the hike to the waterfall is an extra 30 minutes – one hour). The trails from Porumbacu de Sus or from Nehoiu Hut take 5 to 8 hours. For more intense experiences, we recommend you check with our licensed hiking guide. There are plenty of options, but its best to go accompanied and check the weather beforehand.
There are several hiking trails categorized by level of difficulty and you should find a local, experienced and licensed hiking guide who can give you proper guidance on a tour. If you plan a hiking trip from Sibiu tell your guide what your fitness level is (and make a correct estimate of it) so they will know which trail to choose on your tour.
Also, make sure you have the proper hiking equipment. Fagaras mountains cannot be crossed without proper hiking gear (boots, backpack and clothing) and even professional equipment in some cases. The routes are well marked for safety reasons, the goal being to preserve the “wild” aspect of the experience, so you won’t see too many artificial elements like concrete paths and stairs. At the same time, Fagaras Mts. are the most dangerous and in some sections one wrong step can be fatal.