10 Unique and Unusual Things to do in Sibiu, Romania

When I launched Europe Untraveled I wanted to create content for people who travel the way I travel. My favorite travel experiences aren’t the most instagram-worthy and don’t take place in Europe’s established cultural capitals.

In fact, many of my favorite travel memories have taken place in remote villages where I’ve interacted up-close with cultures and lifestyles radically different from my own. It’s in these moments, when I am staring a new culture straight in the eyes, that I really feel “abroad.”

Sibiu is an extraordinary city because it is instagram-worthy, but without sacrificing authenticity. The small Romanian city gracefully blends the beauty and history of a European capital with the charm and unfinished qualities of a Romanian village. Having lived in Sibiu for nearly a year, I’ve had the chance to explore some of the city’s more unique offerings.

If you are fortunate enough to visit Sibiu, here are 10 unique and unusual things to do:

1. Pasajul Metropoliei

Sibiu’s fortified old town is full of small nooks and interweaving passages that make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time to the Middle Ages. Pasajul Metropoliei is a small passage that connects Strada Metropoliei to the main route to the grand square, Strada Nicolae Balcescu. The passage is interesting because of its short, narrow dimensions (I have to crouch to go through) and inconvenient design. It feels like it was built for a Hobbit village.

The passage, which is still frequently used by locals, can be visited in just a couple of minutes. From Strada Nicolae Balcescu, make your way toward the grand square and make a left at the Massimo Dutti store. Walk straight ahead on Strada Alexandru Dimitrie Xenopol until you see the passageway.

2. Crama Sibiul Vechi

Nooks and crannies seems to be the theme of Sibiu’s old town. If you’re looking to try traditional, authentic Romanian food in an old, dark wine cellar (it’s more charming than it sounds), then this is the restaurant for you. The prices at Crama Sibiul Vechi are very fair and the food is authentic and delicious. I recommend the sarmale with a portion of mamaliga and some papanasi for dessert.

This restaurant is on a side street just off of the main square, but it’s super easy to miss. The restaurant is located on Strada Alexandru Papiu-Ilian, next-door to the public notary.

3. Turnul Sfatului

Any visit to Sibiu’s historical center would be incomplete without a visit to the top of Sibiu’s famed Turnul Sfatului. The tower overlooks the grand square of Sibiu’s fortified interior and offers sweeping, panoramic views of the fortified city and beyond.

Originally constructed in the 1200’s to allow passage from the city’s first fortified layer into the fortified center, the structure had to be rebuild in the 1500’s.

For just 2 Lei (less than a dollar!), you can climb to the tower’s top chamber which features a small exhibit about the city of Sibiu. I should note, however, this is not a great activity if you are at all claustrophobic. The tight staircase is narrow in some spots and may be a bit much to handle if you’re not into that kind of thing.

4. ASTRA National Museum Complex

If I could visit just one museum in Romania, this is the one I would choose. Sibiu’s ASTRA National Museum Complex is a beautiful, open-air museum dedicated the traditional Romanian-Saxon way of life. A nationally chartered project, the ASTRA National Museum Complex seeks to maintain a record of Romanian civilization through the installation of authentic, open-air exhibits. The breathtaking museum grounds are surrounded by lush forest and feature a large pond.

Located just outside of the city, the museum can be easily reached via a 15-minute taxi ride from the city center. Entrance for adults is 17 Lei, or $4 USD.

5. Parcul Subarini Bike Ride

If you’re looking to get away from the tourists and hangout like a local, then head over to Parcul Subarini, located on the city’s west side. The park is lush and forested and teeming with locals during the cool summer evenings.

At the park you’ll see young people rollerblading (I love Eastern Europe), chatting on a blanket, or walking their pets. Bring tennis shoes and take a leisurely walk through the park and then purchase a Coca-Cola from one of the kiosks and people watch from a bench.

Fun fact: Parcul Subarini is the northern-most point in a nature preserve that extends southward to the zoo and, eventually, to the ASTRA Museum. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent a bike at Rent-a-Bike Sibiu (just east of the park’s music pavilion) and ride one of the peaceful bike trails all the way to the ASTRA Museum and back.

6. Authentic Gogosi

Romanian donuts are called gogosi (pronounced go-go-sh) and they are very different from american donuts. Gogosi are a fried flat bread with a pocket in the center. The pocket is typically filled with chocolate or jam and then the entire donut is served covered in powdered sugar.

Sibiu is home to one of the best hole-in-the-wall gogosi shops, but you have to do a bit of walking to get there. My favorite gogosi shop is located on strada Doctor Ion Ratiu, just across from the College of Agriculture (Facultatea de Ştiinţe Agricole); it should take about 15 minutes of walking to get there from the historical center. The shop is easy to miss, as it’s just a small opening in the facade of a building. Look for a placard protruding from the “Monitorul de Sibiu” building that says “Gogoserie” and you’ve found the right place.

If you plan to visit, try to visit early in the day. The shop mostly serves the students from the nearby college, so it has limited hours during the weekend and is closed during holidays and school breaks. I recommend the Gogosi with Nutella and powdered sugar!

7. Authentic Clatite

I am about to say something controversial: Romania has better crepes than France, hands down (they’re also a fraction of the price– like a very small fraction). Romanian crepes, called clatite, aren’t as ubiquitous in Romania as they are in France, but Sibiu has a clatite shop that puts Parisian crepes to shame.

My favorite clatite shop, which has no business name and is identified only by a sign above the shop that reads “clatite,” is located near the entrance to the old town on Strada Nicolae Balcescu. The shop is located on the southeast side of the street between Orange Shop and Vodafone. When I lived in Sibiu, I would visit the shop almost daily just for the banana-Nutella clatite. This is a mandatory stop for anyone visiting Sibiu!

8. Turnul Scarii Aurarilor

Another nook to check out as you meander the cobblestone streets of Sibiu old town is turnul scarii aurarilor (goldsmiths’ stairway tower). This stairway once served as a main entrance to piata aurarilor (goldsmith plaza) and the medieval city’s fortified center. As you make your way through the passageway, you’ll get a glimpse of the city’s character and history.

9. Piata Cibin

Traditionally, Romanians purchase produce, meat, pickled foods, and other goods from outdoor markets, known colloquially as a piata (pronounced pee-atz-ah). Although large European chains like Carrefour and Kaufland have begun to take hold in Romania, much of the population still shops weekly at piete, and stays away from the large supermarkets.

Visiting Romania’s piete is a fantastic way to escape the gaggle of tourists in the old town and experience authentic Romanian culture firsthand. A short walk from the historical center, Piata Cibin is a marvelous piata in Sibiu that offers a wide range of produce and other goods for sale. If you’re feeling adventurous, make the short trip to Piata Cibin and soak in the vibe.

10. Pasajul Scarilor

Wrapping around the east side of the fortified center, pasajul scarilor (stair passage) is a beautiful walkway which leads into the fortified center. Wandering this passage, originally built in the 1300’s, is a great way to take in Sibiu’s elegance. The passage features several brick flying buttresses which support the fortified layer and Lutheran Cathedral up above.

Beyond Sibiu

I love Sibiu. This sleepy, quaint town has everything a budget traveler could dream of and more.

Tip: If you want to get the most out of your experience in this part of Romania, you should consider taking a trip beyond the town’s borders and into one of the many traditional Transylvanian villages that dot the surrounding area.

Check out my guide to exploring beyond Sibiu for some cool activities and day trips from Sibiu.

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