If you’re a fan of breakfast, and wish to find a place that specializes in just that – this one’s for you. Think: eggs, avocado toasts and pancakes. Serving brunch all day, this snug little restaurant offers quality ingredients in a modern yet warm setting. The friendly staff serves specialty coffee too. Since it is purely a lunchtime spot, they are closed for dinner.
DoT (district of toast)
We recommend DoT for brunch or even just a coffee. The setting is laid-back, the staff is helpful and they have a terrace. Their menu includes scrambled eggs, sandwiches, and salads. In terms of drinks, they sell everything: from lemonades, fresh pressed juices, apple crumble in a jar, to even cocktails. You can also choose from a small variety of groceries that can be delivered to your doorstep.
Located in the main square of the old town, Bujole’s small and eclectic interior gives its clients a homey feel. While it is open for dinner, we recommend this restaurant for lunch or brunch – as they serve one of the best eggs Benedict in town. Its large windows allow plenty of light to shine through, displaying a view of the Gothic-style St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
A French eatery tucked on a little street, its owner, Benoit, has lived in Romania for 10 years. He opened the restaurant in September 2022 after breaking his own promise to never do it again: he launched his first restaurant in France when he was only 24. Benoit’s small menu is all about the details: the flour used for the homemade bread is brought from a family of farmers in France; the organic vanilla used for their desserts (the crème brûlée is a must) is brought from Guadeloupe, from a farm which won first place at the Paris International Agricultural Show. But while you can have a variety of dishes, Chez Benoit has put the accent on mussels, freshly brought from the most successful certified organic farm in the Black Sea, where they grow in their natural habitat.
Cimbru’s entrance is inconspicuous, but you will be instantly charmed once you step inside. They have an open kitchen, a few indoor seats, and a lovely courtyard. Their menu is of high quality and small, with international recipes and local products. We recommend this spot for both lunch and dinner.
A steakhouse whose concept focuses solely on local ingredients, producers, and farmers, striving to serve simplicity with fresh tastes. They pay special attention to where the meat came from: the quality of life the animal had before it got on your plate. They use everything from grass-fed Romanian beef, to local seasonal vegetables and wholegrain unprocessed Romanian rice. They make their own craft beers too.
Opened in 2013, the restaurant has a relaxed ambiance, with a large menu serving a wide range of food, from pasta to Romanian dishes. Their interior design is eclectic, using a lot of reclaimed wood and even church pews to sit on. We especially recommend this restaurant for its garden in an inner courtyard, open during the summer. They also have an event space to rent.
One of the most famous vegetarian restaurants in the country, Samsara specializes on plant based dishes, sourced from local ingredients. It has now been open for nearly 10 years, and is at the forefront of premium vegetarian experiences on a national level. Their menu contains a list of allergens that help you better understand the elements used for each dish. You can also find vegan and gluten-free options, such as their sweet potato and quinoa salad. It is a chic restaurant: their plate design is well thought through, along with their interiors, having an olive tree in the middle of the room and warm large lights hanging from the ceiling, representing bee hives. We recommend it for any occasion: from brunch, lunch, to dinner, or a cocktail on their lovely terrace. Don’t forget to make a reservation.
This is a fine dining restaurant – one of the fanciest in the city, so don’t forget to reserve. Having been on the scene for many years, it was even officially named the country’s best restaurant. They do not shy away from experimenting with different ingredients and textures, and unlike other fine dining eateries, their plate sizes are not tiny. They put emphasis on creative plate too – making them look beautiful and fun. The restaurant serves a large wine selection, and its international menu compliments its contemporary interior design.
Located in the city center on Universității street, Visuin Nut(a)house is a trendy restaurant for a fun night out. Though they serve breakfast and lunch, we especially recommend it for dinner. You can expect good music, quality food and amazing drinks. Their food menu has a wide selection of choices from slow cooked beef cheeks to a buddha bowl. If you’d rather not eat, Visuin also has a great bar with a variety of cocktails. They have another restaurant location, Visuin Potaissa, just a short walk away. The sister restaurant has the same menu, but with fewer options. Visuin Potaissa is the place to go if you’d rather eat in a quieter setting.
Da Pino Bistro
Da Pino Bistro is an Italian restaurant that focuses only on Italian cuisine. They have a fancier location right next door, simply called Da Pino; however, we especially recommend their bistro. In addition to serving the same menu, Da Pino Bistro also serves breakfast and sells fresh produce from Italy, which includes pasta, tender meats, and a selection of Italian wines, of course. It has a casual setting and is a great option for lunch.
This is a specialty coffee shop located in the old town with a Scandinavian interior design. Though they pride themselves for their coffee, we also recommend coming here for their cocktails. The staff is fun, friendly and helpful.
Roots Urban Tastery
This is a small specialty coffee shop, located outside the old town. You can choose from two different blends, with coffee roasted by one of Romania’s top roasters, “Origo Coffee,” from Bucharest. In addition to coffee, they also serve small breakfast bites, such as avocado toasts and snacks.
This specialty coffee shop was opened in 2014 by Mihai Sumedre and Răzvan Roșu. Their first and most famous location, “YUME Coffee Roasters,” is located on Strada Emil Petrovici 16, and their newer location, “YUME Coffee VictorBabeș,” is, as the name suggests, on Strada Victor Babeș 21, near the old town. YUME are experts in their field: they roast their own coffee and make sure it is responsibly grown, carefully processed, packaged properly, and optimally stored.
Nar Coffee is one of Cluj’s most beautiful small coffee shops. Their primary location is on Bulevardul Eroilor 49, in the old town, though they have a few other locations you can find on their website. Their beans are brought from different corners of the world and roasted locally. The baristas are always happy to answer any questions.
A bohemian teahouse specializing in various teas, ranging from international ones to Transylvanian. They do not offer food, but serve several other drinks, such as coffee and cocktails. Since its opening in 2010, it has become a staple for the city, not just because of its tea, but also because of its unique and unconventional interior, rarely found in the city: it is segmented through different rooms, each with its own identity, with different cosmic and psychedelic looking lights beaming against the walls, and with differently shaped lamps hanging from the ceiling. Inside, no shoes are allowed, and you can sit on the floor. Outside, they have a peaceful and green garden. You don’t need to make a reservation. We recommend this teahouse for an afternoon or evening drink.
Gook is a bakery that focuses on freshly made artisanal bread and specialty coffee. They serve a variety of tasty breads with crispy crusts and airy cores. They only use natural yeast and simple ingredients, like salt flour and salt, excluding any commercial additives. They respect the yeast’s slow fermentation process, enabling its benefits for your health and taste buds. They are proud of their focaccias and offer all types of breads, from whole seeds mix to turmeric. You can go to the store or order online.
This charming and eclectic little hotel has two locations, each on the opposite side of the old town: the first, Camino Home 1, is located on Iuliu Maniu 19, and the second, Camino Home 2, on Samuil Micu 6. Camino Home 1 is in a historical building, renovated in 2014. The old aesthetic was kept: they preserved the wooden floors, the staircases, and the doors. Camino Home 2 is also located in an old building, renovated in 2018, but modernized further, leaving only the original stone and brick walls. At Camino Home 2, you can also find a coffee shop open to the public, with an inner courtyard. Both Camino Home 1 and 2 have different room options: from single rooms to 2 bedroom apartments, each benefiting from a unique decor (some even have hammocks).
Bars & Clubs
Though they are primarily a coffee shop, we highly recommend sisters for drinks on an evening out. They have a bar that not only serves quality cocktails, but also craft beers. They have outdoor seating, are pet friendly, and sometimes organize small parties.
On Universității street, this is a trendy restaurant, with a lively cocktail bar. Though they serve good food, you can also come to just experience their long list of cocktails (the mixologist enjoys making new creations). They also have an outdoor space and you can expect good music.
Atelier is an exciting night club, bar and live concert venue. Music can range from disco to electronic, so make sure you check their lineup beforehand. During the day they serve coffee, and are pet friendly.
Flying Circus is a quirky, alternative underground bar, night club, and live music venue, set in what feels like a cave. The music varies, ranging from disco, rock to minimal techno. They also have a twist: you can find retro games and a foosball table.
A design and clothing store where you can find products by local designers. This is a great spot to buy a gift: you can find handcrafted earrings, handbags, clothes and ceramics.
This is a cool eyewear brand which prides itself for its modern frame design (along with the shop’s modern interior). You can find both sunglasses and viewing glasses, for both men and women, all for the same price, regardless of the frame. The brand was started in 2019 by two brothers who design the eyewear in Bucharest. Unlike other shops, they implemented a fresh concept in which they offer a free service to try up to four different frames from the comfort of your home. They also offer free eye tests.
Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF)
Founded in 2002, TIFF is Romania’s biggest and most respected international film festival, having quickly grown to gain international respect and appreciation. Since 2011, it has been recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Association (FIAPF) as one of the world’s 40 most important film festivals. The annual summer experience is exciting, as the festival showcases both an international and Romanian film selection, promoting quality cinematic art through a fresh lens. You can watch screenings in the most picturesque locations: open-air museums, castles, and even in churches. TIFF has expanded throughout the country, so you can also attend some of its events in other cities and countryside regions.
Jazz in the Park
With over 10 years running, this eclectic, still relatively small, music festival focuses on a variety of musical acts, such as blues and rock, but namely, like the name suggests, jazz! It started with one event in the city’s Central Park and gave a new meaning to its use of public spaces. The festival has grown to hold different events throughout the summer, expanding into the city’s Ethnographic Park as well. Over the years, the festival has confirmed well-respected local artists and internationally renowned ones, such as Dhafer Youssef, Marcus Miller and Judith Hill. In 2022, it invited over 50 artists to perform on its 5 different stages, over the 4-day event. In addition to acoustic acts and live orchestras, you can enjoy local food, flea markets, vinyl sales, and spaces dedicated to fun activities for kids.
One of the country’s largest and most famous music festivals, Electric Castle takes place in July near Cluj-Napoca (about a 45-minute drive) at the scenic Banffy Castle, in the village of Bonțida. It started in 2013 with 4 stages and a total of 32,000 attendants. In 2022, with 10 stages, it attracted more than 272,000 people over 5 days. It features many genres of music, including indie, electronic, techno, drum and bass, drawing people from across the country and the world. In its past editions, the festival’s lineup included internationally renowned Peggy Gou, WhoMadeWho, Caribou, and The Black Madonna. It also features prized Romanian artists, such as Petre Inspirescu and Raresh, for its techno stages. Regarding accommodation, you can pick from camping in your car or tent, or one of their many glamping options. You can also stay in a local’s nearby home since many convert their homes into accommodations for the short festival period.
Smida Jazz Festival
In the heart of the Apuseni Mountains, Smida Jazz Festival is a small, three-day music festival. It is 90km (about an hour and a half drive) outside Cluj-Napoca. Though it primarily explores contemporary jazz sounds, it also offers other genres such as electronic, warm house and funk. It offers live performances and DJ sets by local and international artists, such as Romare and Oceanvs Orientalis & Ilhan Ersahin. You can come with your camping gear, or RV, or sleep in one of their glamping options. Day activities include yoga, kayaking and bike forest tours. The festival is dog friendly and has an area dedicated to children too.
This forest of about 3 square kilometers is just half an hour drive outside of Cluj-Napoca. It is famous for some of its quirky-shaped trees. In addition to hiking trails, you can enjoy many cycling routes, and do activities such as paintball and archery. You can also go to the woods for picnics and organized night tours. We especially recommend going during fall foliage.
last updated: summer 2023