Sibiu

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Sibiu

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Sibiu centre

Sibiu [7] is a town in southern Transylvania, Romania 282km from Bucharest. The city's historical center has been recently renovated in 2006 and it looks spectacular!

Understand

Known in German as Hermannstadt, and in Hungarian Nagyszeben, Sibiu has always been the center 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 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 capitals, 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 has been reconstructed to a high standard. Work is still ongoing in October 2007.

Also as of 2007, the city is the European Capital of Culture, with all sorts of cultural activities taking place all the time.

Get in

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 Brasov 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 trains daily to Sibiu (one in the morning, one in the night). Also, Sibiu is one of the only cities of Romania not served by the modern and snazzy InterCity network from Bucharest, even though there are InterCity trains from Cluj Napoca.

From Bucharest, the train most tourists take is the day train A 1621 which leaves Bucharest North at 09:45 and arrives at Sibiu at 15:31, nearly six hours later and stopping at most towns along the way. The train is pretty uncomfortable and crowded- hopefully, however, CFR Romanian Railways will soon introduce InterCity trains on this route.

Coming from Cluj Napoca, the main city of Transylvania, is a much better opportunity to get to Sibiu. In fact, many tourists do just that, as part of their Transylvanian tour. From Cluj Napoca, there are two fairly-convenient trains a day, one at 05:41 and one at 14:57, taking around 3 hours and a half. The trains are smooth-running and very comfortable.

Be aware that this year -2007- the train station in Sibiu is being modernised and all ticketing services are performed in an adjacent barracks.

By plane

If you're not coming to Sibiu from another Romanian town, plane is an excellent option, as there are direct connections to Sibiu International Airport from many European cities, especially those in Germany and Italy.

Carpatair, Transylvania's largest airline, offers daily connections to Munich, Bergamo and Treviso, and connections three times a week to Bologna, Verona, Rome and Stuttgart.

TAROM, Romania's national carrier, as well as LUFTHANSA flies five times a week from Sibiu to Munich and also five times a week to Vienna. 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.

Get around

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 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.

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.

See

  • The old town The old medieval town is perhaps Sibiu's main attraction, and it is indeed very beautiful. Most of the buildings in the old town were built by German settlers and merchants who came to Sibiu in the late Middle Ages. Today, the buildings remain in very good conditions, and the streets are peppered with small, secluded lanes, corner cafes and wonderful churches. The old town is divided into two parts: the Upper Town, which contains most of the city's historic sights, and the Lower Town, which is home to many charming buildings and cobbled squares.
  • The Citadel of Sibiu The Citadel of Sibiu was, in the Middle Ages, one of the best fortified in Europe and today remains very well preserved. The towers and bastions of the area are well worth a visit, but most of all, make sure you visit the wonderfully charming Stairs Passage, which connects the lower part of the citadel with the upper part. 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.
  • Huet Square The Huet Square ( Piaţa Huet) is home to a jumble of Gothic buildings and is dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Sibiu. Here, you can also find the city's only fully-German school, the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium, which shows the city's proud German heritage. In fact, Huet Square stands to be the most German of all places in this city which is as much German as Romanian, and, all the same, 100% Transylvanian.
  • The Brukenthal Museum Said by many to be the second best museum in Romania (after the National Art Museum in the capital Bucharest), the Brukenthal is a must see in Sibiu, containing 1090 paintings. The museum is named after Samuel Brukenthal, the governor of Transylvania. There are paintings from Dutch and Flemish schools, Italian schools and, of course, German, Austrian and Romanian collections. The museum also displays Governor Brukenthal's own collection dating from the 15th-18th centuries.
  • Astra Museum is the biggest open air museum in Europe. Not only does it have interesting and very picturesque exhibits but it also lies in a very beautiful area with a nice view of the mountains.
  • Outlying attractions= 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. Mediaş 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.

Do

  • Explore Sibiu and the surroundings of Sibiu.
  • Hike Fagaras Mountains and Cindrel Mountains.

Buy

T-shirts and other souvenirs from Casa Luxemburg located in the Piata Mica.


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 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.

  • Crama Sibiul Vechi (The Old Sibiu Restaurant), A.Papiu Ilarian nr.3, Tel. +40-269-210461. [8]. Celler/basement restaurant offering traditional Romanian cuisine at reasonable prices.

Drink

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

Sleep

Hostels

  • Joly Hostel, filozofilor 12, +40 369426079, [1]. Located very near the center of Sibiu. Breakfast is not included but you can use the kitchen all you want. Laundry is available for 2 Euros. Door rooms average about 7 beds per room Rooms from 40 Lei.
  • Old Town Hostel, Piata Mica 26, +40 269 216 445, [2]. Located in the heart of Sibiu in a 450 year old building looking over one of the 3 main squares. Breakfast is not included but you can use the kitchen all you want. Laundry is available for 2 Euros. Door rooms average about 10 beds per room Rooms from 50 Lei.
  • Chess Hostel, Stefan Cel Mare No 6, 004 0740096920 | 004 0724275219, [3]. Chess Hostel is situated in the central area of Sibiu, only at a 5 minutes walk from the Piata Mare (Big Square, the main square in Sibiu) and at a 10 minutes walk from the train and the bus station.The hostel has it's location in a historical area of Sibiu, surrounded by old saxon houses. It is a quiet residential area, and the hostel has a green relaxing garden in front where you can enjoy the sunny days drinking your coffee in the shade of the cherrytree. Internet is available in the hostel. Prices start from 11€ / Person / Night.

Hotels

  • Hotel Apollo, Nicolae Teclu 14, (+40(0)269 212 485, [4]. Comfortable and modern hotel not far from the city centre. Internet is available in rooms. Rooms start at €56.
  • Pension Santa Maria, Str. Livezii nr. 43, (+40) 0269 224 451, [5]. A ten minute drive from the center of Sibiu. Rooms are well equiped and well kept. Breakfast is included. Free wireless internet available. English speaking owners. Rooms start at 132 RON.
  • Hotel Continental, Calea Dumbravil 2-4, (+40) 0269 218 100, [6]. This 13 floor, 182 room hotel is plain but well maintained. It's rooms often have nice views. It is located a five minutes from Old Town. Rooms start at 256 RON.