The green oasis of tranquillity that is Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden lies just outside Cluj's Old Town. Inside, a multitude of flora species are on display, from tropical flowers to Nordic mosses sprawling over rock arrangements. There is an on-site museum of plant kingdom curiosities and even a compact Japanese Garden.
The open-air ethnographic museum of Romulus Vuia contains replicas of traditional Romanian architecture from across the country (complete with interior design detail and household items), all of which span centuries. The museum also grants visitors insight into the arts of woodwork, fabric weaving, pottery, and more.
The museums of pharmaceutical curiosities is simply an unmissable attraction - here, visitors will see a vast selection of historic Transylvanian ailment remedies and dated treatment methods, with fixes available for even the lovesick (see the wine-based "love potion", for instance).
Cluj-Napoca's central Union Square (Piata Unirii) contains the nation's second most prominent Gothic church with a tall clock tower from which some of the best city panoramas unfold. Dating back to as early as the 14th century, the church still holds daily mass (in Romanian and Hungarian) to-date.
A 15-minute hike will take you up Cluj-Napoca's most scenic observation point, the Cetatuia Hill (just across the river from the Old Town). The hill's park-like environment draws in locals and visitors in-the-know, and a plethora of cafes offer sit-down snack and/or drink breaks.
A place of rare natural beauty a mere 15km away from Cluj-Napoca, the Turda Gorge is excellent hiking grounds for explorers of any fitness level. Persevere all the way to the top (which shouldn't take more than an hour) and enjoy some incredible, sweeping views of the green surroundings. Sundays here tend to be the busiest.
If a trip to the theatre isn't something you would initially consider doing during your stay in Cluj, think again - the city's National Theater is heralded as one of the best in the country, and regularly puts on an ever-changing selection of musical and theatrical performances (check their website for news and schedules).
The Tailors' Bastion is what remains of the town's original 15th century fortifications. Although the bastion's lookout is not one that's best fit for taking in all of Cluj-Napoca today, the site is worth visiting if only for historic value (and its exhibitions of Romanian art). Directly outside is the statue of Baba Novac, a distinguished anti-Ottoman resistance fighter.
Out of the tourist way yet still very central, Roata is an excellent choice for those looking to dine on traditional Romanian specialties (those are normally rather meat-heavy, but non-meat eaters will also find a lot to chose from). To sample multiple dishes at once, try the full platter.
Those feeling disoriented by meat-heavy Transylvanian cuisine will find refuge at Samsara, a restaurant that caters to vegetarian and vegan eaters, and yet still hugely appeals to those with no dietary restrictions. Healthy foods and green smoothies must be followed by decadent desserts.
Indigo may not follow authentic Indian recipes to the letter, but the liberties it takes are fully justified by the delicious outcome. Some of the restaurant's highlights are the tasting sets and platters intended to be shared by up to 4 diners, as well as the extensive selection of traditional flat breads.
Jaxx's American-inspired menu and interior (the latter much resembles that of a classic Hard Rock Cafe) continue to draw in return customers, who especially favour the establishment's airy outdoor seating area. The menu lists Tex-Mex classics, steaks, burgers (Black Jaxx Burger being the star of the show), and an extensive drink list.
Wasabi is a running sushi restaurant that successfully pulls off combining affordable pricing with quality, and offers a dining concept irresistible to many - a 1-hour all you can eat & drink experience, with prompt conveyor order delivery and service. Located inside the Iulius Shopping Mall.
The Viennese-style bistro specializes in Austrian cuisine, and offers a selection of food and drink to match those of its many Austrian counterparts. Viena serves everything from the quintessential schnitzel to strudel and Sachertorte for dessert, along with an extensive list of drinks and coffee.
Favoured by the local student population, Bulgakov isn't an easy one to simply stumble upon due to its location off the main walking streets. The search is worth the time, however - it serves a good selection of Eastern and Central European dishes, and turns into a lively bar come sundown.
With its rustic, pastel-colored furniture set against raw brick walls, Nuka Bistro is creatively inspired down to its menu, where a selection of original burgers named after historic figures such as Count Dracula and Marilyn Monroe is on offer (along with quite a few breakfast options).
It's hard to picture a doughnut selection more decadent that that of Donuterie Memo, a Romania-wide chain that boasts endless varieties of the beloved treat, from cookies and cream to marshmallow, cheesecake, and even Kinder Bueno-flavoured (that last one is topped with actual bits of the candy).
Francesca is one of Cluj's cosiest locations - with its handful of tables and a resident teddy bear, the cafe is a compact, homey space where a wide selection of artisan cakes (on clear display) is complimented by an extensive list of warming drinks from coffee to mulled wine.
Trendy and affordably priced, Zama showcases Transylvanian cuisine at its finest, combining elements of long-established culinary tradition with modern international influences. The menu features everything from stews, sausages and polenta to steaks and pasta. Coffee or tea on the house with order of breakfast.
With trees sprouting from the ceiling and live green plants adorning the walls, Yolka (Russian for "fir tree") is a wood-dominated cafe and bar whose curious interior is complimented by unbeatable views over Cluj's central square and cathedral. Equally fit for a daytime coffee or evening drink.
Access to this covert bar is limited to only those in-the-know - one needs a password to get in (which is divulged upon phone or web reservation, along with exact details on how to reach the bar), after which entry is granted and an impeccable evening of wine savouring (over 250 varieties grace the list) and live music ensues.
Joben's interior is a real feast for the eyes - the Steampunk-inspired bar is one of the city's most curious locations for an evening out, with attention to detail down to the industrial bathroom faucets. A pleasant selection of food is offered on top of the drink list.
An Irish pub like no other in Cluj, O'Peter's is known for its relaxed, familiar ambiance and upbeat vibe. The pub hosts its "Wine & Knowledge" quiz nights, to which both locals and visitors are most welcome (check the website for schedules). Beer list may appear shorter than expected, which isn't to say insufficient.
With a quirky interior reminiscent of the ruin bar trend sweeping the world, Janis is an unconventional space that startles with its eclectic decor and neon lights. The crowd it draws is mostly comprised of local students, attracted to its underground quality and cheap drinks.
Young at heart and often host to themed parties, Shto College Bar is yet another bar enormously enjoyed by the student population. Good vibes are guaranteed both day and night, with a fun interior (featuring shoes and even an actual bike stuck to the walls) conducive to a laid-back experience.
Tucked away in an intimate, green courtyard (yet very centrally located), Terasa Ferdinand 5 is a classy bar that hosts live music shows and breathes an air of sophistication. The establishment's popularity peaks in the summer, but an indoor space is there for other seasons.
For an authentic Transylvanian marketplace experience, try Cluj-Napoca's Central Market, where dozens of vendors come together daily to offer some of the freshest, locally-grown produce to city residents. Communication may be a challenge, but navigating the kaleidoscope of stalls can be a joy nonetheless.
Just outside Cluj's town center lies the Vivo mall, whose entrance is marked by two towers modeled after the old Romanian architectural tradition. The shopping center contains a whole range of local and international brand stores and boutiques, as well as entertainment venues and a large supermarket.
Romania's own leather product brand, Marelbo is an acclaimed manufacturer of men's and women's footwear, belts, bags, and all possible leather accessories. Prices are more than reasonable for the quality - the brand has even been distinguished by multiple national and international awards.
Iulius is a well-established local shopping mall that's been around for nearly a decade. Apart from a wide range of shops and stores, the mall is known for its extensive food court and a low-cost supermarket contained inside. There is an on-site entertainment center complete with a cinema and game centre.
Perhaps the oldest shopping center in town, Central isn't just a shopping location but a meeting point for local residents. Its array of stores includes local and international clothing, jewellery, and cosmetics brands. Restaurants, services, and an affordable supermarket are all on-site.
Located only 9km away from the city center, Cluj International Airport primarily serves destinations across Europe. There is a public bus service (buses 8 & 5) that runs between the airport and central Cluj (tickets may be purchased at "Bilete" booths prior to boarding, these are often found at bus stops), but taxis and rental cars are also readily available for hire.
Most attractions within the city center are easy to reach on foot. For longer distance travel, make use of the excellent public transportation system comprised of buses, trolleybuses and trams. Tickets must be purchased at special kiosks prior to boarding; some stops are equipped with ticket vending machines.