Sibiu is a charming Transylvanian town located in central Romania, just a few kilometers from the Carpathian Mountains. Founded 800 years ago by the German (or Saxon) settlers, Sibiu (or Hermannstadt in German) has preserved a strong German influence, although right now, the population is 99% Romanian. Sibiu has been an important economic and cultural center since the Middle Ages, and the old town still retains much of the historical heritage: imposing walls, defensive towers and wide squares surrounded by architectural gems are all connected by a network of narrow cobbled streets.
What’s the best time to visit Sibiu?
Sibiu is a tourist destination open all year round, but we recommend visiting Sibiu in the period of May-June and/or September-October. That way, visitors will avoid the peak of the tourist season during summer, including temperatures that frequently exceed 30 degrees Celsius during the day. Late spring – early summer is the period when nature wakes up completely from its winter sleep, and the viewer’s eyes will be delighted by the fresh green nature, decorated with a kaleidoscope of flower colors. June is also the period when the International Theater Festival, considered one of the most important events of this kind in Europe, takes place, too.
On the other hand, September-October is a period with mild temperatures and little rain, perfect for walks outside. In addition, it is the time when autumn colors are at their brightest, and the visitor’s eyes will be delighted by the bursts of shades of brown, red and yellow from the trees. It is also worth mentioning that the local Oktoberfest takes place at this time. Since Sibiu is a city with a German heritage, many say that the vibe and the beer are as good as those at similar events in Germany, but the price is several times lower.
Also, the Christmas Market in Sibiu, which finds a perfect decoration in the main square of the city, is organized every year in December. A good reason to visit Sibiu during that month, especially since there is a good chance that visitors will find the city covered by a layer of snow.
When deciding on when to come to Sibiu, it’s good to avoid Romanian national holidays, like May 1st, June 1st, the Pentecost, or November 30th – December 1st. This is the moment when a lot of Romanians are travelling, and Sibiu will be flooded by indigenous visitors, which makes it difficult to find good accommodation or a table at a nice restaurant.
A few facts about Sibiu
The city has a long and complicated history. Sibiu was founded in the mid-12th century by the Saxon settlers invited by the Hungarian king to Transylvania. The place was a part of the Hungarian Kingdom from its foundation until the 16th century, but from the 16th to the 18th century, Sibiu was a part of the Principality of Transylvania. From the 18th century till the end of WWI, Sibiu belonged to the Austrian Empire, and in 1918, Sibiu became part of Romania.
Sibiu is located in the southern part of Transylvania, one of the three main historical regions of Romania. It is bordered to the south by the Carpathians Mountains, and to the north by the Transylvanian plateau. The average altitude in Sibiu is 500 meters. The city is split by the Cibin River, hence the Romanian name – Sibiu. Its German name is Hermannstadt, from the name of the city’s legendary founder – Hermann, the leader of the group of Saxon settlers who set the foundations of the city (stadt in German means city).
Important economic, cultural and political center since the medieval period, Sibiu is proud of several premieres that took place here. Thus, in 1292 – it had certified the first hospital in the current territory of Romania, in 1380 the first school, 1494 – the first pharmacy, 1544 – the first hotel, 1717 – the first brewery, 1788 – the first theater building, 1817 – the first museum, 1896 – the first hydropower plant. And last but not least, Sibiu was awarded 3 stars by the Michelin guide, which means they highly recommend the city for visiting.
One Day in Sibiu Itinerary
Walk around the medieval walls
Your one day in Sibiu should start with a walking tour of the Old Town. Starting from the south, visitors will see the impregnable medieval walls.
Since the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, the city has never been conquered. The Turks tried several times in the 15th century to capture it, but each time they failed. They called Sibiu “the red city” because the only thing they saw from the city was the red colour of bricks from the defence walls.
Step onto the walk of fame
In the southern part of the Old Town, there are two lines of walls, from the 15th and the 16th century. In the space between them is a small park, where on the main alley Sibiu has its own “Walk of Fame”. Inspired by Hollywood, Sibiu’s Walk of Fame is not dedicated to the film, but to the theatre industry.
Enjoy a good coffee in one of the Sibiu’s cozy coffee shops
Heading to the Large Square, on the Archives Street, one will notice a small coffee shop called “La arhive – At the archives”. They are not only selling some of the best coffee in the world, but also locally brewed beer, Romanian wine, organic juices made of fruit from the Transylvanian hills, and last but not least, a wide range of different teas.
See the city from above
Climb the Council Tower or the Lutheran Church Tower to enjoy a splendid view of the city and the surrounding area. On a clear winter or spring day, one can see the snowy ridges of the Carpathian Mountains. For an amazing photo opportunity, climb the tower at the sunset hours.
Look for houses with eyes
In Sibiu, most of the roofs of old houses have eye-shaped skylights. Meant to help with the attic ventilation, the eyes from the roofs became one of the Sibiu’s symbols.
Wander the main squares
Sibiu has three adjoining squares: Large square, Small square and Huet square – filled with coffee shops, restaurants and bars. It’s the usual place for rendezvous for tourists and locals alike, and the place with the largest concentration of museums and historical buildings.
Visit the Bruckenthal Museum
The Bruckenthal Museum is the first museum opened in what is today Romania and one of the finest art museums in this part of Europe. The building of the museum, a refined baroque palace, the former residence of the Transylvanian governor, host works of art of Rubens, Tiziano, Jan van Eyck, Veronese, Peter Brueghel the Younger and many more Flemish, Italian, German and Romanian artists.
Try the innovative Romanian cuisine
Seasonal ingredients from local producers, old recipes adapted to modern cuisine, taste and imagination, all this can be found on the menu of Syndicat Gourmet, a small restaurant hidden on the narrow streets of the Lower Town. Book a table in advance, the restaurant has only 30 seats.
Taste the Sibiu cheese
Sibiu is renowned all over Romania for its sheep cheese. An assortment of Sibiu cheese, “Telemeaua de Sibiu” is registered as a PGI (a protected geographical indication product in the EU) and it can be bought from the farmers’ markets in Sibiu. It can be the Cibin Market, opened daily, or the Saturday Market, near the sports arena.
Visit Astra, the Open-Air Museum
Astra Museum is dedicated to the traditional Romanian folk civilization and comprises more than 300 houses and traditional installations, stretching on an area of around 100 hectares. It’s a living museum, as craftsmen, cooks and people from the countryside are often invited here to revive the atmosphere from the traditional Romanian villages. Just a few kilometers from Sibiu downtown, the Museum can be reached easily by car, bus or by bike.
Try Sibiu’s nightlife
If it’s dinner time and you want to impress your partner or just have a delicious meal, the place to go is Benjamin Steak House. Located on a side street, very close to the Main Square, the restaurant offers a varied menu for all tastes, not only steaks.
The evening can then continue with a pint of local beer. The bar is called Ribs and Beer, it is literally two steps away from Benjamin and offers several kinds of beer produced in Sibiu. For gourmets, they also have a food menu, and as the name suggests, ribs are a house specialty.
For those who want to dance, Oldies Pub is the solution. On the other side of the Ribs and Beer building, Oldies Bar is already a reference for Sibiu’s nightlife. It’s not a good idea to show up too early, though, as the parties start after midnight and last until late in the morning.
Where to stay in Sibiu
Str.Centumvirilor, Nr.2, Sibiu Old Town, 550178 Sibiu
Ideally located in the historic center of Sibiu, this 4-star hotel is 250 meters from the Great Square. Opened 2 years ago, ART Hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, free WiFi, a restaurant, a shared lounge and a terrace. This boutique hotel has bright, air-conditioned rooms, each unit has a flat-screen TV, work desk and a private bathroom with free toiletries. For added convenience, room service is available.
Nicolae Balcescu nr 13, Sibiu Old Town, 550159 Sibiu
B13 Hostel is located on the main pedestrian alley in the old town, offering modern rooms with AC. A common lounge area, fitted with a sofa and chairs, a TV and a computer, is provided on-site. Guests at the hostel can take advantage of a fully equipped shared kitchen with a dining area and free lockers.
Day trips from Sibiu
Due to its position, Sibiu is the perfect location to explore Transylvania. The most important tourist attractions in the area can be reached during different day trips.
- See the largest castle in Transylvania – Corvin Castle.
- Visit Dracula’s Castle in Bran and have a walk in the old town of Brasov.
- Discover Sighisoara and the fortified churches.
- Drive on the most beautiful road in the world – Transfagarasan Highway.
Extra tips for visiting Sibiu
It’s easy to come to Sibiu. The city has an international airport with connections to Munich, Vienna, London, Madrid, Bruxelles or Dortmund. Another possibility is to take the night train from Budapest or by car, the distance from Hungary can be covered in around 5 hours. Bucharest – Sibiu distance is 300 kilometers and it can be covered in 4 hours by car, or 6 hours by train.
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Florin Ionescu is a licensed tour guide and a travel writer from Sibiu, Romania. He is organising private tours in Romania with a focus in nature, culinary culture and village life. He owns a small travel agency and he can design custom travel packages for tourists planning to visit Romania.