The city of Sibiu is definitely among the best places to visit in Romania, a fascinating place teeming with treasures and secrets. This marvelous and majestic medieval fortress has developed into a modern city that has still retained much of its authenticity. Once enclosed by several layers of defensive walls with towers and bastions, with large squares and narrow cobblestone alleys, Sibiu makes for one of the most interesting destinations of Romania. With its red-tiled roofs that seem to watch the astounding panoramas surrounding it, with the imposing Carpathians rising to the south and the gentle Transylvanian hills to the north, with a unique multi-cultural and multi-religious heritage that spans for many centuries, Sibiu offers an unforgettable experience to any travelers. Walking around the superb town center, visitors will always have something new to admire, from the Lutheran, Catholic or Orthodox churches to the elegant squares and from the medieval towers and walls to the magnificent palaces or residences.
Where is Sibiu and How to Get There
Sibiu is located in the central part of Romania and in the southern part of Transylvania, at the foot of the Făgăraș Mountains and close to the Olt River. It is the capital of the Sibiu County and one of the top tourist destinations of Romania. There is an international airport in Sibiu, with arrivals from major European cities, mostly from Germany (Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dortmund), but also London and a few flights from Egypt currently. It is located along the E81 European Road and the A1 Highway that comes from Central Europe and someday will be connected to Bucharest. Travelers that land in the capital of Bucharest can either rent a car and drive to Sibiu (280 km / 4-5 hours), take a bus or a train. Both the main train and bus station of Sibiu are located about 1 km east of the Historical Centre (10 minutes). There are plenty of parking areas around the edge of Old Town, as well as parking spots along the tiny streets of the Lower Town. Where there are no barriers and enclosed spaces, visitors can usually find some information that announces Paid Parking (Parcare cu Plata), the area code and how to pay. This usually means that payment should be done after parking for the desired amount of time in advance. The enclosed and organized parking areas are pretty safe, usually with video surveillance. The tax is about 0.50 Euros/hour, with a maximum stay of 24 hours. Visitors can pay when leaving the parking area by SMS or with a credit card.
Best Things to See in Sibiu
One of the most popular destinations and most beautiful cities in Romania, Sibiu is a place filled with charm and character. Part of the seven medieval fortresses created by the Transylvanian Saxons during the 12th century, Sibiu (Hermanstadt in German or Cibinium in Latin) was the biggest and wealthiest of them all, an important commercial and craft center during medieval times. Ever since the 14th century, the fortress had 19 attested guilds and the historical buildings of today’s city show its importance in the ensemble of central-eastern Europe of those times. Being under various rulings and influences for seven centuries, Sibiu has managed to always keep its unique soul and atmosphere. The first book in Romanian was printed in Sibiu, the first beer factory was established there and the first theatre in the country was also in this fascinating city. It has always been a center of Romanian spirit, even before the Great Union. During the Habsburg Empire, Sibiu was considered the second city after Vienna, strategically located near the eastern border of the empire and strongly fortified for three centuries.
From its long history, the city still preserves an impressive cultural heritage, with large squares surrounded by historical buildings, imposing churches, defensive towers and walls. Divided into the Upper and the Lower Towns, developed around a complex of three enchanting squares, Sibiu offers a fascinating travel experience. The heart of the fortress is made up from three squares, beginning with the Grand Square, the civic center of the city, continuing with the Little Square, considered its commercial center and the small Albert Huet Square, dominated by the imposing Lutheran Cathedral. Connected through a series of small streets and passageways, these lovely squares are surrounded by some of the most interesting and beautiful buildings of Sibiu. Most visits of the city start from the Grand Square of Sibiu, dating back to 1366 and witnessing some of the most important events in the life of the fortress. The complex of the square was declared an architectural monument by UNESCO, featuring a series of superb buildings from various centuries. The most famous and interesting of these include the Brukenthal Palace, the Council Tower, the Jesuit Church, Filek Palace and several other splendid houses.
The Brukenthal Palace was built between 1778 and 1788 on the western side of the square, as a city residence of baron Samuel von Brukenthal, who also built the palace located in Avrig as a summer residence. The baron’s art collections were open to visitors from the end of 18th century, this being the oldest museum in Romania. Today, the palace houses the Brukenthal National Museum, one of the most important in country, with a series of extremely interesting and valuable collections. Among these, there are remarkable Romanian and European Art, the Brukenthal Library, as well as several museums that are located in other buildings throughout the city (history, contemporary art, natural history, pharmacy history). The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday (9.00 – 14.00 / 14.30 – 17.00) and the price to visit all the museums is 45 RON (about 10 Euro).
Apart from the palace building, the square is dominated to the north by the Council Tower, dating back to the 13th century and part of the second medieval fortifications system. The tower used to include an entrance gate in the past, but its place was taken by a passage tunnel that connects the Grand and the Little Square. During the century, the tower changed its appearance several times, today housing a small exhibition about the history of the city and featuring a clock on each side. Visitors can enter the tower through a small door located in the Little Square and from the last floor (141 steps), they can admire an astonishing panorama of the city, sometimes all the way to the peaks of the Carpathians (Open daily from 10.00 – 20.000 / Entrance – 2 RON). Before leaving the Grand Square, there are still some buildings to admire, including the Town Hall, Roman-Catholic Church, Blue House, Haller House, Lutsch House or the statue of St. John Nepomuk, located in a courtyard behind the church.
The best place to continue from the Grand Square is towards the Little Square of Sibiu, where there is an impressive concentration of historical buildings. Travelers can pass through the passage under the Council Tower or try a less known narrow passage located a little further, the Fellmonger Passage. In the past, Little Square was used mostly for commerce and the buildings from 14th to 16th century feature loggias and arcades where there were craftsmen workshops in the past. Among the most interesting buildings, the House of the Arts is located on the northern side of the square. It has also known as the Butchers Hall and had other roles along the centuries. It has several interesting architectural features and today it houses several art collections and exhibits. Next to it, there is another interesting house, resembling the buildings of the Great Square and including the Frescoed Room, with superb wall paintings from the 17th century. This can be visited with the full ticket of the Brukenthal National Museum.
Further to the east, travelers can find an enchanting passage towards the Lower Town, known as the Goldsmiths’ Market Passage. The stairs begin under the Goldsmiths’ Stairs Tower and ends in a charming little square, from where a few superb cobblestone streets begin, with a certain medieval atmosphere. Next to the tower, there is the Goldsmiths’ Guild House, with interesting architectural features. On the eastern side of the square there is also a historical building that houses the Pharmacy History Museum, a unique attraction that includes over 6000 exhibits related to the development of pharmaceutical techniques over time. On the western side of the square, there is another complex of superb buildings, including the Hermes House (Museum of Ethnography), Luxemburg House and others. From the Little Square, visitors can go down into the Lower Town along the Ocnei Street that passes first under the Bridge of Lies, a marvelous monument located in the northern part of the square, next to the House of the Arts. This was built from cast iron in 1859 and according to legends, it will crash when someone tells a lie while crossing over.
Going over the bridge, one can enter the small Albert Huet Square, dominated by the silhouette of the imposing Lutheran Cathedral of “St. Mary”. This area can also be reached from the Grand Square, the three being a complex separated by a row of buildings. The Huet Square was born inside the first fortification system of the city, after it fully encompassed the Upper Town. Most buildings around the cathedral date between the 15th and the 18th centuries. The cathedral is among the impressive Gothic structures in Romania, belonging to the larger Lutheran community in the country. It was built over a Roman basilica dating from the 12th century, its current appearance dating from 1520. Among the most marvelous features, visitors can admire the very tall tower, the interior sculptures and the unusual mason symbol above the organ. The most interesting monuments around include the Parish House, the Stairs’ Tower, the Brukenthal Highschool and the statue of bishop Teutsch. Behind the buildings on the northern side, there is the Stairs Passage that used to connect the Upper and Lower towns. The old medieval fortifications are still visible, with stone and brick walls and arches.
The Upper Town spreads to the east, west and south of the three markets, being surrounded by a series of parks and gardens created over the old fortifications that can still be admired in several places. Beginning from the Grand Square, there are still many amazing monuments to visit in Sibiu, starting with the old towers and bastions. The best conserved are located along the southern edge of Upper Town, beginning with the imposing Haller Bastion, rising at 9 meters and dating from the 16th century, located east of the markets. Continuing towards the south-west, travelers first pass by the building of the Natural History Museum which is also part of the Brukenthal Museum experience. Next appears the majestic shape of the Thick Tower, so called due to its unusual shape that extends from the walls. Developed on several levels and having a platform on its upper part, it is now the house of the Sibiu State Philharmonic. A section of the southern medieval walls can be visited by going further to the west, located between the Carpenters’ and Potters’ towers. These date from the 14th century and nearby there are another two impressive towers, the Ironsmiths’ Tower and the Harquebusiers’ Tower. On the western side of the fortress there is also the Soldisch Bastion, although not as well preserved as the one to the east. It dates back to the 17th century and features an old marble emblem on its walls.
The Upper Town also include several monuments located along the inner streets. Among the most elegant and interesting are the Mitropoliei and Nicolae Balcescu streets, both going from the Grand Square towards the west. Along these, travelers can best observe the famous „eyes of Sibiu”, small openings located on the shingle roofs of the buildings. They are actually called skylights and were created to assure the proper airflow of the attics. Between the Mitropoliei and Alexandru Odobescu streets, there is the splendid Altemberger Complex, including the house, the loggia, the tower and several other structures, representing one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in Romania. This used to be the headquarters of the Sibiu Town Hall for four centuries, today housing the History Museum, with some amazing exhibits. Going along the Mitropoliei Street, the first monument to encounter is a small church with Baroque architecture, followed the Caryatide House, with two statues that hold the balcony. A little further, travelers can admire the beautiful Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, built in 1904 in a superb Byzantine style and including impressive interior paintings. At the end of the street, there is the Lutheran Church of St. John, built in a Neo-Gothic style at the end of 19th century. On the Nicolae Balcescu Street there are other interesting historical buildings, among which there a lot of restaurants, cafes and shops.
Another enchanting street starts from the Grand Square to the east, the Avram Iancu Street featuring several beautiful monuments, including the St. Ursula Roman-Catholic Church and the Ursuline Monastery. Originally a Dominican monastery built in 1479, it was later taken by the Lutheran church and finally by the Roman-Catholics through the Ursulines nuns that built a school for girls within. The Lower Town developed to the north of the Upper Town, towards the small Cibin River. It was also surrounded by fortifications, a few still preserved to this day. The streets of this area still bear the name of the old guilds in the fortress of Sibiu, showing the areas where they usually lived or worked. A walk along these atmospheric little streets is an authentic experience, far from the hustle of the Upper Town!
Best Accommodation in Sibiu
9.7 Rating from 684 Reviews!
Located about 500 meters from the Council Tower of Sibiu in a peaceful area, this highly appreciated villa offers a unique experience, featuring splendid ambiance in all spaces, including the fully-equipped rooms!
9.4 Rating from 1526 Reviews!
This exquisite hotel is located just a few minutes from the Grand Square of Sibiu, featuring amazing rooms with beautiful design and all amenities, private bathrooms and breakfast in the on-site restaurant!
9.9 Rating from 568 Reviews!
Located just 300 meters from the Stairs Passage, this astonishing guesthouse has almost perfect reviews, superb design and excellent amenities in each rooms and studio. It also features a kitchen and a terrace!
Best Restaurants in Sibiu
- Crama Sibiul Vechi – A. Papiu Ilarian St. No. 3 – Probably the best place to sample delicious traditional Romanian and Eastern European food in a magical atmosphere, inside an old wine cellar!
- Kulinarium – Little Square No. 12 – A great restaurant right in the heart of Sibiu, offering amazing traditional food at reasonable prices. The pan specialties are definitely worth a try!
- Hermania Restaurant – Filarmonicii St. No. 2 – Located inside a historical building, this traditional restaurant serves authentic Saxon recipes made from their own fresh ingredients!
- Pasaj Restaurant – Turnului St. No. 3A – This cozy little restaurant is located in a pleasant area and features delicious local and international cuisine, including burgers, pasta and pizza!
- Old Lisbon Restaurant – Targu Pestelui St. No. 4 – A unique restaurant in Sibiu, it offers traditional Portuguese food and other European delicacies, inside a welcoming location close to the city center!
- Benjamin Steakhouse & Bar – Xenopol St. No 1 – Featuring delicious steaks and burgers, including the famous Black Angus delicacies, this restaurant is located very close to the Grand Square of Sibiu!
- She’s Green Restaurant – Timotei Popovici St. No. 19 – Offering exclusively vegan and raw-vegan recipes, this restaurant features fresh and natural ingredients for people looking for this option!
Local Tips for Sibiu
- Explore the charming streets of the Lower Town, located north of the Small Square!
- Visit Sibiu during the Christmas Market, as it is one of the most beautiful in Romania!
- Admire the panorama of the city from the top of the Council Tower, located at the heart of the Old Town!
- If you like museums, buy the full ticket for the Brukenthal National Museum, offering entrance to almost all museums in the city!
- Look for accommodation close to the city center and you will not need a car to get around!
- Wear comfortable shows as many of the streets are cobblestone!
- While the open-air terraces of the Great and Small Market are quite enjoyable, food prices are lower for restaurants located a little further!
Short Trips from Sibiu
Traditional Civilization Museum ASTRA
Located inside a charming forest just 6 km south of Sibiu, this extensive and fascinating open-air village museum features traditional old houses and other buildings from many areas of Romania, many of them superb examples of rural architecture and daily life in the villages of the past. Visitors can wander around freely, admiring the several hundred exhibits, in a beautiful natural setting.
Mărginimea Sibiului Area
This unique area is located to the southwest of Sibiu, between the city and the mountains of Cindrel. It comprises 18 villages that make up an authentic community with common cultural, architectural and historical features. This amazing rural destination perfectly combines the natural beauty of the area with splendid cultural heritage that includes churches, museums and rural architecture
Former Cistercian Monastery of Cârța
Located about 50 km to the east of Sibiu, this magnificent monument dates back to the Middle Ages, when Transylvania was included in the Kingdom of Hungary. It was first established around the 13th century and later was deserted, yet its ruins present a superb example of Gothic architecture. Visitors can still admire a small chapel and the western façade of the old monastery.