Romania’s second largest city has transformed over the last decade into one of the most influential cultural hot-spots of Eastern Europe. From cafes set on cobblestone streets to hip bars and beautiful parks, this once-sleepy Transylvanian city is now a hub for music, film, tech, and art in the region. For festival fans, Cluj offers a wide array of programming over the summer and fall that’s sure to spark your imagination.
The following city guide includes:
1. Where to Festival
2. Where to Stay
3. Where to Recover
4. Where to Eat
5. Where to Go Next
The Festivals of Cluj
Romanian festival culture has exploded in the last five years with a number of new events popping up on the summer calendar. The epicenter of this newfound love of the modern day music festival is embodied with the two major festivals of Transylvania — Untold and Electric Castle.
Untold Festival 2019
July 30-August 2, 2020
Featured Artists: Above & Beyond, Afrojack, Alesso, David Guetta, DJ Snake, Eric Prydz, IGGY AZALEA, Lost Frequencies, Martin Garrix, Paul Kalkbrenner, Richie Hawtin, Rudimental, Steve Aoki, Tale of Us
For four nights, the open-air Cluj Arena hosts some of the biggest names in electronic music. Only four years old, this downtown festival has become one of the biggest events in Eastern Europe and even has spawned a Black Sea edition held earlier in the summer.
Electric Castle Festival 2020
July 15-19, 2020
In just a few years years, Electric Castle has already become one of Romania’s most successful fests. Held under the shadow of the five century old Banffy Castle and surrounded by the rolling green hills of the Romanian countryside, EC still maintains the semblance of a much smaller fest. The lineup is designed to please, with artists performing mainstream EDM, hip-hop, reggae, drum & bass, metal, and indie rock.
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While both festivals offer camping, some festies may want some additional creature comforts like warm showers, comfy beds, and the option to sleep in past sunrise. The city of Cluj offers up a wide variety of accommodations sure to make all travelers happy.
Best For Budget: Transylvania Hostel
Close to the city center, supremely affordable, and with the best showers we’ve ever seen in a hostel, our budget choice is the Transylvania Hostel. The property offers dorms and private rooms at a reasonable rate and there’s a kitchen in you need to make a quick meal before the fest. The shady courtyard is a perfect spot to recuperate over a hard night out.
Best for Location: Grand Hotel Napoca
This full service hotel is a short walk across the river to both the Untold Festival and the shuttle to Electric Castle. It’s also right in between the beautiful Central Park of Cluj and the small Centrauil Hill which provides some nice vistas of the city. The hotel itself is fairly basic, but is usually sold out and filled with fellow festies during events.
Best for Luxury: Hotel Platinia
This brand new addition to Cluj on the site of the former Ursus Brewery is an informal all-suite hotel attached to a shopping center. We like it for its close proximity to the festivals and the spacious suites along with the elegant design.
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There is no shortage of cafes, bars, and coffee shops where you can fuel up with energy before another night out in Transylvania. Here’s a few of our recommendations
Enigma Cafe & Secret Garden
Packed during this evening, this theme-punk restaurant is much quieter during the afternoon where you can easily lose a couple hours sipping on coffee drinks or cocktail in the secret garden patio.
After strolling the main drag in the morning, make sure to swing by Narcoffee. It’s a comfortable, hip, hip spot with well versed baristas ready to make your caffeine dreams come true.
Just a bit outside the city center, you’ll lose track of time in this haven of psychedelic chill. Each of the three rooms has a different theme, complete with hookas and cushions for lounging on the floor. If it’s a nice day, the garden out back is a comfortable and cozy spot.
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Located all across the city, this local chain features toppings like melted Gorgonzola and chopped prosciutto grilled to perfection. It’s affordable, quick, and filling with plenty of options for vegetarians.
Not content with just tea and chilling, Samsara also has this casual restaurant closer to town that serves vegetarian, vegan, and raw-vegan, and after five days of Electric Castle your body needs a healthy meal.
On the opposite end of healthy is Mama Manu. I’m not going to tell this is the best late night spot in town, but when it’s 5am and your body craves shawarma, you’ll be happy that this joint is open twenty-four hours.
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Cluj is well situated for continuing your festival adventures across Europe. Romania has a full slate of festivals across the country and Budapest, a festival hot spot is six hours away with direct flights under an hour. The Cluj International Airport has low-cost flights to Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and Italy.