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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Exploring Cluj-Napoca & Deva Hunedoara Romania

Romania has been one of those hidden gems that we have wanted to explore for a while now, and we're so excited to be here. Even within a few days of being in Romania, it feels already feels different and a bit mysteriously magical; plus we have been enjoying the much cheaper prices. Luckily, while Romania is part of the EU, time in the country does not count towards the 90-day limit, so we are able to keep some days for our 90-day Schengen period for later in the year. We spent the first few days exploring Cluj-Napoca & Deva Hunedoara Romania.

Getting Around in Romania

As we started to research Romania and figure out our itinerary, we discovered one thing pretty quickly – many of the attractions are spread out and it takes a while to drive from place to place! What looks like it might only be a couple hour drive on the map, ends up being 4 or 5 hours drive. When we originally put together our itinerary, we figured out that we’d be driving almost 28+ hours in 3 weeks. That was a bit too much, so we pared it back and had to cut out a few of the interesting spots we had hoped to make it to.

That also meant that we needed to get a rental car. Part of the reason we left Romania towards the end, is because many of the rental car companies more toward Central Europe don’t allow you to bring the car into countries like Romania, due to concerns of theft (although we haven't really witnessed that). We also looked into neighboring countries and whether they would allow you take a car in Romania. For example, some of the companies in Serbia would not let you take a car into Romania, but Hungary would. We also found out (almost too last minute) that many of the Romanian rental car companies require an International Drivers’ License to rent the vehicle, but there are some smaller and more local ones that will likely let you get by without one. The rental cars here are also much older than what you typically would rent. Some of the companies even let you choose the year of your rental car – some as old as 10 years old – and they were priced at more of a discount the older they were.


This city is the unofficial city of the Transylvania region of Romania, and where we flew into Romania to begin our journey. We spent 1 day in Cluj-Napoca to explore & wandered mostly around the Old Town. The city is home to different universities and it felt very vibrant and youthful. There were numerous coffee shops and restaurants; as we walked by, we would glance inside their shops or the courtyards and they all were very trendy and cute!

The main area of gathering seemed to be the Main Square – Piata Unirii, which shares its space with St. Michael’s Church and the Matthias Corvinus Statue of the king from the 1400s. St. Michael’s Church was currently under refurbishment, so it was completely blocked off and we couldn’t get inside or close to the church. We also tried to check out the Reformed Church, but it wasn’t open to the public either.

Two children with pigeons in Cluj-Napoca Main Square
Cluj-Napoca Main Square – Piata Unirii with St. Michael's Church in Background.

As we continued to walk through the Old Town streets towards the Central Park, we came across another church – the Cluj-Napoca Evangelical Church – that was open and we were able to go inside. There was even St. Klara painted on the ceiling, which was fun for our daughter Clara to see.

Children sitting in Cluj-Napoca Evangelical Church
Cluj-Napoca Evangelical Church

We also experienced our first yummy Romanian pastries called placinta cu urda. They were warm pastry rolls with different fillings inside. Several of them contained cheese, but we got the kind with fruit inside. It was like an apple pie on the go!

Romanian Pastry with apple filling.
Romanian Pastry - Placinta Cu Urda - with apple filling! Yum!

The Central Park was a great urban park with lots of benches, several walking paths, and even a café with a little pond that people could rent a flamingo or dragon paddle boat to take around the pond. We headed toward the Stadium because there was a massive playground area! There were about 5-6 separate playground sets just in this one area!! However, this wasn’t the first area we have seen like that – there was another area in Cluj-Napoca that we drove by that had about 8-10 separate playground sets along one particular hillside!

Turda Salt Mine

This Salt Mine is only about 30-40 minute drive from Cluj-Napoca and was a salt mine established in the 17th Century. This destination is basically an underground world! While there are the tunnels leading underground that show the salt crystals on the wall, the main attraction is the mini entertainment area under the ground. Once you descend down the several stories of stairs (either via the stairs or elevator) you come upon a large open area of the cave that has ping pong tables, pool tables, an amphitheater, a children’s playground, mini golf, bowling lane and a large Ferris Wheel in the middle.

The admission into the Turda Salt Mine is reasonable, 50 RON ($12 USD/$15 CDN) per an adult (on a weekday) and 30 RON ($7 USD/$9 CDN) for a child. However, once you get to the levels below if you want to do any of the activities down there it is an additional charge. When we looked into playing mini golf, it was going to be about $6 CDN or $5 USD for an hour per person. We decided to just pick one and we chose to ride the Ferris Wheel – it was about $3 CDN/$2.50 per person for the ride around the wheel once (about 9 minutes long).

As you descend down another level, you come to the lowest level of the mine that is open to the public where there are several seating areas, a bridge across the water and boats. You can rent a little row boat for 20 minutes at a time and the price seemed reasonable. However, all the signs in English said people had to be over 16 years old to rent the boat and a maximum of 3 adults in the boat. There wasn’t someone around at the time, so we didn’t get the chance to confirm if that meant the kids wouldn’t be able to go.

Lowest Level in the Turda Salt Mine with Boating Area
Lowest Level in the Turda Salt Mine with Boating Area

Business Insider ranked Turda Salt Mine as the most beautiful place underground in the world, and one of the top 22 tourist destinations underground. We personally thought it was cool, but being that our family enjoys more natural environments, some of the other caves we visited and the Krakow Salt Mine we personally thought were a bit more impressive. However, this was still cool to check out – it would just be cool if one or two of the activities were included in the ticket price.

After our 2 full days & 3 nights in Cluj-Napoca, we headed 2.5 hours to the Huneadora area.

Deva Fortress

The town of Deva is in Huneadora County of the Transylvania region and is a 2.5 hour drive from Cluj-Napoca. We picked this point as a break-up point in the journey to the Danube River and to see a couple of sights in the area. The Deva Fortress was a medieval fortress erected on a volcanic hill from the second half of the 13th Century, but there is some evidence that it was much older – perhaps back to the Neolithic or Bronze Ages. The fortress sits upon the top of a hill that overlooks the city of Deva below it. The hill upon which it sat was quite steep, so they offer a cable car to take you up to the top to explore. The cable car was only 20 RON per adult (about $5 USD/$6 CDN) and 10 RON per child (about $2.33 USD/$3 CDN)for a two-way ticket. The amazing part was that you didn’t have to pay an entrance fee to the fortress once you got to the top, so if you wanted to hike up and down it would be completely free.

Fortress Ruins on volcanic hill in Deva, Romania
Deva Fortress Sitting Above the city of Deva, Romania

Once up on the Fortress you can walk along sections of the wall to take in the view. There was also a stove display. At the time when we visited, the very top of the Fortress wasn’t accessible and there were several signs at that access point that warned of vipers.

The town of Deva also offered a couple of fun playgrounds – one was the Municipal City Park and had a huge playground area, as well as a some tightrope bands hung in between trees that were available for the kids to play on. Also, on the other side of town was another playground that as part of it, it offered a little mini zoo as part of it!

Corvin Castle – Castelul Corvinilor

Only 25 minutes from Deva, Corvin Castle in Huneadora is one of the largest castles in Europe and is one of the 7 Wonders of Romania.

Corvin Castle - Huneadora, Romania
Corvin Castle - Huneadora, Romania

The castle was built in the 1440s by John Hunyadi and his son, Matthias Corvinus, who was the King of Hungary later inhabited it. At the time the Hungarian empire included Croatia, Transylvania and Serbia to just name a few. The castle was originally built as a defense fortress and prison to hold off the Ottoman Empire. There were numerous additions to the castle – especially in the 17th century.

The castle had displays in each of the rooms – one of the king’s bedroom, kitchen, the Torture chambers and the Night’s Hall. They also had some traditional clothes on display. Part of the castle was also being restored while we were there in early October 2021. It was really a beautiful castle and we even ran into a bride and groom taking their photos, which would be such a lovely spot for photos.

Bride, Groom & photographer in the courtyard of Corvin Castle, Huneadora, Romania
Bride & Groom posing for wedding photos in the courtyard of Corvin Castle

The cost for entry was 35 RON per adult and 7 RON per child and parking was 10 RON. Preschool Children & younger are free of charge. On the website, it also mentions rates for photos and videos, but we were not charged either.

We were very impressed with our first few days of exploring Cluj-Napoca and Deva Huneadora Romania and we can't wait to see what else is to come in this great country and the rest of the Transylvania region.


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