Romania is certainly not the top travel destination in Europe. However, the country is often underestimated. One of the cities that you should definitely have visited there is Sibiu, or in German: Hermannstadt.
Our author lived in the Transylvanian city for two years and explains why a city trip there is worthwhile and what there is to see.
What can holidaymakers expect in Sibiu? Well: Almost everything in the city is within walking distance. Whether a romantic stay for two or a small adventure trip with the family, both are no problem. The city also offers a lot of culture, but the nightlife is almost better. And the whole thing can be done very cheaply for holidaymakers from Germany. Sounds almost too good to be true? Well, Sibiu is still an insider tip. There is a lot to discover there.
What’s the best way to get there?
Sibiu has its own small airport, which is served by the low-cost airline Wizz Air. From Germany there are flights from Dortmund, Frankfurt, Memmingen and Nuremberg.
Which area is ideal for accommodation?
Accommodation is affordable even in the historic old town. If you still want to stay centrally but want to spend a little less, you can look around in the lower town, Orasul de Jos.
What do you have to see?
You should definitely climb the 73 meter high tower of the evangelical parish church. From there you can see the whole city including the surrounding Carpathian mountain range. The 600-year-old church itself is also worth a visit, just for the Sauer organ and the Rosenau fresco.
Markets are still part of everyday life in Romanian cities. On the Piata Cibin you can buy all kinds of groceries from the surrounding lands, including fresh fruit and vegetables. In summer there are huge watermelons and fragute, sugar-sweet wild strawberries. But the best is the local cheeses, including Telemea, Urda and Burduf. The prices are quite low, so it’s worth a visit!
Where are the best restaurants?
Sibiu is so compact that one cannot recommend a specific place for good restaurants. The cosiest atmosphere is undoubtedly at the Piata Mica, in English: small ring. There is also the Crama Sibiana for those interested, in which traditional Romanian cooking is done. Also recommended for local cuisine are Crama Sibiul Vechi and La Hermania, both just a few steps from the Piata Mare, the big ring.
Basically, Romanian food is hearty and very meaty. While there are more and more vegetarian options, it’s important to keep that in mind. In Romania, people almost always eat ciorba, a thick soup that comes in different variations, beforehand. A popular traditional dish is sarmale, cabbage wraps made from specially pickled cabbage. This is usually accompanied by Mamaliguta, which is similar to Italian polenta. Other dishes include paprika and stuffed peppers. Schnitzel and pork tenderloin are also widespread in Romania. You should definitely try the zacusca, a tomato, aubergine and pepper sauce, as well as salata de vinete, an aubergine salad. Both are easy with bread. For dessert there is papanasi with smantana, a kind of fried doughnut with sour cream and jam.
How to communicate?
Sibiu, Hermannstadt, was a stronghold of the Transylvanian Saxons for a long time. Accordingly, German is still widespread today, in kindergartens, schools and even bookstores. Many residents therefore speak the language very well. You should still know a few Romanian words. The greeting is “Buna Ziua” (good day) or simply informally “Buna” or “Ceau”. You say thank you with “Multumesc”, it’s even easier with “mersi”. When saying goodbye, say “La revedere” or informally “Ceau” or “Papa”.
Dos & Don’ts in Sibiu
In any case, you should take advantage of the nightlife of Sibiu! The historic center lures after dark with excellent bars. There is always something going on in the two large squares. And if you want to see what traditional life in Transylvania was like, you should make a detour to the village museum, which is just outside the city in the south-west.
On the other hand, you should be careful with the taxi drivers, who otherwise like to cheat you. The taxi prices are always written directly on the cars, on average it is about 2.5 lei and 50 cents per kilometer. Alternatively, you can also call an Uber and pay directly via the app.