Cluj-Napoca might be the second largest city in Romania and the capital of Transylvania, but the general inefficiency of the wider Romanian transport system is not avoided here. The city is best accessed using your own wheels, as although train and bus links are available, they will give you a very good idea of just how big Romania is. Ironically, the city is most easily accessed from afar, with Cluj International Airport being among the busiest in the region. WizzAir have a hub here, so there are plenty of cheap routes to a wide variety of cities across the continent and area, from the England to Egypt.
Cluj Railway Station
Located just to the north of the city centre (a 20-minute or so walk from Union Square), the train station in Cluj has a variety of facilities ranging from cafes to kiosks to exchange places, although probably best to avoid the latter. The station has decent rail links to Bucharest, Budapest and Vienna, but connections to regional cities are frustratingly slow and rare. Still, there is a romance to the rails, so maybe that is what you are after.
Avram Iancu Cluj International Airport might not be the biggest on the planet, but it packs quite the punch. WizzAir’s decision to place a hub here has seen an explosion in traffic numbers over the years, making this one of the most energetic airports in the wider region. The main departures hall can be a bit of a free for all from time to time, but staff are friendly and always on hand to answer any questions. There are a number of cafes and bars after security, although don’t expect any free WiFi. To get to the airport using public transport, jump on the number five trolleybus from by the cathedral, but be sure to buy a ticket before boarding. Tickets can be bought from the automatic machines, or from the decidedly grumpy folk at the nearby kiosk.
The public transport system in Cluj-Napoca is decent, with a network of trolleys, buses and trams whizzing around the city from morning to night. The buses cover the entire city, with almost everything accessible via one of the three options. Tickets cost 5RON per trip and can be purchased from ticket machines at the stops or from the kiosks dotted around town.
It is almost a pleasure to be able to say this — taxis in Cluj-Napoca are friendly and surprisingly decent value! Just make sure the meter is switched on and you should find yourself on your way with no problems whatsoever. This doesn’t extend to random taxis on the street at the train station and airport, although that almost goes without saying at this point. Best to call ahead of time, as usual.
Cluj is very pedestrian-friendly, although there is still plenty of traffic moving around the city centre at alarmingly quick speeds. Zebra crossings are found all over, although they seem to take ages to turn green and then are in a hurry to revert to red. That might just be our patience getting shorter with time of course.
Bus might be the best public option for exploring the wider Transylvania region, although Cluj frustratingly doesn’t seem to have one central spot for arrivals and departure. Sure, there is the bus station on Str. Giordano Bruno, but there are just as many minibuses picking up and leaving from squares and plazas around the city. Best to decide on your destination and double-check with the tourist information centre before committing to any of them.