Sibiu is another absolutely stunning Romanian city with plenty of medieval history. It is located in central Romania, just a 2 hour drive from Brasov. In fact, in 2007, Sibiu was named European Capital of Culture of the year. The houses here are a beautiful array of colors and the streets are lined with cobblestones. What is also wonderful about the location is that you can stay in Sibiu at night, the bigger city in the area, and travel to other nearby villages during the day – there are so many small villages the encircle Sibiu that are easy to drive to. This makes Sibiu a wonderful travel destination to use as your home-base for a week or more, then drive out to the smaller sites during the day. Below are some of the best places in and around Sibiu that we would highly recommend visiting!
Visit the Ice Hotel
Every winter since 2005 the Balea Ice Hotel has been built. The entire hotel is made of ice, even the beds and furniture. Every winter the craftsmen bring blocks of ice from the nearby lake to create this hotel. The temperature inside the hotel stays right around freezing, but they have plenty of sleeping bags and blankets to keep you warm! The only way to get here is by car, and the rest of civilization is quite far away. But there is a wonderful restaurant on site that serves drinks in glasses made out of ice (of course!).
Radu Stancu State Theatre
This Theatre was built in 1949 and serves as an artistic center for the city. It plays many shows every week, most of which are in Romanian, but they also put on some English productions too, so check out the schedule to see what is playing when you visit. Also, even if you do not speak Romanian does not mean that you cannot enjoy and appreciate a show that is in Romanian. When it comes to singing and acting and portraying emotions, there is so much that you can observe even if you don’t know a single word in Romanian. Plus, shows are normally only $4.50 USD, so if you are into live performances we would highly recommend going out here!
The Sibiu Jazz Festival
The Jazz Festival lasts for a week every May. It has been a tradition since 1970 and over 20 bands and groups play every year. The best part is, the whole event is free! If you are planning on visiting during the Jazz Festival, just be sure to book accommodations in advance, especially if you are trying to travel on a budget – even though the city will not run out of capacity during this week, hotel prices will likely go up during this week as the event approaches.
The Open Air Museum, ASTRA
The full name is Muzeul Civilizatiei Populare Traditionale, this is a traditional open-air folk museum and one of the biggest in all of Europe. There a many traditional village houses that you can walk inside. In this museum, you really get a sense of what it was like to live in Romania before it was modernized. It allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and gives you a sense of serenity. One piece of advice though is to not visit on a Monday. On Mondays, the price is the same as every other day, but most of the homes in the museum are closed, so you won’t get the full experience if you go on a Monday.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is a Roman Orthodox Cathedral built in 1904. It was built in Byzantine Revival style, featuring red and yellow bricks for the exterior and beautiful neo-Byzantine paintings by Iosif Keber on the interior. The Cathedral is an absolutely beautiful piece of artistry and definitely worth a visit!
St Ursuline Church
This is another church in Sibiu, this one is Roman Catholic. It was built in various stages between the 1400s and the 1700s. Construction was started by the Dominicans in 1474, but when they left in 1543 they were replaced by the confessionists. 200 years later, in 1755 the Ursuline Sisters received the edifice. It was during this time that the building was renovated into a baroque style church. The Sisters turned the church into a nunnery, and it stayed a nunnery until 1949. The church features a beautiful mix of architectural styles, so it is quite an interesting building to visit!
The Bridge of Lies
What an interesting name for a bridge, right?! The Bridge of Lies is an iron bridge built in 1859. The exact origin of its nickname is unknown, so when you get to Sibiu you will have to ask the locals for their version of the story! The two most popular stories revolve around tricky merchants who met here or young lovers who swore to each other they would be lovers for life. What is fun about this bridge though is that it creaks if you tell a lie on it, go test it out!
The Pharmacy Museum
This museum lies on the spot where Sibiu’s first documented apothecary stood. The museum has a lot of information on the herb-scented history of medicine and has a collection that includes over 6600 articles such as mortars and pestles pills, powders, microscopes, surgical kits and so much more. If you have even just a passing interest in medicine and how it can help the body, this is a really interesting place to visit!
Sibiu is a city with a lot of history and old architecture, so when you walk down the streets it really feels like you are walking back in time. If you are looking for an old European city to visit that has plenty to do, Sibiu is the place for you!