Situated in the heart of Transylvania, Sibiu is a charming medieval town sure to leave a lasting memory if you decide to visit it. And there is no reason not to, as its excellent position gives you easy access to some of Romania’s most sought-after attractions, such as the UNESCO town Sighisoara or the famous Transfagarasan Road.
A cultural hub in itself, Sibiu is worthy of its title as former European Capital of Culture that was earned in 2007. It hosts annual events of international reputation, it delights visitors with its rich Saxon history and beautiful architecture and it is one of the most up and coming gastronomic centers in the country.
Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Sibiu if you want to have an authentic experience:
Explore the historic center
The Old Town of Sibiu oozes charm through every narrow alley or tight passage. Made up of two main plazas (The Big Square and the Small Square) and an intricate network of walkways, it is easy to explore on foot as cars are almost entirely not allowed. It is surrounded by old fortification walls and towers, which separate it from the less-touristy part of the city.
Begin your exploratory walk in the center of the Big Square, from where you can admire the recently renovated houses dating from the 15th to 17th centuries. If you pay attention, you’ll be able to sport “the Sibiu eyes”, some little openings in the roofs of the houses, unique to Sibiu.
As you walk under the Council Tower, you’ll enter the Small Square, a delightful space with colorful houses, inviting cafes and the main symbol of the town, the Bridge of Lies. It is the first cast iron structure in Romania, built in 1859, but it is more famous for its legend – it is said that the bridge collapses under the one who tells a lie.
From there you can cross into Huet Square and keep exploring the Lower Town or walk towards Nicolae Balcescu street, which is the main promenade and it’s lined up with stores and restaurants.
Learn about the traditional way of life at the Open Air Village Museum
The biggest open-air museum in Romania, this place will offer you countless opportunities to learn about the traditional way of life in a Romanian village. You’ll see examples of rural architecture and find out about the traditional occupations still practiced around the country.
During the high season, the complex organizes all kinds of cultural events and you can even go boating on the lake. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Sibiu for an authentic experience!
Visit a diversity of religious landmarks
Historically, Sibiu used to be home to a diverse mix of communities: Saxons, Hungarians, and Romanians, each group have a different culture and religion. Interestingly, their respective places of worship are all within walking distance from one another in Sibiu.
You can visit the Catholic Basilica, located in the Big Square, the Orthodox Cathedral, with its characteristic murals and frescoes covering the wall, the Jewish Synagogue, located right outside the Old Town and the impressive Gothic Lutheran Cathedral. The latter is currently under renovation, but you can still climb to the top of its 60-meter steeple and enjoy the beautiful views of Sibiu.
Learn about art at the Brukenthal Museum
Found right in the Big Square, it is the oldest museum in the country and the largest in Southeast Europe. Built in a Baroque style, it initially belonged to Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, the Austrian governor of Transylvania in the 18th century. Currently it hosts the largest art collection in Transylvania. Along with paintings from the 15-18th centuries, made by masters from Western Europe and some Romanian creations of the 19-20th centuries, there is a valuable collection of oriental furniture and carpets.
Discover the traditional gastronomy from Marginimea Sibiului
The area surrounding Sibiu is known for its savory food! In 2019, Sibiu even held the name of European Region of Gastronomy, so exploring the local restaurants and taverns is on our list of best things to do in Sibiu for an authentic experience.
Besides the well-kept Saxon and Romanian recipes, what makes the local gastronomy attractive is that a large part of the ingredients used in the cooking process are locally-sourced. They are fresh, high quality and have an authentic taste.
We recommend you to try bulz, it is a local adaptation of the traditional mamaliga (polenta), apple soup, a Saxon recipe made with apples, lemon juice and sour cream or tocanita de oaie, is a stew made of lamb meat cooked in a cauldron.
Climb the Council Tower for a panoramic view of Sibiu
The Council Tower dates back to the late 1500s and is located between the two important squares of Sibiu. From the top of the tower, from the seventh floor, you can admire a beautiful panorama over the entire city.
You can even spot and photograph the colored tiled rooftop of the Gothic Cathedral!
Explore the local markets and fairs
There is no better way to get a feel of the city than go to a local market! Just as you get outside of the Old Town you’ll encounter a daily market where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables and observe the locals. Besides this, there are weekly markets with organic products or, once in a while, fairs where craftsmen from around the area come and present their products.
Buy local souvenirs
The Lower Town is the place to go to if you want to go back home with an authentic souvenir! Here, local craftsmen and manufacturers gathered and opened their stores. There are plenty of wonderful gift options, from handmade magnets to jewelry pieces, quirky clothes or house decoration items.
Take part in one of Sibiu’s fascinating events
Sibiu hosts a large variety of important events, both local and international. We recommend you to check out The International Theater Festival, the Jazz Festival or the Sibiu International Film Festival if you are in the city while they happen. Another not-to-be-missed event is the Christmas Market, usually organized from November to early January. In winter, Sibiu transforms into a magical place, with beautiful decorations lighting up the main Squares, mulled wine, local foods, traditional crafts and joyous carol concerts.
Take postcard-like pictures
If you are into photography, Sibiu is for you! As you explore the city, you’ll find plenty of photogenic attractions. Besides the already-famous ones, you can venture on quieter streets and admire the beautifully preserved houses. There are many hidden spots, intricate alleys and little gems to be found and that’s the authentic feeling of Sibiu.
These are the best things to do in Sibiu for an authentic experience. If you want to get more of a local’s perspective, join one of our tours. Sibiu is included as a destination in our Late Autumn Colors Photo Tour of Romania, our Spring Photo Tour in Transylvania and our Best of Romania Photo Holiday . Or we can organize a private tour just for you!