Updated: April 2018
During my trip to Romania I spent a lot of time looking for unique small towns that I could visit.
One of the towns that kept coming up was the small Romanian town of Sibiu. Before coming across it online I had never heard of Sibiu before and no one had ever recommended it.
It turns out that Sibiu is a wonderful place to visit and one of the most beautiful small towns in Romania (in my opinion at least).
Back in 2008 the town was voted the 8th most idyllic place to live by Forbes Magazine and it’s easy to see why once you spend some time here.
The quiet yet well preserved Sibiu Old Town is picturesque and features prime examples of Romanian architecture. Wherever you go you’ll be welcomed by the seemingly endless number of colorful houses lining the medieval streets throughout the town center.
Since the 12th-century Sibiu has grown into a small yet developed urban center with a historic charm and touristic appeal. From open squares and city walls to Medieval architecture and historic churches this really is somewhere you need to visit when you’re in Romania.
Unfortunately, I was only able to spend one night in the town so I only got a small taste of all the best things to do in Sibiu. Nonetheless, I wanted to put together this helpful guide so that you can make the most of your visit to this beautiful small town.
The Best Things to do in Sibiu During Your Visit
Start From Piata Mare (The Big Square)
The best place to start exploring the historic center of Sibiu is from the wide open space of Piata Mare, otherwise known as the Big Square.
This has been the town square since the 15th century and represents the medieval center and marketplace. Today the square is lined with small shops and restaurants along with a number of government and administrative buildings.
The square is home to many of the cultural events in Sibiu such as concerts, festivals, protests, and markets.
One of the most culturally important buildings lighting the square is the Brukenthal Palace. This was used as the main residence for the governor of Transylvania at the time and is one of the most impressive historic private residences in the country.
Believe it or not Piata Mare is one of the biggest squares in Transylvania making it a perfect place to start exploring from!
Climb Up Council Tower for a Great View
At one end of the Piata Mare is the white Council Tower.
This tower dates back to the late 16th century and from the top is where you’ll find the best view of the town down below.
Keep in mind that there will be limited tower access during the winter months. During the summer I recommend visiting earlier in the day to avoid the lines.
It’s hard to miss the Council Tower when you’re exploring the Old Town area. You can find it in a passageway between Piata Mare and Piata Mica but you’ll be able to see it from many vantage points throughout the town.
For a different view you can climb up to the top of the Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral. This is a suitable alternative if the lineup for the Council Tower is too long or if the lookout is closed.
Wander Around the Piata Mica
Right beside the Big Square is where you’ll find the Small Square, locally known as Piata Mica.
This was one of my favorite places in the city. The architecture and buildings lining the square are picturesque with the cafes and small restaurants rewarding visitors with amazing views of the surrounding scenery.
At the other end of the square is the Bridge of Lies and from here you can continue exploring some of the other areas of the Old Town. Throughout the year smaller events and festivals are held in this Square.
During the warmer summer months the square is buzzing with crowds of people enjoying themselves at the many small cafes and restaurants that you’ll find here.
Look For the Houses with Eyes
One of the more unique tourist attractions in Sibiu are all of the houses with eyes. You might have noticed them while you were wondering around. If not, you’ll start seeing them everywhere now that I’ve pointed it out.
These weren’t originally designed to look like eyes. In fact, what you’re looking at are the ventilation windows that help to circulate air in the attics of these historic buildings.
Over the years people would see these “eyes” looking down on them and this is left a bad feeling on the locals. Many people started to believe that they were being watched so there is a mixed opinion about the famous “Sibiu eyes”.
Now that you know what to look for you’re going to be seeing these eyes everywhere. For the most part they’re not very interesting or picturesque. Sometimes though, they’ll line up perfectly for an amazing photo!
Explore the Lower Town
The Upper Town area of Sibu is where you’ll find all of the main tourist attractions and other popular things to do.
To escape the crowds and explore somewhere off the beaten path I recommend venturing into the Lower Town. This part of the town is easily accessible from the number of stairs and passageways that connect the two parts.
There are prime opportunities for photos in these passages and stairways. Don’t forget to keep turning around when you’re wondering through the Lower Town. The skyline looming up behind you looks rather interesting in certain areas.
Many people believe the Upper Town area is the most historic. In fact, the oldest areas of Sibiu can be found in the Lower Town. Today it’s a mostly residential area. In the past the cobblestone streets would have been alive with activity.
What I love most about the Lower Town are all of the colorful houses, hidden alleyways, and small squares that you can find when you’re exploring. This is a residential area for the most part so be respectful with what you’re taking photos of.
Admire the Churches and Cathedrals
One thing you’re bound to notice in Sibiu are all of the different churches and cathedrals. The town was a crossroads for various peoples over the years. This has resulted in a melting pot of religion and culture in the region.
Many people find that the Catholic Basilica located in the Piata Mare is the most impressive religious landmark in the town. From the outside it boasts a minimal appearance but the inside is simply breathtaking.
Different cultures and groups of people have come together over the years to leave their own mark on the Basilica here as well as the other religious buildings in Sibiu.
You won’t have to walk very far before you come across places of worship built either by the Hungarians, Romanians, or Saxons.
Most Churches, Cathedrals, and Basilica’s are free to enter giving you the chance to see the beautiful interior design that these buildings typically feature. Even if you’re not religious many of these religious landmarks are still worth checking out.
Enjoy a Local Romanian Snack
As you’re wondering around the Old Town don’t hesitate to stop and grab one of the Romanian pretzels available from the vendors.
These are known locally as “covrigi” and are popular with both locals and visitors.
Don’t expect a western-style of pretzel. Instead what you’ll get is a small, soft, and delicious loaf of rolled bread. You could compare it to a bagel but it’s rather unique in its form and appearance.
The covrigi are going to be the most fresh and readily available in the morning. Make sure to grab one for breakfast or for a quick snack while you’re wondering around
Stop by the Pharmacy Museum
The Pharmacy Museum in Sibiu features two small rooms that are loaded to the top with Pharmaceutical exhibits and artifacts.
For the most part I wouldn’t recommend visiting but if it’s raining or if you’re personally interested in weird history then the Pharmacy Museum could be an interesting place to check out.
It reminds me of the Museum of Broken Relationships – one of the quirky things to do in Ljubljana.
The museum is easy to find. It’s located in the corner of Piata Mica just a short walk from the main square.
Hop On the Bridge of Lies
If you ask any Romanian what they know about Sibiu they’re going to tell you about the Bridges of Lies.
There is a famous local legend behind this bridge. The way it goes is that the bridge knows when you’re being untruthful while you’re standing on it. It’s said that the bridge will creek and make weird noises when you’re lying.
I can’t say for sure whether or not the Bridge of Lies is accurate at lie detecting. Apart from that, the bridge offers an amazing opportunity for photos and provides a great view of the Council Tower and Piata Mica
Where to Stay in Sibiu
Depending on your budget and travel preferences there are a number of different hotels in Sibiu for you to choose from.
The best place to stay if you’re using public transportation to get around is in the medieval city center. Those are you arriving with your own rental car will wants to stay outside of the center for better parking options.
During my trip I spent the night at the Hotel ibis Sibiu Centre. From this hotel it was a 5-minute walk to the Old Town Square. There was free parking and easy access to the highway – perfect since I arrived with my own rental car.
Along with a great location I found that the rooms were clean, well- equipped for a short-term stay, and great value for the price. Take a look at the Hotel ibis Sibiu Centre if you’re looking for somewhere affordable close to the city centre.
Alternatively, I recommend checking out some of the apartments on AirBnb. There are a number of different options with a great location, especially if you’re traveling on a budget.
If you haven’t already head over AirBnb and get signed up. You get a discount on your first trip if you sign up through my link.
How to Get to Sibiu
For the most part Sibiu is easily accessible by car and public transportation.
There is an extensive highway system in Romania. Renting a car (check out my post on renting with Autonom) is the best way to explore the country and makes it easy to give between the different cities and small towns.
Taking the train from Bucharest would be your best bet. The direct journey takes around 6 hours and there are a number of different ticket classes available to choose from.
From Brasov there are direct trains every day that take approximately 2.5 hours one way. It’s possible to connect with Cluj-Napoca and Sighisoara depending on where you’re traveling to next.
Over the past few years a number of low-cost airlines have started running flights into the Sibiu Airport. Now it’s possible to connect from Rome, Vienna, and Munich with new cities being added on a regular basis.