Finding your way
Sibiu, or at least the historic part where most of the main sights are to be found, is a compact, walkable city – indeed, some parts are restricted only to pedestrians (like Strada Nicholae Balcescu and the Large Square). Armed with a map you will soon get your bearings, and if not, the streets are all marked with their name, with some attractive street signs such as these.
And when you find something of interest, there is a good chance that there will be information about it nearby. Even the most humble of old houses has a plaque giving its age, and on more noteworthy buildings these also give further details such as the name (see photo three for an example).
Next tip: the so-called eyes of the city
Taking a taxi
Sibiu is a compact city, or at least the historical and most interesting part is very much so. But if you want to go a bit further afield you will find the taxis efficient and very reasonably priced, although the charges did seem to be a bit erratic, especially for travel to and from the airport.
When we arrived at the airport Alyson, Teresa and I caught a taxi into the centre which cost 21 LEI. We thought this very reasonable, especially shared between three, but on our return Teresa and I paid only half of that so realised we had perhaps been over-charged on our arrival. On the plus side, our lady driver was friendly and pointed out a couple of sights.
The other occasion on which we caught a taxi was to go to and from our Sunday dinner at the Golden Tulip Hotel. This was a short distance (we could have walked it in 20 minutes but were finding the heat draining) and the charge of about 5 LEI was a bargain.
You’ll find taxis at stands in key places such as the car park just south of the city walls near the Philharmonic Theatre, or like us you can ask your hotel to call one for you. On both occasions when we did this we only waited a minute or so. Note that if you’re in part of the pedestrianised area you will have to walk a short distance to a place where the driver can pick you up.
Next tip: my stay at the Imperatul Romanilor
Flying to Sibiu
There are no direct flights from London to Sibiu, but that doesn't mean that it is difficult to get to. There are several options, and I chose to fly with Lufthansa via Munich, as the timings suited me best and I could fly from my nearest airport, London Heathrow.
Three weeks previously I had been at Heathrow Airport to catch a plane to Ancona in Italy, and on this occasion to Sibiu in Romania. But both journeys started the same way, with a Lufthansa flight to Munich. As before the flight was good and uneventful, and we were served with a drink and light breakfast (a cheese and ham hot roll). I arrived in Munich on time and with two hours before the flight to Sibiu - enough for a leisurely coffee before meeting up with fellow travellers Alyson and Teresa.
The flight to Sibiu also passed smoothly and again we were served with a drink and small snack – this time, apple cake. As we came into land I got my first look at the scenery around the town, which seemed very pretty - forested hills and small red-roofed villages, each with a church at its centre.
The airport in Sibiu is very small so we were soon through customs. I changed some money at the efficient ATM machine and we then caught a taxi into the centre. It was quite a short ride, and as we went our friendly lady driver pointed out a couple of sights. We were dropped off in the Small Square and walked a short distance from there to the hotel, as the area around it is pedestrianised.
My return flight allowed me much less time to connect at Munich. I had gambled on the Sibiu flight being on time but storms meant that it took slightly longer than scheduled, and I had to run to make my flight. Another time I would choose a later flight rather than have such a rush.
Next tip: Taking a taxi
AIR CANADA / LUFTHANSA
When looking for a flight to Sibiu to attend the 9th annual VT Meet, we were told by our organizer Codrutz that there was good connections from Munich, Germany. So that's what we did. We booked AIR CANADA / LUFTHANSA leaving Sunday, June 16 and returning Thursday June 27 - Toronto - Munich - Sibiu. The price was $1,189.46 CDN each.and we booked through EXPEDIA.
Our departure from Toronto was delayed for almost two hours as there was a maintenance problem with the bathrooms. But overall the flight was good and the meals just OK.
Really liked Munich Airport which is very user friendly. Some good restaurants and a "Comfort Lounge" where you can sit and put your feet up.
The flight from Munich to Sibiu was with Lufthansa CityLine and that was good and very short - one hour & 45 minutes.
We arrived in Sibiu Monday, June 17 around 5:00 p.m. After collecting our luggage, we walked outside the airport and got a "Yellow Taxi". As I didn't have any Romanian currency yet, I offered the driver 5 Euros to take us to our hotel. He was OK with that as it was more than if the meter was on.
On the return to Sibiu Airport, the Hotel called a taxi for us. The taxi picked us up just behind the hotel, as the main street is pedestrianized. The fare came to 12 lei or about $4.00 CDN.
Travelling to and from Sibiu by train.
Sibiu is served by quite a few trains from other parts of Romania aswell as having one daily train to and from Budapest.
When i left Sibiu i took the Budapest train but decided to travel only to Arad in northern Romania where i stayed the night.
The Budapest train left in the morning and it was a very nice train with comfortable seats and a nice little dining car where i sat for a while for a coffee and a read in my book.
Sibiu has several trains a day to Bucharest so if you are coming from that direction then connecting by train should be quite easy.
The train station in Sibiu is just outside the old part of town andfrom the main square it should take you around 15 minutes to walk there.
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Sibiu by Bike
Cycling to the Sibiu Village Museum (Astra Museum) was, without a doubt, the highlight of our recent two days trip for the annual International Theatre Festival Which takes place in Sibiu.
Though not entirely bikers-friendly, the city provides good routes to certain sightseeing musts: to the Village Museum, around the old fortress and in the pedestrian city center.
About our adventure:
We rented bikes from Kultours (situated in 16 Piata Mica, within the Casa Louxembourg Hotel) for a whole day for about RON 35 (aprox. 8,5 euros). The lady there was kind enough to give us a map and show us the route to the museum: basically, you need to reach the Subarini Park, cross it and then follow the bikers path. This leaves you about 300m away from the museum entrance (it is situated at the exit from the city).
It shouldn't take you more than 45 min to get there (slow pace).
I advise you to call in advance for bookings.
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Getting to the ASTRA outdoor museum.
The ASTRA museum is an absolute must-see if you are visiting Sibiu, imo. It lies just outside the city, on the edge of the Dumbrava forest. There used to be a tram service (you can still se the line) but now there's only the bus.
Take bus 13 (timetables on the link below). It starts from, and terminates at, Sibiu railway station. You'll see the bus stop to the right of the station entrance. The bus stops at a cople of other places in central Sibiu, including on Boulavardul Corneliu Coposu and Strada Andrei Saguna, but getting on at the station means you are much more likely to get a seat. The journey takes around 30 minutes and Sibiu buses don't have many eats inside.
You can get your tickets from the machines (English language options) at the railway station bus stop. There may be machines at the other stops as well, I didn't look. Make sure that you buy two tickets, because there is no ticket machine at the museum itself. And also make sure you validate your ticket when you board using the stamp inside the bus (put the ticket in upside-down).
You can't miss the museum stop because the bu pulls off the main road and comes to a halt by the entrance building. It's very obvious.
The journey itself is interesting as it takes you through some of Sibiu's suburbs and past a very large cemetery, so the bus can get quite crowded at times as local people get on and off.
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I only used the local buses for my trip to and from the wonderful ASTRA outdoor museum.
It seems you need to buy tickets from a machine, not from drivers, though I can't be 100% sure about this...there is no ticket machine at the museum complex. I saw plenty of ticket machines at bus stops on my way to and from the museum but it still might be a good idea to buy two tickets at once, one for the outward journey and one for the return.
The ticket machines outside the railway station, where I began my journey, accepted lei (plasticised notes must make machines much happier, I think) and gave me my two tickets.
Experience in other European countries meant I looked around when I got on the bus to see if there were validation (date-stamp) machines and, seeing someone else using them, I tried. And failed miserably the first time. The validation machines are, quite literally, just a stamp. You have to put your ticket in upside-down, so the full stamp number can appear on the blank side. I put mine in with the printed side upwards, so the stamp was partly lost. A helpful local managed to sort me out.
As far as I could tell, tickets are a flat fare of 3 lei (around 0.60GBP, 0.68 euro).
The buses I took were not particularly new (and had obviously once been smoking buses...perhaps they still are, for I saw no non-smoking signs?) but they did the job perfectly well. And using local buses is an excellent way of getting to know a place......
You can find bus timetables and route info in Romanian on the Tursib website below, under 'Trasee'.
For longer journeys, e.g. out to the surrounding villages, you need to look at the Transmixt website http://www.autogara.transmixt.ro/ The Transmixt bus station is next to Sibiu's railway station.
- Family Travel
Sibiu airport: small but pleasant....
Sibiu airport is really very tiny, with only a very few arrivals and departures each day (Tarom, Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa).
There's just one terminal. Landside there are a couple of small cafe/bars (one of which has outside tables, which is nice) and a newsagent. Airside, there's a small bar, an even smaller 'shop' and a duty-free. All staff have at least good-enough English, which is helpful.
There is no currency exchange facility at the airport but there is an ATM and a machine which accepts euro notes (and possibly others). Unfortunately, that machine was out of service when I arrived (around 1900 on a Saturday). As I prefer not to use ATMs when abroad I was pleased that I'd obtained some lei before leaving home, although there are plenty of exchange offices in Sibiu itself, some of which remain open well into the evening.
There are two border control booths (Romania is not in the Schengen zone) and it took me quite a while to get through, because several of the passengers on my flight of 50 or so seemed to be having issues with their ID cards or passports. In the end, I changed lines and...surprisingly...it actually worked and I got through more quickly. While I was waiting it was reassuring to watch my bag making its way round and round the conveyor belt. :-)
Security was quick, efficient and very polite. It's really not worth going through more than 30-45 minutes before boarding. There's nothing to do and when I was there the departure lounge was hot and stuffy.
One of the oddest things about the airport is that you have to be bussed from the plane to the terminal and vice versa. The journey lasted exactly 10 seconds (I timed it).
This is a nice little airport, clean and friendly. Just don't get there too early ...you'll be even more bored than you usually are at airports, even though there are lovely views of the surrounding hills and mountains. :-)
- Family Travel
Getting to Sibiu by plane
Direct flights to Sibiu are from Munich (Lufthansa) and Vienna (Austrian). Two more direct links are from Madrid and Stuttgart, with the Romanian low-cost airline Blue Air.
One stop flights can be made trough Bucharest and Timisoara.
Flying direct to Bucharest is easy from almost every European capital plus Tel Aviv, Moscow, Istanbul, Kiev, Chisinau, Doha, Dubai - then to Sibiu with Tarom (Romanian national airline)
Flying direct to Timisoara is available with Carpatair (private Romanian airline) from cities in Italy, Germany, Ukraine and Moldova - then to Sibiu with Carpatair.
For finding a route from your city (or close airport) I recommend using www.kayak.com or www.skyscanner.com or the Tarom webpage
Bucharest-Sibiu by bus
For this trip, we decided to use the bus instead of the train for two reasons: it's cheaper and the timetable suited better for our plans.
We took the Dacos bus from Militari Bus Station situated on 141 Iuliu Maniu Bvd. You can reach it by subway (Pacii Station) or by busses 61, 62, 136, 137, 150, 236, 421.
Bookings: Make sure you book you seat in advance by calling one of the numbers below (opperating daiy between 7:00 and 23:00) and that you arrive at the station 30 min before your scheduled departure so as to pay for your ticket in the small building situated at the entrance in the Bus Station. If you don't pay 15 mins before departure, you lose your booking. Ask about "Bilete Dacos".
Supposedly, you can also book your ticket via their website but I haven't used this system.
Prices: we were lucky and found a special offer: RON 30 (approx. EUR 7,5) for a one way ticket but I understand the normal price is of RON 48 (EUR 12) for one way and RON 86 (EUR 22) for a round trip.
Schedule (for direct routes):
(Departure from Bucharest - Arrival Sibiu):
09:00 - 14:18
12:00 - 17:18
13:45 - 19:13
Arrival: the bus will drop you at Q7 Bus Stop: 5A Scoala de Inot Str.
- Budget Travel
Walk in Sibiu
You shouldn't worry about transportation in Sibiu as all points of interests are in walking distance. Choose a hotel in walking distance of Piata Mare (see my accommodation tips) and you not need public transport.
Further away is only the Astra Romanian Folk Civilization Museum for which you need to take a taxi (as they are around 5km from city center) - estimated ride cost is RON 30 (2x15) that is about €7 (2x3,5).
Also the only 5* hotel - the Hilton - is located in Dumbrava forest some 5 km from city center and for which you have to take a taxi.
Airport taxis (and airport buses).
Interesting experience. Arriving on the last plane of the day I found that there was only one taxi waiting outside (the others, presumably, snapped up by fellow travellers). A very pleasant woman driver with adequate English waved me over and, when asked, told me the fare would be 5 euro or so.
I knew this was a bit of a rip-off, not least because the fare should legally be paid in lei, but I also didn't want to hang around the airport. I felt quite confident that I would give her 5 euro (a fair-enough price, imo) and pay not a penny more, regardless.
She drove like a bat out of hell, quite the most 'interesting' taxi ride I've ever had, but after 10 minutes or so we arrived safely as near to my hotel as was feasible. I said 'That'll be 5 euro then....' and she, rather disgruntled, agreed without argument.
So that was fine.
On my return to the airport the hotel booked a taxi for me. It cost 12.84 lei (around 3 euro) so my 'bit of a rip-off' idea was correct.
But it was only a bit of a rip-off and I was happy enough to pay the extra 2 euro to get from airport to hotel easily and quickly .
Whilst hanging around the airport on my way home i noticed a phone outside with a helpful list of taxi numbers and the drivers' names. Useful to know if there are no taxis left when you arrive, especially if you are on the last lane of the day.
The airport is served by buses...lines 11, 112, 116, 117 and 118, according to the airport website...but you'll need lei to use the machine by the bus stop to buy bus tickets.
You can check timetables on the official Sibiu bus website http://www.tursib.ro/ under 'Trasee'.
- Family Travel
Autonom car rental - highly recommended
We rented a car at Sibiu airport from Autonom, which seems to be Romania's main car rental company. The car was booked through rentalcars.com (our usual site Europecar doesn't cover Sibiu), where Autonom vehicles are consistently the cheapest or among the cheapest of their type.
The car we chose was the most basic, and we were happy to find that this was a brand new VW Polo. The Autonom staff - which at Sibiu airport seems to consist of men in their 20s - are incredibly thorough and helpful. They checked the car in more detail than I've seen before, including checking off the spare tyre and first aid kit. The car itself had a detailed map of Romania, something I've not seen in a hire car before and something that is essential in this part of the world.
The service was excellent - the chap who left us the car even drove into the city centre to show us where to park for our hotel, despite being off duty and giving a lift to friends by that point. Dropping the car off again was just as easy.
Be aware that Autonom will come to meet you if your flight arrives after the counter closes, so choose your arrival time carefully. Our flight was due to land at around ten in the evening, but was early and without checked luggage we ended up waiting a while.
By the way, the car was great - over four days we drove from Sibiu down the Transfagarasan Highway, then up to Micolsoara near Brasov, across to Sighisoara and Biertan and finally back to Sibiu. We spent just £40 on petrol and filled up only when we were heading to the airport.
By train from Sibiu to Sighisoara
There are 3 direct trains per day from Sibiu to Sighisoara (7.30, 12.06 and 19.35), 2.30 hours, you buy the tickets for these trains from the conductor in the train. There are also some more train connetions with a change in Copsa Mica.
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