Located in the centre of Romania, Sibiu county is an excellent tourist destination.
Located in the centre of Romania, in Transylvania, Sibiu county is a place where history and civilisation meet with beautiful nature, which makes for a perfect travel destination. As for the city of Sibiu, it is full of narrow streets leading to the three main squares, the Big Square, the Little Square and Huet Square, as well as to other squares on the outskirts of the city centre. Adela Dadu, a travel guide with the Sibiu County Tourist Association, tells us more:
"All roads go, first of all, to the Big Square, the city's central square. This is the heart and soul of the city and has been so for centuries. It's a large pedestrian-only square that affords visitors a beautiful view of the surrounding buildings. Sitting at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the square, the first thing visitors to the city will note are the 'eyes' in the rooftops, that is the eye-shaped dormer windows which are typical of Sibiu's architecture. We call them 'the eyes of the city'. The main square is dominated by the imposing palace of Samuel von Brukenthal which today houses Sibiu's Museum of Art. This baroque building is home to an extraordinary collection of European art, especially Flemish, and of Romanian art. Another highlight of the main square is the 20th century City Hall built in the Art Nouveau style and the 18th century Roman-Catholic Church with its late baroque architecture where services are still held. Mass here is officiated in Romanian, Hungarian and German."
2007, when Sibiu held the title of European capital of culture, was a revelation from a tourist point of view, says Adela Dadu. The local authorities realised then how well tourism can be combined with cultural activities and sports:
"The city's cultural and sports agenda has been incredibly busy. We've also learnt a lot from one year to the next. This year again the agenda was very busy every week, there have been lots of events for all tastes, from music to dance, theatre and sport. To mention just a few, these included the Sibiu Marathon and the Cycling Tour. Crowning it all is the International Theatre Festival, which is Europe's third largest festival of this kind after Edinburgh and Avignon. A festival of the performing arts, it brought together over 3,000 participants from 60 different countries. It takes place every year in June, generally in the first half, and lasts ten days, with a line-up of 70-80 different events every day, including exhibitions, concerts and street performances. Another event hosted by Sibiu is the International Jazz Festival, a festival dedicated to traditional folklore called The Songs of the Mountains, and a pottery fair."
If you have time, it's also worth visiting the surroundings of Sibiu, where there are two main tourist areas, says travel guide Adela Dadu:
"The mountain area around Făgăraș and Cindrel mountains, known as Mărginimea Sibiului, contains 18 traditional villages located at the foot of the mountains. On the other side lies the hilly area with the former Saxon villages, known as the Transylvanian Hills. Visitors to the mountain area, to Mărginime, will enjoy the still well-preserved pastoral traditions of the villages, with lots of local events held all year round, including crafts fairs, local customs and folklore. The villages of Gura Râului, Rășinari and Săliște, for example, are known for their traditions associated with the winter holidays. Mărginimea Sibiului is home to the mountain resort of Păltiniș, with its many ski slopes. The tracks at Arena Platoș and Oncești are perfect for beginners, families with children and snowboarding and will probably open in December. Different hiking routes also begin here, not just in Păltiniș, but also the other villages in the Mărginime. There are lots of hiking and biking routes and there's also a project to promote them launched last year and funded by the Sibiu County Council. The project involves re-marking and re-organising the hiking routes. Also, hikes with professional guides are organised every weekend in Sibiu county, both in the mountain and hilly area, details of which can be found on the project's Facebook page, Anii Drumeției."
The strategy of the Sibiu County Tourist Association is now focusing on ecotourism, with an ecotourism fair even being held recently, as well as on wellness tourism, with the local products holding pride of place. We asked Adela Dadu what kind of response she got from tourists themselves:
"We interact with foreign tourists every day and are pleased to see that they are pleasantly surprised. It was only a few days ago that some tourists from Canada were telling us that they regret only taking two weeks and that they would have probably needed a month to see the whole of Transylvania. Tourists appreciate the authenticity of the area, the local food, the diverse landscape, the architecture and the friendly welcome they get from the locals and the communities they visit. These are perhaps things we've grown used to, but which are unique for them. And we're naturally very pleased. It's like wind to our sails."
In the centre of Sibiu visitors will find a few places where they can rent electric bikes, which will make it easier uphill on one of the marked routes in the Transylvanian hills, including Via Transilvanica, or in the mountain area.