Updated on November 3rd, 2020
Located in the heart of Romania, Sibiu may just be one of the most romantic cities in all of Europe. It boasts a history dating back to the 12th century, gorgeous street cafes, medieval towers, museums, and a maze of narrow cobbled lanes to get lost in. If you have 48 hours you’ll be wondering what to do in Sibiu, this guide will be your best companion.
Not to mention Sibiu’s Christmas market is one of my favourite markets in Europe and tops the list for one of the best Christmas destinations. Make sure to visit Sibiu while it’s still a hidden gem, before the crowds find out about it.
It is easy to see why Forbes named Sibiu the most idyllic town to live in 2008. With only 48 hours to explore you need to make sure you have a plan otherwise you may lose hours wandering aimlessly through the beautiful streets. Not that that’s a bad thing. Read on the best sites in Sibiu.
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What to do in Sibiu in 48 hours
This small city was an unexpected highlight of my time in Eastern Europe. After loving Bucharest and Brasov I didn’t think it possible to enjoy Sibiu even more. While the last recorded population of Sibiu puts it at almost half a million people back in 2012, this city has more of a small-town feel to it. With only 48 hours to explore, it is possible to squeeze in all of the city highlights.
Day 1 in Sibiu
Begin your visit to Sibiu at Piata Mare
The Piata Mare (Big Square) is the heart of the city so it makes sense to start your day here. Most of the city hotels will be within walking distance to here and
Bonus: Are you lucky enough to be visiting Sibiu around Christmas time? If so, Sibiu has one of the best Christmas markets I have been to in all of Europe! If you haven’t booked your trip to Sibiu yet, I would highly recommend visiting in December. Make sure you check out my guide to Romania’s Christmas markets for more info and the best Christmas destinations in Europe.
Are looking for other beautiful Romanian places to visit? The town of Baile Tusnad is a winter wonderland waiting to be explored.
Get your bearings by climbing the Council Tower and Lutheran Evangelical Cathedral Tower
When you visit Sibiu, what better way to orientate yourself then climbing to the highest viewpoints? The best views can be found from the Council Tower located between Piata Mare and Piata Mica and the Lutheran Evangelical Cathedral Tower to the west of Piata Mare.
The Council Tower of Sibiu
Located over the walkway between the big and small squares of Sibiu. Having previously served as a fire watch tower you will be rewarded with views over the Old Town of the city. In order to find the entrance, a small door under the archway hides the stairway to the 7-story clock tower which spirals up around the clock’s mechanism. Entry is 2 RON (.50c USD).
This is where you will find the unobstructed views of Piata Mare and the Christmas markets.
The Lutheran Evangelical Cathedral Tower
This cathedral dominates the city with its pointed towers and gothic style architecture. In case your phone doesn’t have a light, see if you can borrow a torch. The stairway leading up to the tower is unlit and very dark with uneven steep stairs. At the top, you have a 360-degree view of the city and can see as far as the Fagaras Mountains on a clear day. Entry costs 5 RON ($1.20 USD).
Historical Fact: The four turrets which surround the cathedral’s steeple signify to medieval visitors the town’s right to sentence you to death if you are to break the law.
Enjoy a coffee in Piata Mica
In English, Piata Mica translates to the small square and is easy to backtrack to once you have climbed the Cathedral Tower. Return to Piata Mica and order a coffee in one of the little cafes with outdoor dining scattered around the square. Relax here a moment and watch the locals passing by running their daily errands.
Even in the winter months, the Piata Mica cafes have enclosed their alfresco dining spaces to limit the chill factor and added gas heating. I loved sitting ‘outside’ but feeling so warm.
Even if you aren’t feeling coffee, this is a great place to have a nice glass of regular or mulled wine – making it the perfect refresher for ticking off the best things to do in Sibiu.
See Sibiu’s famous Bridge of Lies
Exit Piata Mica to the east and see the first wrought iron bridge of Romania. While there are multiple legends behind this bridge, one in particular states the bridge has ears. If lies are being told by people crossing the bridge it will creak to deceive the untruthful. A second legend comes from the origins of the name being from the transitory vows of young lovers who would meet at the bridge.
Visit Sibiu’s Lower Town by way of Passage of Stairs
One of the iconic things about Sibiu is the steep stairways which lead from the upper to lower town. If you are after a quality medieval-themed photo head to the Passage of Stairs. The stairways are cut into the city walls and are framed by stone archways.
Have a late lunch at Old Lisbon Sibiu
Once you have strolled through the photogenic streets of the Old Town long enough to work up an appetite, stop for lunch at Old Lisbon Sibiu. This modern European restaurant has friendly service, flavourful food and affordable tasty wines. The restaurant opens at 12:00 for lunch and dinner and can be found at Târgul Peștelui nr.4.
Tip: Make sure to try their chocolate lava cake for dessert. Yum!
Visit the Sibiu Museum of Steam Locomotives
If you’re a train kinda person than this free museum is a must. Take a 15-20 minute stroll out of town until you reach the locomotive depot. The locomotives are located in the open and the grounds are lacking any sort of maintenance but it does show the history of the steam train.
Fun fact: Sibiu was the first place in Romania to have a railway
What to do in Sibiu – Day 2
reakfast at Strada Nicolae Balcescu
Start your second day wandering down Nicolae Balcescu Street. This pedestrian street winds westward from Piata Mare and is lined with cute pastel coloured building.
Choose from the many cafes for breakfast which all support alfresco dining. If visiting in the winter, you can still feel like you are sitting outside. The outdoor areas are surrounded by clear enclosures and have heating lamps and blankets to keep you warm.
Stroll through Citadel Park
When you reach the end of Strada Nicolae Balcescu pop a left at the intersection and make your way to Citadel Park. This long tiered park is built on the old city wall with elevated views over the outer suburbs of Sibiu.
See the Fortification Towers
Romania has a strong historic back story,
Marvel at the ornate Holy Trinity Church and Cathedral
This majestic interior of both of these churches is something that cannot be missed. Both are richly decorated and showcase some wonderful artwork and architecture.
Spot the houses with eyes
Another thing which makes Sibiu famous is the unique style of building. As you wander through the historic centre you may just get the feeling you are being watched. No, you’re not going crazy, take a closer look at the rooves as you pass and notice the eyes popping out. Yep, it’s true the houses in Sibiu have eyes!
Visit Brukenthal National Museum
Finally, end your second day back where you began in Piata Mare and head into the Brukenthal National Museum. This museum was first built in the late 18th Century and was home to nobleman Samuel von Brukenthal. Each year on the 24th of July Sibiu celebrates the anniversary of Brukenthal and grants free entry to visitors.
Are you looking to experience more of the Romanian countryside? Then this great 4-day Transylvanian road trip itinerary is for you.
Sibiu is well connected via the train line to take you into Hungary. We caught the train straight from here to Budapest which was a 10-hour journey – Make sure you bring snacks though as there is no food offered on the train.