In between my most recent hikes with Cârța as a basecamp, I’ve made regular visits to the beautiful Saxon town of Sibiu. Last year I wrote about some places in Sibiu that I really loved, and now I can add a few to the list. Most of them involve food or books: Sibiu knows how to pamper both body and soul.
The great thing about Sibiu’s bookshops is not only that there are many and that they are well-stocked, but that most of them harbour a cafe. Habitus on Piața Mica leads you underground, allowing you to browse books and have a coffee in perfect tranquility, away from the heat and buzz of the town. Humanitas on Strada Nicolae Balcescu has a cafe in the basement as well. Erasmus has an outdoor terrace as well and has a larger selection of German books, as does Schiller on Piața Mare, which specializes in German titles. If you want to learn about the history of Saxons in Transylvania, this is where you go. You’ll find a respectable music selection in all of these stores as well.
Food & Drink
Sibiu has two charming squares – Piața Mare and Piața Mica. The unfortunate thing about squares generally though is that they tend to be infested with slightly less charming restaurants and bars. If, like me, you want to give these a wide swerve, here are some places with more originality that you can safely visit. I admit I have relied heavily on this post by The Chocolates of Life – I am eternally grateful to them for introducing my tastebuds to the best Sibiu has to offer.
Sibiu’s old centre consists of two parts: the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Head into the Lower Town and you will leave the buzz and genericness of the etablissements of the central squares behind. One discovery I was particularly happy with is Max, an Italian restaurant in the former artisan district in the Lower Town. Prices are slightly higher than in most restaurants but still very affordable, and the quality of the food more than makes up for it. They have a pretty impressive wine list too. The atmosphere is great too – it is housed in an old Saxon building and has a very cozy terrace. It is decorated tastefully and the service is impeccable. Don’t forget to go to the bathroom, where you will be soothed with birdsong coming from the speakers.
Very close to Max is Syndicat Gourmet; quite possibly the best restaurant in town. It is small and intimate; the dishes are often inspired by local recipes but the chefs have definitely given their own touch – often an Asian one. They have quite a few vegetarion options. We loved the mango soup as well as the garlic one; the pasta with curry sauce was a nice surprise. The aubergine burger was more like a melanzane than a burger and perhaps not filling enough on its own, but combined with the soup it made for a satisfying meal. The samosas were great too. I have pictures but they’re on my husband’s camera and sadly he is 2000km away from me right now, so I’ll have to add those later. For now, just use your imagination, or better still, go there!
I quite liked April Bistro too – it’s just down the stairs from behind the evangelical church. The food is decent but nothing too impressive – but the atmosphere is lovely. Great for a quiet breakfast. I’ve heard good things about La Cuptor, roughly in between Max and Syndicat – but haven’t had a chance to visit yet.
And then there is the need for seriously good coffee, or tea, every now and again. I only have one recommendation to make: go to Arhiva de Cafea și Ceai! They do everything from cold brews to coconut lattes. I found out about the latter because I went with a friend whose baby is allergic to most types of milk – but not coconut. So I was very pleased to find a place where she could actually have a good coffee without having to compromise. You’ll find it just behind Piața Mare, on Strada Arhivelor.
On the topic of allergies and diets – afterwards we had lunch at She’s Green, a lovely vegan restaurant. Unfortunately the staff was very busy when we came so couldn’t make us one of their very appealing looking juices, but we all settled for the menu of the day – broccoli soup and mushroom moussaka. Both very tasty – the latter was gone before I could take a picture of it. She’s Green is located in between Piața Mare and Strada Cetății with its impressive towers.
It isn’t hard to find affordable accommodation in Sibiu; I usually don’t book more than a few days ahead, usually through Booking.com or sometimes AirBnB. I was particularly pleased with Traditional Romanian and Traditional Saxon apartments, both run by the same owner. They were spacious, affordable, equipped with a kitchen, reasonably close to the city centre and in a quiet area.
Other gems that cannot be categorized
Here are a few other things I ran into on the streets – I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, and hope they will convince you that a visit to Sibiu is in order!
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