Did you ever plan to travel to Sibiu in winter and you’re not sure about what to do or see in the cold season? We have assembled together some pieces of useful hints to help you plan your dream holiday in Sibiu, in the cold season.
- Why visit Sibiu in winter?
- Visit Sibiu’s Christmas Market
- Try some winter activities in the Carpathian Mountains near Sibiu
- Experience a sleigh ride in the Astra Museum
- Attend a Christmas Carols concert
- Visit the Ice Hotel on the Transfagarasan
- Pamper yourself at the spa
- Visit a local distilery
- Watch the parade of traditional costumes in Săliște, near Sibiu
- Explore Transylvania from Sibiu
1. Why visit Sibiu in winter?
There are a few good reasons.
First, it can be cheaper than in the summertime. The accommodation and the flights to Sibiu. With a few conditions. Book the flights in advance and avoid some specific periods in December, when Romanians are travelling more than usual. So, in order to benefit from the best deals for accommodation, you should avoid coming to Sibiu on November 30 – December 1st (2 national holidays in Romania), Christmas (December 24 to 26) or New Year Eve (December 31 – January 2nd). Also, the prices in midweek are better than during weekends.
Second, it is not that crowded. For example, there are chances that you will be the only person visiting Corvin Castle, on Monday, during the opening hours. That will be a great opportunity to take some great pictures, with no one around.
2. Visit Sibiu’s Christmans Market
The Christmas Fair in Sibiu can easily compete with similar fairs in Western Europe. It has everything a Christmas market needs: festively decorated wooden stalls where you can find all the seasonal goodies, a huge, multicoloured Christmas tree (synthetic, not a natural Christmas tree – we are eco-friendly), an ice rink, a Ferris wheel. For children and not only, there is also a small train that runs through the streets of the old town.
But what makes the Sibiu Christmas Fair different is the setting: the main square of Sibiu, with its baroque and art-nouveau houses and palaces that are lit with an enchanting winter background. And let’s not forget the eyes of Sibiu, the skylights on the roofs of the buildings in the old town, which have the shape of sleepy eyes. They are so popular that they have become a kind of emblem of the city.
3. Try some winter activities in the Carpathian Mountains near Sibiu
The mountains are very close to Sibiu. After a 30-minute car ride, you can reach the Păltiniș ski resort, one of the oldest mountain resorts in Romania, founded in the 19th century by SKV (Transylvanian Carpathian Tourist Association). If you enjoy skiing, there are several slopes there for both beginners and advanced skiers. If you don’t like to ski so much, you can try hiking or snowshoeing on the trails around the resort.
4. Experience a sleigh ride in the Astra Museum
The Astra Museum is one o the biggest open-air museums in Europe. Located in the heart of Dumbrava forest, just a few minutes from Sibiu, the museum hosts a comprehensive exhibition of rural architecture. There are more than 400 houses, household annexes and technical installations to be seen in the museum. A complete visit takes almost half a day, but for visitors with little time available, there is the option to discover the museum from a horse-driven cart. In winter, when it is enough snow, the cart can be replaced by a sleigh, for a more authentic winter experience.
5. Attend a Christmas Carols concert
There is no better way to feel the spirit of Christmas than to attend a carol concert. In the period before Christmas, several concerts are organized in the churches in Sibiu. It can be the Orthodox Cathedral, on Mitrolopoliei Street, the Lutheran Cathedral in Huet Square or the Catholic Church, on the main square. Similar concerts are held at the Christmas Fair or at various pubs in the old town. Just check the official Sibiu app to find the concert schedule.
6. Visit the Ice Hotel on the Transfagarasan
Every winter, in the Fagaras mountains, at an altitude of 2000 meters, a hotel is built. It consists of blocks of ice, cut from the frozen lake Balea. The position of the hotel is close to the Transfagarasan road, but in winter the mountain highway is closed and difficult to see under the thick layer of snow. Those who want to visit the Ice Hotel must drive on the Transfăgărășan road up to 1200 meters altitude, and from there they must take the cable car (here the road authorities close the road). The hotel operates like a real one, with rooms for rent on major reservation systems. However, I recommend booking one night, just for the experience. The temperature is just below zero and, although thick blankets are available, the comfort is not like in a normal hotel. For tourists who can’t stand a night at the ice hotel, there is also the possibility to book a room at one of the nearby mountain chalets.
For people willing just to visit the ice hotel, there is that possibility, for an entrance fee. Inside the hotel, there is an ice bar and no one complained so far that the beer wasn’t cold enough.
7. Pamper yourself at the spa
When is cold outside, a sauna and a swimming pool are looking very tempting. And in Sibiu, luckily, there are a few options regarding spa activities. First, I would recommend trying the newly refurbished public bath. The building, opened for the public in 1904, is a mixture of baroque shapes with late 19th – early 20th century Jugendstil elements and is the city’s most representative building for that architectural style. In terms of architectonic structure, The Public Bath is Sibiu is an almost faithful copy of the Müller Bath in Munich, as it is the work of the same architect. A spa and wellness center, the Public Bath in Sibiu has a swimming pool, dry sauna, wet sauna, salt room, warm-water and cold-water pools, gym, a room for various activities (Pilates, yoga, etc.). It offers also diverse spa therapies for relaxation and health: classic massage, in-depth massage, water-massage bed, automatic jade stone massage.
The Public Bath is very closed to the Old Town, at number 2 on Andrei Saguna street.
8. Watch the parade of traditional costumes in Săliște, near Sibiu
Every year, after Christmas, usually on December 28th, the young people from the mountain villages near Sibiu (the area is called Mărginimea Sibiului) display with pride their folk costumes with the specificities of the town or village of origin. They are called Juni (the youngs) and they meet to compete in a contest of traditional songs and dances. The parade takes place in the centre of Saliste, a small town located just 20 minutes drive from Sibiu.
9. Visit a local distilery
In winter season, one of the methods used by the Romanians to warm their body is to drink a shot of the local plum brandy: palinca. It’s a strong liquor (around 55 degrees) and has the capacity to instantly heat your body temperature (at least this is the feeling). We know a local distillery, located in one of the villages near Sibiu. We can visit it and our host can wait for us with an assortment of their brandy and fruits liqueurs (like the raspery liqueur or the blueberry liqueur).
10. Explore Transylvania from Sibiu
Sibiu is a perfect hub to explore Transylvania. All the major attractions of the region are located at a maximum 2 hours drive. Bran Castle, Brasov, Sighisoara, Turda Salt Mine or Corvin Castle can be easily reached by car. In winter, the roads in Transylvania are cleared of snow, and there is no danger in driving on them. As a visitor in Sibiu, one can rent a car, or book a private day trip, for a relaxed and hassle-free journey. Or, for a longer voyage in Transylvania from Sibiu, one can check our Transylvania winter trip.