Where is CFR Cluj?

In Your Pocket‘s reach does not quite stretch as far as Cluj, at least not just yet, but as a special treat for Manchester United fans who will be heading to the Northern Transylvanian city for the game with local side CFR Cluj, here is a brief look at the city.

From the UK, the easiest way to get to Cluj is to fly, direct, from London Luton with Wizz Air. Wizz Air also fly to Targu Mures, two and a half hours away by train; less by bus or mini-bus.

Failing that you can fly with any number of airlines from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted to Bucharest, and on to Cluj from there. Cheap flights to Bucharest come courtesy of Wizz Air and Blue Air Web, while BA and Tarom also fly to the Romanian capital direct. Tarom flies from Bucharest to Cluj seven times a day, though note that planes are small and seats sell out fast.

If you do fail to get yourself a seat on a plane, you will need to take the train from either Budapest or Bucharest to Cluj. This is not, believe us, a pleasant experience. From Bucharest it takes a whopping eight hours (from Budapest it takes only slightly less, usually seven hours and a bit), and there is only one Inter City train from either capital per day, both of which leave too late to get you to the game on time: you would have to go the day before (or take the night train. The sleeping wagons of the Bucharest – Cluj sleeper now have private bathrooms with shower and are rather special). For those who may be interested, search the online Romanian train timetable here.

Basically, if you can’t get on a plane to Cluj or Targu Mures, and don’t have much time to spare, you might want to think twice about coming.

Cluj airport is not too far from the city centre, and the best way into town is a taxi. Note that many taxi drivers meeting the London flights (or Bucharest flights, for that matter) will be a rip-off merchants. Check the tarif on the side of the cab before getting in (it should not be more than 1.79 lei/km). If in doubt call Nova Taxi (+40 745 151 000) for an honest one (you may need to employ your best Romanian, however). Else you can slum it on the bus, No. 8, which is dirt cheap. Note you have you buy tickets from the booth by the bus stop, not the driver.

If you do arrive in Cluj by train, you are basically already in the city centre. You can walk it in 10 minutes, or hop on the bus that stops right outside the station: numbers 3, 4, 9, 22, 27, 32B, 35 and 47B go to the centre. Again, ticket from the booth first.

Getting to the ground will involve walking. Traffic in and around the stadium will be brought to a total halt, and as this is the arse-about-face country that is Romania, that will include public transport. Fortunately, you will not have far to go, as the ground, the Constantin Radulescu Stadium (a bizarre, three-sided affair: the best stadium in Cluj is in fact the Cluj Arena, home to local rivals Universitatea Cluj), is close to the station (as you might expect for a team named after Romania’s railways). Here’s the best map we could rustle up, the blue marker being the stadium. The station is to the north, the city centre to the south:


View CFR Cluj in a larger map

(Although you can’t tell by looking at the map, the area around the stadium is rather hilly).

From the city centre, the stadium is a 15-minute walk.

Although CFR‘s ground is small you should expect a full house, and a cracking atmosphere. There will be little, if any, trouble. For a little team like CFR Cluj it is simply an honour to be hosting the likes of Manchester United, who will be shown the respect they deserve. If CFR do manage to get a draw, or – who knows – a win, the city will come out onto the streets and stay there much of the night.

Good bets for a decent, well priced room in Cluj are the City Plaza, very close to the city centre, and the Agape, bang in the centre of the Old Town. Try Booking.com for a good selection of places to stay. When Chelsea played here in 2009, the team stayed at the Opera.

For food, Baracca is not just the best restaurant in Cluj but one of the best in Romania (and priced accordingly, of course). Cheaper, local fare can be had at Casa Ardeleana, which, though a bit touristy and located in a shopping centre, is in fact rather good – and, perhaps most importantly – has an English-language menu and will not have a nervous breakdown at the sight of a group of lads in football shirts. Both Baracca and Casa Ardeleana are fairly central.

For more on Romanian football, read this post of ours from earlier this year. For more on the story of the 2011-2012 Romanian championships (which Cluj of course won), read this excellent article by Romanian Scout, Radu Baicu. The same author also has a look at CFR’s current squad here.

22 comments

  1. James says:

    Just a quick thanks for your help earlier this week. Just back from cluj. Absolutely brilliant trip. Food, beer, prices, city all really great. We all thought it was much better than Bucharest. Friendly people who aren’t all on the make and genuinely nice. Loved it. Thanks

  2. chris says:

    Just to make some corrections.

    The standard taxi rate in Cluj is 1.79 per km. If you stand there waiting for one less then 1.69 you will never catch one.
    Taxi’s at Cluj station are honest. As are just about any taxi you get in. The tram from the station doesn’t even go into the centre.

    Please don’t apply Bucharest’s corrupt standards to Cluj!

  3. TAC says:

    Mr Magoo, I doubt anyone would pay £40 for a taxi when you can get the Fany Bus for less than £10. I’m reluctant to spend my money at the best of times but the Fany Bus seems to be a much more worthwhile experience.

  4. James says:

    Thanks Andy, I think I’ll be getting the Fany bus, managed to find a fimetable online and this looks like the best bet time wise. If not, will fall back on the train. Are these Fany busses a good ride or is it a bit of a pain?

    What’s cluj like as a place then? Much different to Bucharest? Will we find enough to keep us occupied of an evening?

    • Craig Turp says:

      You will find plenty to do: that is the last of your worries!

    • Sf Ilie says:

      If you want to know a bit more about Cluj, here is a cool promo clip: http://vimeo.com/31338484
      I’d recommend a few places as I live in Cluj:
      The old city center: it’s vibrant with a lot of pubs and acceptable price for beer. If you have a smartphone, search on google maps “Piata muzeului” (Museum Square). It’s the place to be for beer and atmosphere. Just choose any of the many places to drink beer. They’re all good. Another good place is “Bulevardul Eroilor”. They are both close to the gothic cathedral which is in “Piata Unirii” (Union Square – another place with good bars). Probably where most fans will be as well.
      The central park: close to the center, it is a nice place to visit, if the weather is nice. There is also a bar on the lake, nice to visit and drink a beer on the terrace. The bar is near the other stadium in Cluj, which is worth the trip alone :). Search on google maps for “Parcul central”.
      “Fabrica de bere Ursus” http://www.fabricadebereursus.ro – It’s a small beer factory, not far from the city center. Take a taxi from the center, it should be less than 2 euro. Taxis are really cheap, just check the sign on the door, it should be 1-2 lei/km (2 lei is 0.5 euro). There’s another brewery in the center, on top of the “””Centrul Comercial Central””. You can take the elevator from the street up to the 4th floor. The place is called Klausenburger http://klausenburger.ro/
      If you feel like exploring the city, and if you have time, there are also other places to see: the botanical garden (google maps: Gradina Botanica), the cathedrals in the center of the city (aside from the one in the center, built in 1300’s there’s another gothic one, google “Biserica reformata Sfantu Gheorghe”), the University (Babes Bolyai University – founded in 1581).

  5. James says:

    Hi, we are coming over for the match next week. Any idea on how much the train back from cluj – tirgu mures is? And also, will the busses from Targu mures to cluj sell out? Is it First come first served? Thanks very much!

    • Craig Turp says:

      It’s 38 lei, about £6.70. There is just the one train per day though, in the afternoon. It’s a second class-only, no seat reservations train.

      The coach or minibus is your best bet: they leave from the Fany (really) bus station, over the small bridge behind the train station. There are coaches or minibuses every half an hour or so, from 06.45, but only until the early evening. Cost is 25 lei, and it’s first come, first served.

      • James says:

        Craig,

        Thanks very much. The bahn.de website shows that trains start at 5.17am with a change at Razboieni – is this not the case? Thanks for your reply!

        • Craig Turp says:

          Correct. If you do not mind changing there are more train options. You can search the whole timetable here: http://cfrcalatori.ro/

          • James says:

            Craig, many thanks for your help.

            Also we were in bucharest last year for the Otelul Gelati game and we found a rather nice drinking establishment called ‘Pussy Cats’. Do you know if there is a branch of said establishment in Cluj as it suited us down to the ground for an aftermatch pint of Ursus? The beer was cheep and the women working behind the bar were ever so friendly.

          • Craig Turp says:

            Not that I know of, but I do not know Cluj that well. This fella might be able to help though, he lives in Cluj: http://expatro.blogspot.ro/

          • Andy H says:

            To get from Targu Mures airport to Cluj you might be better off getting some kind of taxi (especially if your group is 3 or 4 people). The airport is on the Cluj road, and it will be much easier to do it that way. I’ll see if I can find a company which would do that reasonably

          • James says:

            Thanks Andy – any idea on cost? Is cluj as cheap as bucharest was for drinks etc?

          • Andy H says:

            It costs me approx 300 Lei to get from Bucharest to here by a sort of cab, which is about £60. That’s 250km, and Targu Mures to Cluj is slightly less than 100km I think, so it shouldn’t be that much. Let’s say 200 lei or about £40.

            I don’t know Cluj that well, but as a general rule Bucharest is more expensive than anywhere else in the country so you should be fine for drinks

          • Andy H says:

            I found one company who offered the trip, but they quoted me a price of €85 which frankly is taking the piss. I’ll give you the contact details if you like, but you might be better off going to the info desk at the airport and asking them to call you a regular taxi, which wouldn’t cost that much I’m pretty sure.

  6. Parmalat says:

    That guy Radu Baicu makes the Liga I to sound interesting…

  7. sighted says:

    You might wanna check that link for Malev :)

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