Just north of the Carpathian Mountains and full of recently renovated medieval buildings, Sibiu is an elegant city. It has its own creative spirit too, with a packed festival calendar covering everything from theatre and jazz to CibinFest, Romania's answer to Oktoberfest. It has a low-key nightlife, with most of the action happening in cosy bars with vaulted ceilings – although there are some clubs for night owls.
You can stay in a Sibiu hostel inside a designated historic monument, a 1940s building known as the Telephone Palace or a 500-year-old building with Renaissance-style arcades outside. Most Sibiu hostels have free Wi-Fi and offer towels and linen, while some provide free breakfast so you can try Romanian pastries before heading out. Others even have outdoor spaces with barbecues for warm days and hot tubs for colder ones.
The Centrul Istoric (historic centre) of Sibiu has lots of grand buildings painted in a rainbow of pastel colours. Most of the action can be found on the Piața Mare, or main square, which is lined with terrace cafés. At the bottom of Stairs Passage you'll find the lower town, with riverside walks and the huge Cibin Market where you can pick up local produce. The Centrul area is right next to the historic centre and is worth a visit for its shopping malls, theatre and museums.
You'll get the best views over the city and Carpathian Mountains by climbing the Turnul Sfatului (council tower). To learn a bit more about Transylvanian life, head to the ASTRA National Museum Complex, 15 minutes by taxi from the city centre. This huge open-air museum has more than 400 pieces of folk architecture, including windmills, houses and churches. For something a little offbeat, you could check out the Pharmacy Museum, a lovingly reconstructed model of what an 18th-century chemist's shop would have looked like.
Buses from Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca stop at the Autogară Sibiu (Sibiu Bus Station), which is right next to the train station, Gară Sibiu. Both are just over 10 minutes' walk from the historic centre. Sibiu International Airport is 6km from the city, and a handful of buses run from there to the city. Sibiu's town centre is small enough to get around on foot or bike and there are local buses if you want to head out and explore.