One of the reasons we really stayed in Romania for as long as we did, was to discover some of the lesser visited destinations. Targu Mures is one of those great little finds. Like most cities in Transylvania, there is a rich blend of Romanian and Hungarian history, and fantastic architecture with it. Though we only had two days to discover what to do in Targu Mures, the tease was enough to show how underrated this city really is! Especially if you’re into history and architecture!
What to do in Targu Mures
The Palace of Culture
This is the main attraction that everyone we spoke to told us to check out during our brief visit. The Palace of Culture (everything in Romania seems to be a ‘Palace), is a brilliant museum and concert hall in the centre of town.
Whether checking out one of the always-changing exhibits in the art galleries or catching up on some of the regions interesting history, it’s definitely worth spending a few hours in here. The phenomenal stained-glass exhibit on the top floor is worth the entry fee alone!
Regular Ticket: 12 lei
Students: 3 lei
Seniors: 6 lei
Tues to Fri 9am-4pm
Sat/Sun 9am – 1pm
Prefecture Palace and Clock Tower
Located beside the Culture Palace, this is one of the most beautiful structures in the city. Built in the early 1900s as part of the Secession movement of that time, it was the first building to radically change the face of Targu Mures.
Originally called the ‘Palace of the City Hall’ (what I said about Palaces?), the 60m clocktower was once used as the city fire watchtower.
Walk the yellow stone paths through the garden and get a close look of the colourful mosaics and intricate details of the building’s design.
The Orthodox Cathedral
Though not for it’s size, the Orthodox cathedral is probably the most imposing building you’ll cross while visiting. Standing boastfully at the end of the central avenue, it’s hard to miss. Although the black-domed masterpiece took only nine years to construct, the intricate and colourful murals inside weren’t completed until 61 years after the first bricks were laid.
Pop in any day between 7 am and 7 pm and appreciate the sensational artwork first hand.
Buna Vestire Church
Completed in two short years, this stunning bit of architecture is modelled after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Often referred to by locals as the “small church,” to avoid any confusion with its Orthodox neighbour up the road, this is a much more attractive looking building (at least on the exterior).
Open from 7 am to 7 pm, every day.
Visit the Medieval Fortress
The old fortified church of Targu Mures might not be as impressive of some of the others around Transylvania, but it’s still totally worth checking out. Although the church itself was under renovation during our visit, exploring the park-like grounds was fantastic.
This walled green space is a popular location for photo shoots, weddings, and exhibitions of all kinds. Markets are often set up on weekends, and the grounds are occasionally used for small music festivals.
If visiting in the autumn, be sure to find the carts selling roasted chestnuts, just outside the gates!There are quite a few options around the city with a variety of cuisines. However, if you happen to be visiting on a weekend, understand that many businesses, restaurants included, are closed on Sundays.
Built by former Chancellor of Transylvania and bibliophile, Samuel Teleki, this incredible collection includes over 200,000 books, maps, and scientific papers dating back centuries. The collection is so well-respected, even during the Soviet occupation in World War 2, when the library was used as a military building, the books remained untouched.
Entry is free, but donations are accepted and appreciated.
Where to Eat in Targu Mures
One that we found, that came highly recommended, is Laci Csarda. This seems to be a very popular spot, especially on weekends. They specialize in Romanian and Hungarian cuisine, and do it very well. The food is delicious, impressively affordable, and the portions are massive.
We ordered a platter that included sausages, schnitzel, pork belly, pickled peppers and more. We also had a bowl of traditional smoked pork and bean soup. The house wine was a little too much on the sweet side for our liking, but it was all very cheap and delicious.
Cantina La Efendi
This bare-bones, cafeteria-like establishment, is another that received a ton of praise from those we spoke to. Unfortunately, as it’s only open Monday to Friday for lunch, we weren’t able to visit ourselves. You’ll find Cantina La Efendi tucked down a small road between the Orthodox Church and the Fortress.
Often hailed as one of the cheapest lunch options in town, there are two set menus per day. Choose either the meat or vegetarian option and your size – large or small. Meals include bread, a soup, main course and dessert.
We were told Thursday has the best menu.
Romania is a country of incredible contrasts, and this fantastic hotel is a perfect representation of that. This sleek, stylish hotel is, based on our two months travelling around, one of the best hotels in Romania. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth exploring for its fascinating design.
Opened only four years ago, Hotel Privo was built on the former property owned by famous local photographer Géza Csonka. His beautiful mansion, over 100 years old, still stands on the site. The genius architects who designed this multi-award winning hotel decided that rather than destroying the historic building, they would incorporate it instead.
The mansion has been fully restored and the rooms filled with authentic furniture from the period. Some of the former owner’s possessions, including ancient cameras, are on display. We were fortunate enough to stay in one of these incredible rooms, ours facing the gorgeous yard and garden. Connected by tunnel, past the wine cellar, the ultra-modern main building awaits. From minimalist rooms to fully serviced suites (and those historic rooms in the Villa), there are rooms for every style and taste.
Speaking of taste, the dining room is phenomenal as well. The included breakfast is what makes life worth living. Typical of these upscale hotels in Europe, breakfast an outstanding experience. The dinner we had on our first evening was equally impressive. Although the fine-tuned menu was alluring in itself, we opted for the business lunch, featuring two meal sets, for a little variety. To top things off, the on-site sommelier’s pairings, of Romanian-made wine, were bang-on.
Getting In and Out
Targu Mures is conveniently located almost directly between two much more popular cities, Cluj-Napoca and Sighisoara. If you’re visiting Transylvania at all, you’ll likely be nearby!
From Cluj to Targu Mures
Targu Mures is located only two hours from Cluj-Napoca, the capital city of Transylvania. Cluj is home to the second busiest international airport in Romania. As such, it’s a great alternative to flying into Bucharest and will start you off right in the heart of the country.
From Cluj, the simplest way is to take a bus from this bus station. At time of writing, buses leave at 06:45, 10:30, 13:45, 16:00, 18:00 Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, times are limited to 10:30, 13:45, 18:00.
Alternatively, if you’re staying at Hotel Privo, they offer pickup direct from the Cluj airport!
Sighisoara to Targu Mures
If you’re touring around Transylvania, you’ll likely find yourself in Sighisoara at some point. This phenomenal citadel-city cannot be missed! Since Targu Mures is only an hour away, it’s a perfect side trip on your way up to Cluj.
Another option that is great for getting around all across Romania, is Bla Bla Car. It’s an online ride-share program that we used several times during our visit. It’s usually comparable to the cost of a bus ticket but the ride is usually considerably more comfortable. Also, it’s a great way to chat with a local for some great tips about your next destination!