The Best Pubs & Bars In Romania!

With no established pub culture similar to the UK, Ireland, Belgium & Netherlands, Germany and Czechia, the idea of people of different generations mixing in the same venue after dinner or a live events is virtually unheard of, and this is reflected in the offerings in Romania.

After 10pm you will begin to find the nightlife skews almost exclusively to under-30s, while before then, there is a quite sleepy offering as the core audience save their money and energy for later on. This means that daytime pub socialising largely exist, only a sort of flabby, informal dining.

Craft beer is slowly beginning to make inroads in the country with most venues beginning to crack and stocking at least a bottle or two of something micro-produced. Most cities now have at least one reliable craft beer venue, although what forms that may take varies.

The unique positives of Romania's scene are notable however. If you're younger, of an alternative leaning then you can expect to be served up some terrific down-to-earth bars with atmospheric courtyards, 1st floor apartments that have been taken over; arty, cultural spaces that open until the early hours that are anti-corporate, unpretentious and welcoming.

There are some standouts and one-offs worth mentioning too, authentic folk pubs that lean on Hungary's influence in the country, and labours of love on particular themes, be that steampunk, communism, or Columbus.
Name Location Our Rating
Heltai Folkcenter Cluj-Napoca 8.9
Insomnia * Cluj-Napoca 8.2
Old School Coffee House Cluj-Napoca 7.9
Zorki Cluj-Napoca 7.7
La Tevi Cluj-Napoca 7.7
Shadow Café Cluj-Napoca 7.5
Klausen Pub Cluj-Napoca 7.5
Lokal Oradea 8.5
Moszkva Café Oradea 8
Gekko Pub Oradea 7.8
Columbus Café Oradea 7.5
Geea Caffe Sibiu 8.8
St Andrews Sibiu 7.5
Music Pub Sibiu 7.5
Voynich Pub Sighisoara 7.6
Scârț  * Timișoara 9.3
Cuib d'Arte Timișoara 8.5
Cluj-Napoca // pop. 308,00

A young, vibrant University city that trades on its heritage. Dual-lingual, or perhaps even trilingual given how prevalent English is spoken, you will find most menus a doddle to navigate once you get used to the wall of translated text. The bar population is almost exclusively focused on young drinkers and you will only tend to see those aged over 40 in the most scuzzy rock pubs or ex-pat bars. For some reason, inter-generational socialising outside of restaurant settings and occasional musical performances simply isn't the done thing.

Every city needs an angle and Cluj's is steampunk, with a museum and 3 bars, Joben, Enigma and Submarine which make use of this style. However, when viewed objectively, the city's stock and trade nightlife is casual, maybe a little dog-eared informal hangouts for younger folk.

The beer scene is also developing with most pubs offering local craft of some description, and a few modern craft venues popping up. Overall, it's a middling city for nightlife. Be warned that 0.4l is a standard measure for a beer pour

Our strongest recommendation is something atypical for the city, Heltai FolkCenter, a Hungarian folk heritage centre with an authentic kocsma where totally informal live music and dancing takes place. You will not find a more authentic experience in the city.

Oradea // pop. 185,390

A rapidly declining population sets a rather negative tone on a city that at face value has a lot going for it. It's architectural heritage is remarkable with over 80 Art Nouveau buildings and other sparkling examples of unusual design. They are pouring money into restoration too with the effect of a historic ensemble from the main drag into the centre through to the city's wide market square.

The city's bar scene lays dormant throughout the day. Don't expect to turn up anywhere and find people socialising, even on weekends, until about 8pm onwards. As with many medium sized Romanian cities the nightlife is centred on a younger audience, even 30-somethings may find themselves starting to feel old. In Lokal, Moszkva and Gekko you have vibrant venues based in charming crumbling old buildings somewhat Ruin Pub-esque. The townier nightlife happens around the Palace of the Black Vulture, one of the landmarks of Oradea, with cocktails, ex-pat pubs and more familiar shot-slamming bass-pumping action. We would overall recommend the alternative scene. Oradea is in easy, if slow, reach from Cluj-Napoca by train, also by coach or train from Debrecen in Hungary, a slightly more convoluted journey.

Sibiu // pop. 151,894

A medium sized University town with a medieval centre, its red roofs all have distinctive 'eyelids', and there's a low-rise, low-key feel to the entire place. Unfortunately this rather extends to its nightlife. Again, the problem is that with hardly anybody aged over 40 venturing out after their evening meal, the options for bars are reduced in volume and variety. There is however one standout must-visit pub, Geea Caffe, a 1st floor apartment bar with an amazing array of macabre artwork and boudoir type decoration. Aside of that, some lively decent, but more workaday options await.

Sighișoara // pop. 25,370

There are plenty of good reasons to visit the ancient Sighișoara, but with the local economy geared towards daytrippers, you'll be in pub-restaurants at best during the day time. In fact, the nightlife is reduced to a couple of venues, a rock pub and the best place in town, Voynich Pub, themed after the manuscript (yes, really!) where there is authentic every day social life to be found, as well as friendly service.

Timișoara // pop. 306,555

A sizeable city with a sprawling set of suburbs, there's a genuine haunted house atmosphere to a lot of the streets with decaying Nouveau mansions that have gone beyond both skill and budget to repair. There is something sad about that but there's no denying the ghoulish appeal. The central Cathedral is an iconic masterpiece that must be seen. Aside of that, you will find some of the familiar Romanian nightlife themes - young, informal hangouts in 1st floor apartments such as Cuib d'Arte with nascent craft beer scenes, the local brewery's pub restaurants. Last but not least, one of the best places in the entire country, Scârț Loc Lejer, a pub with a wonderful garden, and even more wonderful interior themed around Communist childhood and consumerism. Worth returning to over and over again.