Did you know that Craiova is considered the unofficial capital of the Oltenia region in Romania? Well, you know now!
Being also one of Romania’s oldest and largest cities, it offers plenty of things to do and see.
Today, I will share all the best things to do in Craiova, at least based on what I always enjoy doing there when visiting.
I actually lived for a long time in nearby Drobeta Turnu Severin, just a couple of hours away from the heart of Oltenia and visited often.
My last visit to Craiova was this year, and I was happy to see that the city kept growing and looked better than ever – although it slowed down a lot compared to the massive growth recorded several years ago.
But there are still plenty of things to do in Craiova, from visiting the charming Old Town area, to checking out various museums and churches, the Botanical garden or amazing restaurants serving traditional food.
So let’s get in depth with all of Craiova’s attractions: things to do & see.
Explore the Old Town Area
As it is the case with basically any European city out there, it’s the old town area that is the main attraction in Craiova also.
Most of the attractions listed below are found within walkable area, but there are also small things that don’t really deserve to be listed on their own, but are still important to see.
So simply walking down the streets in the recently reconditioned area will have you enjoy beautiful looking buildings, sometimes decorated nicely as you can see below:
You will also have unique passages to go through – like the Lipscani Pasage (I’m marking it on Google Maps here as it’s easy to miss):
There are plenty of small shops, cafes and restaurants in this area, as well as all sorts of other small attractions.
So when visiting Craiova, exploring the Old Town area is a must. On Google Maps, it’s simply listed as “Centru” (Center).
Enjoy the Mihai Viteazul Square & Prefecturii Square
Most blogs I’ve seen list these two different squares as one (or as different attractions), although they’re practically glued to each other and unless you’re looking on the map, you don’t really know that you’re stepping from one into the other.
Either way, this is the main area in the city where top events are organized – from outdoor festivals and fairs, to the popular Christmas Market (which is one of the best in Europe!)
Even if there’s no event running when you arrive, you still have some nice views in these two squares.
You have the singing fountain (which was not singing, nor dancing when I visited and I don’t remember EVER seeing it sing, to be honest), you have a nice park nearby and a view of the impressive city hall building.
You’re also basically at the entrance of the central area, with all the things I’ve already mentioned.
Check out the Craiova Art Museum
Just steps away from the squares recommended above is this beautiful building (actually, a former palace) housing the Art Museum in Craiova.
Here, you can check out various works from well-known (or lesser known) local artists and there are always different exhibits.
They also have an area dedicated to Constantin Brancusi, one of the most important sculptors in Romania. Some of his works of art can also be seen for free in nearby Targu Jiu.
The ticket price is 3 Euros for Adults (15 lei), and 1.6 Eur for Children (8 lei). Entry is free every first Wednesday of each month. You can learn more about the museum on its official website.
Spend a night (or more) at Boutique Hotel 5 Continents
Hotel Boutique 5 Continents is the hotel we chose to stay at during our most recent visit in Craiova and we were simply blown away by it. You can check it out here.
It is located just a couple of minutes away from the old town area (with access to it through the nice Lipscani passage I told you about above, but still on a very silent street.
The hotel is not cheap, but it’s really worth it if you want to pamper yourself a little bit. The rooms are huge and beautiful, the furniture is amazing and everything about it is top class.
They also have an amazing breakfast and a small bar/restaurant on the premise. It’s probably the best place in Craiova – we loved it and I can only hope that we’ll be able to stay here when we visit next time.
If you want to check out the prices for your dates, click here. (affiliate link).
Grab a bite to eat in the mind-blowing Minerva Restaurant
This was a hotel, actually, and it’s one of the main attractions in the city – believe it or not.
And don’t be surprised when I break it to you: it’s also located in the central area. How convenient!
When we visited, it was only the sweets shop that was operating, but the sweets were absolutely delicious (although a bit on the expensive site), but you did feel like royalty here.
So make sure to visit, take a break and enjoy a refreshing beverage or coffee, enjoy a traditional “Savarina” (a juicy cake with cream) and take some photos of the place.
I have marked Restaurant Minerva on Google Maps here in case you’re having trouble finding it.
Visit the Alexandru Buia Botanical Garden
Believe it or not, this was actually the attraction that my family enjoyed the most during our visit to Craiova.
We did visit in July, when the weather was nice and some of the flowers were still there, but I think May-June is special too because there are more flowers in bloom.
However, Craiova’s botanical garden is free to visit and is extremely well maintained and beautiful.
A pleasant surprise, definitely worth of a visit for a few hours, to connect with nature, stroll along the alleys and take in the beautiful designs.
To make it easy for you to get there, I am marking the location of the botanical garden on Google Maps here.
Take a stroll in the Nicolae Romanescu Park
Nicolae Romanescu Park is renowned for its design and size, being one of Eastern Europe’s largest parks.
It is a bit off the beaten path (aka away from the city center), but also worth visiting, just as it’s the case with the Botanical Garden.
The park features walking paths, a lake suitable for boating, and playgrounds for younger children to enjoy.
You also have historical structures like the suspension bridge (seen in the photo above) or the Romanescu family mansion – in other words, everything you need for spending a great couple of hours enjoying nature.
You can check out the park here – I’ve marked it on Google Maps for you.
Visit the main museum in the region: Olteniei Museum
The main museum in the region is actually… three museums, believe it or not. The Olteniei Museum actually operates from three buildings, each located in a different area of the city:
- Oltenia’s Museum of History and Archaeology (the main one – location on Google Maps)
- Oltenia’s Museum of Ethnography aka Casa Baniei (located here)
- Oltenia Museum – Department of Natural Sciences (located here)
The good news is that you can walk from one section to another, starting with the Department of Natural Sciences, going down to the Museum of History and ending up with the Museum of Ethnography.
Or, if you’re short on time, go for the main one, which is the Museum of History and Archaeology.
The ticket price is just 6 lei (1.2 Euro) for Adults and 3 lei (0.6 EUR) for children and students.
Despite the low price though, Oltenia’s museum offers a glimpse into the region’s past and has some really impressive exhibits.
Head over for the institution’s official website to learn more.
Enjoy the Water Park Craiova, open all year long
Although located outside of Craiova, in the Tineretului Park, a visit to Craiova’s water park can definitely work well, especially if you’re looking to spend a relaxing day with the family.
While I consider it an ideal destination during the summer – due to the huge outside area, you can visit all year long, as it has a pretty extensive inside area too, with various slides, pools and attractions.
It’s nowhere near as the amazing Therme in Bucharest (which is probably the best water park in Romania), but it’s still really nice, especially if you enjoy fast slides and spending time in the water.
The good news is that there’s also a bus line that can get you there – although a taxi ride will be cheap, and added to the already cheap price for spending a day there – 45 lei or 9 Euros – it’s worth it!
Play a quick Escape the Room Game at Escape House Craiova
My family loves playing a solid escape the room game, and we were really happy to hear that you have the option to play a pretty solid one at Escape House Craiova.
Located close to the center of the city, it offers three possible choices, but we went for a gangster story that takes place in a single room and is more of an old school escape the room game with no multiple rooms or gadgets or such.
Still, it’s better than the one we considered one of the main attractions in Sinaia, and it was pretty difficult too. The other options also look really good, especially the one for 16+ people (with horror elements).
So if you enjoy this type of experience, I recommend visiting the place – find out more on their official website.
Get your shopping done at the Mercur Shopping Center
The oldest shopping center in the city, Mercur Center is located in a prime spot, in the main square area.
Recently renovated and with a much more modern design, Mercur is the place to go if you want to get some shopping done while in the city.
Or at least climb up to one of the top levels and enjoy a coffee at the rooftop cafe offering amazing views over the city and especially the square below.
Check out the Holy Trinity Church
I intentionally left the churches at the end of the list, not because they are not impressive, but because many travelers are simply bored with them.
Any city we visit has at leas a “must see” church, but most end up being pretty repetitive, right?
In case you are not bored yet, then visiting the Holy Trinity Church in Craiova is a good idea. Especially since it’s in the main square area of the city center. So easy to get to.
Built in the mid-1700s, the Holy Trinity Church is one of the oldest structures in the city, and an excellent example of Romanian Orthodox architecture.
It is a small, but beautiful church which can be visited in 10 minutes, for free.
Visit the Saint Demetrius Metropolitan Cathedral
Dating back from the 17th century, The Saint Demetrius Metropolitan Cathedral in Craiova is one of the most important landmarks in the city.
The cathedral is renowned for its impressive Neo-Byzantine design, characterized by intricate brickwork and ornate interior decorations.
Located close to the city center, it can be visited for free. I am marking it on the map here.
What’s the best time to visit Craiova?
There are two seasons that are great for visiting Craiova. Come here in December to experience Romania’s best Winter Market, or visit the city during the summer for great weather and perfect views.
If you plan to visit during the summer, I recommend to arrive here in late June / early July or late August to avoid the super-hot days of summer.
Craiova’s attractions are varied and simply amazing. At the same time, you can easily check them all out over a period of a couple days – up to three days if you want to be really thorough.
Sure, Craiova is great for longer visits, as at least some of these places deserve a second or third visit, but if you’re in a hurry, a couple of days should do.
The best part is that most are located within the Old Town area, so it’s easy to hop from one to another without the need of a car.
Let me know which are your favorite attractions in Craiova – and if you know of any additional ones that I haven’t mentioned, tell the world by commenting below.