The city is surrounded by forests and grasslands. Rare species of plants, such as Venus’s slipper and iris, are found in the two botanical reservations of Cluj-Napoca, Fânaţele Clujului and Rezervaţia Valea Morii (“Mill Valley Reservation”). Animals such as boars, badgers, foxes, rabbits and squirrels live in nearby forest areas such as Făget and Hoia. The latter forest hosts the Romulus Vuia ethnographical park, with exhibits dating back to 1678. Various people report alien encounters in the Hoia-Baciu forest, large networks of catacombs that connect the old churches of the city, or the presence of a monster in the nearby lake of Tarniţa.
A modern, 750-metre (820 yd)-long ski resort sits on Feleac Hill, with an altitude difference of 98 metres (107 yd) between its highest and lowest points. This ski resort offers outdoor lighting, artificial snow and a ski tow. Băişoara winter resort is located approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the city of Cluj-Napoca, and includes two ski trails, for beginner and advanced skiers, respectively: Zidul Mic and Zidul Mare. Two other summer resorts/spas are included in the metropolitan area, namely Cojocna and Someşeni Baths.
There are a large number of castles in the countryside surroundings, constructed by wealthy medieval families living in the city. The most notable of them is the Bonţida Bánffy Castle—once known as “the Versailles of Transylvania”—in the nearby village of Bonţida, 32 kilometres (20 mi) from the city centre. In 1963, the castle was used as a set for Liviu Ciulei‘s film Forest of the Hanged, which won an award at Cannes. There are other castles located in the vicinity of the city; indeed, the castle at Bonţida is not even the only one constructed by the Bánffy family. The commune of Gilău features the Wass-Bánffy Castle, while another Bánffy Castle is located in the Răscruci area. In addition, Nicula Monastery, erected during the 18th century, is an important pilgrimage site in northern Transylvania. This monastery houses the renowned wonder-working Madonna of Nicula. The icon is said to have wept between February 15 and March 12, 1669. During this time, nobles, officers, laity and clergy came to see it. At first they were sceptical, looking at it on both sides, but then humbly crossed themselves and returned home petrified by the wonder they had seen. During the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (commemorating the death of the Virgin Mary) on August 15, more than 150,000 people from all over the country come to visit the monastery.[