Timisoara, Romania took me by surprise.
I didn’t know much about the city, I didn’t know many people who visited it, I didn’t know what are the things to do in Timisoara. Yet when planning my Interrail trip to Romania and Bulgaria I’ve decided to go a little bit around and visit Timisoara too. Turned out to be the best decision ever!
Timisoara happens to be a wonderful place for a city break and had everything I enjoy. Even if I’ve spent only 1.5 day there Timisoara almost immediately got into my very elite list of 10 favorite cities. I was leaving the city with a heavy heart, promising myself to return there when I have a chance. And one day I will!
It’s really hard to put in words why I enjoyed visiting Timisoara so much. It was just a combination of these small things and lively vibe that made me click with the city. I even dare to say it was my favorite place in Romania (not that I’ve seen that many, only Bucharest, Sibiu, Brasov, Sighisoara, Oradea, Sinaia, Bran, Rasnov and Cluj Napoca) and I was really surprised why it wasn’t so popular with tourists!
Here is the list of reasons why I enjoyed the city (or ideas of what to do in Timisoara)!
Table of contents
- 1 Incredible architecture
- 2 Interesting history of Timisoara, Romania
- 3 Visit Timisoara to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere
- 4 Decent cafe culture
- 5 Multicultural legacy
- 6 Timisoara street art
- 7 Timisoara – practical information
The first impressions of Timisoara weren’t the best. The train station and the area around are rather nondescript and the moment I saw these I started doubting my decision to visit Timisoara.
But the closer I was getting to the center, the more things were looking up! Finally, the heart of Timisoara turned out to be what I like the most: mix of art nouveau and peculiar style from the Habsburg time. I was getting excited for all the Timisoara things to do that were waiting for me!
I felt like a kid in the candy store when wandering around the streets of Timisoara, everything around looked so beautiful! Parts of the inner city, including the most beautiful of three main squares – Piata Unirii – were under construction but still looked colorful and just the prettiest.
For some architecture gems you should definitely focus on the center and Fabric neighborhood (especially around Piata Traian). Sadly many of these spectacular buildings look neglected but if you’re able to look past the layer of dust and flaky plaster you can see the real beauty of Timisoara.
With a little bit of investment (which I really hope will come one day) the city have a chance to be one of the most spectacular, jaw-dropping places in Central Europe!
The good option is to explore Timisoara with a guide – this way you can learn a lot about the place! Click here for more details and prices!
Interesting history of Timisoara, Romania
I love cities with interesting history and Timisoara is definitely one of them.
Origins of Timisoara come from Middle Ages and the place always played an important role in the history due to its strategic location at the crossroads. Over the century it was under the rule of Hungarians, Ottomans and Habsburgs.
Those last ones transformed Timisoara into an important industrial hub (this is how the city used to look like then) with numerous improvements that made the city exceptionally modern for that era.
It was the second place in the world (after New York) with electric street lamps and second in Europe with horse-drawn trams. Rumors say that even Gustaf Eiffel (known to everyone as the creator of the Eiffel Tower in Paris) made sketches of one of the bridges in Timisoara!
On the contrary, 20th century wasn’t that good for the city. It was badly destroyed in the WW2 and afterwards, as the result of post-war pacts, the Sovietization process has begun. Timisoara played a very important role in the Romanian Revolution at the end of 1989 – that’s where the whole movement has started! Wandering around the city and discovering all the remnants of the past, especially the recent events, was a great lesson for me.
Visit Timisoara to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere
Timisoara is the city of students and you can feel that on every step. The vibe is young, there’s always something going on and no matter what time of the day the center is full of people.
My trip to Timisoara was over the weekend and on the main square, Piata Victoriei, there was some local event with music till the late evening, attended by crowds of people (I so wanted to join as well but I had to finish my trains related work, that’s what sometimes happen with my crazy lifestyle). Posters around the city announced some more events to come, including really big festivals.
When I googled events in Timisoara I got the whole long list, with offers for every taste. You can really feel there’s always something going on in the city and the inhabitants make the place very lively. There is no way to be bored in Timisoara!
During my visit in Romania I’ve heard many times from people both in Timisoara and Bucharest that this city is the best to live in in the country and I could clearly see people are enjoying their lives there.
Decent cafe culture
With the Austria-Hungary legacy I kind of expected Timisoara to have a good cafe culture. And I wasn’t disappointed! Recently cafes are a big part of my travels so it is important for me to find nice places around and Timisoara was a treat!
There are so many good places to choose from and – like in many places around Central Europe – I wished I had more time just to explore the local cafes!
And like everywhere else the best source to find cafes was Foursquare – a free application you can either install on your phone or check in the browser. I’m a huge fan, using it everywhere and it never failed me!
With the location at the crossroads and an Austria-Hungary past Timisoara was a multicultural city. Even now there is a firm Hungarian, German and Serbian minority living in the city. There’re cultural institutions, such as German State Theatre or Hungarian State Theatre, or numerous events showing the rich legacy of Timisoara.
When wandering around the city I’ve also spotted two really beautiful synagogues, one in Fabrica (at Strada Ion Luca Caragiale) and another one in the center (at Strada Marasesti). It just made me more curious about all the various religions and cultures living in Timisoara and making the city so unique and well, awesome.
Timisoara street art
I really enjoyed the street art scene in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, but Timisoara is so much better! There’re numerous murals, stencils and random paintings and altogether it just looks good. There’s even an International Street Art Festival that contributes a lot to the local art scene!
Best places to find street art in Timisoara center are under the bridge (between the cathedral and the central park), at Strada Marasesti and in the streets around Piata Unirii.
Morover Strada Alba Iulia is decorated with colorful umbrellas that look simply amazing. I know this is a well known trend all over the world recently but Timisoara was the first city I saw pictures of umbrella street from. Seeing this in reality brought a big smile on my face.
During my visit in Timisoara I crossed Strada Alba Iulia some 10 times, I just headed there for no reason, only to enjoy the roof of umbrellas above me. And it was beautiful!
I honestly didn’t expect Timisoara to be so amazing, that we will click right away. Together with Chernivtsi, Ukraine these were my best travel discoveries of the year 2015.
Even if Timisoara might be slightly off the path it has a huge potential and I’m almost sure it will be discovered soon, with numerous low-cost flights there it’s just a matter of time. I know I’d love to go back there to spend some more time, simply enjoying the beautiful architecture around and the vibrant life of Timisoara. And I’m sure it will be amazing again!
Timisoara – practical information
How to get to Timisoara?
I went to Timisoara by train during my Interrail trip. The city is well connected with cities in Romania and abroad (it’s only 5 hours to Budapest!). If you’re into train travels I definitely can recommend Eurail (for non Europeans) / Interrail (for European citizens). Click on the relevant name to learn more about each ticket, you can also purchase it through the website.
Recently Timisoara got lots of low cost flight connections from numerous cities across Europe. Very often I see flights there for 10€/return! I always look and purchase my flights via SkyScanner, I especially like their “anywhere” and “anytime” option that helps me find the cheapest connections. Check out the deals on Timisoara flights here!
Where to sleep in Timisoara?
I stayed in Downtown Hostel and it had the best location ever, right at Piata Victoriei. I definitely recommend you this place, you won’t see a better view from the room anywhere else! Check out prices and more details here!
Other recommended places:
Where to eat in Timisoara?
The old town is full of restaurants serving delicious dishes from all over the world. Since Timisoara is a student city you will find lots of affordable options too! Check out the best restaurants in Timisoara here!
Guided tour of Timisoara
It is possible to visit the city with a guide who will tell you all about the place and show you all the best things to do in Timisoara. Click here for more details and prices and to book the tour!
Don’t travel without a travel insurance! I’ve learnt my lesson that you never know what might happen and I don’t leave the house without being insured. Click here for more info and best rates on travel insurance at World Nomads!
If you think of visiting Romania or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:
- Is it really not worth to visit Bucharest?
- Alternative Bucharest guide
- Photo Post: Sighisoara, Romania
- and more!
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