Located in far western Romania, the city of Timisoara is a gem you cannot miss in your travels through the country. Timisoara perfectly blends the architectural beauty of Prague or Vienna, the liveliness of Paris, and the typically Romanian humbleness. In fact, Timisoara was designated as the European Capital of Culture for 2021!
Check these great things to do in Timisoara during your vacation, and remember to leave space in your luggage because you will leave with so many new memories (and a few Romanian souvenirs)!
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Where to Stay in Timisoara
These are some of the places we suggest you checking according to your budget. We always recommend checking for alternatives on Booking.com as early as possible. While Romania is underrated by international travelers, many of the best places can book early during the high season because Romanians know where to go.
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Timisoara. Generally, budget means hostel beds for around $25 a night and singles/doubles for around $30, mid-range is from about $40-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.
Luxury: Since Timisoara in winter is definitely the offseason, we wouldn’t be surprised if you could snag a fantastic deal on one of these top luxury hotels in Timisoara: Hotel Timisoara or Hotel Tresor Le Palais.
The Most Fantastic Things to Do in Timisoara
In Timisoara, you can enjoy a European vibe without dealing with the overcrowdedness of other famous city destinations. There is something beautiful to discover around every corner, but more importantly, there is something fun to do everywhere you go.
Take a Walk Through the Roses Park
If you want to know why is known as “The City of Roses”, reach this place to learn why it is quite a deserved nickname. Built near the Bega River, the Roses Park park showcases hundreds of different types of roses and flower arrangements, as well as canopies and amazing rose arcades under which you can take a walk and feel as though you are part of a fairy tale.
In the center of the park you can find the Open-Air Theatre; if you are lucky enough to visit Timisoara during one of their yearly traditional folklore events, don’t miss out on the live shows held in the park!
During summertime, this place is perfect for long walks while admiring nature and roses in bloom. And if you feel like a day like that isn’t romantic enough, head back to the city center while strolling along the nicely lit alleyways near the Bega river.
Walk Around “Unirii” Plaza
No place in Timisoara is more representative of its amazing history and architectural beauty than Unirii Plaza. For those who just love taking photos of colorful buildings, each built in its unique style, this large square in the center of the city is the place to go.
The color palette of the buildings is so diverse that you will feel like you’re part of a massive art exhibition in the open air. You will definitely recognize the Brück House, by its distinct style and the pink and turquoise front, and although you cannot go in, you can enjoy a drink at one of the cafes in the plaza, admiring the surroundings.
This is definitely one of the most aesthetic parts of Timisoara, and I absolutely recommend you devote one day or two to explore this underrated aspect of the Romanian culture.
Visit the Baroque Palace
This is by far my favorite place in Timisoara, and I greatly recommend visiting the inside of the building. It is easily recognizable as the largest building in “Unirii” Plaza, and also by the colored glass windows displayed in the front, resembling the colors of the rainbow.
The Palace is nowadays host of Timisoara’s Art Museum, featuring many exhibitions of Romanian artists or contemporary art brought from other European countries. If you are like me, then you will certainly spend a few hours just walking through the galleries, admiring the works of art exhibited here.
Stroll Around Liberty Plaza
The second historical place to see in Timisoara is Liberty Plaza, located very close to “Unirii” Plaza. These two large squares represent the two halves of the city’s historical center, which is connected through a system of many narrow streets on which you can still admire the same colorful architecture on both sides.
Not as colorful as “Unirii” Plaza, Liberty Plaza definitely has more of a historical vibe to it rather than an artistic one. It is still quite beautiful, and you can still enjoy some nice buildings, including the old City Hall.
During the day the plaza is quite empty, with flocks of pigeons livening it up. And the best part: in the city center pedestrian areas are predominant. You can enjoy your morning walks or daily tours without the stressful noises of cars anywhere around you.
Stay at One of the Hostels in the City Center
Spending a few nights at a place located right in the city center made my visit so much better. Being so close to the heart of the city and experiencing the lively streets full of color and personality first-hand really helped me understand why this city is so special.
Walking out the front door you are already in the middle of the action, no matter whether it’s a crowd of people enjoying the performances of talented street artists, or perhaps a lively party going on until late at night.
A quick Google search will show you entire lists including such hostels, and none of them are expensive, although you shouldn’t expect five-star services. The Romanian experience is not about living a fancy high life, but about living in the moment and enjoying little things and friends around you.
The highlight of my stay was constantly getting lost on the small, labyrinth-like streets. Once you figure them out, you’re good, but even getting lost for a few minutes just means having the chance to discover a new building you’ve never seen before or a new café you haven’t tried yet.
Visit the “Timisoreana” Beer Factory
For those who’ve had enough of buildings and history, this is another side of the Romanian culture that you must experience. The “Timisoreana” beer brand is a staple Romanian drink, and many people claim Romanian beer to be up to the standards of Czech or German beer in terms of quality.
The “Timisoreana” Beer Factory has become pretty much a city symbol, and any beer enthusiast should check it out. Near the factory, nowadays you can find a small beer inn, where you can try the authentic “Timisoreana” beer and (not only), for usually never more than €2 a pint.
Try at Least One Variety of Romanian Wine
During your stay in Romania, you cannot miss the chance to try authentic, 100% natural Romanian wine. Highly praised for their quality products, Recas Vineyards are somewhere close to the city, so a lot of people visit the place to try this brand right at the source.
If you are looking for a day to unwind after so much sightseeing, I recommend popping into Casa cu Vinuri (“The Wine House”). Here, you can find so many varieties of wine, so many tastes, and coming from many countries throughout Europe.
However, for an authentic experience and a taste of our amazing culture, I definitely recommend you to order some Romanian wine.
Venture Outside the Comfort of the City
If you are looking for more child-friendly activities or simply more nature-oriented, the Zoo is a great place to unwind, and enjoy nature while still having fun. Here, you’ll be able to see animals usually found in the wildlands of Romania, deep in the Carpathian Mountains, but not only.
The Zoo is found outside the city, so if you decide to venture outside Timisoara, you should definitely check out the Romanian Village Museum, right near the Zoo Park. Romanians really love displaying their unique traditions and culture, and that’s exactly what this museum is for.
You can get the chance to see how colorful our traditional villages used to be and still are in some places of the country. It really does remind you of a simpler time.
Try Romania’s First-ever Escape Room
If you and your friends are looking for a non-conventional source of entertainment, this is a go-to activity. Escape Rooms have gained so much popularity in recent years, and although nowadays you can find Escape Rooms in almost every big city in Romania, Timisoara was the first one to introduce this amazingly fun trend in Romania.
The place is called Exit Games, and they feature six different rooms with various themes, with puzzles that are just as fun and rewarding as they are challenging.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, this activity suits everybody who loves to train their mind with puzzles in their free time, but not only. Even if you’ve never tried anything like this before, I guarantee by the end of the hour you will be so hooked you’ll definitely try it again.
All you need to do is make sure you escape in 60 minutes or less for a unique photo using Exit Games’ props, that will be posted on their Facebook Hall of Fame. This is definitely a chance you don’t want to miss out on.
Spend an Afternoon in One of the Many Cafes in the City Center
Don’t miss the chance to spend a cozy afternoon in one of the many cafes in the city center of Timisoara. Many cities in Romania nowadays bring up western flavors from France or Italy in small cafes, while trying to keep them in theme with the surrounding architectures of the buildings, and Timisoara is no different.
A lot of cafes go for colorful designs and vintage or eco-friendly vibes, but you will not find any two cafes that share common themes. The best part is that most of them are vegan-friendly and provide various options for any preferences.
If you want to experience Romania in the 60s-70s you will probably enjoy an afternoon in ScartLocLejer café. The name itself says “Comfortable place”, and it is definitely not a place that takes itself too seriously.
The café is cluttered with vintage decorations and various memorabilia from the communist period, and many people love this place just for the nostalgia flavor of it. At first, it may look like a hoarder’s place on the inside, but know that the kitschy theme is totally intentional.
Reciproc is another café great for spending a relaxing afternoon in. They specialize in vegan options and offer many varieties of coffee and tea, as well as beers and ales.
Many Romanian cafes nowadays have adopted the trend of providing board games for customers, and these two make no exception. That way, a simple afternoon with friends can turn into a fun activity meant to bond people and maybe make them forget about technology for a few hours.
Romanian culture is all about living in the moment and finding enjoyment in the small things, so everything about these small, cozy cafes tells exactly that.
Don’t Miss Out on Great Food!
I certainly believe that, when visiting a country, the food experience is just as important as any other.
While in Timisoara, definitely don’t miss out on the bistros found around every corner, as there is literally something for everyone, from typical brunches, or fast food, to more refined tastes.
Like I mentioned before though, Romanian culture is all about finding enjoyment in the simplest things, so my advice is that you forget about the fancy dinner you had planned and head to Cafeneaua Verde for an amazing burger meal.
If you are in the mood for something sweet, Verona Café has a large variety of desserts for every taste.
Or, if you enjoy something simple yet effective, I recommend The Cupcake Shop. Just like the name suggests, they took a simple treat such as cupcakes and transformed it into an amazing dessert, with so many flavors and toppings to choose from.
If you are vegetarian, don’t worry, there are plenty of options for you as well! I definitely recommend you pop into Biofresh, a vegan restaurant near the city center with Mediterranean influences. The Cupcake Shop is also known to have vegan options for its desserts.
If you are looking for a getaway in a smaller, less crowded city, but still look for the typical European Paris-like or Prague-like city vibe, Timisoara is most certainly the perfect choice for you.
With so many activities to choose from and so many ways to unwind for a truly relaxing vacation, this is a destination for everybody.
It has been so long since my last visit, but I cannot wait to return and rediscover all the things that made it such an unforgettable experience.
What to Pack for Romania
Don’t forget! Romania is a 4 season country, so before you are visiting, make sure you check up the weather! Luckily for you, Cluj is always hotter than other cities so don’t be scared if you forgot about this aspect.
We have a full Romania packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!
A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We own and recommend Lonely Planet Romania & Bulgaria for travel in Romania and beyond!
One or two swimsuits: While swimsuits may not come to mind for winter, if you’re staying in a resort with a sauna, indoor pool, or steam room — or just visiting Bucharest’s epic Therme spa — you’ll likely want one! We suggest bringing two so you never have to put a cold wet one back on. We love this one.
Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.
Sunscreen: We strongly suggest wearing sunscreen when you spend time outdoors, no matter the weather outside — especially if you’re skiing! The higher altitudes combined with the reflection of the sun off the snow can lead to unexpected sunburns. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen – it’s mess-free, works well in carry-ons, is ultra-protective, and blends in well.
Romania Travel Resources
If you’re going to Romania, we have a goldmine of resources for you to take advantage of! First, check out this guide to planning a trip to Romania. It’s a good starting point for planning your trip.
You can also read about the best Romanian castles, the Romanian food you should try on your trip, the best Romanian souvenirs, and inspirational travel quotes about Romania. Plus, how to plan some epic day trips from Bucharest.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Romania (or really, any part of the world)! Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!