If you’re planning a Romania trip then you’re likely heading to Bucharest or Brasov. If you’re looking for somewhere to explore that’s off the beaten path but still pretty cool to check out then I recommend heading to Timisoara in the Western part of the country.
There are quite a few things to do in Timisoara and it’s an especially great city if you’re a student or traveling on a budget. It’s not that close to Bucharest and can be quite difficult to reach if you’re not renting a car but it’s an easy journey from Belgrade.
If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay and explore or you just want to visit somewhere new that not too many tourists have been I suggest making your way to Timisoara and discovering the beauty of Western Romania’s largest city and the capital of the historic Banat region.
- 3rd biggest city in Romania
- 320,000 inhabitants
- First mentioned in the 13th century
- 4.5 hours from Brasov, 6 hours from Bucharest
11+ BEST Things to Do in Timisoara
The Timisoara Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral
The most recognizable landmark in the entire city, the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral dominates one end of Victorei Square. Construction of this cathedral started in 1936 and was completed shortly after World War 2 in 1946. It has 11 beautiful towers and is covered in colored bricks and tiles.
Standing at 83-meters in height it’s the tallest building in Timisoara and one of the tallest churches in all of Romania. Inside you’ll find a small museum and entrance to the main hall is free of charge. For the best photos of this cathedral head down Victorei Square until you’re able to fit the entire thing in your camera view.
Victorei Square is the most popular area for tourists and locals in Timisoara. It’s constantly packed with people which is no surprise as it’s lined with restaurants, bakeries, bars and other shops. It was built in the early 1900s on the grounds of a fortress which once stood in the same area.
On either side of Victorei Square are beautifully designed and architecturally impressive palaces, save for a few communist apartment blocks. Take a look up and check out the detail on all of the palaces – it’s quite interesting. On one end of the square is the Orthodox Cathedral and the other end is the Culture Palace so it’s a neat place to relax with the locals and take some great photos of the architecture here in Western Romania.
The Baroque Palace
Built in 1754 the Baroque Palace in Timisoara is an important cultural and historical building in the heart of the city.
It was designed after a palace in Vienna and is a prime example of Viennese architecture from the time period. It’s located in the Unirii Square and is one of the best things to check out.
It’s possible to go on a tour of the palace to explore the interior but the exterior is what’s the most impressive.
It was the residence of the governor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and an important structure of the Banat region.
The Palace was used until 1918, when the Empire fell, and today it’s a popular tourist monument in the city.
Unirii Square is an enormous Baroque square on the edge of the Timisoara Old Town and is made up of buildings built during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the very center of the square is the Holy Trinity Monument and nearby is a well that was drilled to a depth of over 405-meters.
This was my favorite place and one of the most enjoyable things to do in Timisoara. It’s currently under construction (September 2015) but when it’s complete it’s covered with grass, a beautiful fountain and lined with benches. Many of the popular tourist monuments in the city are in this square and it’s impossible to miss when you’re strolling through the city.
Grab a Kebap at Beirut Libanez
If you’re like me then you probably love grabbing a quick and affordable bite to eat in whatever city you’re visiting. For the best kebap in the city I recommend checking out Beirut Libanez in Victorei Square. It’s run by a Lebanese family who prides themselves on providing high quality and delicious food to their patrons.
Any time you visit you can expect there to be at least a handful of people waiting for a delicious kebap or chicken hummus. For $2 to $5 you can easily grab a huge kebap, a salad and a lemonade. There is plenty of room inside but it’s a good idea to get your food to go and enjoy your meal in one of the squares
Timisoara Street Art & Murals
Throughout the city are numerous examples of outstanding street art and graffiti. Timisoara is a popular student town so there are plenty of young people who are passionate about adding their own flair to the walls of the city. While there are quite a few abandoned and run down buildings in the city center the locals are always trying to improve and add a better touch.
Even if you’re only in the city for a few hours it’s hard to walk very far without coming across some street art. Keep an eye out and be sure to glance at abandoned buildings or sides of large apartments for some local graffiti. Even if you’re not into this style of urban art you’re still bound to be impressed with what you find.
Liberty Square, positioned between Victorei and Unirii Squares, is the oldest square in the city. Similar to the other Squares, Liberty Square is lined with gorgeous Baroque-style buildings as well as the Former Town Hall, the St.Mary’s and St. Nepomunk Monument and the impressive Military Casino.
This square tends to be quieter, and while the tram runs through one of the cross-streets many of the pedestrians here are making their way to a different location so it’s a good place to hang out for a few minutes and snap some photographs of the surrounding architecture.
Rent a Bike and Ride Around
Over the past year the city has made an effort to turn Timisoara into a more bike-friendly city. There are a few different businesses you can rent bikes from but I recommend iVelo. It’s similar to the bike-rental systems in other cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Paris and Vienna. Simply set up an account with your credit card and you can get riding around town in just a few minutes.
Since late 2014 bike lanes and markers have been installed throughout the Timisoara city center. Regardless of the time of year you visit you’ll see quite a few people cycling around and it’s especially perfect for tourists. The city is also very flat so it’s extremely simple to navigate around on your bicycle without getting too tired.
Get Lost in Roses Park
At the outer edge of the Old Town, near the Orthodox Cathedral, is the Roses Park. Legend has it that this park was designed and created for the rich women who lived in Timisoara during the 19th century. It’s said that these women imported their own roses from abroad and today you can find quite the variety of beautiful flowers in the park.
There are more than 600 different species of flowers and plenty of gravel walking trails throughout the park. It’s a popular place for locals to visit during weekends and many people come to take their wedding photos here.
And there you have it. A look at some of the best things to do in Timisoara. Have you been there? Let me know what you thought of the city and what some of your favorite things to do where in the comments down below!