If you are planning to visit Romania, most importantly Timisoara, you probably need a list of things to see and do. Timisoara is a big city, located in Western Romania,which has a history that dates back to the 14th century. And of course it a has lot of beautiful spots, good food and plenty of entertainment for everyone.
But what are the spots you should see even if you’re in town just for a few days or in case you’re on a budget?
Here’s our handy guide of what to do in Timisoara on a budget:
Take a stroll through the Union Square
The Union Square is the oldest square in Timisoara. It’s name dates back to 1919, after the first World War, as this is where the Romanian troupes stopped after entering the city.
However, the square dates back to the late 18th century, after the city was taken back from the Ottomans by Austro-Hungarian forces. Before that, the city still had the shape of a citadel.
The Union Square has a very baroque look to it, some of the most important buildings surrounding it are: the Roman-Catholic Dome, the Serbian-Orthodox Church, the beautiful House Brück and the Baroque Palace. But all of the other buildings are quite beautiful and they all have interesting stories to share.
What else can you do in the Union Square? You can stop for a cup of coffee or some lunch, as this is a very active part of the city. In the summertime, the place is full of lively terraces, as this is one of the locals’ favorite spots to hang out. You can also pay a visit to the Art Museum, hosted in the beautiful Baroque Palace – if you are into art and architecture, this will be worth the visit.
Take a stroll through the Victory Square
he Victory Square is also known as the Opera Square. The name of Victory Square or Piata Victoriei is actually quite new – dating back to the 1989 Anticommunism Romanian Revolution, which marked the end of communism in Romania. This square is actually where Timisoara was proclaimed the first romanian city free of comunism
The Victory Square is flanked by two of the most emblematic buildings in Timisoara: The Opera House (which also hosts the National Theatre, German state theatre and Hungarian State Theatre) in the north and the Orthodox Cathedral in the south. This is a great place to go for a stroll, just like the locals do. It dates back to the early 20th century, when it was designed to replace the former citadel walls. It was actually designed as a art nouveau “promenade” place and people still spend their time walking along the “corso” (the right side, starting from the Opera House, where the aristocracy used to walk) and the “surogat” (in the past, reserved for the workers to walk).
As for things to do, this is the heart of the Timisoara and it is full of terraces, cafes and shops. Victory Square also hosts the city’s holiday markets – like the Christmas market and the Easter market. If you’re visiting during holiday season, you’ll probably find souvenirs and local food there.
Visit The Village Museum
This museum in Timisoara is an often overlooked attraction, probably because it is quite distant from the city center, but a place worth a visit. The Village Museum reflects the beauty of an traditional Romanian village, displaying houses typical of various regions in Banat. In addition to the houses, the Village Museum has its own church, mill, and even vegetable gardens, that are looked after by the museum’s employees.
The place is even more beautiful as it is located within a forest, right in the outskirts of Timisoara. The place is ideal for a long walk in nature, as it will allow you to get a breath of fresh air without actually leaving the city. While you’re there, we recommend that you ask for a guide, especially if you want to learn more about village life in Banat and traditions.
The Village Museum also hosts a series of markets and festivals – from a “harvest” market to music festivals, so you might also get a chance to visit it during an event.
Visit the zoo
The Timisoara zoo may not be as impressive as other European zoos, but it is worth a day’s visit, especially if you are in Timisoara with your kids. The zoo is pretty well taken care of – the animals have plenty of place and look taken care of.
The zoo is right next to the Village Museum, at the outskirts of the city, so you could actually visit both during the same day. It has also been incorporated into the “Green Forest” (Padurea Verde), so it has a lot of natural vegetation.
If you are looking to spend a day out in nature, without actually leaving the city, the Village Museum and the zoo are the perfect destinations.
Take a stroll down the banks of the Bega river
You can do this either by walking or by biking. This is the perfect way to relax on a warm sunny day. The banks of the Bega are bike-friendly, as the bike lanes run through almost all of the city’s lenght. The Bega river also passes through plenty of Timisoara’s parks, so you can take the chance to enjoy The Rose Park (Parcul Rozelor), The Children’s Park (Parcul Copiilor) or Alpinet Park – which is said to be the prettiest in Timisoara.
In the summertime, you can also stop to enjoy a cold beer or a lemonade on one of the many terraces on the river bank: D’Arc, La Capite, Koloro, Vineri 15, Porto Arte etc. For many locals, going to these places is a nice way of enjoying a bit of nature in the summer – you may notice that they are quite popular, especially in the evenings.
Main article photo via: Gratziela Ciortuz