Have you ever woken up in a city that you have never even heard of the day before? That was Timisoara for me. Before arriving in Romania 3 weeks ago I could not have named ANY city other than Bucharest. Timisoara is actually the fourth biggest city in Romania and had the fastest internet IN THE WORLD a few years ago. Timisoara is near the border of Serbia and Hungary, it also has an airport in which Ryanair flies into so it is an easy town to get to for a long weekend away.
To be honest we were a little bit salty coming in to Romania because where we really wanted to be was Montenegro . So our ride in to town in a packed shuttle bus was not the best start…and then there was the view. Crumbling buildings everywhere and a serious feeling of communist hangover. The fact that it was early February and so grey and cold did not help.
After a few days spent in “Little Vienna” we had a change of heart! I did at least, Sam is fine with never returning 🙂
The best place to start our guide, the most important meal of the day….
Get Some Coffee
This city is not lacking cute and really decent coffee shops.
Cafe Mokum is well known in the city for good coffee. It’s a small place but seemed to always be busy. The barista was very helpful and made a really nice cappuccino.
Senneville You can’t miss the huge pink sign outside! LOTS of cakes and sweets, it’s hard to go wrong. Sam got a brownie and I got a chocolate mousse along with 2 cappuccinos for about $6.
Jacks Bistro Lot’s of flavored lattes…Pumpkin, hazelnut, mint, toffee! It felt like I was back home. We took ours to go but it seemed like a nice place to spend some time and get a bite to eat.
Beeeer Beer Beer
I am a native Portlandian, I can’t help but feel right at home in “hipster” bars. The bars here are full of young beautiful people, art and good music.
Papillon Cafe At any given point of day/night it seems to be filled with people. Cafe by day, bar by night. It is cheap too!
Aethernativ This is bar is not really marked so just follow the music and the beautiful artistic people. There are 2 stories to this and many different rooms that play different music. In the center there is a big courtyard where literally every single person was smoking. If thats not your thing, upstairs has lots of sofas and is a great place to chill. Dark beer was good and cheap.
Viniloteca Vinyl record store and craft beer bar!!
For some nice day drinking, all of the cafes lining the Unirii square are the perfect place to go. Even though it is right in the middle of town the prices on the menu here were the same as smaller pubs on side streets, which I found surprising!
Sam and I cook almost all of our meals while traveling, it is one of the ways we save money to travel so often. There were a lot of fast food at street food stands in the city center so we could not help but get some snacks while sightseeing.
Langocherie: We lived off of Langos is Hungary, I was so excited they had a stand in Timisoara! If you have never tried Langos it is deep fried flat bread covered with sour cream and cheese. If that doesn’t sound appetizing to you then we cannot travel together!
Lulius Mall Food Court: I am not one to usually recommend a food court in the mall but this one had a huge selection of food! If you are tired of Romanian fare there is Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Burgers, Subway..a bit of everything
Beirut: Run by a Lebanese family. Hummus, falafel, shawarma and open late. Enough said.
Museum of Communism: Not really a museum but more like a collection of artifacts in the basement of small cafe. You will probably walk right by it as it is unmarked so put the address into your phones GPS. It is dimly lit and a bit creepy so of course I loved it. It does give you the feeling that you are back in time and someone might be watching….
Parks on parks! You can’t walk 2 minutes without ending up in another park. I love a city with lots of green space! Though it was freezing and all of the trees were bare when we went it is still nice to stroll through the park. The rose park looks especially beautiful.
Escape the cold in the winter and visit the Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral. It is an impressive building, both interior and exterior!
Sit and people watch in one of the beautiful squares. I loved all of the different styles of architecture around Unirii Square.
Check with your bank before you go. My bank put a country restriction on Romania so I could not withdraw money or use my debit card and I had no spare cash on me! The only other country this has happened in was Malaysia. Another American we met in Romania was having troubles wth his card too. Apparently a large amount of fraud shows up here so make sure your bank does not put any restrictions of your card, or at least have plenty of cash to exchange.
Stay in the city center! We stayed about 10 minutes outside the center and it was terrible! Everything you want to do is in the center so stay as close as possible.
Locals were very friendly and people generally spoke good english….except at the bus and train station! If you are staying a hostel or a hotel they might be better at arranging transportation for you.
Would I recommend Timisoara for a weekend trip? Maybe. I think in the warmer months when the parks spring to life it would be a stunning city. The bars are fun and it has a nice energy. It also is relatively unknown so you won’t find anywhere packed with tourists. I would not go out of my way to visit again but for a quick and cheap weekend trip, this is your city!