It’s impossible to walk for a few days through the heart of Timișoara and not get your own heart stolen by this amazing city in Romania. Wandering around the streets of the old fortress among the elegant facades of the palaces or slowly floating along the peaceful Bega River with the majestic cathedral in the background, travelers have to adhere to a slower pace in this enchanting city. Timișoara is considered the second cultural center of Romania and is the only city in Europe to have state theaters in three different languages: Romanian, German and Hungarian. It is also the first town in Europe to have electrical street lighting and countless other premieres. Once known as „Little Vienna” for the beauty of its architecture and renowned as a „city of flowers” for its many charming parks, Timișoara truly is worth exploring. Visiting Timisoara means to discover its incredible past and amazingly rich legacy, with thousands of interesting buildings, inspiring museums, beautiful parks and a vibrant atmosphere.
Visiting Timisoara is much more than a travel experience; it’s something like slowly immersing into an atmosphere that cannot be easily defined. Maybe the rich historical heritage, the strong multicultural yet homogenous community, the freedom and youthful spirit it exudes or the green spaces that embrace the city make it such a fascinating and unique destination in Romania.
Timișoara is the third city of Romania, with a population of over 300.000 people. Located in western extremity of the country, it is the capital of the historical region of Banat. The city had a fascinating and troubled past, dominating the surrounding area for centuries and being one of the most important strongholds during medieval times. The ancient settlements appeared in what used to be a swampy area, followed by the development of the first fortified stronghold in the 12th century. The city of Timișoara was ruled and conquered several times by different military powers, once serving as the capital of the Hungarian Kingdom under Charles Robert of Anjou. It was conquered by the Ottomans and served as their military bastion for two centuries. The Habsburg Empire conquered it in 1716 and the city starts developing rapidly to become one of the most important multicultural centers in this part of Europe. The whole region of Banat becomes part of Greater Romania in 1919 and the city has Romanian administration for the first time. At the dawn of the 20th century, Timișoara had lost its military importance and the strong walls of the fortress were almost entirely removed to make rooms for further development. Today, the city is one of the most important in the country, a major industrial, commercial, financial, medical and university center.
The main tourist area of the city is known as the Timișoara Fortress and is located at the center of the modern city, with most of the buildings having historical and architectural value. In fact, there are almost 15.000 historical buildings in the city, making it the largest architectural complex in the country. Timișoara old town is located inside the inner ring of the city and is almost completely car-free area, surrounded by parks, large boulevards and the Bega River to the south. Visiting Timisoara is an extremely enjoyable experience, with superb buildings surrounding several large squares, connected to the interwar architectural complex flanking Victory Square, dominated by the magnificent Metropolitan Church. Other historical and architectural heritage monuments can be found in the old Josefin and Elizabeth quarters south of the river as well as the Fabric industrial quarter east of the old fortress.
What to See in Timișoara
Exploring the heritage and visiting Timișoara is fairly easy and straightforward, with most attraction found within walking distance and the entire old fortress area being a pedestrian only zone. Travelers can start discovering the city from its most distinctive landmark, the imposing yet splendid Metropolitan Cathedral of Timișoara, located on the northern bank of the river and just south of the old town area. A symbol of the city and an impressive architectural achievement, it was built between 1936 and 1941. It used to be the tallest religious building in Romania for a long time and one of the largest orthodox churches in the world. Its unique and rather unusual architectural style influenced by Byzantine and Moldavian churches, its impressive height of over 90 meters with 11 beautiful spires, its seven massive bells and splendid interior paintings, its rich collection of old books and icons housed inside the basement museum are just a few of the reasons why this special monument is worth a visit.
The cathedral is located at the southern end of the long and elegant Victory Square, flanked by several impressive palaces and filled with green areas and monuments. At its northern end, the square is enclosed by the beautiful building of the National Opera House of Timișoara. The building that houses these establishments was built in the second half of the 19th century as Culture Palace by two architects from Vienna. Damaged by two fires over the years, its facade was redesigned in neo-byzantine style after 1920. The building also houses the Mihai Eminescu National Theater, as well as the German and Hungarian theaters. This square was also the epicenter of the 1989 Romanian Revolution that started in Timișoara, when about 40,000 people gathered here on the 20th of December. The superb architectural complex that flanks the long square includes the Weiss, Lloyd, Neuhausz, Merbl, Dauerbach, Hilt, Szechenyi, Loffler and Commerce Chamber palaces, dating from the beginning of the 20th century.
A little to the west of Victory Square and close to the Opera House is the oldest building to survive in Timișoara, a legacy from medieval times. The Huniade Castle was built between 1308 and 1315 by Charles Robert of Anjou, king of the Hungarian Kingdom. It was rebuilt by John of Hunedoara after the earthquake of 1443 and again in 1856 after being severely damaged during the 1849 siege of Timișoara. It housed the National Banat Museum, until it went under capital renovations in 2006 that are still undergoing. Going north from the Victory Square, travelers quickly arrive in another charming space, the smaller Liberty Square, surrounded by superb buildings and dominated by the beautiful statue of St. Mary and St. John of Nepomuk. This square represents the oldest nucleus of Timișoara, with some of the oldest buildings in the city, including the Old Town Hall, the Atlants House, the former War Chancellery, the Military Casino and the Garrison Commandment. Other buildings located nearby include the former Hospital and Church of the Mizericordian Order or the Franciscan Monastery Cloister. Most of these buildings date back to the 18th cnetury. The spectacular Fortress Synagogue can be found a little to the north, built between 1863 and 1865 in beautiful Moorish style.
A few hundred meters to the north, the enchanting Unity Square delights travelers with its amazing architecture. The Holy Trinity Statue stands at the center, surrounded by elegant palaces and impressive churches. The eastern side is dominated by the majestic Romano-Catholic Cathedral of St. George, built between 1736 and 1774 in an elegant baroque style. While the exterior might look rather austere, the interior is spectacular, with nine beautiful altars, interesting icons and statues, a very old organ and other features. The western side includes the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, which was built in mid-18th century and faces another street. The southern side of Unity Square includes the superb Baroque Palace that once housed the central administration during the Habsburg rule of Timișoara. Today, it houses the fascinating Art Museum of Timisoara and includes priceless and extensive art collections. It features old paintings and religious icons from the region of Banat, modern Romanian art, a Corneliu Baba collection, European art, decorative art, European graphic and many other temporary exhibitions. The other palaces surrounding the square complete the whole architectural complex, including the Lion House, Bruck House, Emmer House, Count of Mercy House, Dejan Palace, Bishop’s Palace or the Military Hospital.
Walking a little towards the east, visitors can first admire the Dicasterial Palace, built in the second half of the 19th century as a replica of the Medici Palace in Florence. Further along, there are the last remnants of the old fortress walls, today known as the Maria Theresia Bastion. It has been completely rehabilitated recently and now is an enchanting space that houses cultural activities and cafes, as well as the National Banat Museum, currently relocated from the Huniade Castle that is being renovated for a many years. The museum includes fascinating collections of history, archaeology and natural sciences. A unique exhibit of the museum is the completely restored Parța Neolithic Sanctuary, about 6.000 years old and one of the few discovered in Europe. Just a few steps to the northwest of Unity Square, the peaceful Botanical Garden offers a shaded and colorful atmosphere. Timișoara is considered the city of flowers and a green destination, with many parks and gardens, especially along the Bega River, south of the old town area. Spaces like the Civic Park, Central Park, Roses Park, Children Park, Justice Park and more create a green belt that gives the city a charming ambiance.
The small river that passes through Timișoara is called Bega and is actually the first navigation channel to open in Romania. Recently, it is also served by vaporetto style boats that are used for public transportation; although travelers might use them as a cheap and pleasant way to explore the city. There are also many cycling paths all throughout the city, especially along the banks of Bega, going all the way to the Serbian border. On the northeastern edge of the city, travelers can also take some time to explore the Banat Village Museum and the adjacent Timișoara Zoo, two extremely interesting and entertaining attractions. All of these and much more make visiting Timișoara one of the most surprising and enjoyable places in Romania, a diverse and impressive city with a rich heritage and a fascinating past. It will definitely leave a strong emotional impact upon visiting and experience its true spirit.
Best Accommodation in Timisoara
9.3 Rating from 790 Reviews!
Located in the heart of the old town Timișoara, this excellent hotel has excellent reviews, offering great family rooms with bathrooms and seating area, a restaurant, shared lounge, a bar and beautiful views of the city!
8.3 Rating from 1644 Reviews!
One of the most popular and renowned hotels in Timișoara, it offers comfortable rooms just a few minutes from the center, featuring impressive views of the city, a swimming pool, a bar, sauna, fitness center and a restaurant!
9.4 Rating from 100 Reviews!
Located very close to the center of old town, these units feature exceptional facilities, including large and modern bedrooms, fully-equipped bathrooms, living rooms with sofa, kitchenette and dining area!
9.6 Rating from 76 Reviews!
Located in the center of old town, a few hundred meters from Unity Square, this hostel offers beds in modern rooms with shared bathrooms and air conditioning for very affordable prices.
10 Rating from 25 Reviews!
Located in the center of Timisoara Fortress, just a few hundred meters from most attractions, these amazing apartments include every faciltiy guests might need for a perfect stay!
9.2 Rating from 129 Reviews!
Located in the old town area just 400 meters from the cathedral, this elegant apartment includes 1 bedroom, 1 living room with a sofa, a kitchen, bathroom and balcony over the square.
Where to Eat in Timisoara – Romania
Grill to Chill
Best steaks in this part of Romania, with amazing dishes and pleasant atmosphere! Website
Extremely appreiate restauranst with amazing Mediterranean, European and Seafood menu! Website
The restaurant, wine-bar and wine-shop offers a unique experience of pairing great food and wine! Website
An excellent restaurant right inthe center of town, offering delicious European and Italian dishes! Website
Other Attractions Near Timisoara
Town of Lugoj
The second city of the Timis County, Lugoj is located about half an hour from Timisoara and offers several interesting monuments, including buildings and churches dating from the 18th century.
Recaș Vineyards and Winery
One of the oldest vineyards in Romania and the most important in the western parth of the country, Recaș produces amazing wines that can be sampled inside the winery, located just 30 km from Timisoara.
Located about 1 hour drive from Timisoara, this small and old village is truly unique. Dating back to 18th century and founded by foreign immigrants to Banat, it is the only circular village in Romania.