Timișoara is a university city and industrial centre in western Romania, with a multicultural heritage due to its location in the Banat region and a history of ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. Nicknamed "Little Vienna" or the "City of Flowers", it is known for its sizable historical urban core with wide-ranging architectural styles.
Romania's third largest city with a population of 319,000 (2011), Timișoara is the administrative centre of Timiș County, and is considered the informal capital of the broader historical Banat region (one of the eastern frontiers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now shared by Romania, Serbia and Hungary). It is the pre-eminent economic hub of the region, with a strong presence of automotive industry, and houses one of the most powerful IT sectors in Romania. Timișoara, like many other large cities in Romania, is a medical tourism service provider especially for dental care. There are about 40,000 students enrolled in the city's four public and two private universities, including international students from over 50 countries.
Along with Oradea, Timișoara is part of the Art Nouveau European Route. The city is designated as one of the three European Capitals of Culture for 2023.
Today's Timișoara was the site of a medieval city-fortress of Temes (recorded in Latin as Castrum Tymes), built by Béla IV of Hungary. In the first half of the 14th century the city, by then called Temesvár – referring to a vár (Hungarian for castle) on the river Temes (Timiș) – was the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary for several years. In reality, Temesvár was merely adjacent to Timiș: As the city limits grew in later centuries, it expanded to the southern banks of the nearby river Bega (the course of which was also altered by engineering); the river that passes through present-day Timișoara is in fact Bega. In 1443, Hungarian general and leader John Hunyadi rebuilt the royal castle (today's Huniade Castle) and the walls, damaged in an earthquake, to defend from Ottoman expansion. After several attempts in the following decades, the Ottomans captured Timișoara, and from mid-16th to the early 18th century it was the capital of an Eyâlet (principal administrative division of the Ottoman Empire).
In 1716, Temesvár was conquered from the Turks by an Austrian army led by Prince Eugene of Savoy, subsequently becoming the capital of the newly established province – Banat of Temeswar (banate meaning the domain of a ban, a feudal title; however, this was just nominal as the province was not governed by a ban) and was developed into a fortified city of the Habsburg Empire. There are notable buildings such as the Military Casino from this period. After 1848 Temesvár was the capital of a separate crown land of the Habsburg Empire, and from 1867 it belonged to the Hungarian half of the Dual Monarchy. At that time, Germans made up the majority of the population. Gradually, the Hungarian population increased, and later also that of Romanians, so that in 1930 all three ethnic groups were represented roughly equally. In the second half of the 19th century the city prospered: in 1857 it was connected to the railroad network, in 1869 it got a horse-drawn tramway (electrified in 1899), and in 1884 it was one of the first cities in Europe to get electric street lighting. This era also brought a flourishing of culture. Many of the city's prominent buildings are from this period. The sprawling Habsburg fortress was dismantled in 1892, considered antiquated by that time, and incompatible with modern era city-planning. What is nowadays called "Timișoara Fortress" comprises all the separate remainders of the structure, such as the Theresia Bastion (named after the empress Maria Theresa), which have been preserved as a historic monument.
Since the end of WW1 the city has been a part of Romania. In 1920, the Polytechnic University was founded. The city grew rapidly, with mainly Romanians immigrating, while the number of Hungarians and Germans stagnated, the latter even decreasing sharply due to emigration after World War II and during the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu (who tried to assimilate the minorities). The city became a center of heavy industry and manufacturing. In December 1989, a series of mass street protests in Timișoara started the Romanian Revolution that overthrew the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu, and marked the end of communist rule.
- 1 Timișoara Traian Vuia International Airport (TSR IATA Aeroportul Internațional Timișoara - Traian Vuia). Romania's third-largest airport, 10 km away from the city centre. There are regular flights from/to numerous major European and domestic destinations: Bucharest (TAROM), Munich (Lufthansa), Barcelona, Bergamo, Dortmund, Forli, London Luton, Madrid, Paris Beauvais, Rome Fiumincio, Treviso and Valencia (WizzAir), Cluj and Iași (Blue Air), Berlin, London, Milan, Bucharest, Brussels, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf (RyanAir). Express Bus line 4 links the airport with downtown Timișoara (fare: 2.5 lei, tickets available at the parking ticket pay desk inside the terminal); car hire is also available.
The main railway station is Timișoara North railway station, located on Strada Gării 2, west of the city centre. There are direct trains daily from Budapest (a 5-hour trip) and Vienna (8 hours). There are numerous trains from Bucharest and most major towns in Romania. From Sibiu, for example, it is about 8 hours (73.50 lei, Sep 2018).
Direct trains from Belgrade have been discontinued but it is still possible to travel, with a simple change in the border town of Vršac. (The bus connection over the Serbia-Romania border does not run on public holidays, so check your calendar!)
- 2 Timișoara North railway station (Gara Timișoara Nord), Str. Gării 2 (West of the city centre).
- 3 Timișoara East railway station (Gara Timișoara Est), Strada Avram Imbroane 1. Smaller station, some regional and local trains arrive here.
Belgrade (Serbia) is 150 km away (a 3-hour drive).
Budapest (Hungary) is 286 km away (a 3-hour drive).
The 4 Autogara bus terminal lies 500 m to the west of the Gara de Nord railway station. Tickets are purchased directly from the driver, but there are timetables and an information desk inside the small hut by the entrance.
Every day there is a bus from Vršac, just over the border with Serbia, ~2 hours. From Vršac there are many buses further into Serbia.
- Autogenn. Autogenn minibuses leave every 90 min from Oradea via Arad. They arrive in the carpark next to the Medlife clinic on Boulevard Gen. Ion Dragalina, the main road going south from Gara de Nord. (40 lei, 3 hr 15 min).
It is also easy to share a taxi in the direction of the border (Cenad), leaving at Calea Torontalului.
By public transportEdit
You could walk most places in central Timișoara, but there is a good transportation service including trolleys, trams and buses. The majority of buses and trolleys are new. The trams are old German models, but the travel conditions are quite decent. A major problem in Romanian public transportation is respecting a schedule. Timișoara makes no exception. Some of the tram and bus stations have digital panels which list the waiting times, but they're not always accurate. Route planner is available online.
There are two types of tickets, one for the three express lines (buses) and one for the rest of the buses, trams and trolleys. The prices for one ticket are around 3 lei and 1.5 lei respectively, and you can find them at press stands in almost every station. You can also buy passes for a day, a week, two weeks or a month, on one, two or all lines.
In Timișoara there is no shortage of taxis. You can reach about any point in Timișoara by paying a fee of 15-50 lei. Don't negotiate with the driver and insist for the meter to be turned on. If you don't want to overpay avoid private taxis and call for a local taxi company (Tudo, Radio, Timișoara, Autogenn, Fan or Prompt). The taxis licensed by the City Hall have a distinctive oval black sticker on the backseat doors, while the pricier, probably scam taxis have a sign on the top of the car which only says 'Taxi' and doesn't mention the name of the taxi company. These taxis are twice as expensive, but they are also legal. If you see a taxi driver approaching and asking you for a ride, reject it, and search for a local company taxi.
If you want to rent a car there are plenty of car rental companies. They offer good priced services and all types of vehicles.
Getting around the city is also possible by bicycle, and during rush hours with fair weather is far better than getting stuck in heavy traffic. There are also dedicated cycle lanes in some parts of the city (starting from the city center). However, be mindful of potholes popping up every now and then and be extra-cautious when sharing the road with cars, as some drivers tend to utterly disrespect anyone traveling on two wheels (be it a bicycle or a motorcycle).
Timișoara is known in Romania as the City of Parks.
- 1 Botanical Park (Parcul Botanic) (near Union Square).
- 2 Rose Park (Parcul Rozelor) (near Victory Square).
- 3 Central Park (Parcul Central) (near Victory Square, just behind the Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral).
- 4 Children's Park (Parcul Copiilor).
- 5 Zoo (Grădina Zoologică) (in the same area as the Village Museum). It's a small zoo, but your children will love it.
- 6 Victory Square (Piața Victoriei). It's the symbol of the Romanian revolution. Here you can find the Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral, the Opera House, the City Hall, the Philharmonic, the Museum of Banat and beautiful palaces built at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
- 7 Union Square (Piața Unirii). With its beautiful palaces and all the coffee houses it is the old city's center. Here you find St. George's Cathedral (The Catholic Dome), The Baroque Palace (now a beautiful art gallery), the Serbian Church and other important buildings.
- 8 Liberty Square (Piața Libertății) (between Piața Unirii and Piața Victoriei). A small square with old buildings. Here you can find the old City Hall and the beautiful St. Nepomuk's Statue.
- 9 Traian Square (Piața Traian). This is also a part of the old city, but is more quite like a separated neighbourhood, often called Fabric, due to his old factories around that used to run from old times. The buildings are beautiful, but be careful. Try not to visit the area at night and always keep an eye on your valuables. Nearby you can find Timișoreana brewery and Stefano Restaurant.
- 10 Maria Square (south of the metropolitan Cathedral in Elisabetin neighborhood). Place where the anti-communist revolution started in 1989. Here you can also find an incredible statue of St. Mary and the Cathedral of the Reformed Church.
Places of worshipEdit
- 11 Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Ortodoxă).
- 12 St. George's Cathedral (Catedrala Sf. Gheorghe).
- 13 Serbian Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Ortodoxă Sârbă).
- 14 Millenium Church (Biserica Millenium). Built in neo-romanesque style between 1896 and 1901.
- 15 Iosefin Synagogue (Sinagoga din Iosefin).
- 16 Fabric Synagogue (Sinagoga din Fabric).
- 17 Citadel Synagogue (Sinagoga din Cetate).
Notable buildings and structuresEdit
- 18 Maria Theresia Bastion (Bastionul Maria Therezia). Part of Timișoara's old defensive walls. The Bastion is near Piața Unirii; it has been renovated.
- 19 Huniade Castle (Castelul Huniade). The oldest monument of Timișoara, built between 1443 and 1447. It houses the Museum of Banat.
- 20 Decebal Bridge (Podul Decebal). The largest span bridge built on concrete beams in 1909 Europe, it became a case study in the field for its innovation.
- 21 Museum of Banat (Muzeul Banatului), Bastionul Maria Theresia, Strada Martin Luther 4, ☏ +40 256 491 339.
- 22 Banat Village Museum (Muzeul Satului Bănățean), Strada Avram Imbroane 1 (near Padurea Verde (the Green Forest)), ☏ +40 256 225 588. Here you can discover the Romanian tradition and traditional houses from different ethnic groups found in Romania.
- 23 Art Museum (Muzeul de Artă). Among the permanent exhibitions, here you can see the largest collection of Corneliu Baba paintings.
- 24 Revolution Memorial (Memorialul Revoluției), Oituz 2B (just north of Piața Unirii, near the Faculty of Art), ☏ +40 256 294 936. M-F 08:00-16:00, Sa 10:00-14:00. A great museum to visit to better understand what happened in the short seven days during which Romania overthrew its communist government in 1989. A 30-min video with English subtitles explains the events. Only some of the exhibits have English explanations. The thematic guided tours are available in Romanian, English, German, French, Italian, Hungarian and Serbian languages. 10 lei entry, photo permit 10 lei.
- 25 Military Museum (Muzeul Militar).
- 26 Communist Consumer Museum (Muzeul Consumatorului Comunist) (in the basement of Scârț Loc Lejer). 11:00-23:00. This "museum" is a collection of household items from the communist piled in several rooms in the basement of a funky cafe. Turn the lights on, and off when you leave. By donation.
- 27 Galeria Calina. Contemporary art space.
- 28 Jecza Gallery.
- Calpe Gallery (inside the city fortification, also known as the Bastion area).
Enjoy nice coffee products in Piața Unirii (Union Square) or Piața Victoriei (Victory Square). Taste the week-end nightlife by dancing all night long at Club The Note or D'Arc, or their summer locations, River Deck or D'Arc terrace on the shores of Bega Channel. Eat a great pizza or pasta at Da Toni, eat tasty Romanian food at Club XXI, don't miss the cocktails at River Deck or Club The Note. If you like shopping, Iulius Mall is the place to visit. Enjoy a nice walk in the Botanical Park. Timișoara is a very cosmopolitan city and if you ask around you can enjoy all kinds of activities.
- 1 The Banat Philharmonic (Filarmonica Banatul).
- 2 The National Theatre (Teatrul Național).
- 3 Sala 2 (Teatrul Național Timișoara - Sala 2). This former stable was turned into a modern performance space by the National Theatre team.
- 4 Centre Culturel Français (Centrul Cultural Francez), Bulevardul Constantin Diaconovici Loga 46, ☏ +40 256 490 544. The French and Francophile communities of Timișoara frequent the local CCF which organizes exhibits, concerts, and various events.
- Rent a bike (tBike), Circumvalatiunii Street, ☏ +40 730 480 369. 24 hr. Explore the city of Timișoara with a bike. There are some special bike lanes in Timișoara but they are part of the sidewalk most of the time. Overall biking in Timișoara is not that easy so be prepared to share you bike path with pedestrians and parked cars. Often there is no bike lane and you have to cycle on the main road. You should also choose the bike tours of Timișoara and Revolution from 1989. 25 lei.
- The German National Theatre, Alba Iulia Street (in the same building as the National Theatre and the Opera).
- The Hungarian National Theatre, Alba Iulia Street (same place as the German Theatre).
In Timișoara you can buy everything, from well known brands to Romanian products. The important shops are in the city center. If you want an authentic adventure visit Piata Aurora or the Brancoveanu shopping area, but be careful and keep a close eye on your valuables. Police won't help you at all.
- Piața Victoriei. The centre of the city, with many shops.
- Iulius Mall. One of the biggest shopping malls in Eastern Europe. You can find many Romanian and international brands and a Cinema City multiplex there.
- Bega Shopping Center (near Hotel Continental). The first important shopping mall in Timișoara.
- Timisoara Shopping City, Calea Sagului 100 (on the main street towards Belgrade). It has many international retailers.
If you want to eat in Timișoara, you can find places for every budget. Because Timișoara was and still is a very cosmopolitan city, the local cuisine is influenced by Italian, Serbian, Hungarian, German, Turkish and Arabic cuisine.
- 1 The Sandwich Factory, Strada Emanoil Ungureanu 8.
- 2 Suppa Bar, Strada Florimund Mercy 7. Soup restaurant.
- 3 Lera's Bistro, Intrare pe, Strada Gheorghe Lazar, Strada Mărășești Nr. 6.
- 4 Restaurant Karađorđe, Piața Unirii 4.
- 5 Radha Cuisine, Strada Emanoil Ungureanu 13. Indian
North railway stationEdit
- 6 Fast Food Sultan (just in front of the train station). Looks very crappy from the outside, but don't let that scare you away. This is seriously the best kebab/falafel place in town. Everything is fresh and home made. Be prepared to wait for a long time though: the owner is very slow and talks a lot with everybody that walks in.
- 7 Timișoreana Beer, Strada Ștefan cel Mare 31-27 (near the beer factory). Known for its barbecue meals and cold local beer.
- 8 BioFresh. Delicious vegan food.
- 9 Casa Bunicii 1 (Grandma's House), Strada Mareşal Alexandru Averescu 1B. Serves really well cooked traditional and local food.
- 10 Casa Bunicii 2, Strada Petőfi Sándor 79. This popular place opened a second location.
- 11 DAF Junior, Str. Gloriei, Nr. 5 (in the Eastern suburbs), ☏ +40 256 395998. Romania meets Las Vegas! This surreal complex that includes bowling, bars and tennis also has a very good value restaurant with outside terrace. The dishes are enormous and lots of fusion Romanian cuisine on offer at very good prices.
- 12 Dinar, Strada Barbu Iscovescu 2. Serbian restaurant.
- 13 Drunken Rat, Strada Matei Corvin (on the north-east corner of Piața Unirii). Pub
- 14 Marele Restaurant Chinezesc, Simion Bărnuțiu Street (near Piața Badea Cârțan). ~30 lei for a dish.
- 15 Tinecz, Calea Aradului. Very popular restaurant in Timișoara.
- 16 Stradivarius, Strada General Eremia Grigorescu 14. Serbian cuisine, with a view.
- 17 Sabres, Strada Craiova nr. 1. Sea food restaurant.
- 1 D'Arc Club, Piața Unirii. A well-known club in the basement of an old building, is notorious for the Thursday Night Party and for being overcrowded. No entrance fee.
- Fratelli By The River, Bulevardul Vasile Pârvan 5 (along the Bega River). Lots of singing and drinking and dancing and general revelry.
Bars and cafesEdit
- 2 Cuib d'Arte, str. Mărășești nr. 14. Bar, café, tea house
- 3 Papillion Cafe (north of Piața Unirii). 24/7.
- 4 Reciproc. Café
- 5 Scârț Loc Lejer. Nicely decorated bar/cafe with comfy couches and free Wi-Fi. The Communist Consumer Museum hosted in their basement is worth visiting too!
- 6 La Căpițe. Beer garden with good events.
- 1 Freeborn Hostel, Str. Patriarh Miron Cristea Nr. 3 Ap.1 (formerly Asanesti), ☏ +40 743 438534, firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean, cozy hostel in the centre. One minute walk from main attractions, cafes, restaurants, clubs and parks. Free Wi-Fi, internet, Wii console, fully equipped kitchen, hair dryer, large lockers in the room. 57 lei (dorm) or 156 (double).
- 2 Hotel Arizona, str Musicescu no 168, ☏ +40 755 149 849, email@example.com. The hotel has an accommodation capacity of 60 persons in single rooms, double rooms, triple rooms and suites. Rooms are equipped with TV, telephone and air conditioning, guests will benefit also a high speed wireless internet connection in entire hotel free of charge. The exterior parking and the courtyard parking of the hotel have non-stop video surveillance for your vehicle's safety. 144 lei.
- 3 Hostel Cornel, Strada Oituz 5, Timișoara 300086, Romania, ☏ +40 770 239 681. It has kind of an artsy touch with murals on the various doors, plus a kitchen and cafe/bar and wifi and bike storage. 111 lei.
- 4 Hostel Mosaico Alfetta, Strada Tapia 4, ☏ +40 756 087 260. It's like staying in a Russian dacha, only this is Romania. Enjoy a nice cheese blintz or something like it with your coffee here in the morning.
- 5 InVerve Hostel, Strada Mărășești nr 10, ☏ +40 740 077 672. In an old downtown building, but don't let that discourage you since things are pretty fresh and clean. 131 lei.
- 6 Casa Leone, B-dul Eroilor (Southeast of University), ☏ +40 256-292621. Free Wi-Fi, garden, they speak good English, German, Hungarian, French, German, Italian. 181 lei.
- 7 NH Timisoara, Strada Pestalozzi 1/a, ☏ +40 256 407440. Modern hotel has 80 well-furnished rooms, a relaxation center and state-of-the-art meeting rooms. 250 lei.
- 8 Hotel Continental, Bulevardul Revoluției din 1989 2A, ☏ +40 256 494 144. Looks like an old concrete skyscraper from a bygone era but still holding its own as far as accommodation goes in Timișoara. Enjoy a nice indoor or outdoor pool splash or relax in the bar. 259 lei.
- Hotel La Residenza, str.Independentei 14, ☏ +40 256 401 080. Shakira stayed here for her concert. 439 lei.
There are free public toilets underneath Piața Unirii.
Timișoara and its approach roads have 4G from all Romanian carriers. As of Aug 2022, city centre has 5G from Digi, Orange and Vodafone.
- Deta (40 km south)
- Jimbolia (45 km west) – a small town 40 km west of Timișoara on the border with Serbia; several interesting cultural and recreational attractions.
- Arad (60 km north) – citadel, old town with Art Nouveau buildings, Cultural Palace; twelve trains per day, taking 50 minutes.
- Lugoj (60 km east) – 1½ hours by bus.
- Sânnicolau Mare (65 km northwest) – birthplace of Béla Bartók; 2 hours by bus.
- Deva (155 km east) – There are eight trains daily, taking 3½ hours.
- Szeged (115 km northwest) – largest city in Southern Hungary, famous for salami, paprika and sunshine; 1½ hours by bus.
- Kikinda (70 km west) in Serbia
- Vršac (75 km south) – Serbian border town; there are two trains per day from Nord Train station (1½ hr).
- Belgrade (150 km southwest) – Serbian capital; via Vršac.
- Novi Sad (150 km west) – another regional centre in the Pannonian Basin, sharing some of the architectural styles; its Habsburg fortress from the same period has been preserved