During my 3 month stay in Romania, I have made it my mission to explore the best of what this country has to offer! From the bustling city life of Bucharest to the quaint Transylvanian villages and everything in between.
For quite a while, I have been itching to visit Timisoara also known as “Little Vienna”, the largest city in Western Romania. Only 40km from the Serbian border and 70km from the Hungarian border, the city of Timisoara is influenced by many cultures.
Despite it’s close proximity to two bordering countries, Timisoara is over 400km away from Brasov, the city where I am currently based. Certainly too far to for a day trip, my boyfriend and I decided to book a last minute hotel just outside of the city centre and brace myself for a long car journey.
After driving West for over 6 hours and watching the mountains fade into plains, we made it to Timisoara. We had no trouble finding our accommodation for the night, Hotel Galaxy, which was located about 3km outside of the city centre. I wrote an entire post about my stay at the hotel and you can read it here.
Rather than catching a taxi to downtown, we decided to drive into Timisoara and try our luck at finding a parking spot near the old town. We made the mistake of trying to drive into downtown at peak rush hour and ended up getting stuck in traffic for about 20 minutes.
We managed to find a free parking in close proximity to the main sights of Timisoara, just a couple blocks away from the Orthodox Cathedral. For those heading to Timisoara and looking for free parking, I have included the exact location on this map. I believe that parking here is free on weekends and after 6pm on weekdays.
With our cameras in hand, we set off on our self-guided tour and Instagram mission of Timisoara. To be honest, I wouldn’t consider either of us to be the quintessential travellers. We don’t particularly enjoy museums or any paid attractions for that matter. Instead, we prefer to slowly explore a new city on foot, admiring the architecture and searching for cheap eats!
Our first stop was the Romanian Orthodox Cathedral, which is located at the south side of the famous Piata Victoriei or Victory Square. There is also a memorial in front of the Cathedral that is dedicated to those who lost their lives during the 1989 Revolution. After taking several photos and admiring the mosaic tiled roof on the church, we began our walk down Piata Victoriei.
The main square, Piata Victoriei is a pedestrian-only zone and is home to some of Timisoara’s most exquisite baroque buildings, restaurants and hotels. At 6pm on a Friday night, this square was packed with locals who were enjoying the warm weather and children who were playing in the gardens.
We continued our walk to the end of Piata Victoriei, where it then turns into Piata Operei or Opera Square, which is coincidently home to the National Opera House.
Situated only two blocks away from Piata Operei is Piata Libertaii or Liberty Square. Yes, there are a LOT of squares in Timisoara! To be honest, this square had nothing of great interest and I found it to be less than remarkable.
Across the old town is the final and perhaps most famous square in Timisoara, Piata Unirii or Union Square. This square is home to both the Romano-Catholic and Serbian Orthodox Cathedrals. During the 18th century, it was the commercial centre. Much to our dismay, Piata Unirii was being reconstructed during our visit and instead of being greeted by a beautiful green space surrounded by pastel buildings, we only saw sandbags and bricks.
As the sun was setting, we decided to head back to Piata Victoreii and find something to eat. Starving and exhausted after a long day, neither of us were in a particular picky mood. We spotted a hole-in-the-wall called Beirut Fast-Food Libanez and decided to try it out. As it turns out, this was a really good decision.
This family-run restaurant serves up delicious Lebanese food at cheap prices and in generous portions. We decided on getting a bowl of hummus with chicken and a chicken shawarma, which were both absolutely delicious. So delicious in fact, that we have actually contemplated driving back to Timisoara (6 hours one way) JUST to get more hummus. It was that good. I wholeheartedly recommend this place. Seriously. I don’t care where you are.. get to Timisoara right now and try this place!
The next morning, we decided to wake up early and go for one last walk around Timisoara. We pretty much went the exact same route, taking photos in the perfect morning light. On our way out of the city, we went for a quick drive across the river in the Textile District, near the University. This area also seemed quite interesting.
There are so many fun things to do in Timisoara and if when we come back to Romania, we will certainly explore more of what the city has to offer!