While Timisoara, located in Western Romania may not seem like an obvious choice for a city break, the city is gaining more and more popularity among tourists. Timisoara has recently won the title of “European Capital of Culture 2021” and this has put the city “on the map” of many travelers.
But what can you see and do in Timisoara?! When having visitors around, most of the locals show them the city center: Victory Square and Unirii Square (the old city centre). Going out for lunch or coffee in one of the many restaurants and bars around the city centre is also a popular activity. But Timisoara has much more to offer than meets the eye.
No matter if you are a traveler or a host welcoming guests to Timisoara, here are some interesting things to do in Timisoara:
- Visit the “Revolution Memorial”.
Timisoara is where the communist revolution started in December 1989. From here it spread fast all over the country, eventually leading to the fall of communism in Romania.
The “Memorial of the Revolution” is located right next to Unirii Square. While this is not a very big museum, it gathers several objects and stories about the development of the communist regime in Romania. It hosts a permanent art exhibition, as well as articles and objects related to the Revolution.
If you pay a visit, watch the documentary about the revolution. It is a very interesting 30-minutes long film that tries to follow the events that lead up to the revolution and how the revolution developed. The film is available with English subtitles.
- Visit the “Communist Consumers’ Museum”.
Yes, Timisoara has such a museum, and it’s not a “regular” museum. It is a very “quirky” museum that collects memorabilia from the “golden age” of Romanian communism. Romanians will remember the items collected there, while foreigners will be able to take a look at how most Romanians’ lives looked like before 1989.
The museum is located in the basement of the local bar “Scart, Loc Lejer”, which means you can also enjoy a drink after your visit. Visiting the museum is free, but you can make a donation.
- Take a walk in the historical neighbourhoods of Timisoara and admire their rich architecture.
Most of the buildings in the city’s historic neighborhoods, outside of the city center, date back to the early 1900s. Fabric and Iosefin are the first two city neighborhoods to be built outside the old city citadel.
Although many buildings are not in the best condition, the Sezession-style architecture hides many beautiful details: irregular shapes, flowers, animals and human figures. Look up while you’re walking and you’ll spot them…
- Go for a day-trip
Timisoara is a lovely city, but its location is also special. Located in Western Romania, you can reach the Romanian mountains in about 3 hours. Two European capitals, Belgrade and Budapest, are also a 3-hour drive away.
If you want to explore the country’s natural beauty, Timisoara can serve as a good base-camp, as it is fairly easy to plan day-trips from Timisoara. You can easily reach the Semenic mountain and its beautiful lakes (in 2-3 hours), the Retezat mountains, with the Retezat National Park (in about 3 hours), the gorgeous Danube Gorges (3-4 hours), the famous Bigar Waterfall or the spectacular Nera gorges with the spring the Eye of the Bei. You just need to find some transportation and a local to tell you the best way to reach these destinations.
Timisoara may not be known as a popular travel destination, but that’s no good reason not to pay a visit. If you take a step back and decide to not focus on “traditional” tourist attractions, we’re sure you will easily uncover the city’s charm.
About the author: Corina Marcuti, marketing girl who loves good coffee, good stories and her hometown. Storyteller and tour guide at TimisoaraTourism.com, the unofficial tourist center in Timisoara.