Although Romania is in the European Union, the Romanians have kept their currency, so you must be prepared to change your money to lei. The great thing that you can experience during your trip to Romania is the Romanian way of celebrating New Year. Actually, it is a moment that can be spectacular, because people in several towns dress up in bear costumes and dance to street music.
Timisoara is the third largest city in Romania, and this year it was named the European Capital of Culture for 2021, in part because of the different ethnicities that inhabit the city. There is a noticeable influence from multiple ethnicities including German, Serbian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Greek, and Italian.
Respecting appearances, Timisoara is often compared to Vienna; and, actually, the two cities do have similar architecture because of the influence of the Hapsburg monarchy in Romania in the 17th century, a time when this city was known as “Little Vienna”. The architecture really looks like Vienna’s, but in Timisoara you will observe that economic challenges remain, since you will find many buildings in the center of the city that urgently need repairs and cleaning.
The most important squares in the center are Union Square, Victory Square, and Freedom Square. All those squares are spacious and are close to each other, so the city center can be seen quickly and easily by foot. While you are walking on the main streets you can imagine the presence of the old days and past centuries in this historical city because of the grand thoroughfares and monumental buildings. Actually, I saw a glamorous wedding on Freedom Square.
The streets are not crowded with people as is the case in other Balkan or European cities, but the central area is full of bars, pubs, and restaurants; and in all of these places you can grab a coffee for around 2 euros. Locals are friendly, and most of them have good knowledge of English. During my walk in Timisoara I asked one guy how to buy a bus ticket, and since there was no chance to buy it outside I decided to walk. After one minute he ran up to me and told me that he had gotten a ticket and wanted to give it to me. I really don’t know how or where he found it, but he didn’t want to leave me until I took the ticket. Actually, if you try to use public transport in Timisoara you will experience a disorganized system, so it is better to go by foot or maybe by taxi.
Famous parks in Timisoara
Timisoara is famous for its parks. There are more than a few parks worth seeing in the city, and the first of them is Roses Park. It is this park which gives Timisoara the name “City of roses”. It is located behind Freedom Square, next to the River Bega and next to the gorgeous quayside along the river. The quayside on the river is fantastic for taking a rest, running, doing yoga, studying, or just sitting on a bench in a quiet, warm place surrounded by unspoiled nature.
Next to the quayside, you will find the gorgeous Roses Park which had, during years past, more than 1200 varieties of roses. That made locals in Timisoara very proud to have Roses Park in their city. Sadly, in World War II the park was destroyed, and when the Romanians re-built it they saved only about half of the original rose species, and now there are around 600 varieties, planted in different lay-outs and surrounded with many benches. This park is also a home for many festivals and events in the city.
Other parks which are worth seeing are Central Park, Botanic Park, and Justice Park. Central Park has one big, interesting monument and a few fountains. Botanic Park has been designated a scientific reservation, and local people say that soon this park will be pronounced a protected area.
If you have eaten in other Balkan countries then you will notice that Romania cuisine is not too different from food elsewhere in the Balkans. The main difference is that Romanians combine various flavors in one dish in ways that remind many visitors of Chinese cuisine. Also there are many places to eat with organic ingredients from nearby Romanian farms such as cheese, vegetables, or meat.
Did you know?
Timisoara is one of the safest cities in Romania (and according to world’s lists, Romania is one of the safest countries in the world).
Timisoara was the first European city to install electric street lights, in the 19th century, immediately after New York.
The bridge over the river Bega was designed by Gustave Eiffel, designer of the Eiffel tower in Paris.
The opera in Timisoara stages performances in three different languages, so it is possible to watch productions in Romanian, Hungarian, and German. It is an interesting fact that 16 ethnicities live in Timisoara, so this theatre is important to the local people.
Timisoara was the second city in the world to get horse-drawn trams.
There are some sources that say that Timisoara has more than 15 thousand notable buildings which merit the status of historical monuments.
Timisoara has well-organized festivals, so there is a popular Street Art Festival called Street Delivery which attracts many visitors from all over Europe. Timisoara also boasts a student festival called StudentFest, an international jazz festival called Plai, and many others.