Mild Climate: Check. History and Culture: Check. Lively Nightlife: Check. Timisoara in western Romania ticks all the usual short break boxes, but if you’re curious to discover more about this city and the beautiful Banat region, here are five more reasons why Timisoara should be on your city-break radar…
Timisoara is known as ‘Little Vienna’ for good reason. From the buildings in the city centre with their rose pink and pistachio-coloured facades to the cobbled streets and baroque palaces and castles, this is a city that looks like it was dreamt up by the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen. Nowhere is this more evident than in the architecture of the beautiful Victory Square with its Opera House and Orthodox Cathedral and in the oldest quarter of the city, Unirii Square.
An impressive range of award-winning wines are produced from grapes grown in the Banat region. According to legend, this region of Romania was where Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, spent most of his childhood. The Recas Vineyard, which dates back to the 15th century is just a short drive from Timisoara and is well worth a visit, but if you don’t have time for a day trip, there are numerous good wine bars in the city centre, not least Barrio Wine Bar on Piata Unirii where you can raise a glass of the region’s best reds.
The Banat region is a wonderland for hikers and outdoor adventurers. Cameras and selfie-sticks at the ready for the other-worldly Bigar Waterfall which is located just two hours from Timisoara in the Izvor Bigar reservation. When it comes to active breaks, Semenic National Park offers a range of challenges, from wildlife trails through ancient forests to treks that reveal some of Europe’s most spectacular caves.
The city’s major claim to fame is that it was the first European city to introduce electric street lighting (1884), second only in the world to do so after New York. Back in 1869, Timisoara was also among the first European cities to provide horse-drawn trams as public transport, but in the 20th century, Timisoara really pushed the envelope when its citizens kicked off the Romanian Revolution that ended Ceausescu’s regime in 1989.
The Timisoareana Brewery which dates back to 1718 offers taste tours of the brewery’s unfiltered beer. For an introduction to authentic local grub, head to Casa Bunicii where you can try big hearty Romanian dishes such as Sarmale cu mamaliga (cabbage rolls with rice and meat served with polenta). One of the best things about eating out in Timisoara is that it doesn’t cost the earth – it’s a university city, meaning prices are always budget friendly.
Flights to Timisoara
- Fiona Hilliard