Train to Timisoara: Our First Romania Experience

Timisoara Romania Nothing Familiar Travel

The backstory of us visiting Timisoara isn’t what you might expect! Unfortunately, we made a slight miscalculation with Jake’s 90 days in the Schengen Area of the EU that threw a wrench into our Central Europe plans. This meant we had to leave Slovakia early and head to a non-Schengen country immediately. At 7am the next morning we were on a train from Budapest to Timisoara and heading to a city in western Romania we’d never heard of. Romania has actually been on our travel radar for some time now, but we didn’t think our first experience would be under these circumstances. Even though Timisoara was the farthest thing from planned, we found some amazing things to do, great restaurants, and so much more!

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Europe Travel Inspiration

Traveling from Budapest to Timisoara 

Traveling from Budapest to Timisoara is actually quite easy as long as you have 5-6 hours to spare. The cheapest way is booking a bus ticket through a company like FlixBus which has multiple departures per day in the summer months. By booking in advance you can get tickets for as low as 12 Euros, but this comes with a warning.

We’ve taken a lot of buses in Europe and weather and traffic are two things you can’t control. Don’t be surprised if your bus is delayed or even hours late, but I guess that’s the chance you take with such a cheap price! Also, in the winter buses don’t run as often so make sure to plan ahead.

Travel Warning: The Schengen Visa can be confusing so it’s best to double check the official website if you have any questions about your trip to Europe.

Budapest Itinerary

Visiting Timisoara by Train

From Timisoara to Budapest the train is slightly more expensive and tickets range from $25-30 Euros one way. However, in our opinion trains are the best way to travel long distance through Europe when flying isn’t possible!

The seats are comfortable and you won’t feel the twists and turns you would on a bus ride. To get on the train from Budapest to Timisoara you have to go to the international ticket counter. Also, pay attention to your seat number when boarding or you might get kicked out!

Romania Visa Info: It’s important to know that Romania is not part of the EU Schengen Area at the time of us writing this. Yet they could be joining in the near future so check the visa requirements before arriving. On the bus or train you will stop at the border exiting Hungary, and then again to enter Romania.

Visiting Timisoara Romania Travel Guide

Arriving in Timisoara Romania 

On the train from Budapest to Timisoara we met a lovely Romanian women who spent her entire life in this city. In addition to telling us about her home, she even gave us a ride in the pouring rain when we arrived! This was just the welcome we needed at 10pm after a long unexpected travel day, and a great first impression of Romania.

When the dust settled in the morning we got a first look at our new city. The streets were mostly quiet, but filled with pockets of lively cafes and Timisoara restaurants opening for the day. We saw no signs of other travelers visiting Timisoara except for a small tourism office near the main square.

It felt very working class, but colorful and friendly at the same time. Timisoara is built with a certain mystique that you can only find in the far reaches of Europe, but with many influences from the bordering countries of Hungary and Serbia.

Timisoara Historical Center

Timisoara Historic Center & Walking Streets

One of the things we loved most about visiting Timisoara was the the lovely walking streets throughout the historic center. This is where you’ll find most of the best things to do in Timisoara, and it was the focal point of almost everything we did in the city. There are several beautiful squares in the historic center with the most popular being Victoriei Square, Liberty’s Square, and Unirii Square.

While making your way from one square to another you’ll pass countless Timisoara restaurants, cafes, and shops. After a great tip from a local we made sure to grab our water bottles and fill up alongside the residents whenever passing the main water fountain. It’s located on the end of the umbrella street in the center of the city.

More Things to do in Timisoara Romania

Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral: As the most beautiful building in town, this church will be on your radar from the very beginning. With it’s 11 magnificent towers and gardens in front, we were blown away every time we passed it on our walks through the center of Timisoara.

Drinks on the River: From beer gardens to boats, the Bega River is one of the best places to grab a drink and hang out in Timisoara. Also, don’t miss out on the many rooftop bars in the city as well!

Roses Park: Built in 1891, this incredible park is the spot to see the colorful nature of Romania within the city limits. Keep in mind that the flower arrangements are seasonal so look into it before you go.

Banat Village Museum: Located just 6 kilometers from Timisoara, this open air village features dozens of 19th century peasant houses. It’s also a great opportunity to take in the history of Western Romania, and see what life was like in this region years ago.

Timisoara Romania Travel Guide

An Unexpected 100 Year Celebration

If you’re lucky enough to go during the summer months you might find yourself in the middle of a Romanian festival! Our visit just so happened to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Timisoara becoming part of Romania after World War I. What had been a quiet sleepy city for the first couple days instantly transformed.

Rows of beer tents, food trucks, and a massive stage was set up in the middle of the main square. The musical acts over that weekend ranged from traditional Romanian to hardcore rock, and we could hear it all the way from our apartment. Needless to say, they brought out all the stops for the 100 year party!

Our Favorite Restaurants in Timisoara Romania 

Out of all the things we loved about Timisoara the food was our biggest surprise. Having never tried Romanian food we really had no expectations, or the slightest idea of what to expect. If we had to describe it in one word we would say… Heavy.

Just know we mean that in the most delicious way possible! Picture different types of sausages, bean stew, and hearty vegetables mixed together in a flavorful Eastern European mesh. So without further ado, here’s our 3 favorite local Timisoara restaurants!

The Scotland Yard

Wait Scottish? Yes that’s right, and we were just as surprised as you! We should preface this by saying we were sooo hungry when we first got to Timisoara. Luckily, we found some traditional Romanian food on the Scotland Yard menu while walking by. We’re glad we stopped in because this was one of the best meals we had in town! Make sure to try the pork shank with bean stew dish when visiting Timisoara.

The Scotland Yard Location

Casa Bunicii

Our host recommended this Timisoara restaurant as the best traditional food in town, and we’re so glad she did! We enjoyed a wonderful local meal on the back deck and tried two different Romanian specialties.

The first was eggplant smothered in cheese and a zesty red sauce. Then we got into the meats with spicy spiral sausages, mustard, and perfectly cooked potatoes. Casa Bunicii is a bit of a walk outside of town, but now you know it’s well worth it!

Casa Bunicii Location

Curtea Berarilor

Still Hungry?? Well this Timisoara hot spot is sure to have what you need! Known for their massive meat plates, Curtea Berarilor is the place to try a bunch of different Romanian treats at the same time.

We saw many big groups here sharing giant pork, sausage, and chicken dishes so we had to follow suit. This is also a great restaurant to sample Timisoara beer from the local brewery that’s been opened over 300 years.

Curtea Berarilor Location

Romania Travel Tip: When visiting Timisoara you should be eating as many plums as possible. Romania is known for this scrumptious purple fruit, and they also make a popular homemade liquor called Țuică out of it.

Although we didn’t plan to end up visiting Timisoara, Romania, we found it to be an awesome first experience. The food and culture was completely new to us, and it was refreshing to start in a place that felt very local.

Have you been to Romania and have any recommendations for where we should visit next? How about any questions about the trip from Budapest to Timisoara? Let us know in the comments below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar
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Where To Stay in Timisoara Romania

Fun Vacation – Hotel Timisoara – Located in the historic district overlooking the Opera and main square, this hotel is walking distance to all the best things to do in Timisoara. You’ll also have access to the on site spa and restaurant during your stay!

Travel Couple – City Center Apartment 2 – Spacious apartment with kitchen and balcony with a great view. Great location to all the Timisoara restaurants and bars.

Hostel Life – Freeborn Hostel – The most central hostel in Timisoara and an awesome place to meet people on your journey! Welcoming atmosphere with games and a fun common room as well.

For more places to stay when visiting Timisoara Romania you can explore the latest prices here!

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Romania Travel Planning 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars for renting vehicles. A quick travel tip is to ask for a discounted weekly rate rather than booking 2-3 days.

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we flew from Norway to Poland for under $20 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld can be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around the world. From street food tours to skip the line entry passes! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Travel Planning Guide

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