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Oradea

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Oradea [1] is one the few undiscovered gems of Romania's tourism. Despite the city being one of the largest and most important in Transylvania, with a high degree of administrative, economic and commercial importance, it is often overlooked by tourists in favor of other Transylvanian cities such as Brasov, Sighisoara or Cluj-Napoca. The city can also act as a pleasant stopover if you are coming to Romania from Hungary, or leaving the country.

Understand[edit]

The city combines a good location and climate with romantic baroque architecture from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with a lovely jumble of Romanian and Hungarian cultures. There was a settlement in roman times called Varadinum vulgo where today is Oradea. It has a long history, being mentioned for the first time in a document in the year 1113. Oradea was declared town in 1235. In 1080 it became the residence of the Roman-Catholic Bishop. Oradea is a multicultural city with Romanians (73.1%, 2011 census) and Hungarians (24.9%, 2011 census) forming the two major ethning groups. Both of these cultures are apparent in the city giving it a special charm and pleasant mix of architecture.

Oradea, situated 8 km from the Hungarian border (and a whopping 650 km by train from the capital of Romania, Bucharest), can even serve as a starting point for a Romanian journey, as it is served by trains coming in from Budapest and other parts of Europe. Many tourists also make a stopover in Oradea before travelling further on to Cluj-Napoca, Brasov or Bucharest. Recently, tourism is booming and people are even considering attributing the name Le Petit Paris (The Little Paris) to it.

Oradea is in Romania, in the county of Bihor (BH), in Transylvania. The city proper has a population of 196,367 (according to the 2011 census); this does not include areas in the metropolitan area which bring the total urban area population to approximately 350,000. Oradea is one of the most prosperous cities of Romania. The city is on the Crişul Repede river, and has a sizeable Hungarian minority, approximatly 45'000 (2011 census).

Oradea is a very wonderful city coming from someone who has done tons of research on it. Oradea also has some wonderful sites to visit while in a trip there! to find different sites to visit and also hear some input from Oradea citizens themselves visit www.virtualtourist.com

Talk[edit]

The official language of the country is Romanian, thus most people will speak Romanian. Oradea is partially bilingual, with some residents speaking both Romanian and Hungarian.

Romanians are tolerant of foreign languages and tourists, so, in the vast majority of cases you can find English, French, German, Italian or Spanish speaking people in Oradea.

English is becoming increasingly popular, and it is spoken fairly fluently by the younger generation, and by many of the middle-aged people. In supermarkets or shops, you can confidently speak in English, especially if the staff members are fairly young. However, it is always good to know a few words in the local languages, because not only will the locals appreciate you for it, but you will understand much more.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Oradea has a small airport [2], located 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of the city. This airport has TAROM [3] flights from Bucharest twice daily. These flights are average in terms of comfort, but are fairly expensive.

Oradea's closest large international airport is Cluj-Napoca, which serves flights from all corners of Europe (~152km from Oradea). Budapest's Liszt Ferenc Airport is another option for international flights (~309km from Oradea), as well as Timisoara and Debrecen, Hungary.

Connections:

City Country IATA ICAO Airport Airline(s)
Bucharest Romania OTP LROP Henri Coandă International Airport [4] TAROM [5]
Busy route
Seasonal
+
Future destination
Ø
Charter/Seasonal charter
#
The destination will be ended

By train[edit]

Getting into Oradea is moderately easy, as from Romania as from Hungary. Most visitors arrive in by train, as Oradea is located at the western extremity of the Romanian train network. If you're travelling from Bucharest, there are two or three trains per day, one of which is a very comfortable yet fairly inexpensive night train, especially if you decide to travel in a refurbished first-class sleeper. Make sure that you take your tickets well in advance if you intend to travel by the first-class sleeper cars because the tickets sell out quickly.

The journey from Bucharest is a 10-hour, 650 km trip across Romania. Getting to Oradea from other parts of Transylvania is a lot easier and quicker - there are now fast InterCity (IC) connections with brand-new trains from Germany to Cluj-Napoca, Arad and Timisoara. Besides these, there are fast trains that link Oradea at least once daily with nearly every major city in Romania.

If Oradea is your entry point to Romania, and you are coming from Hungary or Central Europe, there are five trains per day from Budapest to Oradea (some of which continue onwards to Brasov and Cluj-Napoca). Two of these trains are early in the morning, and one leaves Budapest in the afternoon and arrives in Oradea in the late evening, after about four hours.

For a good domestic trip finder see Romanian Railways [6]. For an international pan-European trip finder try Deutsche Bahn European Timetable [7].

By bus[edit]

Intercity bus and coach services running through Oradea are strongly on the increase, and most of the residents see them as a welcome departure from what they see are slow, uncomfortable trains. This is due to the fact that intercity coach travel is very much a novelty in a country where trains and aeroplanes have been the primary form of public transportation for decades. Even today, train is by far the recommended way, being much more comfortable and increasingly.

Bus services are private, and are either run by large cross-European companies such as Eurolines or small Romanian or Hungarian companies which operate coaches between, say, Oradea and Budapest.

See[edit][add listing]

The beautiful city center is worth visiting, as are the Băile Felix thermal spas, accessible by car, train or bus and located outside the city (~10km from Oradea).

Several sites worth visiting are:


  • Calea Republicii, known to the locals simply as "Republicii" or "Principala" (or "Fő utca" for Hungarian speakers) – one of the most beautiful streets of Transylvania, displaying an incredible number of Art Nouveau buildings (under restoration in 2006).
  • The Fortress of Oradea ("Cetatea Oradiei") built between the years 1114-1131, destroyed by Tartars (a migratory Mongolian tribe) in 1241, rebuilt in Italian style between 1570-1589, then extended between 1717-1780.
  • The Baroque Palace, formerly hosting the "Tarii Crisurilor" Museum ("Muzeul Tarii Crisurilor" - i.e. "Museum of the Land of Cris River"), built between 1750-1789 as a replica to the Belvedere Palace of Vienna.
  • "The Church with Moon" ("Biserica cu luna"), a Christian Orthodox church, unique in Europe, built in 1784-1790, in a baroque style with neoclassical elements. In the tower, it has a metalic sphere, half golden, half black, which, through a mecanism built in 1793, moves so that it indicates the phases of the Moon (horning).
  • Pasajul "Vulturul Negru"/Fekete Sas – the "Black Eagle" Passage, built around 1907-1908, renovated in 2013; the passage is the on of the main night-life hubs of Oradea, along with the nearby Vasile Alecsandri street
  • The "Queen Maria" Theatre (Teatrul Regina Maria / Állami Színház) – built between 1899-1900, in a neoclasical style. Its building plans were designed by two Austrian architects who had built around 100 theatres and opera houses in Europe by the end of the 19th century.
  • The Roman-Catholic Cathedral (Catedrala barocă / Székesegyház) – the biggest Baroque building in Romania, built between 1752-1780, having an imposing organ.
  • "Sirul Canonicilor" ("The Corridor of Canons"), a baroque building, built in 1773 for the clerks and the theological seminary. It is a corridor 100 meters long, with 25 arches.
  • The former Central Library (Biblioteca judeteana), built in 1905, it is a mixture of architectural styles: baroque, rococo, and Renaissance. Now hosts the Greek-Catholic Bishopry.
  • There are around 100 religious sites of different denominations in Oradea, including three synagogues (however, only one is said to be still in use) and the biggest Baptist church in Eastern Europe.

Do[edit][add listing]

Activities - Pestera Ursilor, Baile Felix health spas, etc.

Learn[edit]

University of Oradea [8] has an increasing number of faculties that have English-only courses, enabling foreign students to gain a European education with lower costs than in other countries.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Souvenir shopping, food shopping.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Most restaurants serve local cuisine, which is similar to other continental cuisine. Additionally, some Italian, Asian and Middle Eastern restaurants exist.

  • Restaurant Graf, 3, B.St.Delavrancea Street, [9]. Gourmet food, best restaurant in Oradea and among the best in Romania  edit
  • Restaurant Corsarul, 1, Piata Creanga, [10].  edit
  • Restaurant Taverna, 2A, Mihai Eminescu Street, [11]. Romanian and Hungarian traditional food  edit
  • Restaurant Rosecas, 17, Traian Mosoiu Street.  edit
  • Restaurant Cyrano, Calea Republicii (Main Street). Romanian and Hungarian food  edit
  • Restaurant Pizza e Vino, 3, 1 Decembrie Street, [12]. Italian cuisine  edit

restaurant robinson country club str marin preda nr17

Drink[edit][add listing]

Most of Oradea's night life revolves around the Black Eagle Palace, and the surrounding area.

  • Lord's Pub, No 2-4 Unirii Square, +4 0733 961 221, [13]. Mon-Thur(9AM-6AM); Fr(9AM-7:30AM);Sat(12PM-7:30AM);Sun(12PM-6AM). One of the oldest pubs in town. Great parties, which last well after dawn.  edit
  • Moszkva Cafe, str. Moscovei no.8, 410001 Oradea-Mare, Bihor, Romania, +40741328256, [14]. Warm pub/cultural venue in the center of the city with friendly people, a lot of concerts and cultural activities (47.058031,21.930769) edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Hotels in Oradea range from modern and gleaming structures with all the amenities to cosy, wonderful and very elegant pensions to old, charming but somewhat uncomfortable hostels. Prices of hotels tend to be fixed, so it's not much use haggling. Note that prices are increasingly being quoted in euro, not Romanian lei (the local currency), and euro is accepted in most places. Hotels in Oradea are cheaper than in Western Europe, but not by an overly significant margin.

As Oradea city center is not that large, anywhere is OK to stay. In the "satellite quarters" of Oradea there are rarely hotels, except in the Nufărul quarter, where it's not worth staying. Try finding accommodation in the city, near Str. Republicii or the Town Hall, or near Bd. Magheru and the Civic Center. Both places are just as good, even though the you will find Str. Republicii accommodation to be probably more desirable, due to the abundance of shopping, dining and partying facilities on the street, which is the liveliest in Oradea. These accommodations are also noisier.

  • Oradea Hostel [15] Located a few minutes from the centre, has 2 dormitory rooms with 4 beds each, and a triple room. Dormitory is €10 per night. Attached is a large wine cellar with very decent Hungarian wine.
  • Hostel Oradea, Str. Mihai Eminescu nr. 11, +40-259-437 011. The building has no sign on it, go through the archway right to the back and turn left. You'll see a doorway with the Hostelling International Logo. Find the groundskeeper, but he only speaks Romanian so maybe grab a local speaker as many Romanians stay here too. €12 per night for a bed in a 4 person room. Spacious, clean and right in the center of town.
  • Hotel Atlantic, Str. Iosif Vulcan 9, (+40 259) 426 911 (office@wpg.ro, Fax: (+40 259) 410 788, Mobile: (+40) 740 489 557)[16] . Open 7 Days. A four-star hotel located in a quiet area of Oradea with a restaurant, air conditioning and minibar in every room, as well as good room service, doors that close with magnetic cards, video security all night, parking, spa, color TV and phone in every room and in-room safes. $40-$80 (Singles: €35; Doubles: €45; Suites: €70)
  • Hotel Dacia Continental, Aleea Ştrandului (between the Civic Center and the Aquatic Center), (+40 259) 418 656. Dacia Continental is the largest hotel in Oradea with state-of-the-art conference rooms, multiple bars, swimming pools, secure parking space and thermal spa treatment. $55-$71+ (Singles: €49; Doubles: €62, Apartments much more expensive)
  • Hotel Ramada, Calea Aradului nr.9 (Calea Aradului is the road leading to the city of Arad), +40359403333, [17].  edit
  • Avalon, Primariei nr 35, +40 744 522 523, [18]. checkin: 06; checkout: 11:30AM. Free parking, internet wireless, phone/fax acces. Secured acces during night, restaurants table reservations or airport transfer are just a few of the services offered by this location. €20. (47.056674,21.920686) edit
  • LivingIn, Str. Facliei nr. 2A, +4 0359 196 222, [19]. Free parking, internet wireless, phone/fax acces. Secured acces during night, restaurants table reservations or airport transfer are just a few of the services offered by this location.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

In terms of major problems and on a Romanian scale, Oradea is fairly safe. On a Western European scale, the city is even safer. In fact, you will rarely find problems with organised crime against tourists, or more serious offences. What you will find more abundantly, unfortunately are petty scams or thefts. Keep an eye for beggars, who beg for money and may attempt to distract you while your wallet or watch are snatched.

Concerning tricks and scams, these tend to occur more regularly in Oradea. When exchanging money, don't do so on the black market, as these people generally rip you off. Try to stay away from people selling souvenirs or products at the railway station. These usually aren't of quality and aren't worth buying. Also, when taking a taxi, make sure the taxi is certified. The prices per kilometer must be displayed on the taxi door on both sides. Some of the well established taxi companies in Oradea are Fulger, City, Hello, VIP.

Kelly's Irish Bar is also in the habit of providing foreign customers with a menu with grossly inflated prices compared to what the locals pay. These menus tend to show the prices in both new and old lei. At least the 'tourist' prices seem not to have risen in line with inflation, but are still higher than what is commonly paid on the Black Sea coast.

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