Timisoara is also known as the city of roses and parks, and has a very green face, especially in spring, when tulips abound. Some call it little Vienna, because of similar architecture.
The city is served by Romania's third-largest airport, Traian Vuia International Airport , located 10 km away from the city center. There are direct flights to 19 international destinations and 3 domestic destinations:
Connections to and from many European destinations (such as Manchester, UK) can be made by Lufthansa via Munich. Whilst Lufthansa is not a budget airline, their fares (even with a transfer) can match those of budget airlines who fly direct, if booked from the Lufthansa site and as one ticket.
The domestic airfare from Bucuresti (Otopeni/Henri-Coanda)to Timisoara can be cheaper than the first class sleeper train; the train takes at least nine hours with no refreshment facilities. The flight takes less than an hour; a transfer at Bucuresti Airport therefore can be a convenient alternative to flying directly to Timişoara .
A Romanian alternative to Timişoara Airport was the nearby airport in Arad. That airport is (from April 2015) closed for complete reconstruction. Beware of looking at a map to decide that the airports in Targu-Mures, Cluj, and Sibiu seem quite close by! By road or rail travel is likely to take many hours more than in Western Europe. That said, if your local airport only has direct flights to those airports it may be worth staying in a hotel to continue the next day to Timişoara.
In addition there are regular express buses (some luxury) directly from Budapest Airport in Hungary (cost around 130 Lei) which take only three and a half hours. As Timişoara airport now has relatively few international connections, the option to fly from/to Budapest (in Hungary) is one taken by many visitors and Romanians, especially after the drastic reductions of services at Timişoara Airport in 2014. Do not confuse Budapest (in Hungary) with Bucharest the capital of Romania. Tour operators/airlines report that a remarkable number of people do make the mistake when booking! These unfortunates end up not only in the wrong city but in the wrong country!
Note that unless you are booking a hire-car on arrival, Beograd (Belgrade) Airport in Serbia (which appears to be close by) is not convenient. Public Transport between Timişoara is slow and virtually non-existent.
Express Bus line 4 links the airport with central Timisoara and line 4B goes to the main train station (fare: 2.5 RON (one way), tickets available at the parking ticket pay desk inside the terminal); the bus stop is located next to the domestic terminal (turn right when leaving the international terminal). Car hire is also available.
Timişoara airport is small and has very few retail outlets (just the one "duty free" shop) and minimal refreshment facilities. There are two small self-service "bars" (after check in and security, one upstairs and one down) but no formal restaurant or bar. There is a smoking "cabin" and the toilets are (as is all the airport) very well kept.
Just outside the airport (on the roundabout) sits a faithful and rather touching reproduction of Traian Vuia's early aircraft - a cross between a bedstead, a bicycle and an insect - with its propellor casually turning in the wind.
Remember to use the taxis included on this site (see below) - use your mobile, in fact Tudo Taxis have a large sign with their number! They (and others below) will not rip you off. Do not respond to offers to the town centre by rogue taxis.
There are direct trains daily from Budapest (a 4 hours trip), Vienna (8 hours) and Munich (15 hours) . Travelling to/from Szeged you have 2 trains daily at 7:50h and 14:48h: going first to Budapest and changing at Bekecsaba, arriving in Szeged at resp. 11:40h and 18:40h. There is no regular bus connecting these cities, the same goes for Belgrade. Train services between Romania and Serbia have been suspended in late 2017.
There are several trains to Bucharest and most major towns in Romania .
Another option to travel between Belgrade and Timisoara is to make a reservation with http://geatours.rs/. Online is possible ; by phone is better. You need to give the address where you want to be picked up and where they will drop you to another address ; the time they will offer you will not systematically correspond to what you wished of course, it's not a taxi service, they pick as many people as they can. 15€ one way in a mini-van. It takes 4 to 5 hours to travel between both cities (due to traffic jam especially in Belgrade).
The bus terminal  (Autogara) lies two hundred meters to the south of the North Railway Station (Gara de Nord).
It is also easy to share a taxi in the direction of the border (Cenad), leaving at Calea Sagului.
Probably the best way to see the city is by taking a free tour of the city. Understanding that it's better to bring as many tourists as possible and not to charge them for everything, locals offer free city tours, mostly for English speakers but also for German/Hungarian speakers. A simple search on Google will find such free city tours.
The centre of Timisoara is relatively compact and walking is certainly feasible. The city has an excellent public transport service including trolleybuses, trams and buses. The majority of buses and trolleybuses are new. The trams are old German models, but are comfortable enough. Most of the tram and bus stops have digital panels which list the waiting times.
There are two types of tickets, one for the three express lines (buses) and one for the rest of the buses, trams and trolleys. The price for one ticket is just 2 Lei, around 0.5 € , and you can find them at newspaper/cigarette stands around almost every stop. You can also buy passes for a day, a week, two weeks or a month, on one, two or all lines. Single tickets and certain passes are available from the many kiosks which display the yellow RATT (the public transport concern) sign. For example on leaving the railway station, turn left: a cigarette/drink kiosk sells the tickets. Remember to put the little paper single tickets in the machine onboard the vehicle - this validates the ticket. The city has the most "welcoming" public transport system in Romania - tickets and information are easily found. The website is excellent and is written in Romanian and English: http://www.ratt.ro/. Also a complete brief description of the public trasnport, specialy made for tourists can be found here https://timisoaratourism.com/getting-around/public-transport-timisoara/
In Timisoara there is no shortage of taxis. You can reach about any point in Timisoara by paying a fee of 10-20 Lei (about 3-6€). Don't negotiate with the driver and insist for the meter to be turned on. If you don't want to overpay avoid private taxis and instead call for a local taxi company (Tudo, Radio, Timisoara, Autogenn, Fan or Prompt). The taxis licensed by the City Hall have a distinctive oval black sticker on the backseat doors, while the pricier, probably scam taxis have a sign on the top of the car which only says 'Taxi' and doesn't mention the name of the taxi company. These taxis are at least twice as expensive, but they are also legal. If you see a taxi driver approaching and asking you for a ride, reject it, and search for a local company taxi.
Currently there's a running trial for an app for iPhone and Android called StarTaxi that allows you to request taxis using the smartphone and Internet connection. You can set it up to English language and as long as you have a clear GPS signal you don't even have to know your current address.
If you want to rent a car there are plenty of car rental companies. They offer good priced services and all types of vehicles. Car rental by Eurocars, Klasswagen, Autonom, VAG24 and several local providers (Maya Rent a car, Api Rent a car, Edi rent a car, CityCar) is available.
If you are trying to navigate to an address a lot of times you have to be careful as street names change. Try to request all former street names or your SatNav might not be able to find them. Sometimes people will give you the old name which is also a problem with online-based navigation software.
As in much of Romania, outside of the cities, public transport is sparse. But it is cheap and although it is slow, it is surprisingly efficient.
Getting around the city is possible by bicycle, which you can rent at velotm, which has several stations in the city. It's for free for 1 hour. You cannot cycle in the city centre, where all these bicycle stations are situated... There are student bike for rent as well. During rush hours with fair weather is far better than getting stuck in heavy traffic. There are also dedicated cycle lanes in some parts of the city. Be cautious when sharing the road with cars, as some drivers tend to utterly disrespect anyone travelling on two wheels (be it a bicycle or a motorcycle).
There is a separate bicycle route leading from Timisoara to Serbian border for 37 km, starting on Bega canal, but I couldn't find a decent map, just this FB page and news articles. Maybe more info at tourist information or bike shop?
From the main railway station (Gara de Nord, reached by trams 1 and 8) there are two local train operators: the national CFR and the private company Regiotrans. The latter operates rather ramshackle (and incredibly slow) trains to small towns and villages. Their timetables (much reduced from April 2015) are here: http://www.regiotrans.ro/mersul-trenurilor-regiotrans-valabil-din-01-mai-2015 (scroll down to Timişoara to see the list of timetables). CFR operate fast/medium/slow trains to Arad (the fastest taking less than a hour - but you pay a lot more for the very fast trains. Still cheap however by Western European standards). CFR also operate a number of local train services (including two routes to Lugoj; these however do not always appear on the CFR website or timetables. Information is however displayed at the station in Timişoara (in glass cabinets along with much official material including rather obscure and detailed regulations, such as which musical instruments and non-infected livestock can be taken on a train - if you have brought along your medically clear oboe, you will be pleased to know you can travel).
Note that many small Romanian stations in the countryside have no platform, shelter,lighting or information. Indeed several seem to have lost their signs. Even the tracks will be covered in grass. Consult the timetables BEFORE you travel - as there may be only three trains a day, you must plan your day! Yahoo maps is one of the few online map websites prominently to display railway lines and stations (use the satellite option to get a feel!). It is surprising to see sizeable numbers of people suddenly emerging from nowhere to a tiny halt in the middle of a field (with no road access) which has only a rusty sign. Quite how those who do not have the Internet know when the train is due to arrive is a mystery, as is where they come from.
Some trains in Romania (fast and slow) seem to depart at the most peculiar times (such as 3am in the morning) - which can be useful for return from late night partying in Arad!
Bus services in Timişoara depart from a number of points. Buses in Romania are generally as or more expensive than the train. They are however much more modern than the train and many are much quicker. Use this site to find routes and destinations: http://www.autogari.ro/ .
For buses and trains there is no saving for buying return (round-trip) ticket and buying two singles clearly allows you some flexibility on the mode of return!
Taxis within the city are cheap, but the rate for out of town long distance is higher at 2.79 Lei (RON)per kilometre. Nevertheless, if three people (for example) are travelling, the taxi fare can reduce to the same price per person as one might pay for the bus or train in other countries. Hotels in Romania are cheap by Western European standards so if you do miss your last train it might be cheaper to book in at a hotel (even a four star) than pay for a taxi.
Chances are high that anyone under 40 understands at least English. Hungarian and German are also pretty common. You can also hope to make yourself understood in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or French, as they are part of the Romance languages.
If you are having trouble reading native street names or objectives just remember to think of Romanian as a phonetic language, there are very few pronunciation rules (gi->"gee", ghi->"gi", ț->"tz", ș->"sh", chi->"ki", ci="cee", ...).
Enjoy nice coffee products in Piata Unirii (Union Square) or Piata Victoriei (Victory Square). Taste the week-end nightlife by dancing all night long at Club The Note or D'Arc, or their summer locations, River Deck or D'Arc terrace on the shores of Bega Channel. Eat a great pizza or pasta at Da Toni, enjoy a nice beer at Bierhaus (you can find around 50 types of beer there), eat tasty Romanian food at Club XXI, don't miss the cocktails at River Deck or Club The Note. If you like shopping, Iulius Mall is the place to visit. Enjoy a nice walk in the Botanical Park. Timisoara is a very cosmopolitan city and if you ask/look around you can enjoy all kinds of activities, including long and highly impressive opera seasons and other classical music.
Universitatea Politehnica Timisoara (Polytechnic University) and Universitatea de Vest Timisoara (West University) are the most important universities in the area.
The Tibiscus University in Timisoara offers 8 specialities and has the only private Design Faculty in Romania.
In Timişoara you can buy everything, from well known brands to Romanian products. The important shops are located in the city center. If you want an authentic adventure visit Piata Aurora or the Brancoveanu shopping area, but be careful and keep a close eye on your valuables. Police won't help you at all.
Every weekend there are two flea markets taking place at:
The markets are also open during the weekdays but with a much weaker participation. If your gear gets stolen while staying here, chances are it might turn up in one of these markets.
Convenience Shops and Supermarkets
There are several large/medium supermarkets including Kaufland, Billa, Aldi, Lidl and Profi. As of 1st June of 2015 the VAT (TVA) tax on most foodstuffs reduced from 24% to 9%, making a reduction of 12.1% on most products. This makes Romanian food prices (already low by Western European standrds) even cheaper!
There are also several small corner shops, some of them claiming to be open 24/7 ("Non-Stop", although few actually are. Cigarettes (at the official fixed price) are sold by most hotels and restaurants. NB: Perhaps due to its proximity to Hungary and other countries, Timişoara is one of the few places in Romania to sell rolling tobacco and papers to roll your own cigarettes - but even then you must search out such material.
Before big holidays (Christmas, Easter) some supermarkets are opened during the night as well. During the holidays you can still find small corner shops open, usually the ones running 24/7 and petrol stations.
If you want to eat in Timişoara, you can find places for every budget. Because Timişoara is a very cosmopolitan city, the local cuisine is influenced by Italian, Serbian, Hungarian, German, Turkish and Arabic cuisine.
Smoking is not allowed in Romanian cafes and restaurants by law (2016), only outside will people still be smoking.
You can find street stalls selling sandwiches, kebabs, shawarma, french fries or similar fast foods scattered throughout the city, usually with very low prices.
You will find many outside venues in the city centre. In the summertime the best place to hang out is on the banks of the river Bega on the southern side of town: the many bars and restaurants provide shade and drinks. On the other side of the University buildings you can find for example Vineri 15 and La Căpiţe, where program includes live music. Romanians suffer from horror vacui and everywhere turn up loud music to prevent silence.
General precautions apply as with any East-Central European country. Timișoara is much safer on average than Romania as a whole - indeed Romania has much less street crime and burglary than (say) the UK.
Attacks from packs of stray dogs are now practically unheard of after a 'cull' (quite literally the drastic 'final solution') some years ago. Indeed if you have taken your dog on holiday (by means of a Pet Passport) never let it roam about in the street on its own even in villages. Locals may get away with it, but even then it is not unknown for villagers to shoot or poison what they say are stray dogs - even if they know it is their neighbours'. Taking a dog on a lead to the city centre is rarely done and you would be refused entry to all establishments and receive a cool reception even for simply walking with a dog. Indeed if your dog were to give someone a friendly nuzzle or lick at an table outside a cafe, you risk serious 'physical' consequences for yourself and dog, especially if the person's children are near. Never tie your dog up outside (say) a supermarket to shop. When you return your dog will almost certainly not be there and within a day or so it will not be anywhere, unless you believe in Canine Heaven or know which abattoir it has been taken to. Even blind travellers with guide dogs can have problems in this respect
As in all cities, keep valuables in your sight at all times or in a safety deposit box. Do not leave any visible objects hinting to valuables inside your car: backpacks, trolleys, jackets, purses, navigation devices, mobile phones, cash. There is clearly a chance (as in any country) that the car will be broken into.
Don't start fights and don't join fights. Be smart and leave. Don't let anyone harass you or allow strangers to take you to unknown places. Do not accept shady deals or gambling games done in the street or behind buildings. If a big fight breaks out in a club, leave immediately - the tactical police forces might be coming soon and they might 'pacify' everyone.
Beware of people posing as policemen, though that's usually rare. If you get stopped and it's somewhere dark, request that you go to a populated area to check the ids or inside the hotel or somewhere within range of surveillance cameras. Have only copies of your important papers on yourself and keep the originals at the hotel.
Watch out: Don't stay in HOTEL VALENTINA, situated in Str. Mehadia 5. This place is known that prostitutes catch the (preferred male single) guests of from Timișoara North Station and ask you to "assist" their guests to get there. Once arrived in the hotel, they ask to stay the night together and pay 50 € (or 200 RON) at least. If you refuse and/or ask them to leave you alone, they'll take your key and force you to pay for the taxi "home", as the hotel is far from the city centre. If you can't speak Romanian or only a little, the hotel staff will be non co-operative and and refuse even to call the police claiming that "they also can't help you".
To dial fixed phone numbers while roaming, use international prefix +40 followed by 256 for city prefix.
Taxi numbers (prefix with +40256 if unsure):