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Is Timisoara 2023 worth visiting?

Chances are you’ve never heard of Timisoara, Romania. And I can’t blame you. But now, when Timisoara 2023 is shining its light, it would be a pity not to visit and be part of the events that take this western Romanian city out of anonymity!

In 2023, Timisoara is European Capital of Culture. In this blog post, I’d like to show you the best events and moments to attend some fabulous happenings! Not to mention that some of them are free!

I’d also like to share with you some insights about best eating and accommodation places!

Besides, if you just want to explore Timisoara and discover the city, check my post!

Timisoara - Union Square
Union Square, Timisoara
Aerial view of Timisoara
Aerial view of Timisoara with focus on the Cathedral; photo:@aleks_lunev

Travel to Timisoara! This major city of Romania is an example of peaceful multiculturality, architecture, quiet life and lively terraces that connect the city!

Taste the beauty of the city, the hearty Romanian dishes and the beer manufactured right here!

Feel the good vibes of Timisoara 2023! Take the pulse of the city, have a stroll downtown or enjoy a coffee while sitting carefree at a terrace!

Content:

How to get to Timisoara
Timisoara 2023 opening weekend
Timisoara 2023 must-see

Other events at Timisoara 2023
Why Timisoara inhabitants are so proud
Where to eat in Timișoara
Accommodation in Timisoara
Interactive map


How to get to Timisoara

Placed in western Romania, Timisoara is the third most populous city in the country (after Bucharest and Cluj) with around 320,000 inhabitants.

Traian Vuia international airport serves as the main transportation hub with flights from Tarom, Wizzair or Lufthansa. It is easiest if you arrive from Bucharest, Germany, Italy or Spain.

Of course, you can also come by car, train or bus. If you plan to come from Bucharest, you need to know that the distance is about 550 km and it takes around 61/2 – 7 hours. Timisoara has all the main rent-a-car companies for decent prices.

It is important to mention that Timisoara, the main city of Banat region, is close to the Serbian and Hungarian borders, thus the distance Belgrade-Timisoara is 160 km, while Budapest-Timisoara is around 315 km (highway).

Timisoara, the Orthodox Cathedral
The Orthodox Cathedral, Timisoara

Timisoara 2023 opening weekend

This blog post aims at guiding your steps to the Timisoara capital of culture year. To the bouquet of art exhibitions, visual and performing arts, book or vintage fairs and unique shows; in other words, a complete cultural programme.

When to come, events not to miss, and of course highlights.

One of the main peak for Timisoara 2023 is undoubtedly the 17-19 February weekend. This is planned to be the opening of the cultural year and features several interesting events.

You can consult the official site here. And these are my suggested events for the weekend.

Terraces at dawn
Terraces at dawn

February 17

There are many kinds of performances, but there are quite a few that caught my attention. So, I think Muaré Experience is a must see. Planned for Friday, this event to be held in Union Square (Piata Unirii), is a combination of musical and visual arts whose main attraction is the aerial show. Accustomed to be part of European Capital of Culture, the sophisticated experience combines music with cranes and astonishing performances in the air. I’ll be there for sure!

Same day we have Taraf de Caliu & guests. This fiddler band is an old band of Roma musicians from a small Romanian village who’ve been carrying the tradition for decades! Not only have they won prestigious awards (BBC World Music Award, 2002, among others), but have also enchanted famous people, such as Johnny Depp! I am pretty sure Taraf de Caliu will be one of the evening’s climaxes, adding to the multicultural legacy and traditions of Romanians.

February 18

For Saturday evening, I picked the unique performance of Lebanon-born artist Tarek Atoui. He is famous for creating special instruments and delivering particular performances. For the Timisoara 2023 event, the artist is putting together a show based on woodwork, electronic engineering and computer programming. Besides, the act takes place in the Jewish Stronghold Synagogue (Sinagoga din Cetate) which has recently been renovated.

Stronghold Synagogue Timisoara
The Synagogue that will host the event

February 19

If you aim for something different, there’s the Lajkó Félix & Vołosi performance. The former is the wonder child of the fiddle. He defines his style as sentimental metal, and is familiar to all musical genres, and often practices improv. Lajkó’s show with Vołosi means authentic style and lots of passion.

You can attend it at the Banatul Philharmonic. And I will be there more than sure.

Timisoara 2023 must-see

The organizers promise that Timisoara cultural capital will put together over 1,000 performances, which means there’s plenty to choose from. For any taste. Moreover, sometimes, the list gets updated with very pleasant surprises…

So, here’s my chronologic list with the flagship events.

The first peak is the February weekend that I have already mentioned. But it comes with events that last longer than just a few days.

Adina Pintilie: You are another me – A Cathedral of the Body.

The visual arts have on display an installation by Adina Pintilie. It is a multi-channel video installation, complemented by a virtual reality extension that places the body and intimacy under the spotlight. I’m looking forward to attending this exhibition which looks beyond the physical body and delves into themes, such as ideologies, binaries and borders.

Why attend it? Because artist and filmmaker Adina Pintilie won the Golden Bear in Berlin with her first movie. Moreover, last year she represented Romania at the Venice Biennale with this very project.

Duration: February 17- April 30; Location: Timisoara Kunsthalle Bega

Umbrella street and flowers
Piarist church

Victor Brauner exhibition: Inventions and magic

Another focal point is the Victor Brauner exhibition. Brauner was a Romanian painter and sculptor (of Jewish origin) that belonged to Surrealism. But because in the early 20th century Paris was the place to be, especially for arts, Brauner moved there in 1938.

One day he painted himself with one eye, and unfortunately later lost an eye in a battle, so the prophecy came true. Since then, he also goes by the name the visionary painter.

Why attend it? To see the over 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures of Brauner. And the fabulous loan of over 50 works from Paris Centre Pompidou.

And if this isn’t enough, for the surprising and colorful works that challenge the viewer.

Duration: 17 February – 28 May; Location: National Museum of Art, Timisoara

Videomapping at the National Museum of Art
Videomapping on the facade of the National Museum of Art, Timisoara

Symphonic music highlights

March has one entire week dedicated to classical music lovers. Cristian Macelaru, music director of the French National Orchestra and chief conductor at WDR Symphony Orchestra Köln, returns to his native city, Timisoara. But not empty handed; he brings German and French musicians. He will conduct the German orchestra in March, while in May, Macelaru comes with the French musicians to enchant our senses.

Why attend it? Because it is an extraordinary event for music connoisseurs and lovers. And for the vast repertoire, two famous orchestras and a magic wand. In the hands of Macelaru.

Dates: March 13-18 and May 31; Location: Banatul Philharmonic

Bega canal
Old buildings watching over the Bega channel
Details and buildings
Attention to details

John Malkovich playing The Infernal Comedy

I believe the name John Malkovich sounds familiar to many. I admit, I mostly like the roles where he plays a serial killer, or like. He is simply brilliant! But the day I found out that he would be coming to actually perform in my town, I definitely made my choice.

Why attend it? I think the name speaks for itself. Besides, you don’t get to see an American celebrity on stage every day.

Date: July 23; Location: National Theatre of Timisoara

Brancusi: Romanian sources and universal perspectives

Every person interested in art should cross Timisoara in the final trimester of 2023. One of the most famous sculptors of the 20th century, Constantin Brancusi was a pioneer of modernism, highly influencing a whole generation. This exhibition is like a homecoming for the artist who worked and lived in France most of his creations, but whose Romanian roots are so present in his works.

Why attend it? Brancusi is an important name indeed, but this is the most comprehensive exhibition held in Romania over the last 50 years. It brings together works from some major museums in the world.

Duration: September 30 – January 24; Location: National Museum of Art, Timisoara

Inside the Museum of Art
Peek a boo in the National Museum of Art
Paul Neagu exhibition
View from the Paul Neagu exhibition

Other events at Timisoara 2023

As I already told you, it is basically impossible not to find something of your taste during Timisoara capital of culture.

This is the official site with 123+ highlights grouped on a monthly basis.

Personally, I am curious about the Nursery. 1306 plants for Timisoara. You cannot miss it if you visit the city. It is a vertical exploration of the space and offers some panoramic points.

Jazzx Festival has its tradition. It is a happening with quality jazz singers that takes place in summer. The Art Encounters biennial is an artistic event with attitude that combines art, fiction and science. Isabella Rossellini is another name that will perform on the National Theatre’s stage, while classical music will be represented by a huge German orchestra with 400 musicians in September.

You can of course attend chill festivals (Codru, Plai, Flight, Launmomentdat in the park), film projections (The Secret map), theatre festivals (TESZT, Eurothalia European Theatre Festival) or performing arts sessions (TransLucid, Danube Women, The Parallel City, Dans Nomad) along with many exhibitions or conferences.

One thing is certain. You can only grow richer after such experiences.

Timisoara 2023 is a very good opportunity that promotes Romania as a country, its values and people. Furthermore, the mix of Romanian and famous foreign people talks about the level this capital of culture wishes to attain.

Downtown buildings - Timisoara 2023
Downtown old buildings
new constructions
…and new ones

Why Timisoara inhabitants are so proud

The inhabitants of Banat region (with the capital city of Timisoara) are known as bragging. They consider themselves somehow superior to others.

Let’s see if they have good reasons to do so.

And if the title of European Capital of Culture is justified.

Timisoara is:

  • The first European city to use electric street lighting (1884) and second in the world after New York (I will open a parenthesis to connect it to the Timișoara 2023 slogan – Shine your light).
  • First European city with trams drawn by horses (1869).
  • Timișoara gave 2 Nobel prize winners to the world: Herta Müller (literature) and Stefan Hell (physics)
  • The city that founded the first beer factory in Romania, called Timisoreana (1718).
  • Nicknamed “Little Vienna” because of Austro-Hungarian influences in architecture; many buildings are built in Art Nouveau/Secession or Baroque style.
  • It is a multiethnic city, with strong German and Hungarian influences, but also a Serbian and Jewish community (modest today).
  • Timișoara has theatre in 3 languages: Romanian, Hungarian and German.
  • Last, but not least, Timișoara started the Romanian Revolution in 1989 (that abolished communism).
Shine your light - Light up your city!, slogan of Timisoara 2023
Shine your light – Light up your city!, slogan of Timisoara 2023; photo: silviunastase.ro
The old Fabric neighborhood; photo: Adrian Catalin Lazar

Where to eat in Timișoara

For breakfast you should go to Neața Omelette Bistro, a fresh and cozy breakfast space. Or to Lloyd, in the very center of the city, a fancy place.

For lunch or dinner, I recommend Vinto, La Calul Alb, Sabres (for fish), Argentinian Steakhouse (for steak obviously) or Merlot. These are fine dining.

For a delicious meal and friendly atmosphere, you should go to Naru (my absolute favourite) C House Milano (Iulius Town), Scotland Yard (Unirii area) or Zaza restopub and Vineri 15 along Bega canal. For the best ribs, try The Drunken Rat Pub. You could also try Homemade in Elisabetin neighborhood or Casa Bunicii 1 with traditional dishes from Banat area and cozy atmosphere (Șagului Neighborhood). They say the best pizza comes from Pizza Napoletana. It truly is good, but I’ll let you decide.

Vegans and vegetarians will more than sure stick to Biofresh, the best restaurant of the kind. Height and panorama lovers should book a table at Sky restaurant.

Argetinian steakhouse
Yummy; facebook.com/steakhouseargentinian/
Naru, Timisoara
Naru
Chill at a terrace
Chill at a terrace

Accommodation in Timisoara

Accommodation of course, is for all budgets. Hostel Cornel has a very good position and looks well. Elegance-Residence offers a fair price-quality rapport, just as Casa Miron 1.

Hotelul Ibis is another fresh presence with free parking. There is no better place to be in the thick of things than Hotel Timișoara. Slightly more remote, but featuring an excellent location, you will find the freshly inaugurated Hotel Atlas, a hotel attentive to details.

Interactive map

This map contains the most important places in the city. Tourist attractions are marked with green, restaurant recommendations are orange, accommodation suggestions are purple, and the major premises for the events are blue.

Have you been to Timisoara before? How did you like it? Do you have any further tips for sights or restaurants? I look forward to reading your experiences!

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