PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Romania is the Lei (the RON). I will refer to them as R$s. At the time of writing, US$1 = R$4.26.
We have just spent 4 nights in Bajina Basta, Serbia …
We, now, head east into Romania … our first ‘port of call’ is the city of Timisoara …
I chose to go by Shuttle Bus. The price was 1,800 Serbian Dinar (about US$17 / EURO16). The shuttle picks you up from your Belgrade accommodation and drops you off at your Timisoara accommodation. We left at 9am, we put our clocks forward 1 hour at the border, and we arrived in Timisoara Old Town at 1:30pm.
Timișoara is nicknamed Little Vienna or the City of Flowers. In the 2011 Census, it had a population of 319,279.
Timișoara, like many other large cities in Romania, is a medical tourism service provider especially for dental care. It also offers excellent academic institutions, attracting thousands of international students annually – mainly at its medical school.
The city was, then, repeatedly besieged by the Ottomans and finally fell in the 16th century and remained under Ottoman rule for nearly 160 years. Subsequently, it came under Hapsburg rule and was part of the Austria-Hungary Empire until the 20th century.
A city with several parks and many tree-lined streets.
This is what GRANDPAckers can expect to find within 1 km of the Old Town at short notice in early August:
PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually display prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. But many search sites (like HOTELS) don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter, so be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details. HOTELS does not do well in the Romanian marketplace.
AIRBnB / HOLIDAY RENTALS:
A good alternative is an AirBnB or an Holiday Home:
PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO are also worth a look).
GRANDPAckers will struggle to find accommodation within our price range. You will be lucky to find something for under US$30 / night. AirBnB may be your best bet.
THE OLD TOWN HOSTEL:
I used BOOKING.COM to book a Double Room (single occupancy) with Shared Bathroom at the Old Town Hostel. I chose it because it was located in the heart of the Old Town. The price was R$125 / US$30.50 per night for 2 nights. They have private rooms mixed in with dorm rooms on the 1st and 2nd floors.
The shared kitchen was OK and reasonably clean but, as usual when shared with dorms, not a lot was ever put away. It did have a washing machine though … which you pay to use … but, for some reason, they let me use it for free.
This proved to be a negative. My room had no fan, so I needed to leave the window open … and, the cafes outside hummed until 1-2am and inconsiderate drunks revelled loudly on their way home.
The wifi in the hostel was poor and rarely good enough to stream video.
NICE & COZY APARTMENT:
I decided to stay in Timisoara for 3 more nights … I needed to do more work before continuing my travels. I used HOTELS.COM to book a Studio Apartment 1.5 kms from the Old Town. I paid R$125 / US$30.5 per night for 3 nights. The accommodation was located on a busy main road.
The wifi was good enough to stream video.
The Old Town Hostel was nicely located but below GRANDPAcking Standard – I was sharing a bathroom.
The Nice & Cozy Studio Apartment was much nicer but a long way from the Old Town.
WHERE TO STAY:
Ideally, you want to be within easy walking distance of the Old Town … IF you can find something / afford it.
Have a look yourself:
EAT & DRINK:
There are several supermarkets around town. This makes a ‘Self Catering’ option viable. In fact, this may prove to be the only option for GRANDPAckers. Read on …
The cheapest meals in the cheapest cafes in the Old Town start at R$20. Expect to pay R$30 as a ‘norm’.
A local 500ml beer in a supermarket will cost about R$2. A 2L about R$6. Expect to pay about R$10 for a local 500ml beer in ‘typical’ cafe and R$20 if you want something more ’boutique’.
In Romania, breakfast is unlikely to be included in your hotel rate. Expect to pay an average of R$15 for a cheap local Breakfast with tea / coffee.
Expect to pay an average of R$20 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of R$35 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / 500ml Beer.
Obviously, if you had Self Catering accommodation, you could bring in groceries and eat more cheaply … but, for comparative purposes, this is not GRANDPAcking Standard.
Timișoara’s public transport network consists of 9 tram lines, 9 trolleybus lines, and 21 bus lines. The system covers all of the important areas of the city. Timișoara also offers boat transport on the Bega canal.
Timișoara has a bicycle-sharing system with 25 stations and 300 bikes which can be used by locals and tourists for free.
Their are banks and ATMs in town.
In the Old Town, you will find several Bureau de Changes which charge 5% of the online exchange rate as a fee.
INTERNET / WIFI:
Don’t trust your hotel to provide good wifi in our GRANDPAcking price range.
Their are 3 main providers in Romania. The top 2 are Orange and Vodafone.
Their 6 Euro plan was discounted to 5 Euro / US$5.50. This 28 Day Plan included 60GB of data, 2000 SMSs, and 300 minutes of Talk Time. At that price, I didn’t think twice.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
You will notice a large number of smokers here … not as many, perhaps, as in Turkey / Bulgaria / Serbia but still more than in Western Europe. No surprise when a pack of 20 costs only R$18. Smoking in bars and restaurants (even inside) is common.
There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
WHEN TO GO
The summer is May through to September.
Timisoara is not a long term holiday destination. You will probably only want to stay a few days whilst in transit. For that reason, I have not bothered to provide the usual breakdown of monthly costs.
However, with the high price of accommodation and the relatively high price for food & drink, GRANDPAckers can expect to be spending at least US$65 / day (i.e. you will be 25% OVER BUDGET).
OK, but nothing to write home about.
Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? NO.