24 hours: Timișoara
Who knew you could fly to a foreign country for less than a ticket home? That's exactly what I did when heading to Timișoara in Romania with Ryanair. For £4.99 each way, we flew to this undiscovered city and ended up spending barely anything for a beautiful and relaxing weekend away.
For breakfast, head to Kiosk for a selection of eggs and rich breakfasts. If you can stomach it early, then choose the 'cheese dumplings' with Nutella which are nothing like they sound; think sweet mascarpone doughnuts instead. (Don't forget to return for dinner too for the best fried chicken and delicious sliders!)
Spend your first day exploring the main centre and plazas. The buildings range from run down and graffiti ruined to remarkably kept and painted, a juxtaposition which made every corner more exciting. The two famous squares are Union Square and Liberty Square. The former has the brightly painted buildings you've probably seen on Pinterest and is a lovely place to sit and people watch, especially when it's off season and gloriously quiet. The latter is much busier with street peddlers and a zany bullseye painted floor you can only see from high up. This actually caused a commotion when built among locals after they ripped down trees and greenery to make it.
We stumbled across Suppa, a soup bar that opens at midday in the week for the locals on their lunch break. Be ready for queues when it first opens, as it's a popular joint for an on-the-go lunch. For just 9 lei, pick from spicy creamy lentil to chicken broth soups and sit in a brightly lit Scandi themed room, or head outside and take the next door for a darker speakeasy theme. Don't forget to fill up a bag of unlimited bread for dunking...
The best way to spend an evening in Timisoara is trying its clubbing scene. Ericks cocktail bar is full of students and quirky interior accents, with Rihanna quotes and surfing signs respectively. Cheap cocktails at 25 lei make it a good start to your evening in the centre of town.
There are two clubs to take note of; Epic Society and Fratelli. The first one is pretty far out of town. My main advice? Don't be deceived by the fun interior you see online. We made it there at 11pm, only to be told we didn't have a reservation so couldn't go in. Upon saying we had emailed weeks ago, they simply said we had used the wrong email. It was only after we said we were writing a review of the city that they let us in (after making a snide comment about my jumper; it was cold!) and entered..... an empty club.
Safe to say we moved on and went to Fratelli, with a much better vibe. Despite not being free for ladies, the 10 lei entrance fee is nothing for a bar full of great tunes, cocktail choices galore and beautiful interior. Spend your night here for a cheap yet exciting time well into the early hours of the morning.
If you can get a seat, start your morning with a coffee from Mokum. One of the most delicious, bone-warming coffees I've had, they even have rice milk or soy milk for vegan choices. With only four seats inside, it's great to take a break but if you can't grab one, take yours to go and grab a pastry from the many holes in the walls or bakeries around the city.
Depending on how your previous day went (and your level of hangover), go and sit in one of the many parks that Timisoara has to offer. It's known for being so green and you can barely step without walking through some trees. Try Park Copilla for a huge children's park with rides and become a big kid again, or head to Central Park and take in the famous cathedral as you sit back.
A healthy lunch can be found at Salad and Chic. Formerly See You Again, the interior is a mix of old barrels and mismatched chairs, with chic plants and exposed bulbs. As it suggests in the name, they have an amazing choice of salads and bruschetta that you'll come away feeling full yet healthy. If you want a bit of a treat, then try their peanut butter coffee for sheer delight.
Spend your final evening watching a live show at the theatre. With so many on offer, such as Romeo and Juliet to Madam Butterfly, the interior of the Teatro is one to gawk at. If you have time to kill, head next door to Symphonycafe for a quick coffee and cake too.
Hostels and Airbnbs start from £9 a night in the centre of town so it's easy to keep it cheap. NH Hotel Timisoara is a great hotel ten minutes from the centre, with buffet breakfast (including prosecco) and spa massage, as well as free bike rental, starting at £40 per night.
Ryanair: fares start at £9.98 return, with flights 2 hours 40 minutes.
Approx money: (two nights roughly £10 per night, £30 per day) so under £80 for two days.
TOP TRAVEL TIPS
- Most people say 'ciao' for hello and goodbye
- It isn't a touristy area, so do your research to find the hotspots.
- £10 = 50 lei