A little bit underrated in the past, Oradea slowly turns into one of the main tourist attractions in Romania. During former years, lots of investments have been made in building infrastructure and developing tourism. Nowadays Oradea becomes a great alternative for other famous cities in the region, such as Budapest or Vienna. One of my favorite cities in Romania is truly a fabulous destination for anyone passionate about sightseeing!
Oradea is the westernmost city in Romania worthwhile visiting, easy to get to from Europe, by car or train: it is located 311 km away from Budapest, about 3 hours of driving. There is also a small airport close to the city, with several daily flights from Bucharest as well as new routes from Barcelona or Milan (starting March 2017).
The city beautifully distinguishes itself from other similar places in Transylvania, thanks to the strong influence of the nations who have lived here throughout the history.
Apart from the wealthy Romanian and Hungarian heritage, both Habsburg and Italian cultures are well represented in Oradea - a city with over 900 years of history.
For me personally, Oradea is the place to be in awe with the complexity of architecture, where almost every building is worth at least a closer look if not a short visit. It is difficult to list all the astonishing places of Oradea, so here are the main landmarks not to be missed:
Oradea Fortress - the most imposing sight of the city, containing several art exhibitions or craft fairs throughout the year; a few hours spent here will reveal a great deal of the history of Oradea, as well as some of the most interesting medieval and modern traditions of the area;
Ciuperca Hill - the highest point of the city, beautiful for a nice walk and fabulous belvedere points over Oradea;
The Moon Church - unique in whole Europe, containing the marvelous, gold and black astronomical clock maintained in perpetual motion and depicting the phases of the moon;
Photo source: adevarul.ro
The Roman - Catholic Cathedral - the largest Baroque monument of Romania and one of the most impressive in Transylvania;
The Bishop's Palace - a fine replica of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, it is probably the most outstanding edifice of Oradea, and the nicest Baroque masterpiece in SE Europe;
Union Square - the most popular meeting place in Oradea, recently rennovated, encompassing no less than seven architectural styles representative for the city's complexity;
Republicii street - among my favorite pedestrian streets in Romania (together with the one in Brasov with the same name), it displays some of the most beautiful Art Noveau buildings in the country, as well as great shopping and dining opportunities;
The Black Eagle Palace - the city's sight for entertainment, a 100-year old Y-shaped colorful masterpiece, where surprisingly nightlife is at its best thanks to the numerous cafes, bars and clubs within.
While an amazing aqua park was recently opened in the city, Baile Felix resort 8 km away from Oradea remains a traditional place for relaxation. It has Romania's most quality thermal spas, with numerous programs for curing a wide variety of diseases, but also several water parks and swimming pools. An interesting experience is to spend the winter holidays in the hot waters of the resort.
100 km from Oradea, in the small town of Carei, lies one of the most interesting castles in Romania. The Karolyi Castle enjoyed recent rehabilitation and looks astonishing today, with every square meter depicting the wealth of the family who built it and used to live here. It is located inside a beautiful park, and displays some milestones of the local history, as well a rich library and fabulous pieces of furniture.
Oradea is also perfect to start exploring the Apuseni Mountains - maybe the best place in Europe to fall in love with nature! It is one of the most beautiful areas of Romania, where charm is at its best thanks to ravishing landscapes, fabulous mountain routes towards unique destinations, impressive caves or waterfalls...
About one week is required to cover the whole area, but if you only have one day, I recommend Stana de Vale area, where a short walk towards the Wonder Spring, or an astonishing 6-hour easy mountain route towards Bridal Veil Waterfall are available. If you have some time left or you are not really into hiking, Bears' Cave is the main tourist attraction in Apuseni, more than worth it for both children or adults.
The city can be uncovered in 2 days, with at least another one day in Baile Felix. The trip to Carei should take around 6-7 hours back and forth. Don't forget about Apuseni mountains to complete your beautiful vacation in Oradea!
Last time I was in Oradea, I payed 20 Euro per night, but was a little unlucky since the hotel was not good and a little far from the center. Around 30-35 Euro per night should be more than enough for two persons in the best conditions.
The most appreciated restaurants charge as usual in Romania - somewhere around 20-25 Euro for a complete lunch or dinner. However, if you happen to eat in Carei, Baile Felix or in the mountains, you should know that prices for lunch can go down towards 15 Euro for two persons!
Oradea has more than 100 historical monuments, museums, memorial houses or churches. The ones listed above are the most impressive from my perspective, but Oradea's whole complexity can be easily assessed on this website - the best I have found about a Romanian city while looking for internet validation of my knowledge.
One thing is for sure - you cannot get bored in Oradea, a rapidly growing city that has to be discovered as soon as possible, before it gets too crowded and commercial!
The Golden Romania
Apuseni Mountains - the Best Place to Fall in Love with Nature!
35 Romanians who Have Marked Our History
Dear Terra, Meet Romania! The latest democracy lesson our country has given to the world!
Oradea - the Rising Star of Romania
Iasi - the Place to Be in Moldavia
7 Reasons to Visit Cluj Napoca
How to Plan a Vacation in Brasov Area
No, Bucharest Is Not a Bad City Break Destination!
One Week Road Trip Idea Through Transylvania
Best of Romania - the Tourist Attractions Which Top Worldwide Classifications!
7 True Facts About Romania