Oradea is the capital city of Bihor County in Romania, in the Northwest corner of the country. It’s nestled between the Apuseni Mountains and runs along the Crișul Repede River. It has long been one of the most prosperous cities of Romania, but tourism and trade since the 90’s has created an economic revival for Oradea. It’s also home to University of Oradea, Agora University and Emanuel University. Are you planning travel to Europe and considering Oradea? If so, Check out more from Oradea local, Andreea, below!
THE LOCAL: Andreea
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HER: Andreea was born and raised in Oradea. After spending six years away from her hometown, she’s back and happy to see and share all the good changes her dear city is going through!
1. Tourist Attraction You Can’t Miss?
Tough one! I think I’d pick Vulturul Negru (Black Hawk) Palace. Plus, there are plenty of other beautiful attractions close by that you’ll get to see when in the area (like Zion Synagogue, the Theater or the Town Hall). Just note that as of December 2015, Oradea is undergoing several urban renovations, so access to some of the attractions might be difficult or not possible.
2. Best Breakfast or Brunch Spot?
3. Best Way to See the City?
Well, it’s best to walk around the old city center- all the main attractions are concentrated within an area that you can explore in a few hours. Then, rent a bike or use the public transportation for more distant spots. There’s a tourist card sold at an extremely affordable price that includes public transportation and offers local discounts. (Note: The website is currently under construction, but the card can be found and purchased at partner locations throughout the city, including hotels, newspaper stands and transportation ticketing points). If you research the city beforehand, a self-guided tour with a map in your hand will suffice, but you can always contact a local (wink, wink) if you want more stories about the city and more hidden spots to discover!
4. Local Specialty- A Food or Drink to Try?
I actually don’t know of any specialty that is typical just for Oradea, but you might want to try the beef soup in a bread bowl from Cyrano. You can also ask for a certain restaurant’s specialty and see what surprise they have for you. In Oradea, you can find both Romanian traditional food and international specialties.
5. Your Recommended Oradea Sunny Day Agenda?
Wake up early in the morning to enjoy the first rays of sun around Vulturul Negru Palace and wander a bit to discover the beautiful Secession buildings. Many of the buildings in Oradea’s historic center feature this architectural style. The Town Hall’s tower is also open for visitors and is worth the climb to witness 360 views of the city!
Head to Republicii pedestrian street where you can have brunch (or lunch) at one of the many cafes and restaurants along the street. Then, either head to the Baroque Palace and spend time in the park surrounding it, or turn back to Vulturul Negru and take the tram (or a bike) to the Fortress. The Fortress was recently renovated and is a great place to take a peaceful walk. Also, if you’re visiting Oradea in winter, we now have a Christmas Fair that takes place at the Fortress.
A great place to end your evening is up on Ciuperca Hill (Mushroom Hill), where you can view the city from above. It’s especially beautiful at night under the glow of the city lights. Then,head to dinner at one of Oradea’s top rated restaurants, go to the theater, enjoy a movie or venture to a local pub to end the night with good music & company.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE ATTRACTIONS
1. Oradea State Theater (Teatrul de Stat Oradea) – Thumbs up!
2. The Roman-Catholic Cathedral – Thumbs up!
3. Moon Church (Biserica cu Luna) – Thumbs up!
This church has a unique mechanism that shows the phases of the moon accordingly.
4. Black Hawk (Vulturul Negru) Palace Arcade – Thumbs up!
I would personally place it as the number one attraction!
5. Oradea Zoo – Thumbs down.
Why is the Zoo occupying such a high spot when there are so many other beautiful attractions? Go if you’re traveling with your kids and they would rather see animals than stroll through the city, but otherwise there are much better things to do and see.
LONELY PLANET RESTAURANT SUGGESTIONS
1. Graf – Personally, I can’t say because I haven’t been there . However, people I know have told me good things about it.
2. Lactobar – Thumbs up. It’s good for an evening out with groups (friends or family), but from my point of view it doesn’t really deserve the second place spot on this list. There are more beautiful restaurants that could be on this list.
3. Rosecas – I’ve been wanting to go here for a long time, but haven’t made it yet. I’ve heard only great things about it, so I’ll say thumbs up until further info. 😉
4. Cyrano – Thumbs up! The beef soup in bread bowl is great. I also love their pizzas and the tiramisu is delicious! Definitely a thumbs up!
5. Mondo – Haven’t even heard of it so… don’t know!
ANDREEA’S TOP FIVE ORADEA RESTAURANTS
Man, it’s hard to pick just five favorites from the sea of choices! Here are the first five places that popped up in my mind right away:
1. Suppabar – Suppabar specializes in soups of all types and for all tastes. They’re all fantastic! Plus, the decor is very nicely done. And, their carrot cake makes the perfect dessert!
2. Café Frei – This is the place where I usually drink my coffees in the weekend. They have a huge variety of assortments with specialties from all over the world. I already have my favorites, but I’ll let you discover yours.
3. Lord’s – My second choice to have coffee. It’s a pub in Vulturul Negru Palace. I love the atmosphere of this place and I always feel good there. It’s also a great venue for a night out, although the music can be a bit too loud sometimes (as in, not good for having a talk).
4. Cyrano – As mentioned above, it’s a great spot for an evening out with friends.
5. Ristretto – I love their sweet white wine and the coffee is very, very good as well. The place is also elegant and welcoming! The problem here is that it’s so nice that it’s always full! It’s a challenge to find a free table, especially in the evenings and weekends. I would suggest making a reservation if possible.
ANDREEA’S ORADEA MUST-SEES
- Vulturul Negru (Black Hawk) Palace and the surroundings
- Zion Synagogue
- Regina Maria (Queen Mary) Theater
- Republicii pedestrian street – with all its beautiful architecture
- The views from the Town Hall’s tower
Also, Oradea is well-known for Baile Felix, a holiday spa about 10km away, popular for its natural thermal waters. Not a bad idea to spend a few relaxing days there after visiting Oradea.
Are you an Oradea local? Did we leave out any can’t-miss spots? If so, tell us about them in the comments below!
Featured Image Credit: @andreeaiancuphotography