When I met my boyfriend 4 and a half years ago little did I know I will also be introduced to a Romanian charming city. Only half an hour away from the Hungarian border, and not less than 12 hours by car from Romania’s capital Bucharest, even though small, Oradea is a cosmopolitan town that shelters in one place various ethnicities and religions and hides a wide range of tourist attractions.
There’s no wonder I had never visited Oradea before since it was so far away and it’s only understandable that locals don’t usually come to Bucharest when only 300 km away, linked by a highway, there’s Budapest. And hey, add another 250 km drive and you’re in Vienna!
Throughout the years, I’ve come to learn more and more about the beautiful city of Oradea and I’ve come to understand it is indeed a city worth visiting at least once since it emanates both history and culture through all its streets 🙂
Oradea tourist attractions
- Unirii Square – the center of the city and a unique blend of architectural styles, here you will see buildings with no more and no less than 7 distinct styles. If you visit the city during the holidays (both for Easter and for Christmas) this is the main place to be since in the past few years Oradea has become one of the most beautiful locations in Romania based on its decorations.
- The Black Eagle Palace – right on the corner across the street from the city hall, this sumptuous building overlooks both the Unirii Square and the Crisu River. Built between 1907 and 1908, the building financed by 2 Jewish lawyers once hosted a theater, ballrooms, a casino, and offices. Today, the beautiful Galleria with the well-known eagle stained glass hosts the city’s most popular bars, coffee shops and pubs. Stop here for a night out full of fun up until the early morning!
- The City Hall Palace – also in Unirii Square, the town hall tower with a height of about 50 m is one of the main attraction points, with observation decks at 3 out of its 4 levels. The climb up to the top is not that bad and you won’t even know when you get up because you will be too busy reading about the city’s history and main important buildings.
- The Fortress of Oradea – one of the most important late medieval architectural monuments in Transylvania, the fortress with a history of more than 1000 years has been recently restored, hosting even a hotel where you will feel like royalty. Throughout the history, the fortress has been governed by various administrations, from Hungarians to Ottomans and even Habsburgs. Another fun fact you might find interesting is that the Oradea Fortress was the Prime Meridian for the making of maps for 203 years. The historic setting was surrounded by thermal water that never froze, area which now has been transformed into a flower-filled park.
- The Baroque Palace and the Roman Catholic Diocese Complex – beautifully set in a lovely park, both buildings are hard to miss, being so commanding and beautiful. Built between 1750 and 1875, the complex is the largest of its kind in Romania. The Baroque Palace is the work of an Austrian architect, being a smaller replica of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna and has 282 windows on the three floors of the building.
- Numerous other churches – the Moon Church, the Orthodox Synagog, the Zion Synagogue, The Saint Ladislaus Chapel, The Corridor of Canons, The Evangelical Church, The Calvinist Reformed Church, The Baptist Magyar Church, The New Town Reformed Church, The Capuchins Complex each with its unique architecture, are only a few of the cults that are being hosted on a small area, showing that Oradea is indeed a cosmopolitan city, opening its arms to a whole lot of faiths.
The Corridor of Canons
- Republicii Street – this pedestrian street is a pure sample of incredible architectural mix waiting to be discovered, only a walk away. Stop here and enjoy a delicious coffee or better yet a spicy delicious Hungarian goulash soup, while observing the Secession, Baroque, Classic and Eclectic buildings with their intense colors. On your walk, you will also want to stop by and visit the beautiful Darvas La Roche House, with its stained glass decorated rooms and the State Theater, also built by two Viennese entrepreneurs and hosting the Szigligeti Theater and Queen Mary Theater.
- Nymphaea Aquapark – My favorite place to spend a few hours and just forget about all the Kürtőskalács I’ve eaten. Since the city is sitting on a large treasure of thermal waters, they know just how to make the best out of them and built this amazing aquapark where both young and old will feel incredible. Have fun on the water slides (I have to admit I never tried them but my boyfriend swears they are really fun) or in the wave pools, or better yet opt for the dry saunas area where you can choose from various temperature rooms (from very hot in the Russian and Finish saunas, to the cold room and the salt room, just make sure you also try the very cold pool in this area). I have to admit that my all-time favorite area is the hammam, with the 5 pools with thermal water of different temperatures and the steamy filled sauna room. One full day can be easily spent here, with or without kids.
Where to stay in Oradea?
- Continental Forum Oradea – an affordable 4* hotel in the heart of the city, on the banks of Crisul Repede river, the hotel offers access to an outside geothermal water pool and a lovely view over the city.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Oradea – a little more expensive but right next to the Continental hotel, this hotel offers a great SPA, an indoor swimming pool and a Cafe lounge and bar they say offers the best coffee in town. Something worth trying, right?
- Hotel Ramada – not so beautifully set as the first two hotels, Ramada compensates with its very cool Riserva Wine Spa. Yes, you read that correctly, we are talking about SPA and wine! All their treatments being based on grapes or wine. How cool is that? And even cooler is the rooftop bar and jacuzzi overlooking the city from above. Have I said enough?
- Astoria Grand Hotel – filled with history, built between 1902 and 1906 as Sztarill Palace, the hotel was built by the same architect that built the Black Eagle Palace and offers an incredible view of the city, sitting right next to the Theather. You will have the chance to stay for a few nights in an old eclectic style building.
- Hotel Cetate Oradea – you can choose to stay in a place full of history and feel like a true royalty, getting also access to one of the fanciest SPAs and massage centers in Baile Felix.
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