There are many reasons to visit Oradea. Its rich heritage, captivating architecture, and many activities make Oradea a fantastic choice for a trip to Romania. Oradea has natural thermal spas prized for their healing properties, including strengthening the body, helping with reproductive health, and reducing the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism. Oradea is the ideal walking city with broad sidewalks, multiple pedestrian streets lined with restaurants, bars, unique specialty coffee shops, and many parks. We loved the food, including fresh river fish and many vegetable options, but the coffee surprised us the most. It’s fantastic! Read more to plan your trip to Oradea.
My first time in western Romania was Transylvania in 2018 when I was in Sibiu, Brasov, and road-tripping for a few days in the mountains. When we selected Oradea as our early summer mother-daughter trip in June 2023, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My mom got there first and told me all about the delights. This charming old city has been in the process of reinvigoration, and I sense that once it’s completed, it will rival the best of them. Hold on, Ljubljana, because Oradea is coming for your cutest cities in Europe title. Trails and walkways through the park on one side of the river and newly built wide sidewalks lead to several pedestrian streets on the other side of the river. A new parking garage in the city’s center will be big enough to house the vehicles of city visitors.
Oradea is one of the greenest cities in Romania. The small city is known for its famous thermal waters and magnificent Austrian-Hungarian architecture. The river Crișul Repede runs through the city center, providing a green space for fishing along its coast. Parks line the river with a river walk and a great play area for children and dogs. Oradea is dog friendly! Oradea is a safe city that’s an affordable option for staying for a visit, passing through, or using as a base for traveling around Transylvania.
Where to go
The Fortress of Oradea: The iconic Fortress of Oradea is what’s left of the town’s medieval past. Wander through its imposing walls and the cute ponds outside the castle with lily pads make for some Instagrammable pictures.
Baroque Palace Complex: Marvel at the intricate details and grandeur of the palace, which houses the Oradea Art Museum and the County Library.
Moon Church (Biserica cu Lună): This stunning church has an astronomical clock that displays the phases of the moon.
Black Eagle Palace: Walk through from three different streets to admire the elegance of the Black Eagle Palace, an Art Nouveau masterpiece embellished with intricate ironwork and ornate stained-glass decorations. Shops, restaurants, and cafes are inside this remarkable structure. You can walk through from different streets or walk back and forth to see all the details of the inside.
What to do
Take a Stroll in the City Center: Wander along Union Square (Piața Unirii), the heart of Oradea. Admire the historic buildings, fountains, and statues that charm the square.
Discover Oradea’s Thermal Wonders: Located in the Crișana region, the thermal region of Romania, where the thermal springs are natural hot springs fueled by the Earth’s geothermal energy, the waters vary in temperature, ranging from 35-55 degrees Celsius, or 95- 131 degrees Fahrenheit. The mineral composition of Oradea’s thermal waters primarily includes bicarbonate, calcium, magnesium, and trace amounts of iron, sulfur, potassium, sodium, and several other elements. The unique cocktail of minerals in these waters is believed to promote wellness and healing in several ways.
Bicarbonate: The most abundant compound in Oradea’s thermal waters, bicarbonate helps balance the body’s pH and promotes healthy digestion and skin soothing.
Calcium: Essential for bone and teeth health, calcium in thermal waters can be absorbed through the skin, helping to strengthen the skeletal system.
Magnesium: This mineral is vital for many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, regulated blood pressure, and immune system support.
Sulfur: This mineral is a natural disinfectant that helps soothe skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Sulfur can also alleviate symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
Iron: Vital to produce red blood cells, soaking in iron-rich thermal waters can help combat anemia.
Sodium and Potassium: Both electrolytes aid hydration and help maintain nerve and muscle function.
In addition to musculoskeletal and neurological health, Oradea’s thermal waters also benefit reproductive health. A soak in these thermal waters, rich in magnesium and sulfur, can potentially help reduce stress and anxiety, known factors affecting fertility. Magnesium is crucial in producing sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. It also normalizes progesterone and regulates insulin production, which can impact fertility. Sulfur has anti-inflammatory properties that can assist in alleviating pain associated with conditions like endometriosis, which can affect fertility. Additionally, the overall relaxation and wellness that the thermal baths provide promote a healthier lifestyle conducive to better reproductive health.
Visit the Aquapark Nymphaea for a refreshing way to relax and have fun within pools, slides, and wellness facilities. This recreational and wellness center combines fun with relaxation and spa treatments.
Termalum Spa: With both indoor and outdoor pools, this is the perfect retreat regardless of the weather. Since the waters here are rich in bicarbonates and sulfates, they are especially recommended for treating rheumatic diseases, post-traumatic conditions, and peripheral nervous system disorders.
Immerse yourself in the town’s healing thermal waters at places like the Felix Baths or 1 Mai Baths in a rejuvenating spa experience that has been cherished for centuries. There are more thermal spas ten minutes away from the center in Băile Felix. We went to the luxurious Lotus Thermal Spa, the cost was 35 Euros for entrance, which is quite a bit higher than others, but their spa services were incredibly reasonable.
Oradea is surrounded by natural beauty, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Rent a bike, explore the picturesque trails or hike.
Discover local crafts, souvenirs, and traditional products at the weekly markets, such as the Piata Cetate Farmers’ Market.
Synergy Thermal has beauty covered! They have the most moisturizing SPF I’ve used, ever. It’s so moisturizing that I used it all summer for my face. Obsessed! Their website says they ship around Europe if you need some.
Charming handmade products like wooden trivets and ceramics can be found in a few souvenir shops. There is an astonishing amount of specialty coffee shops in Oradea. I’m told it’s because a big roaster is nearby where everyone roasts their beans. You can buy some unique beans for a lower price than many other cities.
Where to Stay
Hotel Continental Forum is an elegant hotel that offers comfortable accommodations and access to major attractions.
Ramada Oradea is a contemporary option with a serene atmosphere, perfect for a relaxing stay.
Astoria is right in the center, near the Opera house, and is super charming.
We stayed at the DoubleTree on the river with a glass elevator providing a view of the city and the fortress.
Where to Eat and Drink
Rivo was great for dinner, with good service and a fantastic ambiance, as it’s right on the river.
Euphoria Biergarten has excellent food and significant portions; the ribs were fantastic.
Merci has an excellent breakfast and fantastic options for lunch and dinner, too.
The cafes in Oradea are not normal; I’ve never seen so many in this size town. I only had three days there, so I tried to try them all, but it wasn’t possible. I couldn’t drink that much coffee.
Fifteen is the most I’ve seen in such a small city, but they are not all equal. They may all serve specialty coffee, but not always with the coffee shop energy digital nomads might be after. Some are basic: grab your coffee and go, while others have the European coffee culture some laid-back coffee drinkers crave.
12 Cups in 3 Days
- Meron My favorite! Dog-friendly, fantastic service, ample open space for sitting, working, or chatting with friends. Outside seating is located on the pedestrian street, a great location. The coffee was served so cute! So good! It had fantastic flavor and came with an automatic glass of water on the side, the first in the town to provide water. They even had a dog water bowl, and no one else did. Cozy leather chairs facing the street for people watching.
- SnoozeThe Day Starters are fantastic! It is a great big area with lots of seating to sit and work for digital nomads or hang out with friends. Delicious coffees, super friendly people working there. The juices they sell are good. They have nut jars of nut butter, coffee, and juices for sale to take home.
- Street Coffee Roasters Exposed brick charming little shop with stools along the wall and friendly baristas. I liked the coffee, and the location is very easy to access across from the central square. It’s not a place to stay and hang out, but there is seating.
- MY Specialty Coffee This small coffee shop is located across from the park, with stool seating on one side and a long booth on the other. The coffee was good and service friendly. They even bring it to where you’re sitting.
- Captain Bean Fantastic and even better service! I loved this café that’s in the center of a pedestrian area.
- TedsThis is a chain. I wouldn’t call it specialty coffee, but Google did, so I want to add it here. Maybe it’s not her day, or I’m not sure, but the barista was short and rude. The street is nice, outside seating is on a corridor bench, and there are high-top tables with plenty of space to work inside.
- 5 To Go This café has a comic book theme, with a sitting area in the back. The coffee is ok. It’s very highly rated, but I thought it was okay.
- Dorbob A bakery with some specialty coffee roasts to go with your yummy pastries.
- Cafizzio It’s the best coffee in town, but it’s a coffee-to-go spot, not for sitting around all day, but you will love their coffee. The barista from Captain told me to check it out, and I’m so glad it was my last coffee before driving six hours home.
Some that I didn’t get a chance to try. Can you believe there are this many!!??
- Mr. Bean The statue of men enjoying their drinks with an empty seat for passersby to join them makes this coffee shop the winner of the character award. The coffee is good, but the inside is tiny.
- Owl Coffee I didn’t make it there, but it looks super cute.
- The Dripper
- Café Frei Oradea
- Spite Coffee and Cycling For the cyclers and the café goers who want a fun, different experience with their coffee. Outside seating is on these cool grass breaks from the bricks; it is so cute.
- QL Café
- Tucano Coffee Alin’s Artisan Coffee House
- Okfea Oradea
- Origins Coffee and Drinks
- Zatz Coffee
- Centro Café
- It goes on and on; there are so many, and everyone has their favorites, so make sure to try as many as you can drink.
Language: While Romanian is the official language, English is commonly spoken in tourist areas.
Currency: The local currency is the Romanian Leu (RON). Make sure to have some cash on hand; although credit cards are widely accepted, they aren’t everywhere.
Oradea, Romania, offers a captivating blend of history, architecture, and modern attractions catering to various interests. From its remarkable landmarks to its relaxing thermal baths and diverse culinary scene, this charming town has something for every traveler. I never imagined so many coffee shops, but I was happy to try as many as possible, and I’ll return to try more! If you are thinking about Romania, I recommend it but remember that it’s not the cheap travel destination it once was. It’s still reasonable, but expect prices to be midrange to low. It’s still affordable; however, prices have increased significantly since I was there in 2018.
Thermal Water disclaimer: While the therapeutic effects of thermal waters are well-documented, they should not replace professional medical advice or treatments. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any new wellness routine.