The 40 km long Timișoara – Serbia bicycle route starts in the engaging city of Timișoara before following the banks of the Bega River all the way to the border with the neighbouring Serbia, where it connects with EuroVelo 11 – The East Europe Route. The EuroVelo 13 - Iron Curtain Trail is also connected right before existing Romania.
Timișoara is the capital city of the Timiș County in western Romania. Known as the city of flowers, the city of freedom and the European Capital of Culture 2023. By excellence, this is a multicultural area. It’s enough to allow yourself to take in the beauty and the diversity of the scenery. Timișoara can boast of having more than 14,500 historic buildings, many of them restored or undergoing restoration.
If you are more of a people person, there are also lots of opportunities to engage with the locals. Timișoara carries the legacy of the numerous nationalities that have chosen this place to be their home: Serbians, Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Bulgarians, Ukrainians and so on. Open-mindedness, generosity, hospitality and a free spirit are therefore all qualities that the people of Timișoara have in their genes, passed down from one ancestor or another. There will be no effort spared to make you feel that you are home too!
Not far from there, the route goes through the city center. A sure sign that you have arrived in the center is the magnificent natural tunnel created by magnolias and Japanese cherry trees. Stop for a while and explore the attractions nearby. Enjoy a coffee on an elegant terrace in front of the Cathedral or have lunch in a fine dining restaurant in the Union Square to prepare you for a stroll in the Art Museum. You could also just take a walk in the central pedestrian area, one of the largest in Romania. The beautiful Art Nouveau or Baroque architecture provides a perfect setting.
Just across the Union Square you can find the last standing bastion (Maria Theresia Bastion) from what used to be the old citadel. The 1-metre-thick walls won the battles of time and communism visions of reconstruction, so the visitor will feel like a conqueror of an all senses experience. The Bastion contains the National Museum of Banat, a tourist information center, restaurants and cafes. There is also a good chance that an artistic event will be in progress when you drop by, as the place is shaped as a natural amphitheater and provides a stage for various cultural happenings during the year.
To get a feel for the true spirit of the city and the influence of its rich history and multiculturalism, just take a visit to the Revolution Museum. Timișoara was the first free city of the communist regime in Romania. This is the place where the revolution began back in 1989 and the starting point of liberation for the entire country after decades of totalitarian rule. The courage and the resilience of the people that instigated these events comes across strongly. Back on the saddle, you will now leave Timișoara’s central area and advance towards the outskirts of the city. The landscape is slightly changing as monumental historic buildings give way to a tranquil experience along river banks. The route has quite a few resting places along the way. Choose carefully which of them suit you best, or visit them all as it is unlikely anyone ever suffered from being too relaxed when reaching their destination. Just 2 km after the spectacular old city harbor, on the left on the cycle lane, you will find the first essential ‘take a break’ stop. The bohemian restaurant La Căpițe offers a bar and grill under vine leaves, surrounded by a bio plantation of strawberry and raspberry plants where the owners allow self-service while you are on the premises! And the music is very good, too. With Dylan, Zeppelin and all that old school rock in the background, finding the motivation to continue can be challenging!
But don’t give up. Just a few km further, between Utvin and Sânmihaiu Român, you will find La plaja nouă (‘The new beach’). This entertainment area is set within 18 hectares of forest and fully caters for adventure seekers, offering paint ball, wakeboarding, water sports, a kids’ adventure park, a landscaped lake, a sandy beach, a children's playground, bar & grill and a chill zone. Quite often you can find a live band or a party taking place, but because it is such a large area you can always find a quiet spot with a hammock to cool down.
Reaching Sânmihaiu Român, there is an unusual system of locks designed to regulate water levels which was installed by the Austrians in 1902 and recently renovated. Nearby you will find another popular venue for bike riders called La livadă (‘In the orchard’). And it is exactly what it says it is - a peaceful, pastoral establishment but with all modern services at hand: restaurant, outdoor terrace, kids’ playground and of course the unbeatable feeling of enjoying all these in an orchard setting.
From there, a short detour (10 km) will take you to Diniaș. Here you can visit the natural reserve “Sărăturile din Diniaș” (“Diniaș salted area”). This reserve was created in order to protect the fauna and flora unique to this type of salty habitat. In spring time, the territory is filled with salted swamps, while in summer the soil becomes arid.
If things are getting a little heated and you feel like kicking back and relaxing, the area offers the perfect solution. Timiș county is sitting on significant resources of thermal - mineral groundwater. In Sânmihaiu German you can find a great set up with pools, restaurants, spa area and also the possibility to stay over night. On the premises of the thermal pool there are a few wooden lodges that look like they have come straight from a children’s story book. If you prefer camping, there is also an area designated for pitching your tent. The waters here have fantastic therapeutically properties.
After this welcome diversion, time to get back on the bike route. You’re almost half way done if we consider the Serbian border as the destination. After Sânmihaiu Român, the route crosses Sânmartinu Maghiar, which was the first Hungarian colony installed in Banat, back in 1806. Otelec, which is last village on the bike route before crossing the Serbian border is home to the largest colony of Red Footed Falcons. This is the only breed of birds of prey that lives in colonies in our country.
So just enjoy the rest of ride, take mental pictures of the gentle landscape of the Banat countryside, sink into the drowning silence of the crop fields interrupted only by the colourful explosions of poppy flowers and rapeseed plants that guard the river banks.
Practical information: - Bike route map: https://www.bikemap.net/en/r/2832778/#11.53/45.6195/20.898 - Length: 43 km - Elevation: 0 m ascent, 17 m descent This article is an advertorial of the Department for Tourism Development Timiş County Council. If you are interested in this cycle route, visit their www.cjtimis.ro/ and find more about the Timiş County.