Arad is an industrial city of some 160,000 population at the western edge of Romania, close to the border with Hungary. It is a regional transportation hub and a convenient place to stop over on a journey between those countries. There is an intact Vauban-style fortress and an interesting old town with a great number of historic buildings. Most of them date from the Habsburg era, ranging from Baroque to Art Nouveau. While some have been recently renovated, others are left in a state of dilapidation.
The city's cultural life is marked by a Philharmonic Orchestra, several theatres and a museum complex. The latter is particularly interesting for history buffs, as it showcases evidence from various eras of human history that have been discovered in this area. The Arad county wine route starts a few kilometer east of the city.
The nearest viable commercial airport is Timisoara (Traian Vuia TSR) 40 km south, with 6 or 7 flights a day to Bucharest, and other European destinations. Budapest (Ferihegy BUD) airport 150 km north-west has extensive connections.
Arad is on the main highway E68 between Budapest and Bucharest. There are buses every hour or two to Timisoara (60-90 mins); change there for Bucharest. Buses run every 30 mins to Budapest, the fastest in only two hours.
For Transylvania, four or five buses run daily to Deva (3 hrs), Sibiu (5 hrs) and Brasov (8 hrs). There are four buses to Cluj Napoca (4-6 hrs).
The bus station is in the Atrium Centre on Aurel Vlaicu Bvd, 200 m west of the railway station and 2 km north of city centre.
There are five direct trains a day to Budapest Keleti, taking 4 hrs 30, fare 100 lei. (This includes an hour waiting at the border; there's also a one-hour time switch between Romania and Hungary.) The last direct train is at 3:30PM, but there's a 5PM indirect route taking six hours. The 1AM train is a through-service to Vienna.
All passenger trains are run by CFR Calatori. 1 Arad railway station (Gara Arad) is 2 km north of the city centre at Piața Gării 8-9. The interior is modernised; few facilities within but lots of fast food places, small supermarkets, currency exchange etc just outside on the main boulevard.
Most sights, eating and accommodation are a short walk from City Hall. Buses and trams run along the main strip here, Bulevard Revolutiei. At its north end this curves west into Calea Aurel Vlaicu, with the bus & railway stations. Taxis and car hire are readily available.
- 1 Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral (Catedrala Ortodoxă "Sfânta Treime"), Bulevardul Revolutiei. Built in 1992-2006, the interior is being re-plastered & repainted in 2018, with wooden scaffolding filling the northern part near the iconostasis. The murals at the southern part, by the entrance, look very fresh.
- 2 Lutheran Church (Biserica Roșie, "Red church"), Bd. Revoluției 61. Built in 1906 from red bricks (hence the nickname), Gothic Revival style.
- 3 Administrative Palace (Palatul Administrativ), Bd. Revoluției 75. Impressive city hall, built in 1876 in Renaissance Revival style.
- 4 Neumann Palace (Palatul Neumann), Bd. Revoluției 78/str. Horia (across the city hall). Representative building created for a very rich industrialist in 1891–92, eclectic style. Today it houses a number of shops as well as the private Vasile Goldiș University. The former ballroom was converted into an auditorium for 200 students.
- 5 Cultural Palace & Museum (Palatul Cultural & Complexul Muzeal), Piaţa George Enescu 1 (by City Hall). Museum Tue-Sun 9AM-5PM. Imposing cultural complex, dating from 1911-13, in an eclectic style mix of neoclassical, Gothic and Renaissance elements. The museum has three divisions: fine arts, natural sciences, and archaeology/history. The philharmonic orchestra (filarmonia) has regular concerts: box office is currently at "Ioan Slavici" Theatre. 2 lei.
- Just east of the Palace is the Mures river, with a promenade for strolling, and a children's play-park.
- 6 Moise Nicoară National College (Colegiul Național "Moise Nicoară"). Stately school building, built from 1869–1873 with Renaissance and Baroque elements. It was thoroughly refurbished after 2010 and made one of Romania's best equipped schools.
- 7 St. Anthony of Padova Church (Biserica Sf. Anton de Padova). Roman-Catholic cathedral built in 1904 in neo-Renaissance style.
- 8 Ioan Slavici Classical Theatre (Teatrul Clasic „Ioan Slavici”). Elegant neoclassical theatre building, completed in 1874.
- 9 Avram Iancu square (Piața Avram Iancu). The city's main square, with a central green space and monument to the Unknown Soldier. Surrounding buildings include the theatre to the north and the Art-Nouveau Nádasdy House to the west.
- 10 House with locked log (Casa cu lacăt). One of the oldest secular buildings in the city, built for a Viennese merchant in 1815. The building's distinctive mark, a brass-coated log, was modeled after the famous "Stock-im-Eisen" in central Vienna and used by travelling journeymen to leave a mark of their guild. After being stolen (and recovered) in 1994, the log was moved to the Museum of Art, to prevent it from other thieves.
- 11 Synagogue. Reformed synagogue, built from 1828–1834, neoclassical style with Greek and Tuscan elements.
- 12 Serbian Orthodox Saint Peter and Paul Church (Biserica Sârbească). Baroque church, built around 1700 (the city's oldest church that has survived in its original form), with a high steeple.
- 13 Cathedral of the Nativity of John the Baptist (Catedrala „Nașterea Sf. Ioan Botezătorul”). Old Romanian-Orthodox cathedral, built from 1862–65 in Baroque revival style.
- Three blocks west of Piața Avram Iancu, Reconciliation Park (Parcul Reconcilierii) with the 14 Statue of Liberty (Statuia Libertății). A monument to the "13 Martyrs of Arad", rebel generals who were executed by Austrian forces after the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1849.
- Art Nouveau architecture (or Secession style, as it was called in Austro-Hungary): several highly decorative examples of this early 20th-century style, similar to those found in Budapest or other cities of the former Danube Monarchy, with their elaborate floral or geometric ornamentation. However, most of them are in a rather sad state of preservation. Notable instances include 15 Palatul Bohuș (Str. Goldiș Vasile 1-3), 16 Palatul Szantay (Str. Horia 3-5/Str. Episcopiei 2), 17 Palatul Kovács (Str. General Vasile Milea 19).
- 18 Trajan Bridge (Podul Traian). Iron bridge over the Mureș river, dating from 1910–13, carrying road and tramway. Rehabilitated in 2010 for the bridge's 100th anniversary.
- East of the river, the 19 Citadel is an 18th-century Vauban-style fortification on the site of an earlier Ottoman fort. But it's a military base and closed to the public; you can't even see much of the exterior among the tangled shrubs.
- 20 Ruins of the Franciscan Church (Biserica Franciscană). Cannot be visited regularly, as it is located within the citadel and therefore part of the restricted military area.
String of cafes, restaurants and bars on Bvd Revolutiei just south of City Hall.
- Alexander, 175 Calea Radnei (3 km east on Hwy 7 towards Deva), ☎ . 2 star
- Arad, 9 Bvd Decebal (corner of Str 1 Dec 1918), ☎ . Central, with restaurant, cleaning variable.
- Ardealul, 98 Bvd Revoluţiei (on midtown Bvd), ☎ . Nice old building, needs a makeover.
- Lotus, 8 Str. Nicolae Ştefu (central, off Str Banu Maracine), ☎ . Good value for 2-star 25€.
- Pensiunea Mioriţa, 127 Calea Radnei (3 km east on Hwy 7 towards Deva), ☎ . Small clean place.
- Best Western Central Hotel, 8 Str Horia (downtown 2 km from rwy station), ☎ . 3-star, reliable chain choice. The building is set back from the street so it's quiet although central. Big comfy rooms, good breakfast. Mezzanine lift so you always need to go half a flight of stairs to get in, same again to get out. 60€.
- Coandi, 47 Calea Romanilor (just north of river bridge Podul Traian), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 3-star
- Iris, 1 Str. Capitan Ignat, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Central, with adjacent restaurant.
- Marem, 2C Calea Victoriei (off Str Banu Maracine), ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Central, near rwy station, clean, has own restaurant.
- Parc, 25 Bvd General Dragalina (off Str Unirii), ☎ . 3 star in ugly 1970s block overlooking river, lukewarm guest reviews.
- President, 164 Calea Timisorii (2 km S of centre on hwy towards Timisoara), ☎ . Edge of town, handy if travelling by car. 40€.
The main options are to go west towards Budapest, or south via Timisoara towards Bucharest, or east into Transylvania.