Experience Bucharest – 72 hours in the capital of Romania
Have you ever been to Bucharest, Romania? No? This lively city should definitely be your next destination. If you are interested in exploring one of the most underestimated capitals in Europe this is the travel guide for you. I’m sure you’ll be looking at flights after reading this guide!
I spent 72 hours exploring Bucharest and I will share with you the ultimate city guide. You can do this trip over a weekend but since the city is very much alive it’s also great to travel here during the weekdays (which is normally cheaper too!).
Bucharest is a city full of old history and new ideas. It’s shown everywhere – from the architecture to the friendly people. I’ll guide you through what to eat, see and do in Bucharest and even where you find the most Instagrammable spots!
But first, a quick bit of Bucharest history and facts;
- Bucharest (București) is the capital and largest city of Romania, which was formed in 1859 and gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877.
- Bucharest is also called “Little Paris” or “Paris of the East” (Micul Paris) because of the French influences commonly shown in the architecture.
- Bucharest is the sixth-largest city in the European Union (by population within the city limits). 1,8 million people live in Bucharest.
And a bit of Romanian facts;
- Population: 20 million people
- Currency: RON – Romanian Leu
- Language: Romanian
- Share boarders with: Ukraine, Hungary, Moldavia, Bulgaria and Serbia
- Time zone: Summer = UTC +3 EEST. Winter = UTC +2 EET.
- Most common religion: Christian ortodox
What to see in Bucharest
Palace of the Patriarchate – Palatul Patriarhiei
Address: Strada Patriarhiei
An amazing building with neo-classical style facade with a lot of history during the communist regime. The building is surrounded by an old church and other buildings forming “The Vatican” of Bucharest.
Romanian Athenaeum – Ateneul Român
Address: Strada Benjamin Franklin 1-3
A magnificent concert hall and a landmark of the Romanian capital city.
Carol Park – Parcul Carol
Address: Bulevardul Mărășești
This beautiful park is perfect for a stroll or a picnic. There you will also find the Mausoleum, (Mausoleul din Parcul Carol), known during the Communist régime as the “Monument of the Heroes for the Freedom of the People and of the Motherland, for Socialism”, which is now a Military Museum.
Memorial of Rebirth – Memorialul Renaşterii
Address: Piața Revoluției
A memorial that commemorates the struggles and victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989. Its also known as the potato on a stick, the egg, the impaled potato and the nest. Apparently not even the Romanian people knows the name or understands this piece of art, therefore it’s now mostly tagged with graffiti and skaters use the area below it to skate and do tricks.
The red dots
These dots can be found on over 300 buildings in Bucharest and the signs explains that these buildings are in real danger to collapse if an earthquake would appear. Bucharest is the European capital that has the most earthquakes. Many people still live in these houses and apartments, while some are entirely empty.
The Arch of Triumph – Arcul de Triumf din București
Address: Piața Arcul de Triumf
As Bucharest is known as “Little Paris” of course there is a mini version of the Arch of Triumph. It’s not so small actually, it’s 27 m to the top and it’s not yet opened to the public. Rumours has it that it will open in 2019 to the public – let’s cross our fingers that it’s true! The arch is situated in the middle of a big roundabout so make sure to be careful when crossing over to this beautiful landmark.
What to eat in Bucharest
Have you ever tried Romanian food? No? Well, it’s time to book a full dinner because there is plenty of great food from the Romanian kitchen. And don’t worry if you want food from other places too, Bucharest is full of tasty restaurants that will keep you full and ready to explore more.
Romanian food tour with My Secret Romania
Address: Strada Pitar Moș 23
Visit the traditional restaurant “La Copac” and eat amazing food from Romania. While dining you learn about Romanian history and if you’re lucky you even get to know what the patterns on the traditional blouses mean. I recommend to book a food tour to really get to know the history about the traditional Romanian kitchen.
Bread and mashed beans
Sausages and potatoes in basil, with red onions
Our guide explaining the patterns
Manuc’s Inn – Hanul lui Manuc
Address: Hanul lui Manuc
A traditional restaurant that offers both set menus and an a la carte in Romanian food. Dine in a big and open space and be surprised when music suddenly starts playing and the staff suddenly comes out wearing traditional clothes and starts to show you different dances from all around Romania. Pro tip: try the Romanian red wine, it’s very good!
When in Romania you need to try “Telemea” – a cheese similar to feta cheese, but in my opinion – even better! Try both the salty and the sweet options.
Traditional dish “Sarmale” – Cabbage rolls filled with meat or vegetables, served with polenta and sour cream.
Address: Etaj 1, Strada Smârdan 30
Eat, drink and dance. Visit this restaurant and bar for great drinks and food from all over the world – do a nomadic culinary trip. The skybar gives you a great view of the city center. NOMAD is located in Old Town and to enter the restaurant you have to take an elevator straight from the street up to the restaurant.
Address: Strada Apolodor 3
Visit an authentic Mexican restaurant for the best margaritas in town and amazing tacos. There are two restaurants by El Torito and we visited the one with the address above. This restaurant offers you great food and a great Mexican vibe – the staff is also very friendly and will help you find the best dishes for you on the menu. If you come during warm months their decorated patio is open, a very nice place to dine.
Address: Splaiul Unirii 225
Great food, great beer and a of course – a great time! Hop Garden won’t leave you disappointed – and definatly not hungry! Just look at the size of that burger! The kitchen is a mix of burgers, pastas, Romanian food and Mexican. Pro tip: order a dish with grilled meat or chicken, it’s really good!
Where to stay in Bucharest
Wondering where you should stay in Bucharest? I have two tips for you – one more luxurious and one more affordable. Both bringing you the best of the city!
Address: Calea Victoriei 63-81
Price range: Upper
If you’re looking for something extra, this is really where you should stay. The five star hotel is several stories high and inside you’ll find 4 restaurants, 3 bars, a spa area and a swimming pool. The breakfast is a breakfast foodies dream, filled with extra details such as a Bloody Mary mixing station and a personal chef to cook you your omelet. And besides that, the hotel is located near the city center and close to the Instagrammable spots Passaje Victorlei and Passaje Englez.
Address: Strada Smârdan 7
Price range: Lower
This hostel is a two building delight in the middle of Old Town. At Pura Vida you’ll find hostel rooms and chill out areas and at Pura Vida Sky you’ll find more hostel rooms and also the famous Sky Bar with an amazing view over the city. Even if you’re not staying at the hostel you’re welcome to take a drink at the sky bar or work at the new co-working space.
Photos by Pura Vida Sky
Experience the nightlife in Bucharest
The nightlife in Bucharest is famous for being crazy and happening every single night! I can assure you that there is always something going on in Old Town or in the city centre. The following tips are just a few of my favourites from the bubbling night life in Bucharest!
Address: Strada Stavropoleos 5
Visit Bucharest’s oldest beer garden and experience a magical evening. The beer garden outside is spacious and inside you’ll find amazing architecture and beer halls filled with people. Take the swing door in to another world.
Address: Strada Glodeni
A night club with clowns, popcorn, cotton candy and dancing on carousels? Yes, all of this can you experience at Bucharest’s craziest nightclub called Fratelli. You never know what to expect at this club. The night I was there it was carnival! The themes might change at this club but I’m sure they will all be crazy and make you step into a fantasy world!
Address: Strada 11 Iunie 50
This cool place is found a little bit outside the city center but is definitely worth a visit. Chill with a beer outside in the beer garden or dance all night inside this old fabric.
What to do in Bucharest
There is plenty of things to do in Bucharest. Here is a few of my favourite tips for you to explore!
Do you have a drivers license? Perfect, then you can hire this cool retro bus to travel the city. You can even rent it to travel around Romania for a longer time, complete with a bed and kitchen in the van. What are you waiting for? Time to live the American van life in Romania!
During my visit in Bucharest I went on several walking tours. Listed below are a few that I recommend to get to know the city better. And the best part? Most of them are free!
Walkabout Free Tours – The Story of Bucharest
Good Living Bucharest – How Bucharest Became the “Little Paris”
Open Doors Travel – Real life in the neighbourhoods of Giants
Walkabout Free Tours – The Royal Century
BTrip Bucharest – Old Town legends and stories
The pictures below are from the “Real life”-tour in the suburban neighbourhood Pantelimon. This is an old water tower now turned into street art by the community.
5 Instagram friendly spots in Bucharest
Bucharest is the perfect place for great Instagram photos! Everyday I visited a new place that blew me away, and sure will blow your followers away too! Check out these 5 Instagram friendly spots in Bucharest.
- The English Passage – Pasajul Englez
2. The Bookshop – Cărturești Carusel
3. Arcul de Triumf
4. The Umbrella Passage – Pasajul Victoria
5. The Parisian passages – Pasajul Vilacrosse and Pasajul Macca
WANT MORE INSTAGRAM SPOTS?
All these places are amazing Instagram spots as you can see and there are plenty more around town! Amazing buildings and street art is everywhere and there are plenty of cute shops and cafes that are picture perfect too. Make sure to be attentive when walking on the streets of Bucharest – there is always something new and beautiful to see!
Short summary of my 72 h Bucharest visit
To sum up my experience in Bucharest I must say that 3 days was not enough. I came here during the colorful autumn and I sure want to be back for the parties in the streets in summertime and for the Christmas markets in the winter. Bucharest is a perfect all year around destination – for a weekend or as I would recommend – an even longer stay.
Let me know if you have more tips on Bucharest or if I can help you during your planning for your next Bucharest visit!
Disclaimer: This blogpost was written in collaboration with #ExperienceBucharest, through a sponsored press trip with ExperienceBucharest, ExperienceRomania and AMPT – Administrația Monumentelor și Patrimoniului Turistic București.
All opinions and recommendations are as always my own.
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