Bucharest, Romania was never a stamp I expected to get in my passport. Romania gets a bad rep in the press, being home of vadim, the Ceausescus and as a place where pickpockets are as common as pigeons doesn’t pay justice to beauty of the city and warmth of the people.
Bucharest is a city of contrasts – buildings that looked as if they were built yesterday next to those looking as if they wished they were never built at all, but this isn’t the only thing about Bucharest it has going for it. The mixture of old and new, from communist style apartment blocks to super modern restaurants make Bucharest a must visit for all culture loving brits.
Our apartment was lovely, right in the heart of the Old Town, right next door to the recommended restaurant Caru Cu Bere, I would definitely recommend it to any one looking for a base in Bucharest, reasonably priced but the perfect location if you like to stay out after dark in the city that truly doesn’t sleep.
Go to any European city and the first sounding of an english accent is often greeted with despair followed by disdain by the local waiting staff, but Bucharest is a city that it doesn’t quite feel like the English invasion has happened. Locals more than welcoming and more than interested in talking to you and finding out where you come from and how long you are in their city, its very rare for a Brit to find europeans so warm and welcoming to us, I don’t know if anybody else feels that but that’s just my experience travelling through Europe and I find it quite sad that we often have such a bad time,
particularly in countries where English isn’t the main language.
So onto food, you could eat pretty well here for not too much money if you know were to go and also enjoy even better value by accepting that what you are getting is somewhere between fine dining and bistro restaurant.
The Old Town is filled with restaurants and bars serving amazing quality food, although I will say be prepared for the food portions they are giant! The Romanian people really appreciate fine food and drink, often frequenting the same restaurant for both breakfast and dinner. This is a country where the food isn’t just secondary to its alcohol content, but equally as important. Be prepared for some amazing cheeses that are served with every meal.
Once you have taken in the sights of the Palace of Parliament, Piata Unirii or The Natural History Museum then there is only one place for it!! Therme Bucuresti, europe’s largest spa! it does not disappoint, with 9 pools indoor and out, water slides where if you’re not careful you can definitely get whiplash. After 3 days of boozing in some of Bucharest’s bars my trip to Therme Bucuresti was a welcome delight, I know there are spa’s in every city but you will be hard pressed to find one like this, even if it was a complete sausage fest.
If you are looking for something a little classier in the evening than your local dive bar then you must check out Nomad Sky Bar, this place wouldn’t be out of place in a swanky part of the West End in London with the prices in this bar reflective of that, whilst Bucharest is overall relatively cheap there are places (usually the more upmarket) that your paying usual UK city prices.
If you are looking to do Bucharest on a budget then take a walk 10/15 mins away from the old town and the prices of food and drinks virtually halves but importantly without losing the quality. If you like local then Romanian food, unlike some countries is not particularly heavy on the stomach and is very reasonably priced throughout the city. A typical meal will cost from 15-20 lei, which works out at around 3/4GBP per person including a drink whereas in the Old Town you’ll be paying £20-£30 per person with a drink.
I was also surprised at how safe I felt walking around the city. A lot of people recommend avoiding the centre as it’s not particularly well policed however throughout my days there I never witnessed any trouble from pick pocketer’s or muggings and this was late at night through to early in the morning when these incidents are apparently rife, the local gypsies whilst prevalent, if you are polite and say “no thank you” they will move on. Unlike cities like Barcelona where you must be on guard every step of the way, Bucharest is completely the opposite.
The locals are very friendly and helpful however there is a language barrier I read that only 30% of Romanians speak English, having experienced Bucharest this is likely true, but if you try to learn a few words like I did before I went that goes a long way to them trying to engage with you more.
Beautiful city, lots to do, very cheap – go visit 🙂
Stay blessed everybody and have a fantastic day.