How to Spend a Day or Two in Bucharest
As explained in my post Bucharest Bus Controllers and Squashed Bananas, we didn’t have the best first impression of Romania because of Bucharest. Now that’s not to say that Bucharest is bad: it’s not. It just wasn’t our favourite place, and this bad experience definitely tainted our perception. However, there were many things that we did like – notably the restaurants, walking tour and architecture. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for you to visit Romania for Bucharest, you will likely travel through at some point if you’re heading to Romania. Whether you’re flying into the country to visit Transylvania or heading across the border by train or bus into Bulgaria, chances are you’re going through Bucharest.
So, let’s say you arrive into Bucharest, you’re booked onto a night bus this evening or maybe tomorrow; how should you fill a day or two?
Mix of old and new
High rise from communist times
Book Yourself on a Free Walking Tour or Two
Bucharest is a large city and so has two different walking tours, both run by Walkabout Free Tours, that target different areas. The ‘From Monarchy to Communism’ tour is a really interesting one, and our guide, Elena, was knowledgeable and hilarious. It lasts about two and a half hours and starts at 3pm.
Pasajul Englez (The English Passage)
Marvel at the Grand Architecture
Bucharest really hassome huge and imposing buildings, and we had great fun just wandering and taking it all in. From the stark, grey concrete of communism, to the fanciness of Neo-classical and Gothic, to modernism. There is a little bit of everything in a contrasting mash-up of flavours. Make sure you head over to the Palace of Parliament to see the world’s heaviest building. It has a dark history so join the waking tour to learn more about it. Or you can book a tour of the palace.
Parrot electrical box
Full wall mural
Head out to the Mountains
You can reach Busteni (Bucegi Mountains) within an hour and a half on the train from Gara de Nord. So, the train leaving at 08:00 will get you into Busteni by 09:30 which means you have plenty of time to hike and explore. Find all the hiking routes on Maps.me. Watch out for bears!
Busteni train station
Mountain view from town
Gorge Yourself on a Variety of Cuisines
We went to a load of restaurants in Bucharest but didn’t eat much Romanian food because we got too excited about the huge variety of cuisines available. By this point, we had been on the road for three months and had only really been able to find Balkan food the whole way.
A Chinese restaurant (pretty sure you’ve guessed that already) where we ate for Chris’ 30th birthday! The food is delicious and the portions are huge. We had mapo tofu, spicy fried green beans and a mushroom chow mein between us. We are big eaters (trust me) and we couldn’t finish it all. Takeaway box, please!
Hefty portion of mapo tofu
An Indian takeaway that also has some seating inside. This is good Indian food. We were walking up to Gara de Nord to book our train tickets and spelt the spicy aromas wafting down the street. Our eyes lit up, so we quickly crossed the road to make a curry pit stop. We had the mushroom curry, Bombay aloo and garlic nan. Super punchy flavours at small prices.
Plenty of choice
All the super food
A coffee chain that you will find all over Romania. They do a good flat white with non-dairy milk alternatives. They all have jazzy indoor seating areas.
Rainy coffee stop
Five to Go
Another coffee chain that you will find everywhere in Romania. Most coffees will cost you 5 RON and they’re take away. It’s all in the name. Decent coffee for a good price.
Have you been to Bucharest?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.
Thanks for reading!