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The truth of the matter is… when I first heard about Romania; I was hooked. I fell head over heels for the picturesque images on Google. The frightening idea of Dracula. And the intriguing thought that the entire region of Transylvania portrayed Dracula’s story. I had this idea that no matter what I had to visit Romania at some point in my life.
So when the time came that I had infinite time off of work, I booked a flight. Reserved a car. And committed to spending nearly two weeks in Romania. With four nights specifically dedicated to the capital city – Bucharest. Not only would I be visiting Romania, but I’d be visiting Bucharest! A city that I had heard great things about. “It’s so cheap!” “It’s such a fun city.” “Little Paris of the east, how could you not like it?”
The Truth About Visiting Bucharest
During the time I visited Bucharest, I was very actively updating my Instagram story. My story made it seem as though I loved Bucharest – when in fact… I’d rate it a 5/10. The truth is when I sat down to write a blog post to guide you on how best to visit Bucharest… I was at a loss. I was at a loss because I didn’t want to mislead anyone. I truly enjoyed it… but I truly find other cities much more fascinating.
The fact of the matter is that visiting Bucharest left me with a mix of emotions. On one hand – I loved it! Every twist and turn so very… European. Old buildings. History. Churches stuffed in alleyways. Sidewalk cafes. Beer is cheaper than water. Kids running around. The works.
But on the other hand? I disliked it. Worrying whether I’d run into someone friendly… or not. Worrying I was being “screwed” over. Worrying about whether or not my taxi driver dropped me off at the correct address. Watching my back at every twist and turn. Always slightly disappointed at the sites I showed up to see and the attractions I paid money for. (However, I’d like to point out that Bucharest has an amazing food scene!)
As it turns out… visiting Bucharest was a mix of emotions.
The city is charming and beautiful. There are amazing things to do if you’re visiting Bucharest. Opt for a day at one of the most beautiful libraries in the world – Carturesti Carusel. Or spend your day wandering the Old Town (just make sure to skip the National Museum of Romanian History). You could very well come to Bucharest – and have the complete opposite experience as me. And that is why I have to tell you…
You should visit Bucharest
If not for me, for yourself. Visit to see what makes Bucharest – Bucharest. Visit to learn the history, taste the food, and experience the very lively nightlife. Visit Bucharest so that you can form your own opinion. Visit Bucharest because you never know – it very well may be your very favorite capital city in Europe. Visit Bucharest because it makes Romania… Romania. Because you can’t very well fly in and visit charming cities without experiencing the capital. You should visit Bucharest because if everyone had the same opinion in the world… it would make the world boring. So go… and see for yourself.
If you do happen to listen to my advice and visit Bucharest for yourself; here are some things you should know…
The primary language in Romania is Romanian. However, English is widely spoken and you should be able to get by.
Although Romania is part of the EU, it operates on its own currency – the Lei also known as the Ron. The dollar is much stronger than the lei so your money will go far in Romania. Know that a majority of places take a credit card, but it’s smart to have cash on hand just in case.
Uber, taxis, and buses operate in the city. From the airport to Old Town, the drive is approximately 11 miles (depending on your destination). If you want an Uber, it operates the same as it does in the states. Connect to WiFi at the airport and get a ride from there. If you choose to go the taxi route you’ll order a taxi from the yellow touchscreens at “arrival”. Each taxi is labeled with the price of a ride – $/km. Make sure to choose a taxi that is anywhere from 1.7-2 Lei/km. The taxi should not cost more than 55 Lei to get to the old town. Make sure that the taxi meter is on! If you want to book a taxi ahead of time, you can do so here.
For an even cheaper alternative opt for a bus. The express bus 783 leaves the airport every 30 minutes. The price is cheap (only $1-2), but expect the ride to take nearly an hour. When the bus drops you off you’ll more than likely need to walk a short distance to your final destination.
As I mentioned above, I was highly impressed with the eating and drinking scene in Bucharest. The traditional Romanian food was one of a kind and paired with the local wine… heaven. Below are the spots that are worth spending time in.
If you’re looking for coffee head to… Origo; a cool coffee joint on the outskirts of the old town. Close enough to walk to, but far enough to draw locals over tourists. Just beware – while WiFi is available, laptops are not permitted indoors.
If you’re looking for cocktails head to… THE URBANIST; a men’s clothing store complete with a chic cocktail bar. With both indoor and outdoor seating order your drink at the bar and enjoy the laidback atmosphere.
If you’re looking for beer head to… Caru’ cu Bere; the oldest beerhouse in Bucharest having opened in 1879! The building was designed in the art nouveau form, designed by an Austrian architect. It’s beautiful from both the outside and inside.
If you’re looking for wine head to… Pâine si Vin; a wine bar on the outskirts of the old town. Strictly serving Romanian wine (along with delicious pizzas), it’s the perfect place to get acquainted with Romania!
If you’re looking for traditional Romanian food head to… Lacrimi si Sfinti; a Romanian restaurant in the heart of old town. Only indoor seating, which is perfect to get a front-row seat to the live music that is frequently played here.
I’m interested in knowing, have you visited Bucharest before? What was your experience like?
Wondering where to head instead of Bucharest? Check out The Best Places to Visit in Romania – Four Fairytale Towns You Can’t Miss
For more ideas on how to spend your time in Bucharest make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel.
I felt similarly about Bucharest and Romania in general, but I think the time of year (end of winter) might have affected my experience quite a bit. I quickly realized that most of the photos you see online are all the same Instagram highlights. I still think it’s a place worth seeing once, but like you I’m not itching to go back. Four nights was a long time!
Totally! Its funny how one thing such as weather, a bad tour guide, etc can change your entire trip. But I agree, Bucharest seemed like a lot of IG highlights but didn’t live up to the hype for me!
As a Romanian living in Bucharest I have to underline the fact that this is one of the SAFEST places when it comes to capital cities in the world.
Mugging, violence and guns are rare issues here (unlike many cities in the USA or Western Europe).
The fact that many people are very poor and hang out asking for money or being loud is just what you get after a hard period of communism where a big part of the population didn’t even dream for education or being rich, it was all about survival.
Please research what the crime levels in the cities you are visiting before making such statements.
Hi Lauran! Thanks for sharing, I always love a locals perspective. I never spoke directly to the crime levels in the country, I was only stating my own personal experiences. I love that travel allows us all to experience things differently and while some may love and adore Bucharest, that just wasn’t my personal experience.
Lmao this is one of the dumbest reviews I’ve read. The city doesn’t look like the images on Instagram? Worried you’d run into rude people like seriously? As an American I wouldn’t be surprised about your review . Typical American ignorance. Of course the us is much safer with its constant school shootings and rampant gun violence. Stick to Montana or whatever redneck place you come from xoxo
First, I love that anyone who leaves an unnecessarily nasty comment doesn’t have the guts to leave a name. Honestly, grow a pair. Second, I’m from Nebraska, not Montana and I’m proud AF about it. After traveling to 40 countries by the age of 32, I promise you – I have more insight into this world than you will EVER know or understand. But if you’re looking to read a blog of strictly fake reviews – I can assure you, this isn’t it.
Way to go!
I am considering a visit to Romania and found your review honest and insightful. It mirrored my neighbors thoughts, since they recently returned from visiting several countries in the region and Romania was the only one they said they would never return to. I will probably still plan a trip, however i will limit my time in Bucharest.
Also, I really enjoyed your reply to no-name. Their reply was way off mark…I hope I don’t run into them 🙂
Wishing you the best on future travels
Hi Mike, your comment was a bright spot in my day! I’m glad you found this post and thank you for reading. Overall, I really liked Romania outside of Bucharest and think that it is an underrated gem in Eastern Europe. I truly hope you get to go and come back and tell me what you thought ;).