How often have you set foot in a city and had your socks blown off? It doesn’t happen often. Possibly our wee trainer socks aren’t pulled up too high and are quite easy to blow off, or possibly it’s because our Bucharest city break was nothing like we expected. From the insane (we’re talking 1,100 rooms – 3,930,000 sq. ft insane) sized Palace of Parliament to some of the coolest bars we’ve ever set foot in, the city blew us away. After reading this Bucharest city guide we guarantee it will be added to your bucketlist, ASAP.
How Much to Budget for Bucharest
We travelled to Bucharest in November, our flight from Cologne to Bucharest was £45 (each.)
A sneaky spending tip, is the airport bus (take line 783, info here) into Bucharest is only £2! However, traffic is crazy busy, particularly during rush hour. We heard of other travellers missing their flight as the journey took over 2 hours by bus due to traffic. Instead, we used Uber as it was only £5 and took 25 minutes! Use our Uber code, for an even cheaper trip!
Our budget for our Bucharest city break was £40 per day for both of us, which is 100% doable. However, yet again, we heard the word spa and said “shut up and take our money” so actual spend on average was £70 per day for both of us.
Where to Stay in Bucharest
If you are looking for where to stay in Bucharest look no further than Bucharest Apartments! Amazingly, only £22.33 per night (for both of us).
The apartment was one of our favourites – super cosy studio with a bedroom come dining/kitchen and bathroom. Also, a very lovely host checked us in and was super quick at replying to any questions we had. Maybe worth mentioning for all ya’ll millennial sorts, just how amazing WiFi is, as Bucharest boasts the best in Europe.
Where to Eat in Bucharest
On your Bucharest city break, a funky little cafe definitely worth the mention is Hug Cafe. Initially pulled in by the decor, we enjoyed the cosy atmosphere, friendly staff and delicious food. Laughably we had croque monsieur which obviously isn’t a traditional Romanian dish but I even photographed it, it was that good.
As mentioned in previous posts, our coffee & cake addiction fuels our travels, so when we find a good cake spot, we shout it from the rooftops.
Now although I’ve fancied seeing my name in lights, seeing the word CAKE in lights is even better. Making Palmiye in Old Town unmissable as the sign will definitely grab your attention. The very friendly and ridiculously patient waitress laughed at our kid-in-candy-shop reactions as we oohed and aaahed at the amazing cake selection.
I settled for a predictable pink cupcake that looked shat out by a unicorn, whilst Daz opted for a very classy chocolate pud like the elegant gentleman he is (LOL). The pastel interior is every insta addicts dream, we were a tad gutted we discovered it our last afternoon of our Bucharest city break.
Oh and did we mention 2 cakes, 2 coffees were 46 Lei so £8?!
Where to Drink in Bucharest
We did not sample any traditional tipple as such, but if you’re the hipster sort or just enjoy a pint not in a pub then Bucharest offers some of the most unique bars we’ve came across so far. Head to the Old Town, (Lipscani) area and add these favourites to your Bucharest city break bucketlist –
The Drunken Lords – We found this by accident wandering down the passageway that connects Strada Lipscani with Strada Blanari and instantly fell in love with the quirky decor (if like us, you’re a sucker for velvet teal chairs & antique covered walls, you will too).
Joben Bistro – This was a bar we’ll never forget. The decor & staff were steam punk on steroids – walls an eclectic mix of metal & machine with bearded staff in top hats. Although we were mesmerised by the décor, the staff did seem a little disinterested, which could possibly go with the “too cool for school” theme, or they could just be fed up of insta addicts like us snapping every inch of the place.
A similar steam punk bar, that we’d been recommended was DISTRIKT 42 although we didn’t have the time (or wine budget left) to squeeze it in during our Bucharest city break.
Things To Do in Bucharest
On the beaten track: You may or may not be aware of our flashpacker ways by now, but as much as we budget and are savvy with our spending we have the odd (daily) YOLO moment. Particularly if alcohol is involved.
Our YOLO moment was Therme Bucuresti. It was like no other “spa” we had been to before, and we have been to a few spas in Europe. Firstly, it was enormous – at 30,000 sq. m, it hosts 8 pools and is divided into 3 areas.
- The Palm earns its name from the 500 palm trees that fill it, which is for relaxation including heated beds and therapeutic pools each with different minerals to benefit your skin and wellbeing.
- The Elysium area hosts 6 themed saunas, from Nordic style where you enter sub-zero temperatures naked to an amazing cinema sauna that played David Attenborough wildlife documentaries on a cinema screen as you sat and baked in the heat.
- The Galaxy area is the entertainment area aimed at children, with flumes and a wave pool.
The best part? (apart from David Attenborough obviously) was the pools were both inside & out. Allowing you to sip on a prosecco cocktail in a 33 degree thermal pool under the night stars. Our Bucharest city break suddenly turned into honeymoon worthy.
Instead of cash payment, all visitors were given electronic bracelets which you simply “beeped” the same way you’d use contactless. Dangerous when pints are only £2 each (give or take exchange rate.)
Note: Children (under 16) are only allowed in the Galaxy area, full day child’s ticket is 50 Lei. Over 16s have access to all areas and a full day ticket (which we purchased and managed to stay from 1pm until 8pm before eventually shrivelling up) was 96 Lei, so £18.
There is the option for 3 hour tickets and tickets for only certain areas. We advise timing it later in the afternoon to watch the sunset then enjoy the spa all lit up in the evening. Hands down, this was one of, if not the highlight of our Bucharest city break – and possibly our entire Europe trip.
Off the beaten track: Bucharest boasted some amazing street art, which we discovered through a very helpful map (here) that is definitely worth downloading/bookmarking.
Even if you are not the street arty type, the architecture along this route we found so interesting juxtaposed with the murals that there is something worth seeing for all ages and tastes.
Failing that, they’re just seriously funky backdrops for your next profile pic.
It will take you all of five minutes to spot The Palace of the Parliament (as the largest administration building in the world, it’s even visible from space) so it’s far from “off the beaten track”. However, we’ll let you in on a few fun facts.
1. Firstly, it took 400 architects to construct, led by A 28 YEAR OLD WOMAN #girlpower.
2. There are secret tunnels underneath designed by Nicolae Ceausescu so he could travel to the airport during a revolution. Although he never used them, Top Gear did and filmed an episode here.
3. Finally, our “off the beaten track” fun fact. Did you know you can have a drink on top of The Palace of the Parliament? The National Museum of Modern Art (MNAC) owns a wing of the building, where on top they have a huge terrace. So, if you fancy yourself some dictator vibes, then what better way than admiring your kingdom, drink in hand from on top of one of the most controversial buildings on the planet.
Daytrips from Bucharest
There are so many amazing daytrips from Bucharest, we really wished we had longer to explore! We have summarised the best and most affordable daytrips from Bucharest, many of which include a cheeky discount if you book via our link!
Transylvania and Dracula’s Castle Day trip – Probably the most famous daytrip from Bucharest, exploring the most important castles in Romania on a 12-hour tour of Peles Castle and Bran Castle. Tour the historical heart of Transylvania at Brasov and learn all about the Romanian legend, Vlad the Impaler. Includes transport to and from Bucharest, tour guide and entry fees. This daytrip from Bucharest sells out quick so book here for a bargain price!
Daytrip from Bucharest to Bulgaria – Fancy lunch in an entirely different country? Visit the stunning Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval capital of Bulgaria on this daytrip from Bucharest. The tour also includes visits to the St. Dimitrie Basarabov Monastery, the only monastery in Bulgaria carved into a cliff that’s still inhabited today and Arbanasi village. Book here.
Slanic Salt Mines and Wine Tasting Tour – We were blown away during our 3 days in Krakow by the Wieliczka salt mine but later discovered the largest in Europe are actually in Romania! After wandering the insanely huge salt mine chambers (an astonishing 208 metres underground) this daytrip from Bucharest ends with a tour of a local vineyard and wine tasting from the cellars. It even includes a traditional 3 course Romanian lunch and a stunning drive through Carpathian Mountains. Book this unforgettable daytrip from Bucharest here.
Best Photo Spots in Bucharest
No Bucharest city break would be complete without a pic or two here. It’s probably the most snapped street in all of Bucharest however, even though Darren was dragged along due to my dedication to the gram he still found it pretty impressive.
Known as the street of umbrellas, you will find it between Calea Victoriei and Academiei street under the name “Pasajul Victoria”. Due to our poor navigational skills it took us approx. 3 attempts and 2 toilet stops to find, but like the rest of this beautiful city, it was so wonderful and colourful.
A second interesting snap for those tickled by the arty farty stuff is the statue, Caruta cu paiate. Just head for Bucharest InterContinental Hotel and you can’t miss it.
Unveiled in 2010, it was created by sculptor Ioan Bolborea in honour of the country’s favourite playwright, Ion Luca Caragiale, featuring characters from Caragiale’s plays. To be honest, we were clueless of who and what it represented, it reminded us of Quentin Blake illustrations (who illustrated the works of Roald Dahl) so we took a photo or two.