IN A WORD: Bucketlistable
IDEAL FOR: The Hipsters
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 Bucharest 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, Bucharest blew us away. Add it to your Bucketlist, ASAP.
How much to budget for Bucharest
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 travelers 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 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.
Best accommodation in Bucharest
Bucharest Apartments was £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.
Recommended restaurants in Bucharest
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 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 in Bucharest. Oh and did we mention 2 cakes, 2 coffees were 46 Lei so £8?!
Recommended bars 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 a few of our faves were as follows –
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.
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. Therme Bucuresti was like no other “spa” we had been to before. Firstly it was enormous – at 30,000 sqm, 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 Attonborough 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 Attonborough obvs) 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. 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 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 bloody 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, lead 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.
Best photo spots in Bucharest
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 pants navigational skills it took us approx 3 attempts and 2 toilet stops to find, but like the rest of Bucharest it was 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. Later we discovered the statues full story through In Your Pocket.
For more photos of our adventure in Romania, please take a peek at our gallery.
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