Hello to all you lovely readers! I hope you are enjoying the first few weeks of spring and this glorious weather. I wanted to tell you all about our trip to Bucharest this weekend. We had the most amazing time there and I can’t recommend it enough! We flew out on Friday morning and returned Monday for a lovely long weekend for Tim’s Birthday. Here is what we got up to:
Travel – we booked flights with Ryanair from Stansted for a mere £38pp return, with great flight times both ways. Flights seem to be pretty good with plenty of regional departures from the UK.
Accommodation – you have a tonne of great options for places to stay ranging from budget rooms to world-wide hoteliers. We wanted to keep things cheap so booked a hostel in the old town with a private room and bathroom called the Little Bucharest Old Town. There are loads of budget hotels in the old town but if you want to stay in a 3-4 star hotel you will have to look a little further out. I think our grand total for three nights was under £150, which was a steal considering the location.
Getting around – there is a swarm of taxis in Bucharest who will take you anywhere for around 1.39 RON per km. Our taxi to the hostel was about £15 which was a bargain until we started using uber to get around, which was so cheap and convenient! Our return taxi was about £8. We spent around £40 over the weekend on getting around, and we also racked up the miles on foot walking around the old town, going to the parliament building and walking to our birthday meal – more on that in a second. At no point did we feel unsafe walking around, even at night with loads of people milling about you never feel on edge. It’s so laid back and everyone is there for a good time, it was one of the few cities I’ve been to where I didn’t need to constantly be on guard. There are also public transport options including buses, trams and rail, but to be honest, walking around was easy enough and most places are easy to locate with a map.
Food & Drink – undoubtedly the best thing about this city is the vast amount of restaurants, bars, cafes, brunch bars, ice cream parlors, patisseries etc. Because we stayed in the old town, we had a huge amount of choice right on our doorstep. Right around the corner we had a French Bakery which made divine coffees, pastries and breakfasts. Just up from that you have the Grand Cafe Van Gogh which was another amazing breakfast joint. Brunch is a big deal with the locals, so soak it up! Down the road from us were most of the bars and restaurants, we really were spoiled for choice. You can find some great Romanian foods if you want to be adventurous, or if you want to keep it simple, a lot of places will do pizzas, pastas, burgers etc. The one thing we really loved was they are all crazy on home-made fresh lemonade of every flavour (pomegranate, elder flower, classic lemon) with loads of honey. Everywhere is beautifully decorated and incredibly hipster, and all unique with their design, its definitely worth sticking your head into as many of these places as possible.
If you venture out of the old town and into the designer district, you will come across some more upmarket restaurants. We went to one of the best venues in Romania – The Artist. This was no ordinary restaurant. This was a 9 course menu where everything was stunningly created and presented. It was just amazing, even down to the palette cleansers between courses (Soup in a test tube anyone?). They have a spoon tasting menu for each course which is a spoon sized amount of each dish on the menu, which is what I went for – it was just amazing. I mean, see for yourself:
On the exception of the Artist, the only downside to the restaurants is the service. It was so incredibly slow in every venue we went to – we sat and waited 30 minutes for a burger and a club sandwich, in a near empty venue on Monday morning. It was so so slow. So be prepared for that. In the bars however, they are very attentive and will look after you well, and it is all so darn cheap. Our meal at the artist was 320 RON, which was under £60. Breakfasts were around £11 for the two of us, and lunches worked out around the same. Drinks varied from 8RON for a beer (around £1.50) up to 21RON for a cocktail ( a mere £3.50). So you will get incredible value for money, albeit it will take a while at some places.
Things to see
The Parliament Building – dubbed the heaviest in Europe, is definitely worth visiting, even if you just look at the outside. Entry costs around £4 and is worth checking out if you are into this.
Romanian Athenaeum – A Neoclassical concert hall dating around the 1800’s, it is absolutely stunning and beautifully lit up at night
The Arch of Triumph – Who needs Paris when you can go to Bucharest for half the cost? They have their own Arch standing at 26m in memory of WW1 troops, with stairs to the top for some amazing views
Curtea Veche – the palace from the reign of Vlad the Impaler, with a large statue of him outside, it dates from the 15th century and is now a popular museum.
Umbrella Street – A tiny little street away from the main old town, this is every instagram lovers dream, with a gorgeous little pizza place located inside. definitely worth a walk to for this photo:
Places to visit
Top eatery in Bucharest for us was The Artist – I cannot recommend this place enough, it was just perfect. Exceptional food and service, the Artist is a little way out from the old town – about a half hour walk away, but so so worth it.
Therme – This was a little piece of heaven outside of Bucharest. A huge spa and water park with three zones (the water park, adults only beach club and the spa) it is a perfect way to spend a day out. We paid 168RON for both of us for the day (excluding food and drink which was around 100RON) and spent Tim’s birthday on water slides, flumes, and then drinking cocktails in the outdoor pool which was heated to around 36 degrees and treating ourselves to some much-needed rest and relaxation.. absolutely blissful!
Dracula’s Castle – We didn’t do this trip because we just didnt have the time to spend a full day travelling, however for many this is a huge must. Bran castle is around 2.5 hours drive away and you can book a trip through one of the tour operators in advance.
Old Town Bars and bites
Some of our favorites were:
The Urbanist – a ridiculously hipster bar/clothing store serving a wide selection of craft beers and ciders. If you go, try out the blind pig cider. Mind = Blown.
Oktoberfest – two bars in the old town serving great beers, including the infamous “meter beer” – 8 pints
Storage Rooms – Great pizza, lovely cocktails, unique interior, right in the heart of it all albeit slightly slow service.
French Bakery – a gorgeous little chain of bakery/patesseries around the city offering quick bites, coffee, brunch, and all that lovely good stuff
Cremeria Emilia Ice Cream Parlour – Ice Cream at 10pm? Yes please. Cakes and desserts to go? yep, you are talking my language.
Would we go back?
Absolutely. For the time of year we went we were truly spoiled and had amazing weather, and there was so much to see and do that we didn’t realise was even there. Romania gets a bad rep and the city had a reputation a few years ago, but you can tell that they have really worked hard to attract students and holiday makers to see just how beautiful the city is. The locals we met were lovely and are really pleased to hear how much tourists love the place. Yes, there are a lot of stag and hen parties going away, but you don’t need to be around that if you dont want to. All in all we had a great trip and would go back again with friends – who wants to go?
Next trip we plan is Macedonia, which again is cheap and gorgeous.
Until then have a great weekend,