Why You Need To Visit Bucharest For A European City Break

Bucharest isn’t the first place most people would consider for a European city break, and the locals know it. That’s why a bunch of Romanians got together recently and invited around 100 of the world’s top travel content creators to #ExperienceBucharest and find out why everyone needs to add Romania’s capital city to their travel bucket lists.

I was one of the chosen travel bloggers and I arrived with basically no expectations – I mean, do you know much about Bucharest? Over four nights, its charm was slowly revealed and I kinda fell in love with the city. I was also super impressed that all of the organisers of #ExperienceBucharest were volunteers. This was a not-for-profit endeavour to promote Bucharest as more than just a transit city, and the passion driving the project was obvious in everything from the rooftop drinks to the plethora of tours we could choose to participate in.

Bucharest city break guide

We danced in the streets, partied all night, every night (oops) and were fuelled by lots of delicious Romanian food. I learned that Bucharest can hold its weight among the more popular European capitals and that there’s plenty to see and do in the so-called Paris of the East.

Why you should consider a city break in Bucharest

It’s a city with intriguing architecture

Bucharest architecture

In Bucharest, Communist-era uniform apartment blocks sit adjacent to opulent historic buildings. They’re all a bit rough around the edges, but that’s what makes for a beautiful surprise at every turn. You’ll find ‘New Romanian’ buildings with rooftops straight from the Turkish Empire nestled next to eerie Communist buildings. On one tour, I learned that if the Communists couldn’t destroy the places of worship, they’d literally dig them up from the foundations and move them elsewhere, or build their own structures around them to hide them from sight. Undoubtedly, Bucharest’s tumultuous history has left its mark on the city’s streets.

Check out this photo essay of Bucharest’s most beautiful buildings

Love getting off the beaten path? Explore Bucharest’s haunting abandoned buildings 

For a capital, it’s pretty slow-paced

bucharest from above

Okay, so there’s a lot of traffic and a serious lack of urban planning in some parts of Bucharest, but the ample green spaces and ease of walking at any time of day make this city perfect for a European break. There are barely any crowds, meaning you can go about your day as you please. If you’re the kind of person who can’t handle slow-walkers and finds London stressful, you’ll love Bucharest’s refreshing pace. It’s also safe – I walked home twice at night alone (sorry mum) and didn’t feel at all threatened.

 

It’s a must for street art enthusiasts

Street art in Bucharest

Even the mindless graffiti that adorns every building holds a certain allure in Bucharest. There’s an intriguing piece by local street artist Pisica Pătrată on the facade of an abandoned building. And the city has commissioned murals by local artists, like this one outside a University building.

I’ll be sharing my pictures from a fascinating tour of Bucharest’s abandoned buildings soon!

 

Romanian food is delicious

Food in Bucharest

Some of my favourite restaurants in Bucharest include La Mama LipscaniHanu’ Berarilor and Diane 4, all of whom kindly fed us during #ExperienceBucharest.

We survived on beef goulash, Papanasi (a doughnut-like dessert), Mititei (ground meats mixed with spices and packed into a sausage shape), Sarmale (cabbage rolls), Ciorba de fasole cu cola (a hearty pork and bean soup) and lots of polenta – all washed down with fine local wine. And for breakfast, eat like the locals and grab a pastry to go.

 

There’s beauty in the most unexpected places

Bucharest umbrella street

On the surface, Bucharest is no oil painting. But sidle down an alleyway, look up instead of down and you’ll find the most unexpected but wonderful photo opportunities. I think every single person on the #ExperienceBucharest trip took a picture in this alleyway!

 

It’s cheap

Prices in Bucharest

If you’re planning a European city break on a budget, Bucharest is your best bet. A 15 minute taxi ride cost me 10 Lei (under £2), and a local beer is about 6 Lei. When you compare that to what you could pay in other European countries, Bucharest starts to look really attractive.

 

There’s history everywhere you look

Beautiful Bucharest

I sat down at an outdoor table at Caru’ cu Bere, a restaurant on Stavropoleos Street in the Lipscani district of Bucharest and looked up from my menu to see this beautiful, grand old building. This is The CEC Palace, which was built as a new headquarters for Romania’s oldest bank.

The bar and restaurant I was eating in was opened in 1879 and its Neo-Gothic style ground floor is decorated with stained glass, mosaics and carved panelings. Surrounded by the old world in a city that looks forward – how very European!

 

The nightlife is unique

Nightlife in Bucharest

One thing that kept striking me during my trip was that Bucharest would be ideal for a stag do (or bachelors’ party, if you’re from the US). We partied a lot during our trip. Most nights began at a hostel or sky bar, carried on to a ‘shoteria’ and ended at a club, such as Expirat, Kulturhaus Bukarest and Player Club Bucharest. If none of those appeal, I have it on good authority from a local that hipsters will love Alt Shift.

My favourite part of Bucharest’s nightlife scene was the dance party that took place in the streets while I was there. This is a place where locals of all ages congregate to throw shapes – what’s better than that?

 

It has one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops

Beautiful bookstore in Bucharest

Bookworms who visit Bucharest can lose themselves at Cărturești Carusel. The store recently opened in a restored building and its design was created by Square One. Its all-white shelves hold about 10,000 books and you can buy all kinds of quirky gifts. There’s a bistro on the 6th floor, and it’s the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon reading.

Where to stay in Bucharest

I was hosted by Intercontinental, which is where I took that aerial shot you saw at the beginning of this article. It’s in a great location, the breakfast buffet is fabulous (that’s coming from a girl who judges a hotel based almost solely on its breakfast pastries) and the rooms are comfortable, if a bit dated.

If you’re on a budget, I recommend either Pura Vida or Podstel. Both are funky, laid-back hostels that hosted parties for us during #ExperienceBucharest. Pure Vida has an unreal sky bar and is near all the best bars. Podstel is a bit outside the city centre, but it’s worth going even for a smoothie because it’s one of those places that epitomise everything a hostel should be.

Find more hotels in Bucharest

 

I could go on forever about why you should visit Bucharest, so just go and experience it for yourself. Form your own opinions, ignore the bad press and let me know how your trip went! Did you know Bucharest had all of this to offer? Would you go after reading this? Tell me in the comments!

Inspired? Search cheap flights to Bucharest on Skyscanner.

All photographs were taken on my Olympus Pen E-PL7.

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30 Comments

  1. Steph @ The Pink Backpack
    June 9, 2017 / 1:08 pm

    I am swooning over your photography, especially of Cărturești Carusel. I didn’t get a chance to visit there sadly. Awesome article chicka 🙂 xx

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:10 pm

      That’s a shame! Next time eh?! Lovely to meet you there 🙂

  2. June 9, 2017 / 5:30 pm

    lovely post – glad you enjoyed our city. can’t remember if we met during the event, so many people lol, but it was great having you over! come back again!!

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:10 pm

      Haha, too many faces! Such a fantastic trip though, thanks for opening your city to us 🙂

  3. June 10, 2017 / 1:19 pm

    I have to admit I wasnt a big fan on Bucharest when I went back in 2008 and 2009 but does looks like it has clean up its act. Were there still stray dogs everywhere? I think another visit is a must soon,

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:09 pm

      Interesting to hear that it seems to have changed so much over a few short years. No, I don’t think I saw ANY stray dogs. I’m super wary of them so I definitely would have noticed! Let me know if you plan another trip there, it would be interesting to hear your views after another trip.

  4. June 10, 2017 / 2:31 pm

    Love the umbrellas! Romania looks so lovely. The food looks amazing too.

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:08 pm

      We all got SO excited when we saw those umbrellas! Bloggers, eh?!

  5. loisaltermark
    June 10, 2017 / 5:11 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve never visited here yet. Your photos are gorgeous, and I love the beautiful umbrellas. I’m a huge reader and that bookstore just sealed the deal for me! Going to look into Bucharest for my next trip.

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:08 pm

      Yay! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  6. June 10, 2017 / 10:02 pm

    Loveeee your photos and this post! So glad we got to Experience Bucharest together!

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:08 pm

      Same Sally, such a fun few days! Hope you’re doing great.

  7. June 11, 2017 / 3:56 pm

    Bucharest indeed seems to be a lovely city to getaway to. . It combines the urban ethos with a relaxed lifestyle which seems ideal for a relaxed vacation. Also the city has the old world charm so typical of many European cities and towns. bring it alive to stunning effect in your pictures.

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:07 pm

      Couldn’t agree more!

  8. June 11, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    Reminds me a little bit to Belgrade in architecture sense. I am amazed how city developed, being a bit older generation, i still have this picture in my head from time of Ceaușescu.

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:07 pm

      I think a lot of people have that outdated perception of Bucharest! Ooh, now I need to plan a trip to Belgrade…

  9. June 11, 2017 / 7:38 pm

    Went to Bucharest before and gotta agree with you! Not everyone thinks of Bucharest first but they definitely should! Nightlife well, you said it, cheap and crazy!

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:07 pm

      Haha which were your fave bars??

  10. June 11, 2017 / 10:47 pm

    Have seen lots of posts about Bucharest in the past month or so. Love your shot of the book store, almost reason enough right there to make the quick hop over. Mititei looks very Balkan — and very good.

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:06 pm

      That bookstore! Could have browsed the shelves forever 🙂

  11. June 12, 2017 / 4:29 am

    I’ve read a lot about Bucharest lately (I guess now I know why 😉 ) and I almost overcame the grey-in-grey stories my Romanian friends have told me about their capital. But I hope that the young people of Romania manage to turn their country around with their creativity and energy.

    Happy continued travels!
    C

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:06 pm

      It’s a shame your friends are negative about their home! I’m glad perceptions are slowly but surely changing 🙂

  12. June 12, 2017 / 8:17 am

    I loved Bucharest. While living in London, my husband and I took an entire week to explore Romania and northern Bulgaria (mostly because no one else was doing it and why not!). We found all of Romania to be such a great value, and the food is pretty amazing all around. I can eat salads of cucumber, tomato and onion all day, every day. Glad you enjoyed one of the gems of Europe, for sure!

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:05 pm

      Wow, that sounds like a cool trip! I’d love to explore more of Romania – what was your favourite place?

  13. June 13, 2017 / 5:18 am

    I loved it so much that I’m back here now! Instead of just transiting through I made a 5 day layover. Experience Bucharest was such an amazing event. I love this city!

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 1:04 pm

      Haha amazing! How are you spending your time on this visit? Yep, and the event totally achieved what it set out to, because you’re revisiting and NOT just using the city as a transit. Tudor and co will be so pleased 🙂

  14. June 13, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    Congrats for getting chosen to go. That is pretty awesome. Looks like a good time and you got some great photos. The food looks delicious.

    • Dannielle Lily
      June 13, 2017 / 9:44 pm

      Thank you! Have you ever thought about visiting Bucharest?

  15. June 14, 2017 / 6:51 am

    The street cafes must be so interesting to just sit around and watch life around. I have always loved doing that in Paris. The whole umbrella lined pic reminded me of the Le Caudan waterfront in Mauritius. Cheers

  16. June 15, 2017 / 3:52 pm

    History everywhere , great architecture, slow life and beautiful surroundings. Definitely Bucharest is a perfect European city. I would love to visit here sometimes.