Bucharest, Romania is vibrant, cosmopolitan and restless.
It is a city filled with contrasts – a perfect embodiment of the Romanian spirit. Old and new are blended here in a way that would seem misplaced anywhere else but on the banks of the river Dambovita.
Located in the south-east part of the country, in the midst of a large plain, the Romanian capital has a temperate climate, which makes it a perfect holiday destination all year round. With a population of almost 2 million inhabitants, this city never sleeps, having crowded clubs, chic cafes and fancy restaurants opened all night long.
Museums, art galleries, and out-of-the-box exhibitions can be visited from early morning till late afternoon. Shopping centers, malls, and designers’ boutiques welcome their customers even after 9 pm.
Visa Requirements and Admission into Romania
Romania is a member of the European Union, but not of the Schengen Space. Thus, the EU citizens can cross the border just by showing their National Identity Card or their passport. Visitors coming from non-EU countries need to have a valid passport and may be subject to visa requirements.
If you are a visitor from one of the European States, the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you do not need an entry visa. Visitors from these countries are allowed to stay in Romania for up to 90 days. If you want to spend more time on the Romanian territory, then you will need a temporary residence permit.
Before planning your next adventure to Bucharest, it is better to visit this user-friendly website to find out more about the Romanian law on visas and other travel documents.
When to visit Bucharest?
The best time to visit Bucharest is…. anytime!
However, the months of July and August tend to be rather hot with high temperatures and frequent heat waves.
Nonetheless, you have no reason to be scared of the Bucharest summer. Parks with lakes and shady alleys provide refuge all over the city. The traditional sightseeing tours of Bucharest include strolls in the famous, yet often crowded parks Cismigiu, Herastrau, and Tineretului. Their unique atmosphere is the result of a mixture of bohemian and middle-class family lifestyle.
If you are in search of some summer thrills, do not miss The Witches’ Pond. Be warned that it has a rather ominous history filled with mysterious disappearances, witch gatherings, and beheadings of medieval rulers.
You can escape the heat in one of the modern and affordable swimming pools or in aqua parks in Bucharest. With their steep slides and cool water, aqua parks are a great respite from the summer heat.
Are you ready to be pampered? Enter one of the many Romanian spa resorts found around Bucharest. Let the highly trained staff take care of your travel fatigue after a long day of sightseeing.
Bucharest is exciting during winter as well. Temperatures are low, but not as frigid as the weather that can be found to the north. In the winter, you can take a walk along the streets of the Old City Centre to admire the colorful Christmas decorations. Seasonal fairs are held up in different parts of the city. Classical music concerts and stand-up comedy shows are a pleasant way to escape from the cold outside.
Where to stay in Bucharest?
Finding accommodation in Bucharest is a breeze. There are many luxurious chains hotels if you if you are traveling on a higher budget. Local hotels and guest houses are cheaper, but it’s a good idea to read customer reviews before booking. For a longer stay, you can rent an apartment, but again get information on the area before committing to anything.
Visit this website for information on various neighborhoods when planning for accommodation in Bucharest, Romania.
Searching for hotels on Booking.com will provide a map of properties and prices – helping you find the best deals in Bucharest.
How to Travel Around Bucharest?
The Romanian capital is large and walking is recommended only for short distances, especially in the “Old City Centre” where there is a high concentration of tourist attractions.
Getting a taxi might be a solution, but not the best one. The drivers are very talkative and friendly, but they often take a longer route than needed. To avoid such situations book a taxi either by phone or via the internet as they are usually more reliable.
There is a large network of buses, trams, trolleybuses and subway trains that functions pretty well. Public transport runs from 5 am to 11: 30 pm. You can buy tickets from kiosks located in or near the stations. Note that traveling without a ticket could result in a fine. Transport cards are also available and you can use them for all public means of transportation.
- Try to avoid public transport during rush hours! It gets very crowded and noisy.
- Avoid renting a car! Bucharest is notorious for its heavy traffic and reckless drivers.
- Bucharest City Bus Tour is available during the spring and summer months.
You can find more useful information about the bus tour on this website.
Where and What to Eat in Bucharest?
Romanians like to eat well so you can find elegant restaurants, pizza and fast food places, kiosks, street stalls, creperies, bakeries, and confectioners almost everywhere.
Here is a list of the best eateries to visit:
- The Old Kitchen Restaurant with a cozy, relaxed atmosphere and a varied menu which includes traditional dishes from central and western Romania.
- Bocca Lupo which has a “to-kill-for-it-pizza” prepared in a yellow Fiat.
- Social 1 with elements of interior design which reproduce the 1980s communist Romania. The varied menu and the live cooking performances are a definite plus.
- Zen Fusion where skilled chefs combine the Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. Try not be taken aback by their wine collection! It includes 300 different types of this wonderful liquor.
- Capsa is one of the oldest confectioner stores in Romania. All cakes and pies are made from natural ingredients and according to their original 19th -century recipes.
- Origo is the coolest café in Bucharest filled with artists, architects, writers and theatre actors.
- Artichoke has a minimalist design, a terrace with a splendid view and the best coffee in town.
- Finally, La Vlaicu which is a quiet tea shop with a secluded and picturesque summer garden. There is a wide selection of plant infusions, no music, no traffic noise and old books to read or buy.
You will need more than a week if you plan to visit the trendiest and tastiest food establishments in Bucharest.
Forget about your diet and prepare yourself to indulge in a feast of senses!
What to Include on Your Must-See List
What to see and do in Bucharest really depends on the type of traveler you are.
If you want to catch the top attractions and highlights of Bucharest:
- The Palace of the Parliament
- The National Museum of the Romanian Peasant
- The Old City Centre with its famous Lipscani Street
- The Romanian Athenaeum
- The Opera House
- The Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral
If you are the explorer type and get in touch with the spirit of the place, you shouldn’t miss these hidden spots in Bucharest:
- The Medieval “Tepes Castle” which seems to have sprung out of George Martin’s imagination.
- The Carturesti-Causel, a six-floor bookstore with an exquisite interior design.
- The French Institute, where you can enjoy a film the way your grandparents did. Soaking up the atmosphere in a movie theatre without HD or special sound effects.
- House Melik which is the oldest residential construction in Bucharest.
- The Central School with its façade of ceramic plates.
- Cretzulescu Palace, an eclectic building that brings “la belle époque” back to life.
Check out this site for the top attractions in Bucharest and to plan a tour that suits your taste and budget.
Getting free entrance to museums allow you to save money for souvenirs. Bucharest has a wide range of museums which offer free admission. Some museums only offer free admission on selected days so its good to plan ahead when visiting Bucharest. You can find a comprehensive list no charge museums list here.
Tips for a No-Headaches Stay
Romania has not switched to the EURO currency, so you will have to exchange your cash into Romanian Lei. Most places accept credit cards, but carrying some cash is always necessary.
A first-time visitor to Bucharest will likely have the impression that people are set on the fast-forward mode. Everybody tends to talk loudly and will often give directions without breaking stride. Don’t take this as a sign of rudeness, Romanians just have a fast-paced lifestyle.
Although traditional Romania dishes are delicious, they can be difficult to digest so you should use caution with the local delicacies.
Free Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, restaurants, and cafes. Just ask the waiter for the password.
Complex and contrasting, Bucharest will amaze even the most pretentious traveler.
When you’re done with Bucharest, why not check out our other guides for destinations around Europe?