Bucharest Palace of the Parliament
Palace of the Parliament (Photo credit: Erich Westendarp)

Bucharest Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • Capital and highest populated city of Romania (1.7 million residents).
  • Known worldwide for good food and for its unique and diverse architecture.
  • Not the home of Count Dracula (vampire enthusiasts should visit Transylvania!)
  • Nicknames: Little Paris, Paris of the East.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Romanian Leu (RON), although some places also accept Euros.
  • Spoken languages: Romanian (English and French also widely spoken)
  • Best time to visit: from March to June and from September to November (gets very hot in July/August).
  • Arriving via airport: airport train (Henri Coanda Expres) is 6 RON, public transport (Expres 780, Expres 783) is 7 RON, taxi is 25 RON

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is generally available all around town. The Unirii area is the most convenient area to stay, as many points of interest are close by. This area is also well connected with the public transport in the city (Metro and buses). The Baneasa and Floreasca areas in the north parts of town are also good, although not as accessible with public transport.

GETTING AROUND

  • Bucharest has an extensive Metro network, which is arguably the most convenient way to get around. The cheapest ticket for the Metro is a 2-trip card and costs 4 RON. A weekly pass costs 20 RON.
  • The public transport system (RATB) consists of buses, trams, and trolleys. It is the cheapest way to travel, but not the most comfortable. An electronic card (CardActiv) must be bought for travel on the RATB. This card costs 2.6 RON, while a single trip costs 1.3 RON.
  • Common tickets for both Metro and RATB are available. A ticket valid on all means of transports costs 5 RON and is valid for 60 minutes.
  • Taxi is another popular mean of transport, though not as convenient as the Metro. All registered taxis in Bucharest are yellow (watch out for unmarked and unmetered taxis). Fares range from 1.39 RON/km (minimum) to 2.8-3.5 RON/km, depending on the company. Taxis can be ordered at AutoCobalcescu (+40219451), Taxi 2000 (+40219494) and Taxi Grant (+40219433).
  • While cars can be rented in Bucharest, this is not recommended due to the chaotic traffic. Car rental firms can be found at the airport.
  • In the spring and summer you can rent bikes. These will be most readily available in the Piata Romana, Universitate and Unirii areas.

BUCHAREST NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is 18, last call is 4 AM.
  • Hip/local scene: bars, clubs and restaurants in the Centrul Vechi area (directions).
  • College crowd: bars and clubs in the Regie area (directions).
  • Posh scene: lounges/clubs and restaurants in the Floreasca area (directions).

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • The Palace of Parliament is probably the most known landmark of Bucharest. Built by Romania’s infamous dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, it is the large civilian-used building in the world, the heaviest building in the world and the largest by volume. It offers great views of the city.
  • The Arch of Triumph (Arcul de Triumf) is located in the north area of the city. The Carpathian Mountains can be seen from the top.
  • The Village Museum (Muzeul Satului) is the most visited museum in Romania. Located in a local park, it contains traditional houses, churches, and mills from every corner of Romania. A great place for taking photos and learning about local traditions.
  • Revolution Square is one of the most important open areas in Bucharest, and is the setting of the 1989 Romanian Revolution. Here you can find the Romanian National Art Museum, the Romanian Athenaeum, Carol I’s statue and the University’s Library Building (all of them are architectural monuments).

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Note: watch out for stray dogs while walking in Bucharest – they can get aggressive.
  • A walk on the Calea Victoriei is a must, especially in the area between B-dul Dacia and Piata Natiunilor Unite.
  • A night-time walk on Lipscani Street is pleasant. You can find lots of places to grab a bite to eat.
  • Go for a morning walk or run through Herastrau Park, the largest park in Bucharest.

LOCAL WISDOM

  • Even in the summer, bring a sweater or a light jacket with you. Weather is very unpredictable in Bucharest.
  • Although the Centrul Vechi area is notorious for its clubs and bars, avoid drinking or making loud noises after 1 AM on the street. The police is vigilant.
  • Do not give money to beggars or street hawkers.
  • Tipping waiters and taxi drivers is common in Romania. In general, a good tip is 10-15% for a good service.
  • Where to find good cheap eats: available all over town, especially in the Piata Romana area. Shawrma/kebab stands are the most common.  Good bagels, chips and wursts (sausages) can also be found easily.
  • Dangerous areas: Bucharest, despite all rumors, is one of the safest capitals in Europe. Use common sense and you’ll be fine. At night, avoid the Pantelimon, Rahova and Ferentari areas.

RECOMMENDED BUCHAREST GUIDE BOOKS

Recommended trip duration: 1-2 days


SEE ALSO:
Bucharest Travel Guide was last modified: September 28th, 2016 by Nick
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