I was about to spend 3 days in Bucharest, and I didn’t know what to expect. Romanians don’t really have a good reputation in France, at least in Paris. Just to make sure for those who suck in geography, Bucharest is in Romania… Anyway, when we say “Romanian” in Paris, people think about those women with tanned complexion, baby in their arms, begging for money in the subway. Or those teens or even kids, barely 5-6 years old, who pick people’s pockets in the streets, or in the subway again (learn how to avoid those scams!). And play cat and mouse with the police. We also think about those men, tanned complexion and dirty skin, who act like they’re handicapped. One arm or one of their legs is missing, so people will feel sorry for them and give them some money.
Description of Bucharest
Assuming a whole country of 20 million inhabitants, as big as the United Kingdom, only consists of deceitful people who only look after your money, is purely stupid and very reductive. But… I was talking with a Romanian girl I met during my 3 days in Bucharest. She’s been living in Paris for 10 years, and she spoke French very well. Very cute, she was (modestly) explaining to me that men often chat her up in the streets in Paris, and she could clearly see the disappointment in their faces as soon as she reveals being from Romania.
I was told before going to Bucharest that Romanian is a latin language, and it’s true! I don’t speak Romanian at all, but when people where talking in Romanian around me, I could get some words or even small parts in a sentence. Actually, Romanian is very similar to Italian, but speaking French helps a lot, some words are the same! I was also told that French is the foreign language people speak the most in Romania. Don’t think so… As soon as I got there, I kept asking people “Do you speak French?“, and I never heard “Yes“, not even once! Like most cities, people mostly speak English, but a lot of people speak Spanish, too! And some of them speak German.
When I arrived in Bucharest, the first thing that surprised me, is the way they drive! They drive like crazy, they don’t wear their seatbelts, they overtake other cars haphazardly… I took a taxi (so cheap!) and the guy told me “From what I heard, in France you can get a fine for not wearing your seatbelt IN THE BACKSEAT!? Hahahaha bullshit!” And as usual, I like to see how people have fun, how they party… I went to a bar on a Tuesday (control club). It’s an indoor and outdoor bar, and it was packed! A Tuesday!
And of course, just like Belgrade and other cities in Eastern Europe, since there are very few black guys, I don’t pass unnoticed. I’m peacefully walking around, and people honk at me, say “Hiiiiii!“, or I hear “Wassup bro?” with a big smile and a high five. And when two black guys bump into each other, we just greet each other and do the black nod “Hey! How you doin?” I also noticed that Romanian tend to look a lot at people’s shoes. I don’t know why (and forgot to ask…). If anybody knows…?
Things to do in Bucharest
The palace of the Parliament
The world’s second largest administrative building after the Pentagon, the Palace of the Parliament. Originally called the People’s House, the palace was supposed to be the residence of Nicolae Ceausescu, Romanian dictator. He died before the end of the building, and today it’s possible to visit the palace. Check out the article I wrote about the palace of the parliament. Click here to buy a skip-the-line ticket.
The Romanian Athenaeum
Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall opened in 1889. It’s possible to get inside, unless there are rehearsals going on, which was the case when I went there… The entrance is well hidden, it’s a discreet small door on the side of the building.
Located about 12 miles away from Bucharest, you can check Therme Bucuresti and spend the day there to relax. Indoor pools, outdoor pools, saunas, spas, hammam, deckchairs, things to eat and to drink… Perfect to spend a day with your friends! For more details, check out the article about Therme Bucuresti!
Other things to do in Bucharest
Bucharest, it’s also a lot of outdoor bars and cafés. You can’t miss them, they’re all over the place! I’m thinking about Gradina Eden, well hidden but with good cocktails. I’m also thinking about Macca Vilacrosse passage and its cafés, or Pizza Colosseum and its umbrellas permanently taken in picture by the tourists (including myself!). And oddly, it’s possible to “visit” bookstores. Carturesti Verona, or Carturesti Carusel are popular bookstores among tourists. Of course, you can buy books, but it’s also possible to have a drink on the top floor of Carturesti Carusel. The icing on the cake? There are great Romanian souvenirs you can bring back home. While we’re at it, here are the most beautiful libraries in the world.
You can also visit Dracula’s castle on a full-day tour from Bucharest. Click here for more info. You can do a guided tour of communist Bucharest. Click here for more info. Finally, you can go on a bike tour. Click here for more info.
So… Yeah I think Bucharest is a city you have to see. How long shoud you stay? 3 days in Bucharest, it’s perfect! Bucharest is not a popular capital city (yet), everything is cheap, and people are nice. Think about it! If you stay more than a few days in Romania, why not do a Romanian road trip?
How to get to Bucharest?
The easiest way to get to Bucharest is by plane. Bucharest is not easily reachable overland. Click here to check the latest flight prices.
How to get around in Bucharest?
You need to take the bus, Bucharest is a big city. It serves the whole city.
Where to stay in Bucharest?
If you’re traveling on a budget, the Sleep Inn Hostel is a good one. Click here to book your stay. For a mid-range hotel, the Lahovary Hotels is your best bet. Click here to book your stay. If you’re looking for a luxury hotel, you should stay at the Epoque Hotel. Click here to book your stay. Otherwise click here to check what are the hotels available in Bucharest.
When to go to Bucharest?
I went there in June and it was perfect. It wasn’t too hot yet. May and September are also good months to go to Bucharest. You can go during the winter but you need to know it’s very cold!
Bucharest travel tips
- Traveling soon? Check out my travel resources page!
- Do not leave home without a travel insurance! Here’s why buy travel insurance!
- Want a tailor-made trip to Romania? Get a free quote here!
- Always use a VPN when traveling. I use ExpressVPN and I love it. Here’s why use a VPN when traveling.
- Wanna go to the beach in Romania? Here are 11 things to do in Constanta.