Bucharest is pretty under-appreciated and is still trying to shake off the recently ended communism era and as such it is a city which is definitely up and coming. It is a cheap city to stay in with a great history and fantastic party scene, I would recommend getting here before they pull themselves together and start charging ‘regular’ (Western) prices.
Get yourself an Air bnb, because really for a weekend city break this is exactly what you need. There are some lovely little apartments for a fraction of the hotel prices that allow you the experience of living like a local; stay in Sector 1 and close to Old Town, as taxis from here at night can be a pain.
If you aren’t one of those people that scour Trip Advisor deciding on where to eat before you go, head into Old Town and just walk around until something tickles your fancy. You won’t be short on places or have a wander around Herestrau Park all of the restaurants around this area are good. 18 lounge is situated on the 18th floor of a nearby office building and offers stunning views of the lake while you dine. Though be prepared to pay Western prices around this area.
Caru cu Bere is one of those ‘must sees’ it is the oldest restaurant in Bucharest serving typical Romanian food, fabulously designed and they put on shows every night with traditional Romanian dancing. I would recommend booking but if you just show up it’s usually a short wait until a table becomes available.
Beca’s Kitchen is a hidden gem if you will. This is a small spot off the beaten track, the owner is also the chef and comes out personally to explain the dishes, the menu looks simple but is beautifully executed and mouth wateringly good.
DO AND SEE
The fact that communism ended here just 30 years ago is very apparent but this gives for fascinating tours of places of interest guided by people who lived through this era and who share their very personal tales of living through a Communist regime.
The People’s Palace is usually number one on the list, the 2nd largest administrative building in the world is breathtaking to look at from a distance and just as stunning from the interior. Stand where Michael Jackson shouted out to unimpressed fans “Hello Budapest” and see one of the biggest reasons why Romania got into so much debt. Remember to bring your passport and last tour runs at 5pm.
A lesser known, but in my opinion, even more interesting place to visit linked to Ceausescu is his private home, Primiverii Palace. This has personal touches of the Ceausescus and offers a more personal insight into their family life. It is also across the street from one of the best Steak restaurants in Bucharest, Osho, and a gorgeous little café Fior de Latte.
Take a day trip out to visit Bran Castle, because why come to Romania and not visit Dracula? The bus brings you back to Bucharest for around 7pm, so enough time to have dinner and party in Old Town after.
Bran Castle is ‘Dracula’s Castle’ and the little village has been geared towards the touristic side of this, which I think adds to the fun and charm. You will also be taken to Peles Castle, the residence of the last Royal family, a beautiful place to visit and well worth the slight wait to get in as queues especially during the summer can be lengthy. The grounds of the castle make up for this wait though. And you will visit what most Romanians consider the best town in Romania, the charming and picturesque Brasov.
Basically if you have a weekend in Bucharest take long walks, visit the parks where you can hire boats in the summer, party and hang out in Old Town where beer is approximately one euro a pint and try the mici, a traditional skinless sausage.
Also don’t be afraid to talk to the locals, 9/10 of them speak fluent English, and usually a third and fourth language too, they love when people love their country and will offer all sorts of advice on what to do and where to go. You probably will be landed with a lifelong friend as well.