Top 10 Reasons to Make Bucharest Your Next Travel Destination
Eastern Europe, over the last decade, has seen a tremendous rise in tourism. While cities like Prague and Dubrovnik are already seeing a mass influx of travellers, it is countries such as Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia that have started to attract a more different kind of tourist.
Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is an up-and-coming destination that has opened a whole new world to people wanting to explore the new and the offbeat. Whether it is a weekend break or one that extends over a longer duration, the many options to experience art, culture, food, and history in Bucharest makes it one of the hottest destinations at present.
My time in Bucharest was a crash-course in the wonders of Romania. It is a grand city that is best explored leisurely and consists of attractions that are as epic as they are chic.
1. Architectural Magnificence
Bucharest is every architect student’s wet dream come true. I went around the city in complete awe of all the various buildings exploding in architectural splendour.
Bucharest in its own way has been influenced by many regions and because of that I could find architecture ranging from Art Deco to the Brancovian style of the Stavropoleos Monastery to the more obvious Communist styled buildings.
If you enjoy visiting museums, then Bucharest will make you feel right at home with its variety of fine institutions. The National Museum of Art and the Cotroceni Palace which is also the residence of Romania’s President present a more cultural outlook of the country.
However, it was the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum that impressed me the most as it is like mini-Romania with replicas of village houses, windmills, and artefacts and from across the country.
They even host events and fairs at the Village Museum which makes for the perfect day out and a chance to experience and interact with locals.
3. Palace of the Parliament
You’d probably need a good few months to explore this gargantuan of a building in its entirety. Comprising of 1100 rooms, this is the largest administrative government building in the world and besides having government offices also houses museums and hosts events.
Walking inside the Parliament was a surreal experience as the extravagance on show and the intricate nature of the work done is truly exceptional.
4. Little Paris
If you want to experience the beauty of Paris, at a much cheaper rate, then it will interest you to know that Bucharest is also often called “Little Paris”.
The Art Nuevo and Belle Époque styled buildings spread throughout the city along with wide, tree-lined roads give it an appearance similar to the most romantic city in the world.
I was amazed to find that Bucharest also has its own Arcul de Triumf. Besides its historic importance, there is a possibility to go up to the top from where some amazing panoramic views of the city are visible. Unfortunately, this facility was closed when I visited.
5. Gardens and Lakes
One of the most surprising aspects of Bucharest for me was the abundance of gardens and lakes in the city itself.
Kiseleff Park, Tineretului Park, Botanical Gardens, and the Cismigiu Gardens all make perfect destinations for gentle strolls with ample space that can be enjoyed with the family.
I relished my time at the Lacul Morii, the largest lake in the city, and a hotbed for water sports including windsurfing. Although I missed out, it is also a popular location for musical events and even air shows.
6. Old Town
There is a growing trend around the world where older parts of cities are getting a facelift and being renovated into happening hotspots.
Bucharest is no different where it’s Old Town or Centru Vechi has become the hippest place in the city with a rocking night life, cafes, and boutique shops.
Grand Café Van Gogh is a famous destination with locals and tourists alike. I found food over there to be comfortable both to my stomach and pocket.
No trip to Romania is complete without mentioning Dracula and it’s possible to head on out from Bucharest for a day and explore Bran and Peles Castles. Bran Castle is popularly known as Dracula’s Castle.
I managed to take a short ride to the nearby Snagov Monastary which is on an island in a lake and is supposedly the final resting place of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind Dracula.
Let’s be clear, I love books, and even in this digital fast-moving age, there’s a certain charm to visiting a good bookshop.
Bucharest, as it happens, is home to one of the most popular bookshops in the whole world. The Carturesti Carusel is a pretty-as-a-picture bookshop with bright white interiors having a backdrop of multicoloured book spines that attracts both readers and those that just want to take photos for Instagram. It also has a relatively expensive coffee-shop and also sells a collection of DVDs and LPs.
A couple of other bookshops in Bucharest that stand out are the Kyralina, with predominantly French books, and the English bookstore, Anthony Frost.
9. Eat & Sleep
Caru’ cu Bere is the most famous “beer hall” in the entire city with its lavish interiors and even though it has some kitsch factor to it because of the performances that attract tourists, it makes for a wonderful place to have some beer or even a meal. The local speciality of Sarmale is pretty delicious and definitely something everyone should try.
If like me your spirits go up at the thought of having a spirit, then try the local Tuica, a liquor made from plums. I found that it should be savoured slowly and even with high alcohol content, it has a certain sweetness to it that is warming.
Just like most international cities, Bucharest has a fair number of options when it comes to staying overnight to fit every budget.
The Casati Budapest Hotel Superior is a luxurious, boutique, adult-only residence that adds that extra charm of staying in an ancient building to your vacation.
The biggest draw for Bucharest is that since it is just starting to get noticed, the old-world charm and authenticity of the capital is flawlessly intact.
Locals are friendly and helpful, there are hardly any crowds in major tourist destinations, and most favourable of all, everything is cheap.
So, don’t hold back or think twice. Make Bucharest your next destination and be amazed by its glorious offerings and host of opportunities that is sure to make your trip into a great vacation.