Bucharest was just too cool. I came here with zero expectations and left with an immense desire to come back literally two days later to see and absorb more of this country I knew little about. Bucharest mesmerized me beyond words with its unthinkable history, warmest people and hippest hidden gems of all sorts. I got so busy exploring the smaller unknown nooks and crannies that I forgot the bigger picture – I didn’t even see the Palace of Parliament – the second largest building in the world and an abomination of Ceauşescu’s rule. Just, what exactly is wrong with me?
I was in Bucharest for a week to take part in #ExperienceBucharest, an initiative born as a passion project by a team of 100+ volunteers from Travel Massive Romania. I got together with a group of 100+ international travel bloggers and influencers to help position Romania as a top travel destination and I’m so proud to have been able to take part in such an exciting endeavour. Follow #ExperienceBucharest (and follow me!) on Instagram to discover a city filled with wonders and fascinating history.
WHAT TO DO IN BUCHAREST
I literally could not wrap my head around all the cool and hip things at every corner.
My top tip for Bucharest is this: for longer distance you can’t do by foot, use Uber rather than conventional taxis, as they might try to scam you by charging you way too much. Any 10-15 min Uber ride will cost around 2 euros, so it’s perfect for short trips to hop from one thing to the next when you are on a time crunch to explore. If you don’t know where to start, here are some tours I recommend warmly.
I did an Alternative Tour (mostly about street art) and Rroma Heritage Tour and enjoyed them both, especially the Rroma tour. Come and unlearn everything you thought you knew about Gypsies, and end the tour sharing a meal and a very honest conversation with a group of local, politically engaged Rromani people. When you get back into town, buy something truly special at Meşteshukar ButiQ, a network of social economy enterprises and an active supporter of Rroma traditional crafts. Very unique, fascinating and necessary tours.
I did a short Saturday walking tour of the most important buildings with Roaring Romania and it was the best way to get my bearings on and map out where I would be taking my Instagram photos later. They also organize longer tours to Transylvania and other cities in Romania, Brasov and the Danube Delta and these are on the top of my list for next time!
Bucharest has a pretty swell up-and-coming vegan scene which you can read all about in my vegan food guide. It’s also designy cafe and hip restaurant galore right now. Just. Too cool, Bucharest. Too. Cool. For the lowdown on where all the cool cats hang, check out this list of 73 (!) places to hang out and people-watch.
WHERE TO STAY IN BUCHAREST
THE BEST HOSTELS IN BUCHAREST
Podstel is all about community and operates on the belief that travel and education are vital in order to develop yourself and bring about positive changes in the world — that’s my kinda place. The hostel has pods instead of rooms — hence the name — of the kind visitors to Japan may be familiar with. The place was established by three young guys (two Brits and an American) who spent four years traveling the globe, talking to hundreds of fellow wanderers along the way and peeking at more than 400 hostels in over 40 countries — all to find out what would make the perfect hostel that they would open. Gets my vote.
Can you have a stylish and elegant hostel, and in Bucharest? Sure you can. Pura Vida hostel gives you a chance of a comfortable and sassy stay in the bohemian Old Town area of the city without splashing the cash. Plus, it’s got a Sky Bar on the building’s fifth floor with super views of the Old Town — it’s a great place to have a drink or two while watching stunning sunsets in one of Europe’s great cities. Important metro stops and everything else vital just steps away.
It’s the place you wanna be — Bucharest and the Little Bucharest Bar and Hostel, right smack-bang in the heart of the vibrant action in downtown Old Town. Little Bucharest is a welcome place of respite for travelers that’s run by travelers, so they know exactly what you need. Room or dorm, free high-speed wifi — and glorious views of this marvelous and hip city from toweringly tall windows. What more could you want?
THE BEST HOTELS IN BUCHAREST
The Mercure is a total cure for any world-weary traveler. It’s just what you need to pick you up while in this dazzling European city of high culture and art. You get all the guaranteed comforts of any Mercure property, as well as your very own Expresso machine, free wifi — and free minibar (manager’s orders). Book me in right now because I am absolutely on the way!
Ah yes, those of us who love our little (large) luxuries indeed know where to find them. And in Bucharest it’s at the Premier Palace Spa Hotel. Contemporary designs that border on opulent greet the visitor in any part of this desirable property, and the spa facilities will truly have you in seventh heaven. What is not to like?
It’s a beast of a place, The Mansion in Bucharest, and you’re gonna love it. At first sight, you’ll be blown away — that’s because this boutique hotel occupies a stunning heritage building from the 19th century. Inside, it’s another feast for the eyes, as new life is given to this ancient structure, now expressing clean, modern lines and reflecting the best of the Art Nouveau and Eclectic era. It’s Bucharest brilliant.
Many thanks to Experience Bucharest, Open Doors Travel, Romanian Friend, Hotel Mercure City Center, Bucharest tourism board, Roaring Romania, Pura Vida Hostels, and all the wonderful partners and volunteers who made it possible for me to explore this exciting, vibrant and just amazingly cool city.
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