The ultimate guide to planning a trip to Bucharest
Within just a few hours of arriving, Bucharest was already one of my favourite European cities. I’m excited to share this post with you guys because so many of my followers and friends have said Romania is not a country they would have thought of visiting. But after I had such an amazing time there, I couldn’t wait to share this post with you to encourage you to travel to this beautiful city. I spent a few days solo exploring Bucharest and it was one of my favourite solo trips to date. It’s a perfect city for exploring whether you’re alone, with friends or on a romantic weekend away. If you’ve visited Prague or Budapest, Bucharest is like their arty, colourful, quirky little sister. The city has so many different sides to it, from the history and vibrant culture, to the great party and food scene.
How long do you need in Bucharest?
Bucharest is such a lovely small city, it’s perfect for a weekend trip. You could easily just spend 1-2 nights and manage to fit in most of the sights. I had a full two days in the city, plus two extra chilled evenings, and I managed to see pretty much everything! If you stay in the Old Town, you’ll be walking distance from most of the main sights, plus lots of lovely bars, restaurants, parks and markets. I found I never even needed to use public transport because it was so easy to walk everywhere.
How to get to Bucharest & is it safe to travel solo?
It’s really easy to get to Bucharest from the UK and very cheap if you regularly check for flights. I flew from Stansted Airport late on the Friday night and arrived back in the UK around dinner time on the Monday. The flight takes around 3 hours and with the time difference it can mean arriving late in the city. However, I arrived at 11pm and found it really easy to navigate my way to my apartment by Uber. It took around 20 minutes to drive from the airport to where I was staying and it felt very safe. This is what I want to stress the most – Bucharest was a very safe city for a solo female traveller. Even walking alone at night, I always felt very safe and confident.
Where to stay in Bucharest?
I knew most of what I wanted to see and do during my time in the city was based around the Old Town so I made sure to book accommodation around this area. There are lots of great hostels, hotels, Airbnbs and apartments around to choose from. On my first stay there, I chose to stay two nights in an apartment which I found super reduced on Booking.com and turned out to be absolutely lovely! Then for my final night, I stayed in a private room in a hostel which also gave me my own window-ledge over looking the city. Both were fantastic places to stay and I was very impressed at how far my money went in Romania.
- Apartment – Premium Studio by MRG
- Hostel – Little Bucharest Old Town Hostel
- Find other hotels, hostels and apartments in Bucharest
Top 8 places to eat & drink:
There are so many great bars and restaurants to check out – I wish I had been there for longer so I could visit more of them. My top 10 are based on the places I loved and some top recommendations from my Romanian pals that I will definitely be visiting next time!
- Aubergine Restaurant, Old Town – amazing healthy food with fantastic vegan and veggie options
- Nomad Skybar, Old Town – rooftop bar, super Instagrammable inside and great food
- Lacrimi și Sfinți, Old Town – authentic Romanian food with recipes dating back 100 years
- Care’ cu bere, Old Town – the most well known restaurant in the city, beautiful and traditional food (pricier)
- The Urbanist, Old Town – fancy coffees and cocktails in a cute leafy bar, or outside in the sunshine
- Upstairs Rooftop, Bucharest – bright and colourful rooftop bar with an a la carte and full menu
- Bistro Acuarela, Bucharest – an artist’s café with burgers & cocktails, plus you can create your own art!
- Gradina EDEN, Bucharest – huge outdoor leafy terrace, cheap drinks & food plus great live music
The top 5 most Instagrammable locations:
Bucharest is a hugely Instagrammable city – that’s not why I visited, but it’s a nice by-product of the trip when you can get some awesome pics! The mix of different styles of architecture, modern touches and vibrant colours make it a perfect place to jazz up your Insta-feed. Now while I’m a big believer in putting your own unique spin on photography and trying to find lesser known locations. If you only have a short trip and want to hit the highlights, these are the top 5 most Instagrammable locations in Bucharest:
- Pasajul Victoria – the Umbrella Alley! A riot of colour down a cute little side street.
- Cărturești Carusel – the famous bookshop. One of the most beautiful bookstores I have ever seen.
- Stavropoleos Monastery Church – a stunning Eastern Orthodox Church dating back to 1724.
- Nomad Skybar – the most Instagrammable bar in the city and even has rooftop views!
- Strada Arthur Verona – while the street art was a little disappointing. It’s colourful and surrounded by cute little streets.
Top tip: If you want to have any of these places to yourself, I recommend going early. I went early in the morning and had each place entirely to myself. I also saved the most popular spots such as the bookstore for Monday morning and it was a lot quieter.
Check out these other hidden gems across the city:
Vintage & Markets
Bucharest was an absolute gem for vintage shops and antique markets dotted around the city. Keep your eyes open when you walk around, I just stumbled across all of these great little finds.
- Antiques & Handmade Market – Bazar at the corner of Strada Doamnei 11, Old Town
- Vintage shopping – Check Vintage & More
- Also check out this article for more suggestions of Bucharest markets.
Architecture & Art
The architecture was one of my favourite things about the city. But I loved the contrast of all the more classic styles alongside some of the most vibrant and colourful street art. A great place to see local art work is the Art Walk Street where several local artists display their works which are also for sale.
For key architectural sights – don’t miss the Palace of the Deposits and Consignments – it’s truly spectacular. And also check out Cantocuzino Palace and Hala Traian (which also houses a food market) for some very impressive buildings. I also really recommend visiting Biserica Rusă din București (Bucharest’s Russian Church) which is incredibly beautiful. I was staying nearby and watched as a wedding procession arrived to the church bells – just beautiful.
It’s always lovely to have green spaces in a city so you can escape when the sun is shining. I had a lovely time exploring Cismigiu Gardens and ended up walking around the whole thing. As well as a boating lake, there is also a section filled with huge swans and birds, plus a café and a food & gifts market. Really recommend for a great place to enjoy a different side to the city.
I also heard fantastic things about Carol Park – one friend said it was her highlight of the whole city – but sadly I didn’t have time to go. It has a huge lake and monument in the centre. If you have time, Văcărești Lake and Lake Dâmbovița also look amazing for serious nature views – I’ll definitely be visiting both on my next trip.
Have you been to Bucharest? Would you like to explore more of Eastern Europe?