Overview: Bucharest is an interesting and very ancient city. It’s mid to late 20th Century history however centres on its then prevailing communist regime, which was overthrown during the 1989 revolution and the death of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who was responsible for commissioning the building of the (almost grotesquely opulent) Parliament Palace. This and many other attractions are walking distance from the central hotels. For UK visitors, day-to-day costs will seem significantly lower than many European cities, typical entrance fees to museums for example cost around 2 GBP. For the latest UK government health, safety, and regulatory information please see: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/romania/safety-and-security
Get Here: Wizz Air flies direct from London (Luton) to Bucharest several times a day, which is probably the cheapest option. We flew from Newcastle to London Heathrow, and then direct to Bucharest with British Airways. The journey takes about 3 hours from London by plane. If you have more time to spare it is possible to drive or take trains through Europe of course, taking in Belgium, Austria and Hungary en route.
Rough Cost: Including flights, a 5 night stay at the Intercontinental Hotel on Nicolae Bălcescu Boulevarde, in a Club Room including a 1 way transfer on arrival in Bucharest cost us around 866 GBP for 2 adults. Staying in a Club Room represents good value as benefits include refreshments such as early evening canapes and drinks. Watching the sun go down on the busy boulevarde below, chilling out with a glass of wine after a long day exploring this fascinating city was pleasant to say the least.
Money: currency is the Romanian Leu, at present 1 GBP buys roughly 5.5 RON. Whilst credit cards are increasingly accepted, many smaller outlets require local currency, you may experience difficulty attempting to exchange either GBP or USD. In my opinion, taking 100 RON (less than 20 GBP) out with you per day will pay for transport, museum entry, coffee or beer stops and lunch – and you will probably still have change.
Getting Around: If your adventures take you to some of the outerlying places it is probably worth getting either a day ticket (valid on buses, trolleys and trams) or a weekly ticket – both are inexpensive and you will spend less than a couple of GBP on transport using these networks. Tickets are widely available at major stations – look out for the RATB kiosks. You must have a ticket before you travel, fines are considerable if you attempt to travel without one.
See: Parliament Palace, begun in 1984 by Ceaușescu, is an immense building and the 2nd largest such establishment in the world – only the Pentagon in USA is currently larger.
Entry to the Palace is by guided tours only. Expect to queue, and allow around an hour. The tour only incorporates a fraction of the chambers and halls in this immense spectacle – which is probably a good thing as I think you would need 3 weeks otherwise. Cost is around 2 GBP per adult, you will need to show your passport to gain admission.
Village Museum: The unique Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum is well worth a visit, again the admission is approx 2 GBP per adult – you will probably need to use the metro system to get here easily. The museum, founded in 1936, depicts rural life in villages all over Rumania. The buildings, many dating to 18th Century, were transported to the current 15 hectare site from their original locations. An indoor museum, shop and refreshment facilities are also available on site.
Herastrau Park: One of Bucharest’s prettiest and quirkiest parks, from the sublime ‘head statues’ such as that of Robert Schuman, opposite, to a lake (complete with rather nice cafes), fountains, seating areas, play areas – this definitely has it all. The park is popular with joggers, families, and of course visitors to this wonderful city.
Opposite is an image of Bucharest’s version of the Parisien Arc De Triomphe, situated on
Nibbles on the go: There are some great little bakeries around Bucharest, where they make Covrigi all day long – these are kind of like prezels but a softer consistency – they can be sweet or savoury, great with a cup of great coffee after an afternoon of walking around!
National Military Museum: With tanks, trucks, weaponry and even a few aircraft, the National Military Museum seems to cover the spectrum. A little way out of the centre, on Mircea Vulcanescu Street, the museum is still accessible on foot. It costs just under 2 GBP admission, and is normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Other Museums: The National Museum of Art of Romania, on Calea Victoriei contains an interesting selection of medieval and modern art works including paintings and sculptures as well as a wide variety of temporary exhibitions. Admission is roughly £2.80 per adult, open wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm. The National Museum of Romanian History, located in the former historic postal palace building, also on Calea Victoriei, costs around £2 admission, open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm – contains many interesting artifacts representing Romanian history.