Bucharest, once known as ‘Paris of the East’, is the capital and biggest city of Romania. Like most of the cities in Eastern Europe the impacts of communism on it are still visible, unattractive huge building blocks will be your first impression of the city, but there is more than that to see. Thanks to a recent renovation of several public buildings the city is finding its old glory. Some of the most impressive buildings of the city are in Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue, an avenue with several luxury shops and hotels), the highlights of them being the Central University Library and the Romanian Athenaeum (the main concert hall).
The ‘heart’ of the city is the Old town, a small pedestrian district with a couple of sightseeings as well as most of the city restaurants and bars, well known for its nightlife lasting till sunrise.
The church of St. Anton, or Biserica Sfantul Anton in Romanian is believed to be the oldest building in Bucharest and has been reconstructed at least 3 times as it was destroyed by fire, by the invading Turks and an earthquake.
One of the most famous attractions in the Old Town, due to its beautiful stone-carved decorations and frescos in its interior is Stavropoleos Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox Church founded in 1724 by a Greek monk.
Another famous building in the Romanian capital, but lacking beauty, is the Palace of the Parliament (Palatul Parlamentului) also known as the People’s House, which is the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon in the US. Nicolae Ceausescu’s megalomania made him construct this massive building to show the world the wealth and power of Romania but he only managed to create a gigantic, unattractive building, half of its rooms not being used. Tons of marble, crystal and carpets were used to decorate this building, the only purpose of it was to show off size and wealth.
There are plenty of parks to visit in Bucharest, the biggest of them is Herastrau, where the Village museum is also located, Cismigiu, Tineretului and Izvor parks are also worth a visit during warm days.
Maybe Bucharest is not a city that will offer you unlimited sightseeing like most of the European capitals but it is a city well known for its vibrant nightlife that you can enjoy for very low prices, till next morning. There is such a wide variety of bars in the Old Town for any kind of taste that there is no chance Bucharest nightlife will let you down. My favourite two, where you can enjoy some great cocktails in a really charming atmosphere were: Nomad Skybar and Labolator de Coctailuri.
The Romanian Capital can easily satisfy food lovers as you will find cuisines from all over the world in its Old Town. If you would like to try some Romanian specialities, except from Carul cu Bere that everyone will recommend you also try Hanu’ Lui Manuc restaurant with the stunning interior yard. For brunch or breakfast there is no better place than Grand Cafe Van Gogh.
Bucharest is an affordable city so you can enjoy quality food and nightlife for very decent prices and at the same time do some sightseeing. You won’t need more than 3 days to explore it. You can easily access the city by plane, most airline and low-cost airline companies fly to Otopeni airport. Just a tip in case you would like to buy anything before leaving the city: make sure you will have some Euros with you as no shop in the airport is accepting Lei, the Romanian currency (surprise! surprise!) It is easy to get around walking especially if you book a room in the Old Town. Even if you use the metro the daily pass will only cost you a bit more than 1EUR.
Have you ever visited Bucharest? What was your general impression of the city?What was your favourite place for food or drinks?