Tips for Visiting Bucharest


Bucharest is among the larger cities in Europe and recently more and more tourists are considering it as a viable travel destination. You can get there via budget airline, train, bus or river cruise.

If you are thinking of visiting Romania’s capital, here are some tips you can use:

Whether you’re arriving here by plane or by train, stay away from dishonest taxi drivers. Like in most cities, taxi drivers near airports and railway stations can charge five times the amount you would normally pay to get to your hotel. The price per kilometre is displayed on the side of the taxi, so make sure you look carefully before getting in. It is advisable to call ahead and have a taxi from a reputable company wait for you to arrive. You can ask hotel, railway and airport staff members from the information desks to help you order a taxi and avoid getting scammed. Also, make sure the driver actually starts the meter once you get inside the taxi. If you want to get around the city by taxi, ask the hotel staff for telephone numbers from companies you can trust and they will gladly help.

Exchanging money is also something that you can easily do. Exchange offices are scattered all across the city, so check the exchange rates before deciding where to go. If you don’t want to risk anything, simply exchange your money in a bank, as their rates are generally very favourable. Also, don’t always rely on paying with your debit or credit card. Small shops don’t have a POS, so it’s best to bring some banknotes with you if you find something you want to buy.

Bucharest is also known for having a dog problem, so you will undoubtedly see many stray dogs while you’re out sightseeing. Don’t startle, pet or feed them, unless you want to get bitten. The last thing anyone needs during their holiday is a trip to the hospital for a rabies shot. On that note, don’t forget to have some form of travel insurance in case you get sick. Oh, and don’t drink the tap water.

As far as getting around Bucharest is concerned, you can easily walk to some of the major interest points, but if you want to travel to places which are located further away from your hotel, you can easily go by taxi, bus, tram, and subway. Most tourists usually walk or take the taxi and the subway. I wouldn’t recommend going by bus or tram, as they’re usually very crowded and the ticket system is not well-perfected. However, with the help of a local you can get around that (you have to buy a rechargeable card from one of the ticket agencies located near some of the major bus stops and charge it with the amount of money you want).

Also, as far as sightseeing goes, most of the major museums are located along the M2 subway line, so it’s easy to get around by taking the subway or just walking. The most popular parks are Cişmigiu and Herăstrău, where you can also rent a boat to pass the time, and the most well-known museums are The National History Museum, The Romanian National Art Gallery, and The Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum (this one is right next to Herăstrău Park). You can also visit the President’s house (Cotroceni Palace), but you need to schedule a visit (there are several tours available for tourists and you can ask the hotel staff for help if you can’t manage it on your own). There are also several historic houses, churches and smaller parks located in this area, and you can easily find them when you’re sightseeing.

If you want to visit some of the palaces located outside of Bucharest (Mogoşoaia Palace is a must), then you can take a bus, a taxi, or rent a car for half a day. The area is great for sightseeing and you can even have a small picnic on the grounds or eat at the neighbouring restaurant. The best time of the year for such visits are spring and summer. There are also other big parks located in different areas of Bucharest such as Titan and Bazilescu Park, and you can get there easily by subway. Theatres, cinemas, and large bookstores, are usually located near the Old Town area or near various subway stations, so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.

Finally, most of the nightlife is concentrated in the Old Town and prices are pretty low for both food and drink. Locals and tourists avoid the overpriced bars, restaurants, and cafes on Dorobanţi Boulevard and usually just spend a lot of time in the Old Town area to sightsee and enjoy the nightlife. You can get to the Old Town by subway (the M2 subway line is your friend here). It is a very tourist friendly area and you can generally find traditional food from various countries if you want to try something different. However, if you’re not vegetarian and you’re interested in trying Romanian food, head over to Caru’ cu Bere, a famous tourist-friendly restaurant with very reasonable prices. Also, if you want to have dinner in some of the more popular restaurants in Bucharest, make sure you book a table in advance (once again you can ask the hotel staff to help you out).

Travelling to Bucharest and exploring the city is actually really easy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you don’t know where to go or what to do. I’d recommend focusing on visiting a particular area before branching out into other parts of town. That way, you can get a lot of sightseeing done in a short amount of time.

photo credit: fusion-of-horizons via photopin cc

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