Romania has a tendency to be either unknown or highly misunderstood by most foreigners. As a result, its capital, Bucharest, is not the most popular tourist destination in Eastern Europe either. However, one way or another, it seems that you were lucky enough to not only find out about Bucharest but also consider visiting it. Whether you’ve already booked your tickets, or you have yet to do so, here’s a few of of our Bucharest locals‘ tips!
Coffee and tea: Bucharest caters to both
The coffee versus tea debate is one that you need not have in Bucharest. Whichever you prefer, you will certainly find something to your liking in this city. For coffee, Daniela recommends trying out DRIP; they specialize in brew coffee, but their other types of coffee are no less delectable. As for tea, Alex would highly suggest Infinitea, especially if you want to feel like you are in a fairytale. Surrounded by flowers and floral motifs, drinking your tea and having the perfect cake to go with it in this garden is going to feel like a dream. So regardless of what type of drink gives you energy in the morning, your day is sure to be off to a great start here!
Parks: Ideal spots to relax and appreciate history
Bucharest has quite a few great spots for a walk, namely its beautiful parks! Cismigiu Gardens and Carol Park are our locals’ top recommendations here. They both contain lakes that you can explore by boat, as well as some impressive historic monuments, such as The Monument of French Heroes and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If you are visiting Bucharest in summer, you should know that it can get quite hot (often above 30 degrees Celsius), which makes a stroll by the lake ideal to unwind. If you happen to be there during winter instead, you should consider ice skating on Cismigiu’s frozen lake!
Brunch: Simple yet appetizing
After your long walk in the park (or after rowing a boat – which gets quite tiring), you might be feeling peckish. You are in luck because you have quite a few options for a delicious brunch in Bucharest! Gram Bistro focuses on quality above all; their menu is rather simple yet varied enough to have something you might like. From burgers to pasta, salads, or even the classic eggs with toast, you can be sure that whatever you choose will be made with the best natural ingredients, all masterfully prepared for you. Ana Baking Co. is a deceptive one; based on its name, you might assume it’s a traditional Romanian pastry shop. However, the atmosphere is more likely to remind you of New York, while the menu includes brunch staples like avocado toast, eggs, croissants, and bagels.
Museums: Art exhibitions in peculiar locations
After a good brunch, one of the best ways to spend your time is exploring. And some of the best places to explore in Bucharest are its museums! The Royal Palace, as its name implies, used to be a palace (until 1940 – when the last king of Romania was forced to renounce his throne). That makes it interesting in and of itself, but what makes it even more interesting is that it nowadays functions as a museum, one wherein you can find great pieces of European and Romanian art, from medieval to modern. If you are not particularly interested in history (or if you simply prefer contemporary art), you should visit MNAC! Much like the aforementioned museum, MNAC is also located in an unexpected building – the Palace of the Parliament, the second-largest administrative building in the world, as well as the heaviest. It is worth visiting for its location alone, but it also helps that it houses extraordinary collections of contemporary art.
Dessert: Artisanal or modern sweets?
If you have a sweet tooth, then look no further! You are guaranteed to find a sugary treat to your liking in Bucharest. Miez is an artisanal bakery (and one of the most interesting ones in Bucharest, according to Daniela), which means they exclusively use traditional ingredients and methods. As such, this is also one of the best places to familiarize yourself with classic Romanian desserts (as well as various international ones).
While Miez has somewhat of a focus on bread and pastries, Zoomserie is a confectionery, which means they specialize in cookies, cakes, and other similar sweets. It also has our Spotter Diana’s seal of approval, which means a lot considering how much she loves sweets! Given just how varied Zoomserie’s menu is, you might have a hard time making a decision, but fear not; whatever you end up choosing, you will definitely not regret it.
Shopping: Experience and souvenir, all in one
Trips are always about the experience and memories, yet people often seek souvenirs as a way to better remember their travels. Regardless of your stance on the importance of travel mementos, you shouldn’t miss Carturesti Carusel! You might hesitate when you learn that it’s a bookstore; after all, you probably have no need for books in Romanian. However, this is not only one of the largest and most beautiful bookshops in the world (which means that visiting it is an experience in and of itself), but it also sells much more than just Romanian books. From English books to a variety of products such as albums, DVDs, and products by Romanian designers, you are bound to find something to your liking.
For a much different type of experience, and souvenir, consider The Beer Institute. This store is owned by two owners who seek to promote the Romanian craft beer that they fell in love with while exploring the country. And for a truly memorable souvenir, you can grab a special beer with a custom label!
Dinner: From traditional to exotic
It is now dinner time, and you find yourself wondering where to have your meal. If you are curious about Romanian cuisine, the best place to try it is Zexe (according to both Diana and Alex, who absolutely love it). With great service and equally great food, you will definitely not regret choosing this as your opportunity to familiarize yourself with traditional Romanian food. Beca’s Kitchen, on the other hand, is the place you should choose if you want to be surprised. With the menu changing every day, it is quite literally impossible to know what you’re going to have before going in; the only expectation you should have is that it will be delicious, says Alina.
Bars/Clubs: Cocktail conversations and late-night dancing
In the evening, you should check out Interbelic. This is where you will find yourself enjoying fantastic cocktails while discussing your day’s highlights and discoveries with a nice group or friends (or future friends!). The only downside is that it is only open for 2 days a week (Friday and Saturday). Also, it closes at midnight, which might disappoint you, but don’t worry! That is exactly when Control Club opens, which is one of the best clubs in Bucharest. Dance the night away (with your new group of friends?) or just reflect on your life decisions in the open garden; we don’t judge.