Country: Romania
Currency: New Lei (RON)
Peak Season: June-September, December
Shoulder Season: March-May
Median Temperature: 11.50 C / 52.7 F
Main Languages: Romanian, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, tram, trolleybus, LRT, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 5 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $120.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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Bucharest’s media presence has been stingy in the past decade due to its stable economy and virtually inexistent crime, with which tourists seem to have forgotten how the southern capital is in, in many regards, much better than most expensive European destinations, factoring in affordability, attractions and the idyllic lifestyles of its locals. But despite all the prosperity its citizens are enjoying these days, Bucharest remains of the most war-ridden countries in Europe, having been shackled by fierce invasions, two world wars, and not to mention Russian communism—all in the past two centuries. But like the Poles of Warsaw, Romanians only grew stronger and more intelligent during their oppression—having immediately rebuilt and urbanized their city after the Second World War, yet preserving the magnificence of the Romanian architecture Marcel Janco envisioned. Seeing the city as it is today, you’ll not only be amazed by the proliferation of communist and art deco buildings—it’s impossible to even comprehend how such a beautiful city had been a vanguard to communism prior its current democratic stint.

And while most Europeans seem are known snubs, the same cannot be said of Romanians who, by virtue, are known to be hospitable and easy to get along with. The stellar quality of life, coupled with lush parks, tranquil gardens and panoramic lakes is reason enough for anyone to evangelize Bucharest. One could enjoy the rich cafe and dining culture inside the metropolis and still have the time pay a visit the romanticized Cismigiu Gardens during the afternoon. Meticulous urban planning has paved the way for an extensive road network and an affordable public transport system. Take note that everything is also cheaper here, with excellent accommodations costing only a fraction of what hoteliers in France would charge. Romanians are still new to the concept of democracy, but the way we see it, its hand-in-glove fit. Visit the Paris of the East and enjoy the city and its outlying Transylvanian fringes.

Packing List

  • Local currency and credit cards; local stores do not accept major currencies like the dollar and euro; if you forgot to have yours converted at the airport, there are still many money changers around the city
  • Seasonal clothing—summers can get incredibly hot, while winters demand jackets/sweaters; bring comfortable walking shoes and/or flip-flops; if visiting the countryside, bring hiking gear and a compass
  • A decent camera, plenty of film and batteries; take note that the metropolis is in great contrast with the very idyllic countryside—if really bent on getting Transylvania’s color, bring a tripod and zoom lenses
  • Essential medication and toiletries—bring anti-histamines if allergic to animal hair (dogs are everywhere); Bucharest is famous for its Europe-wide grocery chains, which carry almost every brand
  • Essential medication and toiletries—bring anti-histamines if allergic to animal hair (dogs are everywhere); Bucharest is famous for its Europe-wide grocery chains, which carry almost every brand

Things to Do

  • Boarding a bus/train to nearby Brasov to see Bran Castle—the seemingly haunted estate of the bloodthirsty Wallachian Emperor—Vlad Dracul III—Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Count Dracula
  • Observing countryside Romanian life at the Village Museum in Herastrau Park; plenty of landscaped greeneries and gardens are also maintained within park grounds, including a boat-ready lake
  • Experiencing glamour inside the Romanian Athaneum, the country’s main concert hall and home to the national philharmonic; it has historical significance in playing a part in the formation of Romania
  • Engrossing yourself in the lavish interiors of the Palace of the Parliament, the most expensive of its kind in Romania, and rightfully so: it seats the both the presidential and parliamentary government bodies
  • Enjoying seree Cismigiu Gardens, conveniently located near the city center; the gardens have been renovated time and time again and they also have also been used extensively in Romanian fiction

DON'T

  • Be too comfortable socializing with locals, or be rude in the dining table in a restaurant/household; Romanians are very observant of how guests dine, so brush up on fine dining and people skills
  • Bring up the subject of communism and politics—but talking about democracy, on the other hand, may elate your listener; capitalism and democracy are interesting subjects which Romanians love to discuss
  • Inquire about Transylvanian folklore and other shallow topics—they easily get annoyed when anyone asks about the origins of Dracula or even Vlad the Impaler (yes, they know where you’re getting at)
  • Get preoccupied inside the city—plenty of countryside areas are worth visiting; the Transylvanian countryside is one of the very few places in Europe that have not been spoiled by industrialization
  • Mind the dogs too much—the country has long had its share problems with stray dogs due to dissenters of euthanasia; if you have a heart, feed them or better yet—adopt one and save the city trouble