A day in Bucharest

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
1
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
6
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
2
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
4
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
5
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
6
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
45 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
Romania
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 100
Time of year visited
September
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
292nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Bottom 20% SUMMARY RATING: Ok if passing through

Summary

The first time I visited Bucharest I think I left with the views of it being one of the worst capital cities I’ve been to and “never going back!”.  Perhaps that is a little harsh as, on second time visiting, and wandering through the Historic Centre I saw there are actually some impressive historic buildings and taking a tour to understand the history of Romania post WW2 is quite interesting.  I think it also comes down to if you go mid-week or at the weekends – the Historic Centre seemed to come to life at the weekends as they pedestrianised nearly the entire area and had more of a party atmosphere

 

That being said, I think you only really need a day in Bucharest and I’ve listed some top tips below for how to make sure your experience is like my second visit rather than my first!

highlights

#1 Seeing the world’s largest Parliament building. Immense when you realise this view is on all 4 sides

#2 Wandering through the Historic Centre and seeing some of the beautiful old buildings. Ideally with a local guide to give you the context

#3 Enjoying the atmosphere in the Historic Centre at the weekends as most of the streets become pedestrianised and the city transforms

#4 Sampling the flexible tasting menu at The Artist restaurant

#5 Trying some of the old coffee shops in the arcades in and around the Historic Centre. The Pasajul Vilacrosse in particular was super pretty

#6 If a Roman history fan, heading to the National History Museum to see a full size replica of Emperor Trajan’s column in Rome

Travel Tips

  • Palace of Parliament – largest Parliament building in the world, and it really is immense.  The photos in reality don’t do it justice because you don’t realise until you’re there that the famous face of the building you see is the same on all four sides i.e. it’s a square and mahusive!  It’s a mini faff to get in as you need to book a little in advance (just get your hotel to phone ahead), you need to bring your passport and you need to enter as part of the organised tours that leave roughly every hour.  Although, we actually got a bit bored of the tour and left on our own, which I’d recommend as you get bored of seeing the same looking room over and over again
  • History Tour – the highlight for us was getting a local guide to explain to us the history of Romania and the significance of the various capitol buildings. The whole communist period was mental and certainly worth learning about.  Daniel (+40 772 262 483) was an excellent guide, but your hotel will very easily be able to arrange one for you as well
  • The Historic Centre (Old Town) – there are actually some remarkable old buildings here and it’s worth a wander through and stopping in some of the hidden coffee spots.  I enjoyed the National History Museum as it has a full sized replica of the Roman Emperor Trajan’s column in Rome, but don’t bother if not an Ancient Rome fan as the museum is otherwise as dull as you’d imagine a former communist museum to be
  • Ismigiu Garden – a few sites recommended this, but I wouldn’t bother as it just seems to be a poor heavily shat on version of an average city park and, well, just about everything nature-wise in Transylvania is more impressive if you’re planning a trip there
  • Accommodation – we tried 2 options: 1. The Epoque Hotel which was lovely and huge rooms, but felt a bit out of the way. 2. The Marmorosch (by Autograph) which, although part of a chain and expensive, was actually superb with its perfect location in the Historic Centre and its luxurious shared bar / lobby area which was a former bank.  If planning on walking around a lot, I’d go with the central location
  • Restaurants – the Artist was superb and first time I’d seen such a flexible set of options for a tasting menu.  I’d also really recommend the cafes in the Pasajul Vilacrosse central arcade
  • The rest of Romania – for me, the highlights of Romania are outside of Bucharest.  In particular, the Fortified Saxon Villages around Sighisoara and driving the Transfagaran Road across the Transylvanian Alps are superb experiences.  For more details, see the travel entry for the 6 day itinerary for Romania and the Transylvanian region

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone