Every year, I make it a point to visit a place I’ve never been to prior, so when I was planning my trip to Europe in 2018, Bucharest caught my eye. Often overlooked for those planning a trip to the majestic continent, Romania has a ton of gorgeous attractions to offer; and visiting the capital was something I thought I ought to do during this trip. And off we flew!
I honestly didn’t expect much of it, but this four-day trip surprised me in ways unimaginable. I was astounded at how much I loved Bucharest, that it is a city I wouldn’t tire of returning to.Since Bucharest isn’t deemed as one of the must-visit cities in Europe, I decided to veer away from the typical approach entailing things to do and places to see for this post, but instead: to feature Bucharest while listing 8 reasons why you must visit what has been named as the Paris of the East: Bucharest – the centre of Romanian art, history, and culture.
As the largest city of Romania, Bucharest is the country’s business, economic and tourism hub rolled into one; this is evident in its city center. Named as the European city with the highest potential for visitors’ growth, it is no wonder why more and more visitors flock to this Romanian epicenter. And so, onto my quest of convincing you to fly to Romania one day, as I cite my reasons to visit beautiful Bucharest.
1) The city is rich in history.
Though it is said that Bucharest hadn’t been mentioned in documents until the mid-1400s, making it a relatively new city as opposed to its neighboring capitals, it is still rich in history – in more recent history, that is. Despite being heavily bombed during WWII, it has remained intact.
In addition to this, Bucharest is home to the National Museum of Romanian History, where you can take part in learning about the country’s history, and take a glimpse of artifacts from prehistoric times.
2) Where there is history, modernization is taking place well.
Though some parts of the city have remained unscathed, with art deco buildings dating back from the 1920s-1930s lined-up in some parts of the city center, there also is much evidence of the city transcending into modern times, seen in some of Bucharest’s attractions.
3) Open spaces & parks make up the very heart of the city.
If you like staying outdoors, basking in the essence of a foreign city, in parks or open spaces, then Bucharest is the city for you.
There are a ton of options for you to spend a morning or afternoon in, such as Revolution Square (Piața Revoluției), Unification Square (Piața Unirii), Cișmigiu Park, and so on. During weekends or summer season, you can even chance upon community events herein, like we did in Unification Square, where they had a big screen for the World Cup – since we were there during the season.
4) The architecture is stunning no matter where you look.
Beautiful Bucharest is honestly an understatement, and I, myself, was astounded to see how grand & breathtaking this city is. At every turn, you’ll see massive buildings, churches & other attractions whose architecture truly stand out, though you’ll find it as quite an architectural hodge podge, with different styles intertwined into one city – but still, undoubtedly stunning. You’ll be surprised at how this seemingly charming city has remained under the radar for so long, despite having tons of beautiful landmarks to see.
5) Exploring on foot will take you to the most gorgeous of sights.
More importantly so, as mentioned here too many times to count – my main factor for enjoying a city is whether or not I get to explore it on foot. And this is where Bucharest does not fall short in, as we spent our four-day long weekend in the city seeing everything in this post (and even more) just by exploring on foot! Getting from one place to another in Bucharest is an adventure more than a challenge, as the sidewalks have more than enough room, and with its perfectly paved walkways, there isn’t a place in the city centre that you couldn’t explore by foot.
6) While there is tons to see, there also is tons to eat.
As previously mentioned, modernization has somehow taken over Bucharest, and it is also evident in the dining scene, with wide array of international cuisines & a variety of restaurants to choose from. You certainly won’t go wrong with picking out one of the many options in the Old Town, but for a few suggestions, here are my favorites:
Kilkenny Irish Pub and Restaurant
3rd District, Franceza street, no 46-48
Located inside the Old Town is Kilkenny Irish Pub and Restaurant. The pub first caught our eye mainly because they were screening the World Cup matches, which we religiously followed during the trip; but we eventually loved the food & drinks during our first visit that we ended up going back not once, not twice, but at least three times. If that doesn’t say much for the ambiance and the food, then here are a few photos of their dishes to tickle your fancies.
Big Ben Pub
Strada Franceza 52 | Selari, Old Town Bucharest
Now that I’m putting this post together, there is one thing I hadn’t realized prior: that there is an abundance of Irish Pubs in Bucharest, and somehow, we couldn’t get enough, as we had our final brunch in the city in Big Ben Pub. With outdoor seating, it’s a great place to dine in most especially during summer. Their servings are huge and of great quality, making every cent spent therein worth it.
Georgiana Patiserie & Covrigul Imens
Strada Franceză Numărul 62 (right beside Han lui Manuc)
This bakery is a local secret – in my opinion, at least, as I have only seen locals buying from it; but as soon as we walked past their window shop with delectable pieces of pastries displayed, we knew we had to get a taste. Not only is it absolutely cheap, but everything we tried was so good, that if ever I go back, this is the first place I’d rush to!
7) It’s cheap – at least compared to the rest of Europe.
Let me get straight to the point: Bucharest is cheap – pretty much in all aspects, and at least compared to the rest of Europe. Out of all the European destinations I’ve visited, Bucharest tops the charts for cheapest cities, together with the likes of Prague, Budapest, Dubrovnik, and so on. From hotel accommodation to drinking & going out, lunches and dinners, attraction tickets – everything is cheap. So you won’t have to worry about setting a big budget for a trip to Bucharest, as opposed to when you’ll visit other European capitals.
8) The Old Town is one of Europe’s hidden & loveliest gems.
Ending this post with my favorite place in Bucharest: the Old Town. This gem is Romania’s treasure – the centre of dining, culture, art, and entertainment, evident in each street and alleyway therein. Dynamic and vibrant as it is already during the day, even more-so at night: when the streets light up and transform into one big party, the best place in the city for nightlife.
Obvious as it already is, I loved everything about Bucharest, and would love to go back someday.
So if you haven’t been, and if you’re planning a trip to Europe, wanting to visit a place that is cheap, underrated, a great place for nightlife & dining, and with a ton to see, then book that ticket, and make Romania your next adventure!