So you feel like it’s time for a visit to somewhere you’ve never been before… and you’ve heard a few things about Bucharest, and maybe a few other places in Romania?
Well Romania, and more specifically Bucharest is definitely one of those places worth a visit. It is a city with a fantastic alternative scene, including food, shopping and sites. From a budgeting point of view, you do get a lot more for your Dollar, Yen, Dirham or Euro, with some awesome affordable Airbnbs to tempt every style of holiday maker. If you are looking for a city break that is sure to impress but not going to break the bank, then read on.
Depending on what kind of holiday you’re looking for, you’ll need to think about the time of year to plan your visit. December is great for the Christmas Market scene and the summer months June to August is perfect for terrace bars. Personally I love the wintery vibes, wrapping up warm, snow on the ground, Christmas shopping and a glass of hot wine.
Cities in winter are romantic, which is precisely why we went for a long weekend. A few days with no kids and time to explore a new place by ourselves. Bliss!
*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you).
Places to Visit within Bucharest
If you have 3 days in Romania, then follow this guide for places to visit in Bucharest and beyond.
The Historic Centre is beautiful and definitely one of the most charming parts of the city. Meander through these picturesque streets to get yourself acquainted.
Be sure to check out the Stavropoleos Church. This tiny but beautiful church sits not far from the centre. Grand wooden doors and a small courtyard of tombstones create a quiet space to wander around. It is cute… very very cute.
If you like shopping take a walk along Strada Lipscani and stop in for gifts and books at Cărturești Carusel. This multi-leveled bookstore is rather grand. On the top floor sit for a while and sip on a hot chocolate, as you flick through the book you’ve just purchased.
The Palace of Parliament is a must-see. But if you want to see it in all it’s grandeur then head to the grounds in front of this magnificently sized building at Piața Constituției. The palace’s sheer size overshadows and will leave you in awe. This piața or square, is also the location for the Bucharest Christmas Market, and a spectacular place to visit in December.
Places to Stay in Bucharest
Walking distance from the historical centre and the Palace of Parliament is a cute little Airbnb which we would recommend. This loft apartment is actually right in the middle of the main sites listed here, and is the perfect location to base yourself.
But if an Airbnb isn’t quite your thing, then look in the district below for something that better suits your preferences. There is plenty to choose from… and the best part is the prices. Not the hefty accomodation price tags you are used to for other European city destinations right?
The Best Restaurants
I’ve said it before… I like food! Now I did loads of research before our trip to Bucharest as I was looking for quality food, boutique style dining and no kids! I found perhaps one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. Ma Restaurant is absolutely tiny (they even say it themselves on their Instagram page). And of course, they have a waiting list… so book a couple of days ahead if you can. But the food is amazing, with an atmosphere to boot.
Side note: You will likely need to take a taxi to get to Ma. But hey what the heck… it’s all super cheap anyways! So do it and enjoy a dinner that you won’t forget.
The next restaurant we recommend is the opposite of Ma. It’s loud, HUGE and kind of overcrowded… but the food is traditional and the atmosphere is upbeat! Caru’ cu bere seems to be popular with locals and holiday makers alike. Once again, you will likely need to book a couple of nights in advance to ensure you get a table.
The restaurant is set in a grand building of the historic centre, with tables tucked into every nook and cranny. There is a true sense of history and culture in Caru’ cu bere, complete with traditional dancing at intervals throughout the evening.
Beyond the city are other very interesting places to visit and unique only to Romania…
Transylvania – The Castles
If you know anything about Romania, it might be that this is the home of Dracula’s castle and Transylvania. If you did, well done… I wasn’t much of a Dracula fan before this trip and so I knew very little of the stories and the region in which it is based. And when a visit to the Transylvanian castles was suggested by my travel buddy (AKA the husband), I won’t lie… but I wasn’t up for it.
Being the good travel companion that I am, I agreed to a day’s tour out of the city and into the mountains and castle district of Romania. Let me stop you for a quick second here… (before you decide this isn’t your thing)… Transylvania is beautiful!
A trip into the mountains, to walk through these three equally unique castles that I’m going to describe below, is unmissable. I’ll leave the historical stories for you to research… just know that these castles are some of the best we have seen. You can literally feel the history!
The first stop of the day on the road. An early morning start will bring you to a misty valley overlooking the oppulent Peleș Castle. It’s spire peaks through the tops of the trees giving you a sense of it’s significant size.
You have two options of tour within the castle and we recommend going for a full pass ticket. This will give you access to wander through the upstairs rooms, and also some space away from the many tourists. The rooms are lavishly decorated with ornatly carved furniture, velvet curtains, grand paintings and all the royal trimmings. Each room has a different story and purpose, and is a fascinating place to explore.
Arriving midday at this infamously spooky castle, you’ll note first the rows of Dracula clad stalls leading to the ticket booth. If you’re like me you’ll want to side step those, get your ticket and make your way up the hill towards the castle.
Sitting perched on this cliff the setting is remarkable. You can see why it lends itself perfectly to the setting for the movie Dracula, based of course on the book by Bram Stoker. A walk through the castle, leads you through the maze of rooms, winding staircases and creeky passageways. And each room tells a story of the history of the castle and Vlad Dracula.
On your way out be sure to grab some street food. The winter goulashes are cooked in giant pans and are pretty damn good. This little town, understandably is the busiest castle you’ll visit during the day… but nonetheless, it is a pretty cool place. And if you haven’t already read the book… it might inspire you to do so (like me).
Moving on to this small fortress, you’ll get to watch the sun as it begins to set over the valley and is a lovely way to finish the day.
Getting up this hill requires a somewhat random train ride. Then enter through the large arch way and follow the path up to the highest point within this small village. As you walk through, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up souvenirs (I just about ended up with a carpet – I’m addicted to carpets).
It’s a cute place and gives a tremendous landscape view from the highest point. And if you’re hungry again, then grab a traditional Kürtoskalács aka chimney cake after your random train ride back down the hill.
Finish the evening off in Brașov, a small and beautiful city to explore. If it is December then be sure to catch the Christmas tree lights as they are turned on. Walk about for some shopping and stop for some dinner. And as you dine, recount all the places you managed to visit throughout the day… Transylvania is certainly a very enchanting region in Romania.
If you’d like to find out more about our travel story and how we have managed to travel as a family as frequently as we do… then check this post. Or subscribe below for updates on our journey of full-time travel.