The main reason to visit Bucharest, Romania was to visit Euro 2021 games, as Austria was playing there in the group phase. We visited 2 matches, Austria against Macedonia and Ukraine. It was a great atmosphere even if they accepted only 25-30% of the stadium capacity.
It was a great experience overall and for sure we will return back soon. Compared to other European countries, Romania is very affordable, besides that people are nice, life is chilled, many great restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
Bucharest was our second stop in perpetual traveling life, right after spending one month in Gran Canaria.
Quick facts about Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital city of Romania, located in the southeast of the country. Romania is a country in Eastern Europe, between Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, with access to the Black Sea in the East.
Bucharest is the cultural, industrial, and financial center of Romania.
The Palace of Parliament is the second-largest administrative building in the world, right after the Pentagon in the United States. It is also the most expensive and the heaviest building in the world.
The most popular and beloved Romanian dish – “mici” or “mititei”, was first invented in Bucharest, in the Old City area. After eating mici, you can have a shot of Tuica - a traditional Romanian spirit that contains ~ 24–65% alcohol by volume (usually 40–55%), prepared from plums.
The currency in Romania is Lei (RON). The exchange rate is approximate:
1 EUR = 4.93 Romanian Leu (RON)
1 USD = 4.16 Romanian Leu (RON)
The best time to visit
The best time to visit Bucharest is spring and early autumn. In spring all the parks and gardens start greening and blooming, the weather is pleasant, so you can enjoy strolling around the city.
The temperatures in the summer can be pretty hot and unbearable even if you are a fan of high temperatures. However, the vibe in the city is great in the summertime, there is a lot of bars terraces that are inviting you with happy hours and music coming out from every corner.
The best areas to stay
For our month in Bucharest, we choose the location in the heart of the city center, Piața Națiunile with an old town just across the road. And we loved the location. You can walk from here to many parks, the Palace of Parliament is just about a kilometer away. The nearest bus stop is just in front of the Piața and other bus stops and Metro station in Piața Unirii, just 5mins walk away.
Bucharest is a big city, so the general rule of thumb when choosing the apartment, especially a bit out from the city center, is to make sure that there is a metro stop nearby.
Getting there and around
Bucharest has one international airport in the north of the city - Henri Coandă International Airport. You also might know it by Otopeni Airport, named after the area where it's located. The airport is about 1h out from the city center. You can take the bus which is very affordable or Uber. The whole ride with Uber costs about 70 RON (about 14 EUR/ 17 USD). You can also take a bus 783, which takes you directly to Piața Unirii. Ticket price is about 3 RON (0,61 EUR / 0,72 USD).
Since we were staying in the central location, we were mostly walking during the day, and taking Uber during the night. Looking back, I think most of the rides that we took, cost us 12 RON, which is an amazing 2.50 EUR / 2.80 USD.
Traffic in Bucharest is crazy. I still believe you need to be born and raised in Bucharest to get out of this madness alive as a driver. The roads can get jammed in rush hours, so if possible opt for Metro over a bus or even Uber when traveling during the day, to avoid being stuck in the traffic.
For pedestrians, life is also not so easy. Sidewalks can be destroyed, unexpected holes can appear all of the sudden, so you need to pay attention when walking around. Romanians also have this habit of parking their cars on the sidewalks, I guess due to the lack of proper parking lots, so don't be surprised when you see a line of cars on the sidewalks.
Romania is a very affordable country, some say cheap. We stayed in a beautiful one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Bucharest and paid around 800 EUR / 945 USD for the whole month (booked through Airbnb).
Prices in the bars and restaurants are very affordable as well. We are outside most of the time as we found so many great restaurants that we wanted to try that there was not much room to cook at home.
One-bedroom Airbnb apartment - up to €800/month
Draught beer - 10 RON (2 EUR/2.4 USD)
A Kriegel (3dl) of rose wine in a very local bar - €1,22
Coffee with milk - €1.50
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant - €7-8
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant - €30
People normally say that tap water is not drinkable and they recommend buying bottled one. We would disagree, during the whole stay in Bucharest, we were drinking tap water, it tastes good and we didn't have any consequences.
The Romanian language is a Balkan Romance language spoken by approximately 24–26 million people as a native language. I was living in Romania a couple of years ago and I was taking some classes, but coming back to Romania reminded me that I didn't learn much.
Both, Leo and I, were learning Romanian on Duolingo every day for the length of the stay. Compared to our Spanish experience, this was way harder. When in Spain, we were able to order food and drinks in the local language, whereas in Romania not so much.
But Leo is deifnitely doing better than me 😃
On the good side, the Romanians are good with the English language, especially the young ones, so we didn't face any difficulties language-wise. We will, however, continue practicing Romanian as well, as we will most probably return back in the future.
Internet and places to Work
Bucharest is one of the best places for digital nomads and any remote workers - the internet speed is high and cost of living very low. This makes it a great digital nomad destination.
There is a lot of cute cafes to choose from for work or just a great coffee and refreshment. If you want to leave your apartment and work in a cafe, we have a handful of the ones that we liked and we would recommend:
Cafe Meron - Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta 40
This was our most visited cafe place. Fast and reliable internet, great coffee, made with love, great food menu, amazing coolers (I think we tried all of them), and very friendly staff. The only minus is that the air condition can be a bit strong, so it can get a bit too cold sitting there for longer. Also, no laptops allowed during the weekend.
Handsome Monk - Calea Victoriei nr. 21-23
Cute place with friendly staff and good internet. You can work outside on a spacious terrace in the afternoon shade, you have enough space so nobody bothers you while you work. Good lemonades with honey and mint.
Grand Café Van Gogh - Strada Smârdan 9
Another great place for work with inside and outside seating places, a lot of space inside. The air condition is not so aggressive, it's ok to stay there longer and work. Internet is good and coffee as well.
Café Verona - Strada Pictor Arthur Verona 13-15
A bit more pricey coffee cafe, but great to work from. You can sit in a lovely garden with a pleasant temperature. Great internet.
M60 - Strada D. I. Mendeleev 2
There are normally many people with laptops working from M60, so it's a very laptop-friendly place. Great internet and great coffee, good for a longer working session.
Forma Coffee and Art Gallery - Strada Ion Ghica 4
Very friendly atmosphere, good internet, and coffee - especially Iced Latte.
Beans and Dots - Strada Ion Brezoianu 23-25
This is not the most laptop-friendly place but we want to mention it here. It's a specialty coffee and a concept store with a great interior and very good coffee. You can work on the tables next to the window for a maximum of an hour. The reason for that is most probably the co-working space Talent garden next door.
Best restaurants and bars
Nikos Greek Taverna - Bulevardul Burebista 2
This was our fav place. It was just across the street, food was great and affordable and the staff was friendly - the best combination. You can get nice gyros and my personal favorite mussels in wine sauce for about 7 EUR.
La Mahala - Strada Covaci 8
This is a traditional Romanian restaurant in the old town with a lovely terrace and tasty food. We especially liked the mici here.
Fire Club - Strada Covaci 7
Is a restaurant across the street from La Mahala, also great food, a nice terrace, and friendly staff. You can choose from traditional Romanian food, grill, burgers, and salads. Good draft beer.
El Torito - Strada Apolodor 3
This is a very good Mexican restaurant close to the old town. Nice Mexican vibe, spacious terrace, and good food. You can order a 1kg burrito to share.
Energiea - Strada Ion Brezoianu 4
Lovely atmosphere and friendly staff. They offer lunch deals from 12-16 PM. The food is fresh and light, with very fast service. Good and quality ingredients.
Caru' cu bere - Strada Stavropoleos 5
Very popular restaurant with a big terrace, traditional food, and good beer. They have nice and cheap lunch deals that will get you soup, main dish and salad for a couple of Euros.
Origo - Strada Lipscani 9
Coffee place during the day and cocktail bar in the evening. The coffee if amazing and comes with an explanation from the knowledgeable staff. They make sure to take you on a proper coffee trip.
Best Running and walking trails
We did our runs mostly in Cișmigiu Parcul, and Parcul Carol I. Both offer nice greenery and great shade in hot summer months.
Romania was quite relaxed with rules during our stay. Mask was obligatory only inside which was a nice change compared to Spain where we had to wear them all the time.
One great thing for us was the possibility to get the vaccination as a foreigner easily and without an appointment. A couple of days before we arrived, they opened a Johnson&Johnson vaccination center at the airport. So we got our shot directly at the arrival. It was super easy, no complications or unnecessary bureaucracy. We immediately got the certification, printed version, and via email.
I like this uncomplicated approach, if you wish to get a vaccination you have the ability to get it, no matter if you are a citizen of Romania or not.
Gems that we found and liked
We explored Bucharest on foot a lot. It's nice to escape to green bushy parks like Cișmigiu Parcul, Parcul Carol I, Parcul Izvor. The city feels very safe.
During our stay, Calea Victoriei, a major avenue in central Bucharest in Sector 1, was closed for traffic from Friday to Sunday in the afternoon. So you could enjoy the nice stroll of 2.7 kilometers, it leads from Splaiul Independenței to the north and then northwest up to Piața Victoriei, where Șoseaua Kiseleff continues north.