We would happily spend weeks, if not months, staying in Romania’s fascinating capital, as there is so much to explore and quite often not enough time to do so. But if time isn’t on your side and you need to make the most of your visit, then here’s our guide on how to spend 48 hours discovering the city. This is by no means an exhaustive guide, just a handful of the highlights and hopefully an idea of what can be achieved across two days. If Romania is on your travel bucket-list then we’d recommend checking out our range of experiences, giving you the chance to explore the Bucharest Christmas markets; as this is a beautiful time of year to visit.
The Night Before
Image Source: Lazar
Getting your bearings and understanding the layout of the city can be a big benefit when you’re working with limited time, as you’ll spend less of it worrying about directions and more time soaking up the scenery. We’d recommend picking up a map from the airport or from tourist information to help you navigate. Buses run regularly from the airport to the centre so you’ll have no trouble making your way to accommodation. If you’ve arrived in good time and don’t fancy hitting the sheets just yet, then head on over to Nomad, a funky multi-purpose space used as a lounge, bar, restaurant and club. If you’re arriving on a Friday or Saturday then we’d recommend making a table reservation as the place can get pretty lively, with the addition of live music and DJs.
Day 1 – Morning
The best way to immerse yourself in this diverse and contrasted city is to take the free walking city tour. No need to have your map out as the guide will expertly take you through the parts of the city with significant cultural and historical importance. You’ll finish the tour feeling like you’ve been living in the city for months! Typically the tour will last two and a half hours and won’t cost you a penny, although donations are welcome. There are two different types of tour and both take place daily at 10:30.
Day 1 – Afternoon
Following the morning’s exploration, it’s time to do the ‘touristy’ stuff and there are few better places to visit in Bucharest than the Palace of Parliament. The building covers a whopping 365,000 square meters and holds more than 1,000 rooms making it one of the largest buildings on the planet. Although the outside is a real spectacle, we recommend getting one of the guided tours of the inside to really appreciate the size and scale of the palace; you’ll have to book in advance for this though and will also need a passport or driving license as a form of ID. It’s worth noting that for anyone looking to take pictures on the tour, you will have to pay an additional sum of around £5. The palace is open seven days a week and costs 40 lei for entrance.
Day 1 – Evening
After wandering around one of the world’s largest buildings, wide-eyed in amazement, you’ll want to get out and explore the nightlife that Bucharest has to offer. The city is packed with restaurants and places to eat, so you’ll never be far from a delicious meal. Typical Romania cuisine takes influence from many European countries such as Austria, Germany and Greece. You can expect to see meat or fish on the menu, accompanied by fresh vegetables; with pork being the main meat eaten in the country. The range of influence also means a range of desserts, with dishes such as baklava, pastries and cakes making up most of the sweet treats on offer. If you’re on the hunt for a traditional Romanian dining experience then look no further than Caru’ cu bere. It’s constantly busy and therefore worth booking a table in advance, but for this you’ll be rewarded with a buzzing atmosphere and an amazing choice of local dishes.
Bucharest has a vibrant nightlife which you’ll be able to take advantage of, as clubs and pubs are scattered throughout the city. Heading back to Nomad is a good option, or you can hit the clubs, with the main ones being Control or Funky Lounge on Herastrau. That said, you’ve got a busy day tomorrow so an early night might be the way to go.
Day 2 – Morning
After breakfast, you’ll be wanting to head out to the old town, which in reality is one of the newest old towns in the world. The city council decided that there should be a central place for people to meet, eat and drink and so dedicated a number of streets to this project, laid cobblestones and cut the traffic access, creating the ‘old town’. The area is typically quieter in the mornings, which can be to your advantage as you’ll want to explore without crowds of other tourists and locals. We’d also suggest stopping here for lunch as well, as there are plenty of trendy restaurants and cafes. We’d recommend checking out Noa Restoclub in the old town, offering up amazing burgers, steaks and pasta dishes that you won’t want to miss. Open from midday onwards, this would make the perfect pit stop for a bite to eat.
Day 2 – Afternoon
Parks aren’t always first to spring to mind when thinking of Bucharest; however, the area is very green indeed and there are a number of parks throughout the city that are ripe for exploring. Granted, you won’t have time to visit all of them during your time there, but if you do plan to visit some of the greener areas, then we’d recommend checking out Herastrau Park. You can choose to bike, boat or walk your way around and will more than likely encounter one of the various food stands dotted around the area. Also located in Herastrau is the Village Museum, an amazing outdoor collection of more than 300 buildings, representing Romania’s rich and diverse history. The museum is closed on Mondays but open from 9:00 – 17:00 for the rest of the week. This is great for a relaxing afternoon before getting ready to hit the town!
Day 2 – Evening
As it’s your last night, you’ll want to head back out on the town for a slap-up dinner in one of the many fantastic restaurants, we’d suggest that you book a table beforehand though as there is a limited window to eat before it becomes party central, typically around 9pm. Providing something a little different is Energiea, a stylish gastropub offering delicious ribs and juicy burgers. There are a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to choose from including smoothies, juices and cocktails.
This is how we’d spend 48 hours in Bucharest, is there anything that you would do differently? Let us know in the comments section or on Facebook and Twitter, we’d love to hear from you!