Bucharest, Romania: It’s not Budapest

A few people asked me why I considered Romania for a weekend trip.  I’ve been to quite a few countries in Central and Eastern Europe so I wanted somewhere new but also cheap.  Romania fit my qualifications perfectly and I’m glad I gave this underrated city a chance.

Wandering in Old Town

I went with two friends to Bucharest for a short weekend. Check out my friend´s blog.  Our first night we went out to dinner and bounced around bars in the Old Town area.  The streets were lit up with gentle lights and crowded with thirsty tourists and locals a like.  We stumbled upon small alleys with Christmas lights and live music.   It was a lot of fun.

A Bit of History 

In the morning, we joined a walking tour starting in Piata Unirii, a lovely park in the city center.  We were informed about the basic Romanian history.  After World War Two, they became a communist country like many of their Balkan counterparts.  A revolution ensued and the country rebuilt itself as a Parliamentary government.

A big moment for Romania was when Michael Jackson decided to perform.  The city came to a standstill as everyone carefully watched to catch a glimpse of the megastar. At his sold out concert, he stood in front of the screaming crowd and shouted, “Hello, Budapest!” And everyone looked at each other and realized a huge geographical mistake.  Michael Jackson thought he was in Budapest, Hungary.  Celebrities have continued to make similar mistakes.


Another interesting fact is Chuck Norris movies were very inspirational to Communist Romania.  There’s a whole movie about it.  Chuck Norris was a symbol of westernising and becoming part of the free world.


Then we came to Stavropoleos Monastery, one of the most famous landmarks in Romania. This is a beautiful Byzantine-era monastery.  During Communism, the government began destroying religious monuments.  One architect wanted to preserve them and managed to convince the government to let him move the monastery.  He actually cut the foundation out of the ground and physically moved the entire stone building across the city, an incredible feat.  He single handedly saved many religious buildings from demolition and managed to preserve Romanian history, something many Balkan counterparts were no able to do.

Curta Veche, this is the house Vlad Dracula actually lived in.  The castle people go to was actually only lived in for a few weeks.  He wasn’t the original person to fund its building Curtea Veche is basically a bunch of ruins with a bust of Vlad Dracula.  Our tour guide told us an interesting fact.  Vlad is still considered a local hero in Romania.  He was a ruler that demanded an end to corruption and viciously fought for the freedom of his people.  Though he was particularly famous for impaling his victim then eating dinner next to their corpses, he is remembered for standing against corruption.

Next to the ruins is a beautiful, restored church called Annunciation Church of Saint Anthony.  It is the oldest religious building in Bucharest but you wouldn’t be able to tell because it is so well restored.

After That

We went to the top of a hotel to see a view then casually walked around.

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We had a lovely lunch at La Mama.  I had polenta with mushroom stew covered in dill.  It was amazing.

Later that night we met up with some Brits on holiday.  We had a great time bar hopping. They bought us fancy absinthe shots.  They lit sugared lemons on fire so they caramelized.  Then we drank a shot and ate the roasted coffee beans on the bottom then inhaled the absinthe fumes which burned like hell.  After that the night was a bit blurry.  The Brits told us they liked coming to Romania.  It is a cheap getaway with lots of bars.

We woke up hungover but grabbed brunch at District 42. They had a whole vegetarian menu and fresh juice. Then we walked over to see Parliament which is the second biggest building in the world.


Accommodation:  Antique Hostel Bucharest is a lovely little hostel with spacious rooms, nice kitchen areas and a great common room.  The location couldn’t have been better.  It’s in Old Town near the main plaza. I would definitely suggest this place to others.

Food: Our tour guide told us some of the food to try was polenta, stuffed cabbage leaves and some of the stews.


  • Brace yourself for slow service. One restaurant took us over an hour to serve us and the food was awful.
  • Taxis are infamous for overcharging.  If you are going to take a taxi make sure your hostel. Hotel is the one that calls for you.  Do not take one off the street.
  • 1 Ron is equal to .22 Euro

App: I used Triposo: Romania as a GPS guide and for information about places. It was definitely helpful.

Conclusion: I’d definitely recommend Romania.  It is a beautiful country and underrated.  The architecture was beautiful and wonderfully restored.  Food was rich and delicious.  The bar are a lot of fun.  Also, it’s cheap and easy to get around.  I definitely wish I had more time to go to Brasov and see the castle but you can’t do it all!

2 thoughts on “Bucharest, Romania: It’s not Budapest

  1. Not only was I also recently in Romania, I also stayed at the Antique Hostel! I suppose it’s not that much of a coincidence, its reviews are pretty perfect, and its location is as good as you can get 😉 The free walking tour and the Parliament building were definitely two highlights for me as well. I can definitely see myself going back!



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