Information & Facts
A continental climate ensures that Bucharest experiences hot,
dry summers and cold winters when temperatures often drop well
below freezing. The city lies on the Romanian Plain, and this
brings chilly winter winds. Summer temperatures are usually
pleasantly warm with occasional heat waves, and humidity is low,
but there can be occasional rainstorms. The rainiest seasons in
Bucharest are spring and autumn.
Restaurants in Bucharest offer visitors an array of fine dining
opportunities. Romanian food is a meeting point between German,
Hungarian and Ottoman cuisine. Diners in Romania should expect tart
soups, Greek style moussaka, Turkish meatballs, Austrian-style
schnitzel, and of course the essential glass of tuica (traditional
Romanian plum brandy). Romanians have a number of popular fish
dishes and many of the meat dishes are served with Mãmãligã, a
cornmeal-like meal similar to polenta.
Diners in Bucharest will find that they are spoilt for choice
when it comes to fine dining options. Caru cu Bere is a fun place
for an afternoon beer and pub meal. La Mama is a friendly eatery
with great food and reasonable prices. Those after the complete
fine dining experience should definitely try Casa Doina which
serves exquisitely presented traditional Romanian fare. Balthazar
Restaurant and Bar specialises in Asian meals, as does Mju
Restaurant. In short, dining out in Bucharest will have you coming
back for seconds.
Public transport in Bucharest is cheap and generally reliable.
The metro is the best way to get around the centre as not many bus
and tram routes go through the central zone, apart from some
express buses on major thoroughfares; these are the quickest way to
reach outlying areas, and cost about double the standard bus fare.
The metro is fast, and despite some poorly signed stations, easier
to navigate than the bus system. Buses, trolley buses and trams are
well integrated and tickets are valid on all three networks, but
they are usually crowded and pickpockets are a problem. There are
also private minibuses that travel along the major thoroughfares
and can be hailed anywhere along their route.
Taxis in Bucharest are reasonable, but foreigners are more than
likely to be overcharged. Hotels or restaurants should know the
approximate fare, which can then be negotiated and a fixed price
agreed before getting in. Car hire is targeted at business visitors
and is quite expensive; drivers need to be 21 years of age and have
a passport, international insurance policy, international driving
permit and valid driver's license. Driving in the Bucharest can
also be a harrowing as locals drive erratically, and roads are not
Romanian is the official language, but English will be
understood in Bucharest and other tourist areas.
The Leu (RON) is the official currency, which is divided into
100 bani. Money may be exchanged at banks, international airports,
hotels or authorised exchange offices called 'casa de schimb' or
'birou de schimb valutar'. ATMs are available at large banks,
airports and shopping centres in cities. American Express,
MasterCard and Visa are accepted in the main cities. Travellers
cheques, preferably in Euros, can be cashed in large banks, some
hotels and certain exchange offices in Bucharest but commission is
high. It is recommended to travel with some Euros in cash in case
of difficulty using credit cards or travellers cheques. US Dollars
are also accepted fairly widely.
Romania often conjures up images of traditional music, folklore,
mysterious forests, exquisite churches and menacing castles, but
visitors to the country should not be fooled. Bucharest has a
vibrant and modern nightlife including chic cafes, raucous bars and
blinging nightclubs. Bucharest has a great selection of jazz clubs.
Some of the better known venues include Cafe Indigo and Blues Cafe.
Partygoers who enjoy live music some of the top live music bars in
Bucharest are Laptar Enache and Bar Jukebox. While Bar Yellow, Fire
& Twice and Back Stage always play a selection of foot tapping
beats and club anthems. Visitors who enjoy staying out late enough
to see the sun rise usually end up at Colours Club. For those after
a more relaxed vibe try La Motor.
Bucharest Mall opened in 1999 as Romania begun emulating the
shopping habits of its traditionally capitalist neighbours. Inside
are over 70 high-end stores across four levels, with the usual cast
of restaurants, fast food joints, cinemas and a games arcade. The
largest mall in Bucharest however is Plaza Romania which has a huge
range of retail stores inside its cavernous interior. The former
Communist department store Unirea Shopping Center has now been
transformed into a mega-mall containing several hundred small shops
catering to the more middle-class shopper.
Although convenient, these two malls are hardly representative
of Romanian culture; luckily there are many other options when
shopping in Bucharest. For gifts and souvenirs in that vein look
out for the numerous Artizanat stores around the city. Top sellers
are embroidered clothing, hand painted Easter eggs, woven carpets,
nesting dolls, and carved masks, among other items. Traditional
Romanian goods such as costumes and handicrafts are also available
in the Museum of the Romanian Shop and the Village Museum. Prices
are remarkably low compared to the level of quality you get.
Other popular souvenirs to buy in Bucharest are Romanian wine,
particularly those from Transylvania, anti-ageing products from Dr
Ana Aslan, and Romanian Monopoly - a great hipster party gimmick.
For Romanian music look no further than the branch of Carturesti
book store on Strada Pictor Arthur Verona. They have an excellent
collection of local CDs and DVDs, art books and great coffee to
enjoy on the expansive couches.
Open-air markets are always fun, if only to see the local people
shopping much as they always have. Visit Amzei Makret, open daily
from sunrise to sunset, for excellent fresh fruit and artisan baked
goods. The weekend flea-market at Strada Mihai Bravu is really
worthwhile to pick up Communist era souvenirs like medals, army
gear and various antiques always popular with the folks back home.
Don't bother bargaining as no-one speaks English.
Sightseeing in Bucharest offers visitors a wealth of
attractions. Not only are the tree-lined boulevards and city parks
incredibly picturesque, but visitors can choose from a number of
sightseeing options for their time in Bucharest. The Palace of
Parliament is one of the largest state buildings in the world and
the National History Museum is the best museum in Romania with
exhibits spanning from prehistoric times until the early twentieth
century. The stunning Stavropoleos Church and Monastery houses an
extensive collection of manuscripts and printed works and if you're
lucky you may even get to a chance hear the monastery choir.
Finally, the Village Museum is the perfect place to spend an
afternoon, marvelling at the outdoor structures and traditionally
dressed peasant workers. The city itself is always full of
surprises and interesting pieces of information - once a beautiful
and proud Eastern European city, Bucharest was left to ruin by the
communist government and only recently has it started regaining its
footing and regaining its lost lustre.
Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 between the last Sunday in March
to the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).