Bucharest is a truly under-rated city to visit, and it took me a while to make it here. Despite visiting Romania’s neighbouring countries a few times, it wasn’t until November 2014 that I arrived in the capital city, Bucharest. It’s a huge city, great for night life, the locals are very friendly and it also makes a perfect base for exploring Romania and Moldova. It’s taken me a while to document my top 5 sights in the city, but here they are.
1.Vlad Tepes Head Bust
You came all the way to Romania to take a photo and stare at a head bust of a guy who is rumoured to be a vampire? Yes, yes I did. The author of Dracula, Bram Stoker was an Irishman and as I walked through Bucharest’s Old City I couldn’t help but see this head bust staring out at me. As well as this, I also headed to Bran Castle in Dracula country and tried the blood red beer.
2.Palace of the Parliament
I’ll let the fact preceed everything here – this is the second largest building in the world! Only the Pentagon in the USA is bigger. The palace sits so prominently in central Bucharest, you cannot miss it.
I did a full guided tour, they run every day, check for times and prices. It is such a huge building, that my 2 hour tour only covered 3% of the building. Most rooms felt empty and the building a little over elaborate, but it’s history now and it sits here proudly. This is a beast, Bucharest’s beast!
One of my main reasons for backpacking in Bucharest was to watch a football match at the Arena Nationala. I saw Northern Ireland play Romania here in a Euro 2016 qualifier. On the night, we lost 2-0 but it was our only defeat in qualifying, a crazy achievement and I’m now on route to France to watch Northern Ireland play in the Euros. The stadium is huge, Romania also qualified and were World Cup Quarter Finalists in 1994.
Churches were bound to feature on a top 5 of this city and I’ve chosen the famous Stavropoleos Monastery, which is in the old town. Simply put the Church has been so through many changes down the years yet still draws hundreds of tourists daily to visit it. Parts of the church were demolished at the end of 19th century. Over time the church suffered from earthquakes, which caused the dome to fall at one point. The dome’s paintings were restored at the beginning of the 20th century and the church has also been moved.
5.Caru’ cu Bere Restaurant
You should try and visit the famous Caru’ cu Bere restaurant. Not only is it Bucharest’s oldest restaurant but to this day it remains one of the most popular and authentic Romanian eateries on the world. I had excellent beer here and Romanian soup served in bread. A true gem for any whackpacker out there.
Hopefully these five will get you started in Bucharest. I recommend staying in the old town, get some old city Bucharest accommodation sorted and get some tours to Brasov, Bucovina and Marginea sorted on the side. Romania is a wonderful country to explore. It was also here in Bucharest that I met my famous two false friends, Karolina Kokosz and another. Karolina messaged me on 22nd February 2017 by asking me to delete a post via my new travel blog, Northern Irishman in Poland. These two people influenced my journey in a huge way, but none of us knew it then. I met them on Saturday evening, in the hostel kitchen at Little Bucharest Hostel, on 16th November 2014. I won’t forget that date. And I shared a dorm with them in the hostel. In Nasty’s case, we shared a bunk bed (she was above me). The show must go on.