Have you ever thought about spending a wild weekend in Bucharest? Romania’s capital may as well be Europe’s most underrated city and it should definitely be included on your bucket list. Bucharest is also often called “New Berlin” and “Little Paris”, but its nickname fits just the first glance of the Romanian capital. This is a fascinating city of contrasts with its own, unique, heart and atmosphere. You can be completely enchanted if you just know where to look. Many of the attractions are not included in the traditional travel guides to Bucharest or Romania but there are hidden surprises that the locals happily share if you just ask.
Here you may stumble into a passage and find yourself looking up at a sky of colorful rainbow umbrellas. Or you could unexpectedly step into the most beautiful bookstore you’ve ever seen. Or even maybe you see the whole city dancing out of joy in the crowded streets on a Saturday night. With so many communist neighborhoods, Bucharest may seem to be a very boring and gray city compared to other European cities, but it is also a big part of Bucharest’s charm. You’ll find beauty at the most unexpected places. Behind these bland facades, there is a world of colors, lovely green parks, creative cafes, elegant buildings and top-notch nightlife that will simply take your breath away.
An Endless Array of Landmarks and Leisure Opportunities
There must be a great reason why so many out of this world stag do parties happen in Bucharest every weekend. It is a perfect city to travel for a weekend trip and you get a lot more for your money than what you would get in western counterparts of the EU. With that in mind remember that the best time to visit Bucharest is today before the rest of the world discovers this city’s hidden gems.
It’s not just the vibrant nightlife that awaits you in the Romanian capital, but worldwide famous landmarks as well. The Parliamentary Palace in Bucharest is the world’s second largest administrative building (after the Pentagon) and former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu’s most notorious creation. The palace was built in 1984 and is one of the most controversial buildings in Romania. It is a symbol of power as well as a reminder of the communist era. The construction required thousands of lives and has torn much of Bucharest’s historic districts, including 19 orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, and three Protestant churches.
The Parliamentary Palace is also known as “the People’s House” and represents the heaviest building in the world as well as one of the most extravagant and expensive construction projects in human history. In the massive building, there are 1,100 rooms on an area of 330,000 square meters. Everything is constructed of 700,000 tons of steel and bronze combined with 1 million square meters of marble, 3,500 tons of crystal glass and 900,000 square meters of wood. Despite the public’s contempt, you cannot miss this palace in Bucharest. Whether you want to or not. The building is so large that it is probably even visible from the moon. Admission is through the guided tour from 25 lei (approx. 5.50 euro). But remember to book in advance and bring your passport.
Stroll Through The Old Town
Bucharest’s old town is also called Lipscani after the main street that crosses the area. It’s also something you can’t miss when visiting Bucharest. The old city is ironically very new. While the buildings in Gamla Stan date back hundreds of years, among other things, the cobbled streets were laid in 2011. The reason why you should visit the Old Town is, however, because of all the cute and cozy cafes, trendy restaurants and unique shopping opportunities. In the evening it is also the place to pray when all the cool pubs, clubs and open.
In Bucharest’s old town you will also find one of the most beautiful bookstores you will ever enter. It’s called Carturesti Carousel and is a six-level bookstore opened in 2015. The bookstore is also known as the “carousel of light” and contains more than 10,000 books, a multimedia cellar, a contemporary art gallery, and a top-floor bistro. What is so special about this store is an elegant and amazing interior. It is beautifully decorated white columns, enchanting spotlights and dreamy white spiral stairs that go up to the balcony on the first floor. Enjoy a homemade lemonade served in the bistro, check out the fun presents at the store and breathe in the fabulous atmosphere.
Experience Bucharest’s Vibrant Nightlife
One of the things that will leave the strongest impression of Bucharest to you is without a doubt its vibrant and colorful nightlife. It doesn’t matter if you want to enjoy a cocktail in silence on a hidden roof terrace at sunset, partying like a rock star or having the best evening out with your friends. There are so many options for everyone! Romanian people know how to party and only in the Old Town, there are over 200 pubs and bars. Evenings in Bucharest often start on a sky bar (like Pura Vida ) or on a roof terrace and then continue to finish at a nightclub, like the Player or Expirat.
If you are in Bucharest for a weekend, don’t miss the flashmob dance in the Old Town (in front of Pura Vida Hub). Every Saturday night, people start dancing in the streets and it’s quite a sensation to just stand and observe if you don’t want to join and have a blast too. It is wonderful to experience and participate in. The whole area is filled with so much joy and positive energy. And when you get tired of dancing, relax at The Little Bucharest Bar & Hostel. The view from the bar’s balcony is simply amazing. One of the best sides of Bucharest’s nightlife is that it is so very cheap. You can get a glass of beer from 6 lei and a shot for about 10 lei that is on average 30-50% more affordable than in the rest of the EU.
Finish Your Romanian Experience with a Trip to Transylvania and Dracula’s Castle
Honestly, what kind of getaway to Romania it would be if it doesn’t involve the notorious vampire lord? In any case, if you spend a long weekend in Bucharest, you should plan a trip to Transylvania and check out Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s castle) for a full day of excitement. You can either go on a guided day trip to Transylvania or rent a car and drive there yourself. Dracula’s Castle is just over a 3-hour drive from Bucharest and along the way you can also explore the beautiful Peleș Castle in Sinaia as well as a stop for a lunch in Brasov.