Bucharest is a fascinating city which sort of came out of nowhere for me. I learned about the city as well as the opportunity to visit and experience it while I explored Israel. As soon as I learned of the opportunity, I jumped on it and boy was that the right idea. I went into this adventure with no idea how things might go or what I should expect. All I really knew of Bucharest is the city is the capital of Romania and located in Eastern Europe. I expected to hop off my plane to a dilapidated and crumbling city with a less-than-friendly populace due to their tumultuous past. But I know more now and have some great travel tips for ya!
In reality, I encountered a city on the rise. Yes, there are quite a few abandoned buildings slowly crumbling into nothing. But, at the same time, there is so much construction and renewal happening everywhere in Bucharest. No matter where you look, there are enterprising people and a beautiful revitalization is in the air. There is so much to explore in this capital city from parks to historic buildings, museums, coffee shops, breweries, casinos, tasty restaurants, and we can’t forget about the abandoned buildings. On top of this, Bucharesti people are welcoming and pretty open-minded when it comes to the rest of the world. They want us to visit and explore the city in which they take great pride!
MAJOR TRAVEL TIP: Always talk and interact with local people.
As you might imagine, there is a lot to take in during a visit to Bucharest. Lucky for me, I had some pretty awesome people showing me around and now I’m here to share some Bucharest travel tips I learned while I explored the city. There are a lot of pretty obvious things you’ll learn while you adventure around Bucharest but these are some pretty good travel tips I picked up from the locals!
Travel Tips 1: Deep History
One thing I definitely took note of was the deep history of Bucharest. The locals are rather proud of their history. The good parts are great sources of pride and making it through the tough times to become the city of today is also a source of pride. From the Roman conquest to Vlad the Impaler to their German Kings and Communist era, all of these things, in combination with so much more, creates the Bucharesti identity. And, in all honesty, the history of Bucharest is the history of Romania.
Travel Tips 2: Hidden Churches
The churches of Bucharest are very important to the locals for many reasons. Of course, there is the religious aspect of their churches. But these churches, in many ways, represent much more than just religion. During the Communist era, many churches were destroyed by the regime for their messages of resistance and because they posed a challenge to authority. Obviously, the regime could not destroy all of the churches because it would cause upheaval. Therefore, the churches were moved and hidden between buildings. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. But that’s not exactly the case. Instead they became symbols of pride and they still are today having survived war, natural disasters, and Communism. The most famous of these pictured here is Stavropoleos Church in the Old City.
Trip Tips 3: Jaywalking
If you’re from the US or other Western Countries, you might feel obliged to wait for the cross walk light to change before you cross the street. But in Bucharest, you don’t need to wait nor should you. One local actually told me we would cross the street the Bucharesti way which means you just go. But go quickly and hope you make it. In other words, jaywalking is totally permissible in the city and will be the quickest way to cross the street.
Trip Tips 4: Soup for Days
Soup is definitely the name of the game. Romania, in general, is known for its sour soups or Ciorbă. Visiting Bucharest and not experiencing the magic that is Ciorbă means you’ve seriously missed out. Ciorbă is basically a soup made of vegetables and meats with the addition of an acidic ingredient causing it to be a bit sour. That can include sauerkraut, vinegar, or lemons. There are a plethora of different types of Ciorbă but my favorite is made of meatballs or chicken. Add a side of Zacuscă (eggplant, tomato, and pepper paste) with bread and you’ve got the makings of a wonderful meal. It’s Romanian comfort food at its best!
Travel Tips 5: Taxi Taxi!
Taxis in Bucharest can be a bit tricky and frustrating. My advice is use Uber as much as possible. Even during peak pricing, I paid only about 10$ for a 15 minute ride. It’s a great deal. But if you decide to use a taxi you should bear a few things in mind.
- Only use licensed taxis. You can ensure you always use a licensed taxi by ordering one over the phone or using the app.
- Look for the prices on the door of the taxi. Prices should range from RON 1.39-1.65. Avoid anything that’s priced higher than this.
- Make sure the meter is running before you get in the car. Ask the driver if he or she is running the meter. Do not accept a set price as it will be substantially higher. If they refuse to turn the meter, get out of the taxi.
- Have exact change. Some taxi drivers will scam you by saying they don’t have any change.
- Know this number for the police if all else fails…it’s 112.
So that’s that! These Bucharest travel tips will certainly help make your experience even better!
Have you been to Bucharest? What tips would you suggest? Comment below.
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