Where The Locals Go In Bucharest
Romania initiated its transition from communism just over 30 years ago with the execution of Nicolae Ceaușescu on Christmas Day 1989. Since then, Bucharest has opened up to the world: the city is now a bustling, international hub and a gateway to Romania’s mysterious allure.
Bucharest is famous for its grandiose architecture, including the People’s Palace, which is the world’s second largest building. But when in Romania, do as the Romanians do and follow these tips by Bucharest locals to discover the city’s cultural beating heart.
How to get to Bucharest by train: Bucharest is easy to reach by train from the surrounding Balkan countries, Austria, and Hungary. Ready for adventure? Take a 15-hour overnight train from Budapest in Hungary, a 19-hour overnight train from Vienna in Austria, or get to Bucharest in under 10 hours from Sofia in Bulgaria. Explore the rest of the country at ease with the Global Pass or the Interrail Romania Pass!
Recent contemporary art
You can’t help but feel intrigued by a “Museum of Recent Art” – Muzeul de Artă Recentă – or MARe. Here you’ll find artworks produced in the last fifty years, ranging from the philosophical to the provocative. Even the building’s architecture is compelling – it has a dark brown-grey colour on its outer walls that creates the impression of heavy materiality, but its glass walls on the ground floor, from a distance, will give you the impression that it’s floating in mid-air.
Europe’s largest beer-house?
An exhibition centre in the ‘50s that was later converted into a shopping centre in the ‘90s, this large space only became a beer-house in 2014. Berăria H is allegedly one of the biggest beer houses in Eastern Europe, with a capacity of up to 3,000 people, and is an ideal option for enjoying a beer along with typical grilled snacks and a concert for a social night out. While it’s not necessarily expensive, watch out for how much you drink!
Burgers in an old print shop
While we’re on the subject of converted spaces, restaurant Enegiea used to be a print shop. It’s just two minutes on foot from the old city centre and sports a rustic, industrial aesthetic. Their homemade burger is simple, tasty, and fulfilling and we always recommend getting the chips and extra ketchup on the side. What’s even better – if you love animals, they are pet-friendly! An excellent spot to stop at if you’re walking around in the centre.
A cultural squat
Bucharest’s alternative scene has been flourishing in recent years – old, disused buildings are being occupied and turned into cultural hubs. One such space is Carol 53, which was refurbished in 2012 when a group of young architects moved in and cleaned it up. They’re now living there and the rest of the house has been given a new lease of life with a gallery, a space for projections, dance, theater, contemporary art & fashion fairs. Its positivity, mixed together with 19th-century architecture (the old Turkish embassy used to be housed here), give it a one-of-a-kind vibe and make it a unique experience for anyone.
Good Romanian beer!
If you like trying local brews, this spot is for you. Fabrica de Bere Buna, which literally translates to Good Beer Factory, aims to do just that by providing and promoting good Romanian craft beer. Here, you can find all of their in-house variety of unpasteurized beer and beers from other Romanian microbreweries, of which 10 local craft beers on tap are permanently available at the bar.
Are you out enjoying the night-life of the city and need to grab a bite? One of the few places in Bucharest that are open until 04:30, Calif is an exceptional fast-food restaurant – everything is fresh and available at any time of the day. They have all the classics (including the falafel and cheese kebab) but you should definitely try the lahmacun, a flatbread with toppings known as Turkish pizza, or the eggplant falafel with pomegranate sauce. You can even drop by for some lentil soup for lunch. Don’t forget to try a glass of ayran, a salty yoghurt drink, and some baklava whenever you visit!
The country’s most Instagrammable book shop
Cărturești Carusel is an impressive book shop in the heart of Bucharest in what’s probably one of the most beautiful and Instagrammable buildings in Romania, the Chrissoveloni Palace. Originally owned by a powerful family of bankers, today it’s not just a bookstore: you can find all sorts of gifts, board games, Manga comics, and even an entire section of books in English and other foreign languages. Honestly, we could stay here all day exploring their vast collection, but take your time through it, and you’ll definitely find your favourite spot here.
A park with a legacy
Ion Voicu Park is one of the city’s many “boutique” parks – small landscaped green spaces specifically designed to provide an aesthetic nature-centric expanse amidst urban centres. In the middle of downtown Bucharest, the Ion Voicu Park is surrounded by embassies, and borders onto a small lake. The park has a charming design – with a pavilion, a fountain, and even a small waterfall. So you can soak in the sunlight during the day or even come by for a stroll after dinner when it’s well lit. Take it from us, don’t miss out on Bucharest’s parks!
For more local favorites across Europe, check out Spotted by Locals.
Edited by Sukriti Kapoor, Eurail.
Header image by Pixabay (freestock-photos)
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