We had wanted to visit Bucharest for a while after reading about the city online and decided the summer would be the perfect time to go. Bucharest, and Romania in general, don’t seem to be at the top of many people’s travel lists, with some people thinking we were pronouncing Budapest wrong when we told them where we were going!
This trip was slightly different for us because we travelled with family who have young children – another first for us! It was really fun seeing a city through the eyes of the kids and actually made us realise how easy travelling with children can be.
Our aim for the past few years has been to visit 30 countries before we hit the age of 30. We love to travel and see the world and it seemed a fun way to encourage us to explore new places. Alex is slightly ahead of me and reached his 30th country when we went to Bucharest in Romania! I’ve still got a few to go so plenty of exploring to look forward to!
Exploring the Old Town
Like we do on many city breaks, we decided to stay in an apartment which was only a 10-minute walk from the old town and great value for money. In fact, as soon as we arrived we realised how good value Romania is in general, with beers from as little as £2 each or delicious pizzas from £4! Just another reason for us to visit this beautiful country again.
Feeling ready to explore we headed off into the Old Town which is a mixture of lively bars and restaurants with narrow cobbled streets and plenty of beautiful buildings. It really is a melting pot of the old and the new and comes to life at night with plenty of nightclubs and bars.
We didn’t get far before we stumbled upon the Antonie church which is one of the oldest in Bucharest and one of many beautiful churches we saw in the city. One of the things which really struck us about Bucharest is the beautifully ornate Orthodox churches which are dotted throughout the city and can be found almost everywhere. If you see one on your travels you should definitely take a look inside, you won’t be disappointed!
Enjoying traditional Romanian food
Hungry from the travels we stopped for some dinner in a traditional Romanian restaurant which had been recommended by some locals. Caru’ cu Bere is set within a transformed church and has a really extensive menu of different meats, cheeses and Romanian wines. The food was delicious, a true Romanian experience and we could understand why it was so highly recommended. Caru’ cu Bere is a must for your trip to Bucharest but do book in advance because it does fill up during peak hours.
Exploring Bucharest’s beautiful parks
Bucharest has so many beautiful parks with plenty of green spaces, colourful flowers and lakes. We had planned to hire some bikes to cycle around the King Mihai I Park, but unfortunately, we couldn’t as we needed passports to do so and didn’t have ours with us! One thing to remember if like us, you like to explore on two wheels.
A bit of a shame but the park was absolutely stunning to discover on foot too. In the centre of the park is a large lake with plenty of water-fronted restaurants and boats for hire. There was even a boat tour around the lake which we took to relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
We decided to stop off for a spot of lunch in the Hard Rock Café which sits within the park. Usually, we would avoid chain type restaurants but when abroad the Hard Rock Café is great at catering for hungry little ones.
Taxis in Bucharest can be quite pricey. We found this out the hard way from the airport to our apartment when the taxi driver took an intentionally longer route so they could charge us more on the meter! Annoying to say the least.
Thankfully, Uber is available in Bucharest with plenty of cars offering cheap and reliable rides. We opted to use Uber for the rest of our trip and before heading back to the Old Town we made our way to the corner of the park where the Arcul de Triumf can be found. Located in the centre of a roundabout, it really is equivalent in beauty to its French counterpart.
Enjoying a well deserved rooftop drink
If you’ve read any of our other travel journals, you know how much we love a rooftop bar so, naturally we hunted one out in the Old Town. We stopped for some cocktails (soft drinks for the kids) at Nomad Sky Bar, enjoying the quirky decor and the much-needed air-conditioning!
Perusing a local bookstore before dinner and then Freakshakes!
We’d heard a lot about the book shops in Bucharest so decided we’d stop off in one on our way to get some food. I do love a good bookshop and Carturesti Carusel was simply stunning with floor upon floor of books, games, gadgets, crockery and artwork.
The food in Bucharest is absolutely delicious and on our second night we opted for Greek at Meze Taverna. With a delectable menu of mainly smaller meze style dishes, we were truly spoilt for choice. We opted to share some of the smaller dishes trying some things we hadn’t tried before. My personal favourite was a hard cheese cooked in a sweet fig sauce. Yum!
To finish off the day we stopped at Coffeöl Bucharest who have the most insane freakshakes. We ordered one each but they were ginormous, piled high with numerous scoops of ice cream, whipped cream, Nutella and so many other trimmings. The perfect bedtime treat?
Exploring the grandiose Parliament
Located at the end of a beautiful fountain lined road is the Palace of Parliament, the second largest administrative building in the world (the first being The Pentagon) with a total of 1,100 rooms!
The Palace is built on top of a hill and is 12 storeys high with 8 storeys underground! We wanted to have a tour of the whole building but unfortunately the underground section was closed off so we just got to see the opulence and glamour of the main building.
The rooms were vast and incredible, decorated with the most luxurious of Romanian marble and each room we saw had at least one spectacular chandelier dangling from the ceiling. In total, the building has 2,800 chandeliers all of which are made of Romanian crystal.
The tour lasted an hour and in that time we only saw a total of 3% of the entire building! Our tour guide told us that if we spent one minute in each room of the building it would take a total of 3 days to get around the entire building! She also told us that if all the lights were turned on in the building, it would cause a power cut in Bucharest!
Finishing with some relaxation
Our final stop on the trip was the part I was most looking forward to. Time for a bit of relaxation at Europe’s biggest spa and wellness centre – Therme Bucuresti! Therme is located just beyond the airport and there are free shuttle buses that can pick you up from various places in the town. However, an Uber can do the 30-minute journey for less than £10 so we opted for that.
There are three different areas at Therme: Galaxy, Elysium and The Palm. We went for an access all areas ticket but kids are only allowed into Galaxy. Within each area you can find all manner of indoor and outdoor pools, swim-up bars, saunas, Jacuzzi’s, man-made beaches and waterslides. We spent four and a half hours at Therme and honestly could have stayed for so much longer!
Galaxy is the families area equipped with a wave pool and plenty of water slides to get the adrenaline pumping. If you’re a parent looking for some relaxation, don’t worry as there’s also an area away from this which has a calmer vibe with steam rooms and indoor and outdoor pools.
We spent some time enjoying the waves and water slides with the kids before moving to the adults only areas of The Palm and Elysium. Within a glass atrium consisting of no less than 500 palm trees, a retractable roof and warm water you really feel as if you’re in a tropical paradise. There is so much to see and explore, we couldn’t recommend Therme highly enough!
Having worked up an appetite we headed back into the city for some delicious Romanian fare at Hanu’ Berarilor Casa Soare. Serving traditional favourites with a beautiful outdoor setting and live music, it was the perfect way to end a wonderful three days in Romania’s capital city!
We had thought about doing a day trip which would have taken us to Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s castle), Peles Castle and Brasov. However, the whole tour would have been 13 hours with lots of driving which we thought may have been too much for the kids on our short break. If we had been staying a little bit longer it would definitely have made our list of things to do and gives us another reason to return!
Our three favourite things about Bucharest:
1. Therme Bucuresti was the perfect way to spend the afternoon and we could easily have spent the day relaxing in the different pools and on the beach
2. The food was delicious! Whether we were enjoying traditional Romanian cuisine or something different, each dish was absolutely delicious
3. The Old Town was simply stunning with beautiful, ornate buildings around every corner. Don’t forget to look up because there’s just so much to see
Have you ever thought about taking a trip to Bucharest? Let us know in the comments below.
The Rambling Travellers