bucharest | romania | '17
'this is a travel guide of my time in bucharest, romania. it will hopefully open your eyes to the untouched beauty of this amazingly underrated country. from the mountains of transylvania to the cafes of the old town'...
As with most of my travels these days this trip started with a great deal I found from Liverpool to craiovia in western Romania. I found a flight with wizz air for £15 ($19) return for a 3.5 hour flight, it's an incredible price that I could not miss.
after arriving in craiova at 2am I took the train to bucharest at 3am. I booked my train online at the national rail service here. It cost 46lei ($12) for a 3h journey this is the return price. You can only book one month in advance but you will save a lot compared to buying on the day and your guaranteed a seat i would suggest to book about 14 days in advance.
after arriving in bucharest at 6am I made my way to my accommodation the antique hostel. This is a little gem of a hostel right in the heart of the old town with a river view. It's situated on the south side of the old town with great views of the river and far enough from the bars keeping you up all night. They have both private & dorm rooms with AC. If your looking to explore then this is your place it's perfectly located; book here to get ($/£20) of your booking with booking.com.
arriving so early I decided to take it easy and explore just the old town as the next day I had some big plans.
The next morning I had organised a motorcycle to rent from motorentals.ro they gave me the BMW gs700. This is a cracking bike to explore the mountains and castles of transylvania. they are extremely professional, all the bikes are very new and come with luggage boxes as standard a nice touch was the fact that they offer a portable wifi router for unlimited internet access for free while your renting the motorbike.
It was 30c when I left in the morning on route to my first destination peles castle this is one of the most picturesque castles in the whole of Romanian (see photo) it's about 2 hours ride from bucharest though easy mountain roads. Then I set off for what is the most famous castle of them all. the castle made famous by the bran stoker novels; Dracula. It's a beautiful ride that cuts through the mountains of the lush green fauna of transylvania it's defiantly one of those roads that need to be experienced on a bike. After arriving I can honestly say that I was slightly disappointed with the outside of the castle it didn't have the presence of peles castle but when you go inside that is when it all changes. It's a beautiful castle to behold and even though the stories are not quite true it's still a compelling place to visit and you can see that from the hoards of tourists when you arrive. It's about 40lei to get in.
after bran castle I decided to ride to a town call Brasov. it's a beautiful old town close to bran castle on the way you will also pass rasnov it's a picturesque village built on top of a sheer cliff it makes for great photos.
i only had the bike for one day so I knew it was time to make my way back but I made a promise to myself that I would return to ride transylvania once again. click here to book your bike direct or you can message them on there Facebook page here just say travel_with_carlo sent you...
over the following days I had a few tours booked...
• free walking tour. This is always a great way to see and understand the history of the city on a budget. you can donate any amount that you feel.
• alternative tour. this tour by open doors travel offers a glimpse of modern bucharest and what's happening there now from the graffiti to the old neighbourhoods, the optimism for the future from a young persons perspective. It's well worth it.
As always on my last night I decided to go to a great restaurant this time it was the turn of FORM in the suburbs of the north. This is a great place for a friday or saturday evening. you have to try the octopus main it was delightful. take a look here
Is it cheap??
well the answer is yes!! If your coming from western europe or the USA then you can expect at least 50% less for all aspects from restaurants to transport. A few examples the metro that covers most of the city is 25lei ($6) per week yes you read that correctly for unlimited rides durning a 7 day period. You will find lots of bakeries all over town and the most famous is a type of pretzel that you can pick up for 1lei ($0.25) each. a restaurant in the old town with typically cost you about 40lei ($10) for a main including a beer or wine. If you go outside the old town you can expect to pay about 20% less as of course they have the tourist premium. Oh yes I nearly forgot..... A beer 0.5l cost on average 8lei ($2).
I vastly underestimated romania, the people and the country. They are advancing at a pace that is far beyond that of they UK or USA. The optimism is infectious from the young people they now have a credible future as they have smart educated articulated people. Just one example was a barista called anca that I met at origo cafe it's a specialist cafe near the old town and in my opinion the best. She was so friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about coffee it was totally infectious. you need to visit this cafe it would not be out of place in NYC.
all I can say that if you from western europe and you have the prejudice of most people in a negative way toward romainia people I can say that here you will have them flipped upside down. the country and people are nothing like what you have seen and heard about in your own country. so buy a flight now, go explore this beautiful country before it overrun with tourists.
my recommended places to visit
- peles castle
- parcul herastrau & the satului museum
- old town
- the arch of triumph
places to eat
- form restaurant (luxury fusion food)
- simbio restaurant (outdoor dining)
- luca bakery (pretzels)
- cremeria emilia (ice cream)
- origo cafe (coffee)
how to get around
-metro ( 25lei ($6) per week unlimited)
-uber ( super cheap here) (use code; carlm5078ue for a free ride)
where i stayed
- antique hostel (great location)
length of stay
- this is a great weekend city if you have a week make sure to visit transylvania
- romania is using a currency called lei its about 4lei to a dollar.
country travel tips
atm: any is fine they all charge a small fee.
taxi: can be expensive here take an uber
sim card: sim card are very cheap i paid 11lei ($3) for 2GB of data from digi mobile
uber: use code; carlm5078ue
airbnb: get $20usd off your booking here: www.airbnb.com/c/cmuies