Where are the best places to stay in and around Bucharest?
Catch a train or drive a few hours to sample mountain life in the scenic town of Sinaia deep in the Carpathian Mountains. Take in the pretty Alpine architecture, follow hiking trails, hit the slopes in winter and ride the Sinaia Gondola for fine mountain views. You can also visit Bran Castle, cited as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Peles Castle, a former royal residence and one of Europe’s most beautiful – both are nearby.
Lipscani, Bucharest’s Old Town, has survived war, earthquakes and the ravages of communism but still retains pockets of grandeur today with charming squares, cobblestone streets and alleyways replete with atmospheric old buildings such as the National Museum of Art, Central University Library, National Museum of Romanian History and the National Bank of Romania. Take a free walking tour to get your bearings.
Universitate, the square around Bucharest University, is a hive of activity year-round. A key venue for the events surrounding the 1989 revolution, today it remains a focal point for sporting celebrations, gatherings and first dates, where young men lurk nervously in front of the recently renovated National Theatre. The area around the square is packed with shops, bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels. Look out for the striking Holocaust Memorial and the ten stone crosses on Piata Universitatii commemorating those who died in the revolution.
Herastrau, the neighbourhood surrounding the popular park of the same name, has an international vibe thanks to a large number of expats, plus embassies and luxury shopping. The park features an extensive lake, jogging track, tennis courts, open-air cafes and the Triumphal Arch. Nearby lies the National Village Museum, a fascinating outdoor ethnographic museum gathering up numerous authentic peasant houses from across the country. Refuel at BOB Coffee Lab, which is overseen by former World Coffee Roasting Champion Alexandru Niculae.
Piata Romana is a busy square that’s home to one of Romania’s most prestigious universities, the Academy of Economic Studies with its grand facade. Nearby, the equally bustling Piata Amzei hosts a good quality produce market flanked by a bevy of decent cafes and restaurants. Noteworthy pitstops include unusual Bohemian bar/club/restaurant Shift which has a delightful terrace and Cafe & Gradina Verona which serves tasty burgers and vegetarian fare and often hosts cool live music and other cultural events.