What is the first thought that comes to mind when you imagine things to do in Bucharest? Movies certainly portray the Romanian capital as an endless sea of grey concrete blocks, a post-communist country with bad music and angry people. This might have been the case 30 years ago, but today, Bucharest is a flourishing capital city with exquisite French architecture, a Berlinesque nightlife and a contrasting way of life. Bucharest is a beautiful chaos, quickly emerging as a beautiful phoenix from its dark, communist ashes.
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Things to do in Bucharest
Although I spent most of my childhood in Bucharest, I left Romania when I was 18 years old. A lot has changed in 10 years and I was keen to experience new things to do in Bucharest. As a teenager, I used to spend my time in theatres, museums or various tea houses. It sounds a little out of ordinary, but my friends and I really enjoyed the cultural scene in Bucharest. Curious by nature, we took every free opportunity to visit a new art gallery or see a new theatre piece. Our fun was listening to live music and drinking beer on top of The National Theatre (TNB). About 10 years ago, there was an outdoor space on top of TNB where we just felt free. It was our little Woodstock as we would love to call it.
Here I am, ten years later, ready to enjoy a trip down memory lane. So what things to do in Bucharest can I recommend?
Known as Centrul Vechi (Old Town) this is the most sought after touristic area in the city. A bit more than ten years ago, this cobbled stone network of small streets was an area full of old houses left to rot. Nowadays, many of these buildings are being renovated and transformed into hotels, restaurants and shops. The Old Town is one of the liveliest districts, with myriad coffee places and bars where locals are seen over the weekends. As this is a touristy place, Old Town can be a bit expensive. Many locals swear by the quality of the entertainment here, whilst others prefer finding more off the beaten path options. Back in the days, there was a bar here called Lucky 13, where my friends and I spent countless evenings, making grand future plans. Unfortunately, many old bars are no longer but some withstood the test of time and continue to be great places for a night out.
What to do: Walk around and admire the ad-hoc architecture around the Old Town.
What to know: It is believed that Bucharest was founded in the Old Town area, where a shepherd named Bucur founded a church. Whilst nobody really believed the myths of the shepherd, the name Bucharest (Bucuresti) is actually derived from a person named Bucur.
Where to eat: Caru’cu Bere (Address: Strada Stavropoleos 5, București 030081, Romania)
The Stavropoleos church is beautiful little Eastern Orthodox monastery for nuns right in the centre of the vibrant city. It is built in the Brancovenesc style and dates back to 1724. It is a true gem and a wonderful place to seek some quiet, away from the busy streets. The courtyard is filled with flowers and plaques and it features many wooden doors.
Address: Strada Stavropoleos 4, București 030167, Romania
The Cismigiu Gardens or the Cismigiu Park form the oldest and the largest park in the central area. The park was built in 1847, around an artificial lake. It is popular in Romanian literature fiction, referred to in several literary works. No matter what the season, Cismigiu Park is a fantastic place for a laid-back afternoon. It is especially busy during the weekend when old residents come to enjoy a stroll. I used to visit Cismigiu as a young child when mum and I had many walks around the paths. I especially remember the playground where there was a mini roller coaster for kids, with carts in the shape of ladybugs. It used to be my favourite thing to do in Cismigiu. As I grew older, my friends and I had a particular interest in one side of the park which houses an old ruin. Teens usually meet there, tell tales and play the guitars for an atmospheric evening.
One of the most famous places in Cismigiu is a restaurant called At The Library (La Biblioteca). It used to be a great place for coffee and alcoholic drinks, although now they also serve food and English breakfasts.
Address: Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta, București 030167, Romania
Calea Victoriei or the Victory Way is one of the classiest boulevards in Romania. Lined with gorgeous baroque houses, expensive shops and 5* hotels, the Victory Way is where the elite used to live, walk and shop. You can find many buildings and monuments on this street including The Cantacuzino Palace, one of the most loved buildings in Bucharest. Because the numerous palaces located on Calea Victoriei, Bucharest acquired its nickname “Little Paris”.
The Cantacuzino Palace, hosting The George Enescu Museum
One of the most beautiful palaces in Bucharest. You can visit the George Enescu Museum or just photograph it from the outside. A must see whilst in Bucharest, for sure.
Address: Cantacuzino Palace, Calea Victoriei 141, București 010071, Romania
The Romanian Athenaeum
A landmark of the Romanian capital, the Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall opened in 1888.
Address: Strada Benjamin Franklin 1-3, București 030167, Romania
National Museum of Art
If art tickles you, then make sure you visit the National Museum of Art. I first visited when I was 17, during “The White Night of Museums” a great initiative where everyone can visit all art galleries and museums for free.
Address: Calea Victoriei 49-53, București 010063, Romania
The Revolution Square
It was in this very square where Ceausescu addressed the Romanian people for the last time. Initially known as the Palace Square and later renamed to Revolution Square, this is where the anti-communist revolt started. You can now see a monument dedicated to the Revolution Heroes which locals candidly refer to as the “potato on a stick”. If you go close, you will notice a red splatter on the monument. This was not part of the design, but later, a street art rebel threw a balloon full of red paint onto the monument. It now looks as if the souls of the heroes trying to get to the top are bleeding. The splatter was never removed and it is now considered to “add” significance to the monument.
As a child, I always wanted to stay in Casa Capsa, a beautiful hotel with incredible architecture. Back in the days, people used to go and have cake at the Casa Capsa and it was considered one of the best. I took my husband there to trial the Romanian sweets, and we were not disappointed. For a fun afternoon snack, I most certainly recommend having coffee and cake at Casa Capsa. It is more expensive than other dessert houses around the capital, but the opulent interior and the impeccable service is worth every single penny.
Address: Calea Victoriei 36, București 030167, Romania
CEC - Palace of the Deposits and Consignments
The CEC (Casa de Economii și Consemnațiuni) is a state-owned Romanian banking institution. My husband candidly referred to it as the Romanian Gringotts, due to its gorgeous looking architecture.
Address: Calea Victoriei 13, București 030022, Romania
Also known as the Valley of the Kings, the Macca-Vilacrosse passage is now known as the shisha place. There are various cafes and restaurants selling shisha pipes. It is covered, with a colourful glass and during the evening is a very atmospheric place filled with aromatic smoke.
Address: Pasajul Macca, București 030167, Romania
A place I’ve never seen before my last trip to Bucharest is the English passage which back in its days was used as a luxurious brothel. The glass windows were used to showcase the women available for sexual pursuits. The brothel became permanently closed in 1947 when the communist authorities forbade prostitution. Nowadays, the building is used as a residential block. The passage is quite unkept and a bit smelly which in a bizarre way, adds to its charm.
Address: Calea Victoriei nr. 52
This is probably one of the most photographed places in Bucharest. At least, it seems so thanks to Instagram which showcases all those beautiful colourful umbrellas located in the Victory passageway. It looks really colourful and pretty and you can even sit down and have a drink or eat lunch. We really liked how joyful the passage looks like, and most certainly we would recommend a visit.
Address: 48-50 Calea Victoriei, Pasajul Victoria, București 030167, Romania
The Union Square is the meeting place for most locals. I can’t even remember the countless times I arranged a meeting with someone “in front of the metro station, at the McDonalds at the Union Square”. The Union Square features a big shopping centre which is ever changing. It is also where we used to do our shopping when I was a kid, so fond memories all around. In front of the shopping mall, there is the Union Park, a green space which features wooden benches for people to relax. At the Union Square, there are also “the fountains”. The fountains are located on the Union Embankment Boulevard and each fountain represents a county of Romania. In front of the fountains is the huge People’s House, a communist building erected during Ceausescu’s regime, which now houses the Romanian parliament.
During his travels to other communist countries, Nicolae Ceausescu got inspired and wished to create an impressive palace, as an intended replica of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. The ambitious project began the construction of the palace in 1984. The building was erected on the site of various monasteries which were moved. Over 40,000 residents were relocated from the area. The works were carried out with forced labour of soldiers to minimise the costs. Thousands of people died during the construction stages, some estimating around 3000.
The project was meant to be finished in only 2 years. The site is still not finished today and only 400 rooms are finished and in use out of 1100. This is the second largest administrative building in the world. The building has eight underground levels, the last one being an atomic bunker, linked to the main institutions by 20 km catacombs. The bunker room has a 1.5m thick concrete wall which cannot be penetrated by radiation.
Address: Strada Izvor 2-4, București, Romania
Piata Universitatii or the University Square is another important meeting point for locals. Apart from the main University building, here you will also find the National Theatre, the Coltea Hospital, a very old church called Three Hierarchs. The roundabout is accessible by car only and pedestrians must use the underground passageway which is lined with an old bookstore, several shops and pastry shops. Sometimes, there are art displays located in the centre of the passageway.
University Square was the site of the 1990s Golaniad, a peaceful student protest against the ex-communists in the Romanian government. The demonstrations ended violently when the miners came to Bucharest as will be explained further down the article.
In front of the National Theatre, you will find a plaque which shows Km 0. This is not the original Km 0 in Bucharest, but a symbolic monument which acts as a reminder that Romania has started on a new journey, post-89’. You will notice the Romanian flag painted on the monument, with a black circle in the middle. The black circle represents the burnt coat of arms which was a symbol of communism in Romania. The official Km 0 in Bucharest (for topographic reasons) is located in Saint Gheorghe Square.
From Union Square, through University Square, to the Roman Square. The Roman Square is an underground station, but also a place well known for its shops, restaurants and accommodation. The Academy of Economics is also located in the Roman Square, which becomes quite busy with students during the term. Not far from the Roman Square is the Amzei Market, which sells fresh produce including meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables.
The Astronomical Observer
From the Roman Square, make your way towards Victory Square. En route, the boulevard is lined with beautiful old houses and remarkable architecture. The Romanian Observatory was renovated and reopened to the public in 2016, with interactive games and the possibility to see the sun through a special telescope. As beautiful and interesting as the observatory is, there is no English translation I’m afraid. However, if you organise a tour in advance, you can ask for an English speaker to take you around.
Address: Bulevardul Lascăr Catargiu 21, București, Romania
The Victory Square
The Victory Square is where you can find various business centres and shops. The Victory Palace is located in the Victory Square and serves as the headquarters of the Prime Minister.
In Victory Square, you can find the Antipa Museum, which is the National Museum of Natural History. It has been renovated and reopened recently and has plenty of great exhibitions and English translations. I used to visit Antipa as a child with my mum, hence it was great to go back, see it all transformed and relive some happy memories.
Located on the Kiseleff Avenue, the Kiseleff Park is a true natural beauty during Autumn. Right next to the park, you will find the National Museum of Geology, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the History Institut Nicolae Iorga.
Kiseleff Avenue is perhaps one of the most beautiful long boulevards, dotted with impressive buildings (mainly embassies). At the end of the avenue, the Romanian Arch de Triumph raises tall.
The Romanian Arch de Triumph was initially built out of wood in 1878. The current arch you can see today was only inaugurated in 1936. The arch is not open to the public, however, I got to go inside twice. Once, in 2007 during the Museum's White Night Festival where most museums and art galleries in Bucharest offer free entry for the night. Second, in October 2017 as part of a journalistic campaign to promote Bucharest. As you can expect, the view of Bucharest looks fantastic from the top.
Every year on December the 1st there is a military parade which is held beneath the arch.
Address: Piața Arcul de Triumf, București, Romania
For a fantastic walk towards Herastrau Park, walk on the Aviatorilor Avenue, a beautiful and peaceful long road, dotted with trees and pretty buildings. This is one of the most exquisite and expensive areas in Bucharest. On this avenue, you can see the Monument of the Heroes of the Air, a majestic statue of a man with wings. At the end of the avenue, there is an entrance to the Herastrau Park, a huge green space with trees, roses, bars and restaurants. The park features the Herastrau Lake, a 1.74 square km lake where you can have a boat ride.
The Village Museum
The Village Museum is an open-air ethnographic museum located in the Herastrau Park. This is a great museum which showcases the traditional Romanian rural life. The entry fee is just 15 lei (£3) per person.
Address: nr. 28-30, cod poştal 011347, Șoseaua Pavel Dimitrievici Kiseleff, București, Romania
Things to do in Bucharest - Awesome Bars
Sky Bars are pretty awesome in Bucharest, and we had the chance to visit a few during our stay. There are also quite a few hipster places in the capital city, including a lovely forested bar.
Pura Vida Sky Bar
For a cocktail with a view, we recommend the Pura Vida Sky bar, located right in the heart of the Old Town. Pura Vida is also a hostel and the owners of Pura Vida provide a hub for digital nomads.
Address: Strada Smârdan 7, București 030077, Romania
18 lounge is a gorgeous restaurant located on the 18th floor, overlooking the beautiful Herastrau Park. The restaurant can be found in the Piata Presei Libere (the Free Press Square).
Address: City Gate, South Tower, Etaj 18, Piața Presei Libere 3-5, București, Romania
Nomad Sky Bar
Nomad Skybar is located in the Old Town, and it’s been voted as one of the cosiest sky bars with great cocktails for everyone to enjoy. The prices are pretty great, too!
Address: Etaj 1, Strada Smârdan 30, București 030167, Romania
Gradina Eden is a lovely forested bar, which features tables and chairs in an intimate surrounding. We visited when the place was closed, and it looked a bit like the lost Eden, as all wooden items were covered in autumn leaves, there were a few old ashtrays and cocktails left behind. It has a bit of an eerie feel which we very much enjoyed. During the summer tho, this is definitely the place to be.
Address: Calea Victoriei 107, București, Romania
Things to do in Bucharest - Cool Cafés
If you love coffee, note that Bucharest doesn’t have an abundance of Starbucks around. What it does have, however, is a variety of great hipster cafes and tea houses for everyone interested in having a unique experience with great tasting coffee.
Origo is a super hipster place where the staff are friendly, charming and eager to give you coffee advice. You will definitely love your coffee here. Make sure to try these guys first, so you know where to come back for your morning ritual.
Address: Strada Lipscani 9, București 050971, Romania
First of all, I discovered these guys by complete mistake. I was searching for a different coffee shop when I saw the big Tucan logo on a beautiful looking building located on Dorobanti Avenue. As I was in a bit of a rush, I decided to try the coffee here and what do you know, it turned out to be pretty smooth and delicious.
Address: Calea Dorobanți 18, București 030167, Romania
Camera din Fata
I discovered Camera din Fata at a friend’s recommendation back in 2015 and been coming back every year since. It’s difficult to find a table unless you have a reservation and even so, you can’t stay longer than 2 hours, which I don’t particularly like. I love the presentation, but I’m sad to see how they removed a lot of coffees from the menu (it was the only place where I could drink a good Blue Mountain, back a couple years ago). The service was also more personal and tailored before.
Address: Strada D. I. Mendeleev 22, București 030167, Romania
M60 is yet another hipster cafe where we take our laptops to work a little sometimes. It is a bit more tailored to digital nomads I feel. Nevertheless, the coffee is good and the service is awesome.
Address: Strada D. I. Mendeleev 2, București 030167, Romania
Steam makes a mean cappuccino, which happens to be my coffee of choice. It is one of the best coffee places in the city and one I most certainly recommend. The place itself is quite small, but that just makes it cosy and intimate.
Address: Strada Uruguay 22, București, Romania
Things to do in Bucharest - Lovely tea houses
Tea Lover like I am? Bucharest has some awesome little tea houses, some which I’ve been visiting for over 10 years now.
Green Tea is my tea house of choice and has been since 2007. A lot has changed since. I used to visit Green Tea at least twice a week for about a year before moving abroad. I would not recommend the food or cakes in Green Tea, they were never very good, but their crazy variety of tea made me fall in love with tea. In fact, it is because of this very tea house that I became obsessed with so many tea varieties.
After travelling in pursuit of tea, I came to the conclusion that unfortunately, Green Tea doesn’t have the best variety of loose leaf, but it is good enough for a lazy afternoon.
Address: Strada Doctor Burghelea 24, București 030167, Romania
Camera din Fata
Camera din Fata makes it here again, as they have a great variety of teas. In fact, I am happy to recommend them for anyone interested in tea and matcha lattes.
Address: Strada D. I. Mendeleev 22, București 030167, Romania
Bohemia Tea House
Bohemia Tea House is a place I never actually visited, but one of my friends can’t stop raving about it. As such, I decided to add it to the list. I hear their garden is pretty incredible and has awesome tea and soothing music.
Address: Strada Poiana Narciselor 1, București 010158, Romania
Infinitea is a tea house located literally in someone’s house. The location is very nice and the tea is very good indeed. They feature a quaint interior and exterior. They have a great variety on the menu and I loved the presentation for the cups and saucers. A bit more Victorian. The only thing missing was the good old scones.
Address: Strada Doctor Grigore Romniceanu 7, București, Romania
This is a book and gift store located in the Old Town in Bucharest. It's a great place where you can read, browse for a new book or grab a cup of tea on the top floor. It is beautifully decorated and an Instagram star attraction.
Address: Strada Lipscani 55, București 030033, Romania
Things to do in Bucharest - Delicious Restaurants
Ready for Food? Well, we love to eat and people in Bucharest do too. You can find an array of restaurants serving traditional as well as international food. Here are the places we recommend.
Ginger is a sushi bar located in the 5-star hotel Radisson Blu. We found the service to be very good and since we are crazy with Japanese food, we were keen to try sushi in Bucharest. The meal didn’t disappoint.
Address: Calea Victoriei 63-81, București 030167, Romania
I already mentioned 18 lounge as a gorgeous sky bar. Well, if you make a dinner reservation, you can enjoy a gorgeous meal with those beautiful views of Bucharest. The service was good and the food was great. I especially recommend the cheese platter, which looked and tasted incredible.
Address: City Gate, South Tower, Etaj 18, Piața Presei Libere 3-5, București, Romania
Trattoria Buongiorno has several restaurants in Bucharest. Here you can enjoy some delicious pizza or pasta. The meals are really good and the pasta is very tasty. I especially recommend the black truffle pasta. Just ask for some extra cheese.
Address: Strada Herăstrău 2, București, Romania
Burger Van is a new concept in Bucharest where you can call to order a burger, then go pick it up or eat it in a special lounge across the road. We loved the quality of the burgers so we would definitely go back.
Address: Strada George Vraca 4, București 030167, Romania
Hanul lui Manuc
Hanul lui Manuc is an old inn located in the Old Town in Bucharest. We recommend it to anyone who wishes to enjoy some proper traditional dishes. Just note that the prices can be a bit higher in comparison to other restaurants.
Address: Str. Franceza nr. 62, Bucuresti, Sector 3, cod postal 030106
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe is a must if you are a burger lover who loves a good rock playlist. Although not your traditional Romanian place for dinner, we very much enjoyed the tailored service and the delicious cocktails. The burgers are better than other Hard Rock Cafes we tried around the world and even better than anything we had at TGI Friday’s.
Address: Șoseaua Pavel Dimitrievici Kiseleff 32, București 011343, Romania
Pescarus is where we had our end of high school ball. As it happens, I didn’t know the name of the place until we returned as a group to this restaurant, and I recognized the surroundings. Pretty cool actually. Pescarus is located in Herastrau Park and it is well known for traditional Romanian dishes as well as their variety of fish based food.
Address: Parcul Herastrau, Bucharest
Caju is a fancy looking restaurant which serves food crafted by the famed Joseph Hadad, who served celebrities such as Madonna, Robert de Niro, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and much more. And honestly, their handcrafted bread was absolutely stunning, especially with all the signature dips.
Address: Strada Nicolae Golescu 16, București 030167, Romania
For a quick snack, don’t forget to stop at the Simigeria Luca, a traditional pastry shop which makes epic pretzels.
Address: Splaiul Unirii 14, București 030167, Romania
A new concept located on Blvd Aviatorilor, French Revolution is an eclair shop which sells freshly made eclairs. We met the owner who told us they make all the eclairs in the morning and sell them throughout the day. No eclair is left overnight and sold the next day. French Revolution has a variety of eclairs, including mango, black forest gateau and Italian pistachio. All ingredients used are of fine quality and the owner learned the art of making eclairs during his training as a pastry chef. An eclair is between £2-£3 and worth every penny. I don't remember the last time I had such delicious dessert.
Address: Bulevardul Aviatorilor 8A, București 011852, Romania
Things to do in Bucharest - Eat Traditional Food
Romanian pretzels are soft pretzels usually with poppy seed and salt on them. They are especially delicious when hot.
Sarmale cu Mamaliga (Mince rolled in pickle cabbage with polenta)
Sarmale cu Mămăliga is the traditional Romanian dish which is served to guests or prepared for Xmas. Sarmale means mince rolled in pickled cabbage and cooked for several hours at low heat. Mamaliga is polenta which is served on the side, alongside Romanian pickles.
Salata de vinete (Aubergine salad)
Salata de vinete is one of my favourite Romanian dishes. It’s essentially a paste made of peeled grilled aubergines. It really is something special.
Chiftele means meatballs. You can also get ciorba de perisoare which is meatballs soup.
Iahnie (Common bean paste)
Iahnie is a type of Romanian dish very similar to humous. It can be eaten with freshly baked bread.
Ardei umpluti (Stuffed peppers)
Ardei umpluti are stuffed peppers with mince and rice.
Tochitura is a traditional Romanian dish like a stew made from beef and pork. It is usually served with polenta and a fried egg on top.
Mici (Skinless sausages)
Mici is a traditional Romanian dish of grilled mixed mince meat. They are served with chips, bread and mustard on the side.
Zacusca (Vegetable spread)
Zacusca is a traditional Romanian spread made out of vegetables.
Cozonac (Romanian stollen)
Cozonac is a sweet bread with cocoa and Turkish delight. It is usually prepared during all major holidays in Romania.
Bulz (Polenta and cheese)
Bulz is a dish of roasted polenta mixed with cheese. It is served with a fried egg on the top and sour cream on the side.
Pastrama de Oaie (Lamb pastrami)
Pastram a de Oaie is lamb (or mutton) pastrami usually fried and served with polenta on the side.
Placinta literally means pie. Romanians eat cheese and raisin pie, apple pie, cabbage pie, meat pie etc. The Romanian pies are very different than the British pies.
Galuste cu prune (Plum dumpling)
Galust e cu prune is a sweet dish which has a plum in a potato dumpling, rolled in sugar and ground biscuit.
Ciorba de burta (Tripe soup)
Ciorba de burta or Tripe soup is a traditional starter in Romania. The soup itself is white with pieces of tripe and served with vinegar, sour cream and spicy pickled chillies.
Papanasi (Fried doughnuts with jam and sour cream)
Papanasi is a Romanian dessert which is made of doughnut pastry. The pastry is filled with soft cheese and sour jam. It is served with sour cream and jam over it as well.
Things to do in Bucharest - Drink Traditional Spirits
Don’t forget to try…
Tuica is a traditional Romanian spirit that contains between 20-65% alcohol. It is prepared from plums. There are other Romanian spirits made of other fruits, but those are called “Rachiu” and NOT Tuica.
Afinata is a Romanian liquor made of blueberries. It can be found in the supermarket or during a trip to the mountains, you may find old ladies selling it by the side of the road.
Visinata is similar to Afinata, only that this is made of sour cherries.
Socata is a traditional drink made of elderflowers.
Where to stay in Romania
We stayed at Radisson Blu on Calea Victoriei, a beautiful hotel which we really liked. We enjoyed having access to the spa and the interior pool, as well as the gym located on the first floor. We loved how comfortable the bed was. We stayed on the 5th floor which offered a lovely view of the Calea Victoriei. Radisson Blu also has 5 restaurants and 2 bars. We had dinner in Ginger, amazing breakfast every morning and epic gin tonics in the Dark Bla Lounge.
Bucharest accommodation we recommend
Radisson Blu Hotel Bucharest
Ramada Plaza Bucharest
Novotel Bucharest City Centre
Grand Hotel Continental
Things to do in Bucharest: A Brief History of the 1989 Revolution
I was born on the 21st of December 1989. To most people, my date of birth is just another day. But to Romanians, this is an extremely important day as it marks the beginning of the great Romanian revolution, where the country raised against Nicolae Ceausescu, the country’s last communist leader. Crowds met in the Revolution Square in Bucharest and started shouting against the leader. People were ready for freedom, ready for change. The revolution of 89’ was by no means a peaceful one. The military started shooting people and tanks arrived in the centre of the capital. Many civilians were killed but the fighting went on for their freedom.
(The picture below was sourced from Wikipedia)
On the 22nd of December, people continued to flood the streets. At approximately 09:30 on the morning of 22 December Vasile Milea, Ceaușescu's minister of defence, died under suspicious circumstances. Upon learning of Milea's death, Ceaușescu appointed Victor Stănculescu minister of defence. Stănculescu and the soldiers under his command did not oppose any of the protesters.
Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were tried by the Extraordinary Military Tribunal on the 25th of December. Sentenced to death, the execution followed immediately just outside of the improvised courtroom. Footage of the trial and of the executed Ceaușescus was promptly released in Romania and to the rest of the world.
(The picture below was sourced from Rare Historical Photos)
Much of the world's sympathy went to the National Salvation Front government under Ion Iliescu, a former member of the Communist Party. The National Salvation Front, composed mainly of former members of the second echelon of the Communist Party, immediately assumed control over the state institutions. Much of that sympathy was squandered during the Mineriad, a series of violent protests which took place in the 1990s in Bucharest. During the Mineriad, anti-government demonstrators grew violent and attacked the police headquarters and national television station. Unable to contain the violence, Ion Iliescu appealed to the miners to defend the country. Train transported over 10,000 miners to the capital. The miners violently attacked demonstrators and anyone who looked “like an intellectual”, who could oppose the government.
In December 1991, a new constitution was drafted and adopted. In 2004, Romania joined NATO. The country applied for a EU membership in 1993 and finally became a member in January 2007. As a result of the 90s economic depression and the hardship of life, many Romanians emigrated to Spain, Italy, Germany and USA.
Bucharest Mini Survival Guide
Bucharest is the capital of Romania and the spoken language is Romanian. Romanian is a latin, romantic language. If you know French, Spanish or Italian, you will be able to understand some words in Romanian. Worry not, pretty much everyone speaks English. The younger generations speak fluent English and French.
The currency in Romania is called RON or LEI.
1RON is around £0.20. The smallest coin is for 1 BAN (0.01 RON) and the largest note is for 500 RON.
As a general rule, there are about 5 RON for every Pound Sterling.
The time in Romania is GMT + 2, which makes Bucharest just 2 hours ahead of London.
Tips are rarely included in any order and it is customary that you leave a minimum of 10%. Of course, if you didn’t like the service, you don’t have to tip.
People are generally friendly and keen to help. In fact, we noticed that priority in terms of good service is given to foreigners rather than locals.
When visiting someone in Romania, you must bring a gift. If you are invited to dinner, make sure you bring a fine bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers.
Romanians love to party and a good night out in Bucharest usually involves several bars, shots, cocktails and lots of beers. Clubs in Bucharest are open until 5 in the morning. There is usually an after party until 9 AM as well. It all depends on the type of party.
Only order an authorised taxi from your hotel or get an Uber. I tend to recommend an Uber more, simply because taxi drivers in Bucharest tend to cut some corners and drive like mad people.
If you are having dinner in a Romanian home, expect to eat a starter, a type of soup, a main meal and homemade dessert. The Romanian meal is very similar to the Italian meal. Dishes, however, are widely different.
Romanians don’t have much street food, but in Bucharest, you can find some epic treats to keep you going. Available at almost every corner, you can buy a covrig, or a Romanian pretzel at a traditional pastry shop. These pastry shops also sell all sort of sausages encased in puff pastry, bread and pies. They are a dream.
Don’t attempt to drive in Bucharest. Unless, you grew up in Italy, in which case you will be fine. But seriously, driving in Bucharest is like an extreme sport, where you will probably sweat and cry after 2 minutes of getting on the main boulevards. Just get a driver when you need one. I also wouldn’t ride a bike unless you are familiar with the city or fancy riding in the parks (which is totally fine).
Don’t panic if you see people making a weird cross-like sign in the middle of the street when passing a church. It’s totally normal and you will see this ritual on the street as well as public transport or even when people drive. It’s a way to honour God. The sign starts from the forehead towards the belly, then from the right shoulder to the left. People sometimes say the mantra: “In numele tatalui, al fiului, al sfantului duh, amin”. This translated to In the name of God the son and the holy spirit, amen.
Are you ready to enjoy Bucharest? We love visiting the Romanian capital and we will continue to do so on a yearly basis. Partly because I like visiting my family and partly because I like my Romanian dentist. Your turn now: leave a comment below and tell me about your Bucharest plans.
Thank you #experiencebucharest and all the awesome partners who hosted us in Bucharest for 4 nights. We especially loved the organised tours which gave us the chance to learn about the history of the city and see how much Bucharest has changed throughout the years.