3 Days in Bucharest: The Perfect Itinerary & Guide
You’re finally heading to Bucharest and you are beyond excited.
Romania is such an exciting destination with so much to offer. That’s exactly why I’ve compiled this extensive Bucharest travel blog.
In this guide you will find everything you need so that you have an amazing time in Romania.
Best time to go
Bucharest is popular all year round.
Of course, as most countries in Europe, it is going to be jammed packed during the summer months.
It is absolutely beautiful with lush trees and fauna from late spring to early fall. If you want to avoid the big crowd, you should aim for the shoulder months.
The last time I went to Bucharest was for New year. And let me tell you that it was packed. The old town is ok. The problem is when you try to go to popular places such as restaurants, spas and whatnot.
That’s why I always recommend making reservations
Arriving from the airport ?
I used Bolt to move around. It’s very easy and super convenient. At the airport, avoid getting ripped off and automatically order a Bolt or pre book your taxi.
Trust me on this one.
The price is very reasonable and would set a nice precedence for your days in the city. More on this later.
How to move around in the city?
Some people like to take public transportation.
But I won’t lie, I am not one of these people.
When I was in Bucharest, I got around solely by taking Taxis.
I used the Bolt app and it worked really well over there. Moreover, Bolt in Bucharest is quite affordable.
I did however pop into one of the underground train once to see. And I am pleased to let you know that the metro covers the city extensively.
So if you wanted to take the metro, there is also that as an option.
Where to stay?
You can’t go wrong with the city center and the old town area. It’s the perfect place for you if you prefer to walk everywhere you go.
Bucharest is a pretty compact city and most of the important tourist sights are within walking distance in the city center vicinity.
That said, I stayed a little bit outside of the city. Generally, I prefer to avoid staying in old towns as I find them too touristy and busy.
So I stayed in one of those new swanky constructions outside of the center and it was great. The apartment was 8KM away from the center. Then again, the Bolt Taxi would only take 15 min and cost around 25 Lei/ 5 USD/ 5 Euro to get to the city center.
So not too bad if you ask me. 🙂
I recommend staying outside of town if you don’t care to be in the center’s action all day long.
How expensive is Bucharest ?
Bucharest is a very affordable country.
The prices are comparable to the region. Once you cover your housing situation and dining; using a taxi service like bolt and going for drinks are all very affordable.
How Much do things cost? Average price of goods & services:
-A dinner for two at the popular restaurant Caru cu bere ( 1 Caesar salad, 2 mains, 2 cocktails, 1 dessert) : 325 Lei/ 70 USD/ 65 Euro
-A taxi from from the airport to the city center: 35 LEi
*Please note that on the last day to head back to the airport, the price that was quoted on Bolt was twice as much at 70 Lei
I have noticed that Bolt is more expensive during major holidays. They seem to apply the typical supply and demand model.
Meaning that yes there is a base line. But the price also tends to adjust and be slightly more expensive when demand exceeds supply or the amount of available drivers.
It is still worth it to me for the convenience alone. As always, public transportation is always an option if this is your preference
Best things to do in Bucharest
The classic “To Do List”
There are the usual museums to visit.
I have to be honest here. When I visit a new city, I tend to create my own itinerary based on my own interests. I also like having plenty of leisure time to get a good feel for the local atmosphere and vibe.
In other words, I don’t ever feel the obligation to go to a museum if it doesn’t entice me. I really do encourage you to do the same as this will improve your travel experience.
Try your best not to let FOMO ( Fear of missing out) get the best of you and stress you out.
Besides, I really think that Romania’s claim to fame is its beautiful nature, architecture and culture and not necessarily museums per se, unlike let’s say Vienna which has world class museums for day.
That said, there are still quite a few museums to keep you occupied if that’s your thing.
- The National museum ” Dimitrie Gusti“( open air)
- Ceausescu Mansion ( Palace of the last communist dictator)
- Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History
- The Little Paris Museum ( small art and collectibles museum in the old town)
- Communism Museum Bucharest
- Palace of Parliament
Free Walking tours
I always recommend to do free walking tours. They are free. There is no reason not to do at least one.
Plus they are an amazing way to get accustomed to the city. They allow you to get your bearings in a new city. I always make sure it’ s the first thing I do whenever I arrive somewhere. Moreover, it’s like getting a free history crash course.
The tour I did was super comprehensive. It literally covers the entirety of Bucharest. We ended up walking from the old town and stopped at all the main points. It was amazing getting some historical and cultural contexts.
Thanks to this tour, ” Story of Bucharest” by GuruWalk the city became alive and I was able to appreciate it on a whole new level.
The great thing about the free walking tour is that they cover most of those “to do things” all while providing context and being efficient.
What’s the saying about hitting two birds with the same stone again? So yeah!
Carturesti Carousel bookstore
Next we have this whimsical bookstore. Yes you’ve also guessed it. It is popular all over Instagram.
But it still is worth going and hasn’t been totally ruined yet. If you do visit, I urge you to be mindful and not contribute to the mass tourism modern day dilemma.
In other words, support the bookstore by actually purchasing. If you don’t need anything, there is a lovely café on the top floor where you can work, read a book and forget about the crowd downstairs.
One more time, I love pictures just like the next girlie but please don’t be this inconsiderate person who comes with a tripod, install it in the middle of the store and start doing a whole photoshoot.
Let’s not be obnoxious and be mindful of our fellow human beings.
Tip: Go all the way to the top floor. The crowd dies out once you slowly make your way up. There is also a nice little gallery expo on one of the last floors. And once again, don’t miss the café on the top floor.
Macca Vilacrosse passage
This place was nice but a bit of a let down.
The internet made it seem like those grand Milanese passages that you always see pictures of.
So ok, yes it is nice. Yes. do stop by!
Especially that it is in the old town and you will be there anyway.
That said, it was still a bit underwhelming.
Just expect a beautiful area with some cafes. I think my disappointment stems from the fact that I expected full blown restaurants where I would be able to have dinners.
There is only a little cozy Italian restaurant. On the bright side, it does have great reviews ( Ciao Niki Vilacrosse) .
Besides that, it’s mostly cafes. I also tried to get a coffee to go but none of the shops seemed to have take away mugs.
So if you have an hour to kill, I recommend you stop for a cuppa. and then go somewhere else for lunch/dinner.
Fitness things to do/
Active traveling in Bucharest
This trip, I didn’t have time to check out a weight training gym but I recommend these two places if you’re into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu like me and also Pole fitness dancing.
This is a chain so you will find them scattered all around the city. I didn’t have time to make it there as they were closed for new year. But I spoke to them on Instagram and they were very friendly.
Pole new heights
I am totally obsessed with Pole fitness. And as a professional dancer, this isn’t a surprise at all.
I was really fortunate that the studio was open and I was able to drop by for a class. You will find the most welcoming bunch ever.
You get to move your body, explore a new city while also making new friends.
What else do you want? 🙂
Best tours to take in Bucharest
If you find yourself in Bucharest for a very limited time and you are trying to cram a lot within your short stay, this is where I totally recommend the tours .
They are very efficient and allow you to cover a lot of ground without having to worry about semantics.
I almost skipped my tour to Pele castle and I am so glad I didn’t, as it turned out to be my favorite.
Best Day trips
All right, now you’ve had enough of Bucharest and are wondering about day tours?
Here are some of my recommendations. I would like to make a special mention for Brasov.
It’ s actually funny because I stumbled upon Brasov by accident. The only reason why I discovered this beautiful town is becasue it was part of the Dracula tour. And I am so happy that we stopped there.
It was a very long tour and I didn’t even feel like it any more . But I am so glad we did. It ended up being another favorite city of mine. I actually wished I had more time to explore it.
I will go as far as saying that I found myself wishing that I was staying in Brasov instead of Bucharest.
It can be done as a day tour but I recommend spending a few days there. The very least you want to do is stay overnight.
Our tour guide recommended an entire week just for Brasov alone. According to her, it is a very good base to explore the regions and people use it as base for their ski vacation.
I fell head of heels for Sinaia. This is such a charming town. It is popular all year round.
During winter it turns into a ski resort. Let me tell you that it does get crowded but in a good vibe type of way. That said, I cannot wait to be back for a ski trip.
How many days to spend in Bucharest?
3 days is the perfect amount of time if you like to travel slow.
On the other hand, 2 days is totally doable if you prefer a busy schedule.
3 days itinerary
I like to dedicate the first day to doing most of the touristy things. Then I relax a bit.
Also doing the free walking tour first allows you to adjust the rest of your schedule accordingly, based on anything that might have piqued your interest along the way.
Yes this will be a very long day. It is a 12 hour day tour.
I almost fainted when I found out. But if you are short on time, I totally recommend doing this. This was the highlight of my time in Romania so far.
That said, if you have more time, I recommend tackling this region at a much slower pace. But if you are short on time, I think this tour is absolute worth doing.
Ideally, it would be better to rent a car, drive there and take it slowly. But if you are short on time, you don’t want to skip this.
Yes I know, I am sounding like a broken record. That is because I wasn’t sure at first and I am so glad I still went because this was the highlight for me. Also the tour went by quite fast and it was very pleasant overall.
If you have money to splurge, do take a private tour in order to increase your comfort level.
Museums + Therme
Saving the last day so that you can do any extra or last minute things you might want to do.
Just don’t forget to reserve your day tours in advance as Bucharest is quite popular.
And also do check the museums timings in advance to make sure that they will be open on the days that you plan to visit.
Now let’s talk about Therme Spa, shall we?
I hesitate to define any time at Therme as “relaxing”.
From my researches Therme can be hit or miss. So do keep an open mind and keep your expectations especially low.
From my understanding, it can go from a total relaxing time to feeling like you are at a major Disneyworld attraction.
Like most things with travel, it all depends on the period of the year that you visit.
If like me, you find yourself visiting Bucharest during high season, then I totally recommend that you skip Therme to avoid frustrations.
Again, I only recommend going off season.
The main problem there is that they don’t seem to be able to limit the capacity. And also it doesn’t make any difference whether or not you purchase your tickets online in advance.
All I am trying to say is to keep your expectations at bay to avoid major disappointment. And learn to be flexible with travel plans.
Best places to eat in Bucharest
Now all you have to do is a little research and it won’t take long before the restaurant Caru’ cu bere comes up.
And OMG where do I even begin? 😲
Yes, the main food was good, let me get this out of the way.
Now having said that, everything else was problematic.
I am not even one that likes to complain when I travel. But this place was packed. And customer service seems to be hit or miss.
I didn’t get so lucky and our waiter was not rude per se, but he was doing the absolute minimum.
I felt that I was annoying him the few times I needed to order something. Needless to say there was zero recommendation from him or the usual behaviors that we’d come to expect from a waiter.
I recommend you avoid that place and Bucharest in general during high season.
The main dining room is absolutely stunning but (oh my goodness), I was NOT ready for that level of crowd.
Even the outside terrace, during the cold season, was crazy.
I did make a reservation on their website a few days before. That said, it was still obvious that they were operating at over capacity and that the employees were frustrated and overworked.
Yes the food is good but the experience not so much. So proceed at your own risk or go and keep expectations at bay.
Better yet, try going only in less busy period such as late fall and winter (outside of NYE and Easter)
Where to go for Desserts/pastries
- The Pastry shop at Hotel Casa Capsa: “Capsa Cake Shop“
I thought it would be nice to stop at this old hotel for a bit of old world charm. The hotel opened its doors back in 1852 and it really felt like traveling back in time.
There is also a café area where you can sit down for lunch. There was a small wait time for a table but you can just go straight to the dessert counter to order pastries to go.
I must say that the ladies at the counter were not welcoming at all. I am assuming this must be some remnants of growing up under soviet times.
They had a way of making you feel like you, the customer, was such an inconvenience ( ugh, insert facepalm emoji).
Anyways, I ordered a few things and I really like the caramel pastry I got. The others, along with the tiramisu were very subpar.
I definitely don’t see myself going back there if I go back to Bucharest. I am only adding it to this Bucharest travel blog in case you want to eat somewhere where you feel like you travel in time.
Where to go for drinks:
Amethys Sky bar & Nomad Sky bar are some of the best options if you are looking for a lounge with evening drinks.
Things to definitely skip ( Tourist traps)
Yes I know that I recommended Caru cu bere earlier. But if you don’t care so much about that place, I would recommend you skip it. Or better yet, visit it during a less busy period of the year and avoid high season such as New Year like the plague.
Yes I also know you’ve seen Therme all over Instagram and Tik Tok. But once again, do make sure that you only visit during less busy time of the year.
Expectations Vs realities -First Impressions
I wasn’t expecting anything in particular to be honest. So I went to Bucharest totally neutral. The good thing is that it’s not like there was any crazy high expectations because Bucharest is not like Paris with a reputation that precedes it.
That said, the one thing that I was not ready for was the amount of dog poop scattered all around the city.
Yep that’s right, dog poop.
I am only mentioning this so that you can be careful. I am extremely careful but I still ended up stepping into the freshest dog poop there ever was.
It was so frustrating, I do not wish this on my worst enemy .
On the bright side, people were really eager to be outside. Even during the could, you’d see them outside enjoying themselves.
Savvy traveler tips
Here are some things you should know for your first visit… Learn from my mistakes.
Do get a Bolt from the airport to get to your housing.
Before you call your bolt, follow the signs inside of the airport towards departure. Don’t make the saame mistake that I did.
I kept trying to order a bolt taxi from the arrival section of the airport, like you would normally do. But they kept canceling it one after another.
Thank goodness, I wised up and decided to head towards the departure section of the airport.
The Taxi drivers drop their customers to the airport and I guess they don’t feel like doing lots of circling around to get to the arrival section.
Why would they do that when they can easily pick up new fares straight from departure area?
And trust me, if you are a tourist in Bucharest, you should be using bolt.
I do not recommend that you just flag a taxi. I kept on reading so many scam incidents.
I am happy to report that I have never been scammed once in Bucharest and I accredit that to the fact that I always used a taxi app service.
Its convenient, the price is predetermined and you don’t have to worry about anyone pulling a quick one on you or fighting with any old men when you’re exhausted and just trying to get home.
Get an ESim online.
I will be honest, this was such a pleasant surprise. At first, I was not sure it was going to work because it was way too simple.
But I am glad to report that it was very straight forward. I ended up getting a sim card and it was marvelous. Especially that my flight was arriving at 2 am, when all the stores would be closed.
I wrote an entire guide about the whole ESim process ( the one I used was Allosim) .
Best things is that it only took me 15 min to set up and cost me around 5 $.
Halfway through my trip, I ended up maxing out my data. Yes I know, blame Instagram.
Then it was super easy to top up for another 5 euro to add 1 extra GB.
I definitely recommend and nope this is not a sponsored post.
Frequently Asked questions / FAQ
Should you go to Therme spa?
I think it is a beautiful place but avoid going during busy periods of the year and high season.
Is it worth going to Dracula?
I can’t believe that I almost skipped this because it was such a long day, a whole 12 hours. This day tour ended up being the highlight of my time in Bucharest.
So do not skip this one.
Is Bucharest Safe?
I would say Bucharest is as safe as any other big city. I still think it is safer than Barcelona where you have to worry about pickpocket or getting mugged.
Do I recommend Bucharest for solo female traveler?
Bucharest is totally ok.
Now I wouldn’t say that you leave your bag unattended type of safe. But as long as you use common sense and apply the usual safety protocols, then yes it’s safe.
While Bucharest is safe, you still need to mind your belonging and pay attention to Gypsies.
There is a big presence in the city center.
What to do on NYE ? What does NYE looks like in Bucharest?
At first, the plan was to find a NYE package at a restaurant/lounge/club and spend it there.
Then I kept seeing prices from 400 Euros to 1000 Euros. And this just was not worth it for me.
So I ended up walking around the old town.
At midnight, there was some small sprinkles. Sorry, I can’t really call it fireworks as someone who is used to massive fanfares from both Montreal and the UAE.
Still, it was interesting witnessing a different New Year culture in a new town.
Is it Worth Traveling to Bucharest in Winter?
You could make it even more fun by turning it into a winter trip and hit the ski slopes in the Sinaia and Brasov region.
How Cold does it get?
Around New Year, it was not really that cold. When I was there, I only had my leather jacket.
Fun fact about Dracula castle
According to my Romanian Guide and school teacher, the Dracula’s castle has a fascinating history.
It was actually a fortress and a place where local authorities would collect taxes as travelers passed through the city.
Romania in Pop Culture & Books
Here are some books that were recommenced by my knowledgeable tour guide.
- La Romanie non apprivoisee
- Orient express
- Medieval ( the movie)
Honorary things to do in Romania
- Road trip in Transylvania
- Staying and doing some Agro tourismo
This concludes my 3 day in Bucharest travel blog. I hope you found it useful. Most importantly, don’t forget to check out my other travel blogs. There is also my upcoming dance retreat for women for all my adventurous solo active female travelers out there.