Bucharest doesn’t get enough respect. I was told to skip it because it’s boring, ugly, depressing, pointless, and many other negative things. All of the reasons are wrong. On the surface, Bucharest might not look like much, but do a little digging and you’ll find a fascinating city with lots to offer. There are excellent museums, beautiful buildings and churches, and the unfortunate stamp brutal Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu left on the city. Take the time to visit and I guarantee it will be a rewarding experience.
I spent two full days exploring Bucharest. I arrived at Henri Coandă International Airport, also known as Otopeni International Airport, on a short flight from Istanbul. When I arrived, it was kind of a pain to get into the city. Taxis were ripping off customers and there was no metro or train to the airport, but there was an express bus to Gara de Nord, the nearest train station. I ended up getting ripped off by a ticket checker.
A lot has changed since my visit. Now, visitors can order an official taxi from the arrivals hall on a machine. An express train and bus combo to Gara de Nord connects the airport to the train station. By 2017, the Bucharest Metro will connect the city directly to the airport via Gara de Nord. Things have clearly gotten better
Gara de Nord, the largest train station in Romania, has service to most destinations around the country and Eastern Europe. There are 14 tracks and 8 platforms. I used it to get to and from Brașov. The station is also directly connected to the city via the M4 metro line.
I stayed at the Hotel Banat, a short walk from the historic old town of Bucharest. It cost me €30 per night. This hotel, housed in a historic 1930 building, wasn’t perfect or totally clean, but it did the trick. It had free wifi and friendly service. Can’t complain. (Note: Hotel Banat has been reported as permanently closed.)
For food, I always went out to Old Town and sat in one of the outdoor cafés or restaurants. The atmosphere is phenomenal and there are many places to choose from for every budget.
Getting around Bucharest is simple with the city’s very good metro system. It’s clean and convenient with stops near most major tourist attractions. I bought a metro card with 10 rides and used only 4 of them. I only used a taxi to get to the airport, which I had the hotel call for me to confirm the rate. I walked everywhere else.