When I started sharing stories about Bucharest, I originally intended to have a long piece AND a video in the same post. I sat down to start editing and realized: I had over 200 clips from Bucharest! Rather than put too much in a single post, I decided to split them up. In case you missed it, click to go read my comprehensive guide to Bucharest.
If you’d rather see why I loved Bucharest, check out the video below. You can also find some quick notes about each surprising thing I learned and loved about Bucharest. Are you ready to plan your trip yet?
Surprising Things to Know about Bucharest
1. Architecture in Bucharest is Stunning
From Baroque and Renaissance to Communist and Brutalist, Bucharest is a city of beautiful buildings. I’d consider it on par with Paris in terms of style, though there’s lots of restoration that still needs to be done.
2. There are Rivers and Lakes in Bucharest
From our Airbnb on the banks of the Dambovita River, Mr. Valise and I explored the waterways that run through non-coastal Bucharest. You can walk or run along the miles of riverbank, or head up to the Lacul Morii. There’s also the more winding Grivița river north of the city, and lakes in most of the major parks.
3. Speaking of Parks, Bucharest has Lots
I love cities with green spaces, so this was a great surprise in Bucharest. We had the chance to explore the Parcul Cismigui near our apartment, but you could also easily spend a day in Parcul Herăstrău or Carol Park, the latter named after the first king of Romania.
4. Bucharest has Deep Historical Roots
Like every place, the history of Bucharest is complex and punctuated with tribes, war, and trade routes. Walking around Bucharest, you’ll regularly encounter statues and busts of important figures – including one of Vlad III (or Vlad the Impaler, inspiration for Dracula). There’s also an incredible open air Village Museum north of Bucharest, where you can see different houses from villages around Romania.
5. Bucharest (and Romania) is an Orthodox Country
As one guide told us, “Romania is the only Latin Orthodox country in the world.” Deeply influenced by Latin/Roman culture through early centuries, Romania embraced orthodoxy and much of the country is still conservative and traditional. There are some beautiful churches you can visit, including the Biserica Stavropoleos in the old town, or the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral – the equivalent to the Vatican for the Romanian Orthodox Church.
6. Bucharest is Surprisingly Safe
I’m not saying you won’t encounter rough edges, especially as a solo female traveler or at night, but for the most part Bucharest felt very safe to walk around and explore. As most people drive cars or take public transit, walking can be a solitary activity. Local Romanians aren’t necessarily welcoming or hospitable – I suspect this is seeded in the Communist chapter of history where spies were omnipresent –, but this also means most Bucharesti won’t come up to bother you.
7. You can Enjoy Delicious Local Food & Drink
Always one to hunt down local tastes, I fell hard for hearty goulash dishes with sides of polenta, and even tried the strong local spirit Țuică. (You can see me try it – and the face I make – in the video above!) There are also wonderful pastries for sale at bakeries all over town, serving up delicious covrigi and sweet strudel. Lastly, there’s an awesome budding craft beer scene!
8. Cats! Cats everywhere!
Romania gained a reputation in the 1990s because of extreme poverty in the post-Communist era. One part of that reputation was for packs of stray dogs that were genuinely dangerous. While we did see stray dogs, they were few and far between; often they were snoozing in the sun or walking here and there as dogs will do. We also saw cats – lots of them, especially at the Village Museum where they help control the rats. As a traveling cat lady, I couldn’t resist ending on this cute, furry note.
[info]Are you ready to visit Bucharest or Romania yet? I’d recommend booking your trip and tours through Mr. Tripp – Gray Line Romania. They have city tours of Bucharest (which I did) as well as day trips to other parts of the country (which I also did). This post was partly sponsored by Mr. Tripp Tours.
Want to learn more about Bucharest or Romania? Check out my other Romania posts below:
- Everything to Know about Visiting Bucharest
- How to Visit Transylvania & Explore Romania Beyond Bucharest [/info]