Romania’s grey capital is easily bypassed, but its rich history and fascinating museums make it worth a brief visit.
Domestic and international flights arrive at Otopeni Airport, 16 km from the city center. Bus number 783 runs from the airport to Piata Unirii. Trains stop at Gara de Nord, slightly northwest of the city center. City buses cost L1.3 and run until 11:30pm. After hours, take a taxi, but be careful – Romanian cabbies are known to be shameless scam artists. Reputable companies include Cristaxi, Taxi Cobalescu and Taxi 2000. Ask for an approximate price first, and always make sure the meter is running. The price should be L2 base plus L1.85 per km.
Things to See & Do
Most of Bucharest’s sights are located along the length of the main street, which changes its name four times as it runs north-south from Piata Victoriei to Piata Unirii. Begin with a look at rural Romanian life at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the open-air Village Museum. Then, head south to the National Art Museum, located to the left of Piata Revolutieri, where the first shots of the 1989 revolution were fired. Stop in for a bejeweled experience at the National History Museum. And finally, head west after crossing the river to ogle at the must-see Parliamentary Palace. Erected by Communist Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu as he demolished much of the city’s 19th-century architecture and displaced its population, the building – second in size only to the Pentagon – is as demonstrative of his ego as of his folly.
Food & Nightlife
Pasaj Macca, a tiny alleyway just off Victoriei Street, is a reveler’s paradise, resplendent with everything from hookah bars to a Scottish-style, underground pub.