Romania is a weird kind of a country. This is an old part of the world – emerging from the ﬂux of
medieval Europe as the separate territories of Moldavia and Wallachia, these territories were
merged under a single Principality in 1859, with the ﬁrst monarch of the united Kingdom of
Romania crowned in 1881. However it was a short lived period of prosperity, the country didn’t fare
well in World War One, and following a difﬁcult World War Two the country fell strongly within the
sphere of inﬂuence of the Soviet Union. Nicoloae Ceusescu came to power in 1965 and ruled the
country with an oppressive regime until the Romanian Revolution in 1989 saw his overthrow and
execution. Since then Romania has been ﬁnding its feet as a country and emerging from a
relatively dark period of history. The perfect time to put it on your list of future holiday destinations?
Absolutely. Here’s why.
Begin the revolution
Probably the best way to get a feel for this city is to walk its streets. The best starting point is
Revolution Square – in 1989 the world watched as the people of Bucharest turned on the dictator
Ceausescu. Apart from its place in the history of this country, this is an impressive city square –
bordered by the Royal Palace (which has been transformed into the National Art Museum), the
Romanian Athenaeum, the Athenee Palace Hotel, and the small but fascinating Kretzulescu
Church. You can spend hours just working your way through these buildings.!
Wander through the ancient streets
A lot of Bucharest can feel a bit like you’re wandering through a building site where you could be
mugged at any time, but there are pockets of this city where you get a real sense of the beauty and
charm of this place. Head to the neighbourhood of Lipscani – this jumble of small streets used to be
one of the most desirable residential neighbourhoods, after a period of decline there is some
noticeable regeneration happening here that is recapturing the feel of days gone by without losing
its medieval charm. You’ll ﬁnd a great array of galleries, cafes, and antique stores.!
Embrace the cuisine. Embrace the culture.
As an experienced traveller, when you visit a new city you want to avoid the tourist traps and
experience city as it really is, as the locals experience it. That’s why booking dinner at popular
restaurant Caru’ cu Bere will seem counter-intuitive. The waitresses are dressed in traditional
costumes and there are continuous performances of traditional Romanian folk-dances. But in a
way this is the real Romania – this place is full of Bucharest locals who absolutely love it. I ate here
with some friends from Bucharest, and like all the tables around us, we feasted on schnitzels,
drank beer, and enjoyed the lively dancing: “This is one is from my region!” said from my friend
excitedly. We had to restrain him from getting up and joining the dancing.!
There is a lot more to Romania than Transylvania, castles, and vampire legends. The city of
Bucharest is a great place to start your adventure.