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Written by Nicola Rae from Seenic Wander
Bucharest and Brasov should be top cities on any Romania travel itinerary. Bucharest, the buzzing capital city, is filled with delicious food, sprawling parks, and buildings so rich in culture that you’ll probably want to spend a few days just wandering around with your camera.
Journey a few hours outside of beautiful Bucharest and you’ll arrive in Brasov, a charming historical town nestled in the stunning Carpathian mountains. Touring Bucharest and Brasov will give you a taste of the fascinating diversity Romania offers as a travel destination.
Why You Should Travel To Romania
Romania has everything.
From busy cities like Bucharest to beautiful Transylvanian mountain towns, to the Black Sea Beaches of Constanta, there is something for every kind of traveler in Romania. Nature enthusiasts will love access to endless green spaces, parks, and hikes. History buffs will have more tours than they know what to do with and those looking to relax will love the abundance of charming cafes.
Traveling In Romania Is Affordable
Traveling in Romania is generally less expensive than in other parts of Europe. While it’s possible to go out and splurge on an expensive dinner in any city, you can also enjoy a delicious meal at an inexpensive restaurant for around 40 Lei or 6 Euros. Flying to and from Bucharest is also easy on the budget since affordable carriers like Wizz Air and Ryan Air regularly fly there.
Getting Around Is Easy
Romania has a vast train system offering very affordable tickets around the country, making it easy to see many cities without blowing your budget. Within Bucharest, there is an affordable metro system and bus system. While Brasov doesn’t have a metro, the bus will get you anywhere you need to go. Uber operates in both Bucharest and Brasov as another way to get around inexpensively.
Days 1-3 Bucharest Itinerary
It’s easy to see why Bucharest is called “Little Paris.” The sweeping avenues and Art Nouveau architecture style on many of the prominent buildings feels quite French. But when you look deeper, you’ll find that Bucharest is so much more than Paris’s little sister. From the architecture to the food, the parks to the museums, Bucharest is brimming with character for you to discover.
Arriving in Bucharest
The best way to get to Bucharest from the rest of Europe is by plane. Wizz Air and RyanAir operate inexpensive flights to Bucharest from most big cities in Europe. When you arrive at the airport, you have two options to get to the city center:
- Take a private Uber: This option is faster but costs about 13 Euros.
- Take a bus: The bus takes a bit longer but only costs 8 Lei or about 1.60 Euros.
To take the bus, you’ll have to buy a ticket from the bus representative in the booth outside the Arrivals Hall. Buy a ticket to the city center on the 783 bus. The ride could take between 45-90 minutes depending on traffic.
Remember to ask your accommodation the name of the nearest bus stop and watch the electronic tracker inside the bus so you don’t miss your stop. If you aren’t sure which stop to get off at, the stops Universitate and Unirii are closest to the Old Town. Universitate is also a big metro interchange.
Where To Stay In Bucharest
If you want to be centrally located and close to the subway system, stay near Piata Romana, Universitate, or Piata Unirii. These areas are all walking distance to Old Town with plenty of restaurants and cafes around. Regular subways and buses pass through these areas, easily connecting you to the rest of Bucharest.
If you’re on a budget, check out Podstel Umbrella – This hostel is a great choice if you are traveling solo or looking for something less expensive with lots of people around. Dorm beds start at less than 20 Euros/night and their private rooms are also affordable if you’re traveling as a couple. Guests rave about the kindness of the staff and the organized events that build strong feelings of community. This hostel is a 20-30 minute walk from the Old Town.
If you want to treat yourself, grab a room at The Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest – One of the top-rated hotels is the Hilton Garden Inn is in the perfect location in Bucharest’s Old Town. Guests rave about the location and the quality of the rooms, but if you’re a light sleeper be warned: the parties of Bucharest old town go late into the night and you might be able to hear music if you stay close in town.
Bucharest also has some amazing Airbnb apartments available for rent. Sometimes, an Airbnb rental can mean you get more space and amenities than a regular hotel. When I stayed in Bucharest, I rented a room in a family home and had access to their kitchen, porch, and shared living room.
The cost was extremely affordable and the host family gave me tons of local tips for food and things to do. Even though I was staying ten minutes from the Old Town, I felt like I was getting a more local experience by staying in an Airbnb.
Things To Do In Bucharest
Here is a day-by-day breakdown of what you can do in Bucharest
Day 1 – Taking In The Culture Of Bucharest
Start your day at Artichoke Coffee – This coffee spot near Universitate is just as stylish as it is delicious. Offering tea, coffee, breakfast, and snacks, this quiet spot is a great place to start the day or grab an afternoon pick-me-up.
Take a free walking tour – I love a good free walking tour! Kick-off your stay in Bucharest with a tour by Walkabout to learn what you’re looking at while you wander through the city, awestruck and amazed.
They offer two different tours daily, one that focuses on the history of Bucharest and one about the architecture and street art. Check their website for start times and meeting points.
Tour Mogosoaia Palace – History lovers and nature lovers alike will enjoy exploring this 1700’s palace and gardens. It won’t take you too long to see this smaller Palace, but it’s a great way to see more historical culture about the area. To get here, you can take bus 460 from Laromet bus station or a minibus from Gara de Nord. You could also organize your own transportation but know that it’s a little bit outside the city so an Uber or private car could get expensive fast.
Explore Old Town in the Evening – The first time I walked through the Old Town at night I was absolutely enchanted. Like much of Europe, the Old Town has an Al Fresco dining culture. People enjoy their dishes on patios out on the cobbled streets and street musicians play every few meters throughout the city. Pick a restaurant in downtown and enjoy the performances all evening long.
Not sure where to eat? These were two of my favorite picks!
- Aubergine – This veggie-friendly Mediterranean restaurant in Old Town Bucharest was so good I went here several times during my stay. From fresh hummus to fragrant vegetable bowls, you’ll enjoy exotic flavors while listening to street performers play the night away.
- Mashuka – A place to try local Romanian dishes, showed to me by locals. This restaurant has a handwritten menu that changes every day.
If going out to party is your thing, you’ll notice many restaurants transition from dining spots to bars and nightlife spots around 11pm.
Day 2 – A Trip To Vacaresti Nature Park
Wake up with Origo Coffee – With a cool ambiance, outdoor seating, knowledgable staff, and excellent coffee, this spot is a must-see for any coffee enthusiast visiting Bucharest. I learned about this spot from my local tour guide who said it was his all-time favorite.
Walkthrough Vacaresti national park – Vacaresti Nature Park was an urban development project that was never completed. This bowl-shaped basin was intended to be a water sports complex but the project was abandoned decades ago. When it was left unattended for years, nature started to reclaim it. Now, Vacaresti is the world’s largest urban delta and a fascinating place to spend some time while in Bucharest.
This natural park is just a few subway stops outside of the city center and it feels like you are stepping into another world. It’s free to visit and definitely worth seeing if you’re into the power of nature. You can organize tours of the nature park or explore alone, but I wouldn’t recommend going alone since it’s a little bit off the grid. Once you’re there, you can either follow the trails inside the basin or walk the path along the top of the basin, looking down at the land from above.
Explore the parks in Bucharest – Bucharest has a delightful park culture. There are green spaces everywhere and people spend time in them having picnics, reading books, and playing sports with loved ones. Take a picnic and spend some time people-watching colorful greenery of Bucharest. My top downtown parks are Parcul Izvor and Parcul Cismigiu which are located between the Old Town and Palace of the Parliament.
Carturesti book store – Who doesn’t love fantastic bookstores! Carturesti has two wonderful, sprawling, dreamy book stores in Bucharest that feature English and Romanian books. I’ve lost many hours in these book stores and I regret nothing. One is in the Old Town and the other is a few blocks from Universitate.
Venture out to Universitate for dinner at Dianei 4. Diane 4 is hands down one of the coolest places to grab a meal in Bucharest. The restaurant is in a historic house that was once used as the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service. With quirky charm and delicious food, this hidden spot just outside of the Old Town will keep you coming back again and again.
Day 3 – Palace Of The Parliament And Therme Spa
Breakfast at Cereal Crunch Cafe – Cereal lovers: this one is for you! This quirky cafe near the Palace of Parliament serves hundreds of variation of cereal from around the world. You can pick special kids of milk and toppings too, meaning there are literally endless combinations of cereal snacks to pick from. If you’ve been missing a flavor of home or want to try something totally unique, this is a great place to see.
Tour the Palace of Parliament – The Palace of the Parliament is one of the largest administrative buildings in the world. This becomes abundantly clear as you walk around it looking for the Museum of Contemporary Art. You can take a tour of the building itself or circle around the back to explore the Museum of Contemporary Art. Be warned, walking to the Art Museum is a HIKE, but it’s packed with rotating exhibitions so art lovers will be happy.
Relax at the Therme Spa – After walking around massive palace of the parliament, you’ll probably want to get some rest and relaxation. Therme Spa is a wellness-focused water park and spa located just outside of Bucharest. The entire facility is indoor and it is fueled by a natural hot spring deep underground. They have everything from water slides and theme park attractions to saunas and thermal relaxation pools – all in a beautifully designed, lush space.
Therme is located outside the city but they have a free shuttle bus that runs from Piata Romana every day. When you arrive at Therme, you pick your package based on which areas you want access to and how long you want to stay. Full-day passes for each of the different areas average around 100 Lei or 20 Euros.
Enjoy the city from above. Now that you’re all relaxed from the spa, close out the day with a view of the city. Head to Upstairs Rooftop for dinner and drinks while you take in the breathtaking skyline of Bucharest.
Day 4-6 Brasov Itinerary
Brasov is a Medieval town in Transylvania, resting right at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. It’s a medley of culture and history yet its small-town mountain vibes make it feel much more laid back than busy Bucharest.
Day 4 – Getting to Brasov
Getting to Brasov from Bucharest is easy! The train system runs every day and is quick and affordable. To get to Brasov from Bucharest, head to the Gara de Nord train station either by Uber or metro. Once you’re there, you can purchase a ticket to Brasov on the next train that day. Trains run all day and it should cost you around 70 Lei or 15 Euros.
The journey will take 4 hours. The trains are not very fancy and lack things like WiFi, so bring a book for the long journey.
When you arrive in Brasov, you can take the bus into the city or use uber to arrange private transport. Many hotels have train station pick up arrangements you can make as well.
Where To Stay In Brasov
The town of Brasov is much smaller than Bucharest and I definitely recommend staying walking distance to the city center.
If you’re on a budget, check out Hostel Maria Brasov. It’s directly in the walking part of downtown and has superb reviews on hostel world. For such an affordable price, you might decide to extend your stay for a few extra days.
If you have a little wiggle room, you’ll live like royalty in the still-affordable Residence Hirsher. Right in the Old Town but situated high enough on the hill to have great views, you’ll love the room sizes and value for the money at this classy hotel.
Things To Do In Brasov
Day 5 – Getting to know Brasov
Start the day at La Birou Bistro – This cozy breakfast place is right in the Old Town and has incredible breakfast, brunch, and coffee options for a very affordable price. They’re known for their good service and ambiance, and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you don’t want to miss their photo-worthy pancakes.
Hike Tampa mountain for the best view in Brasov- Ascending Tampa mountain was one of the highlights of my time in Brasov. The town of Brasov is nestled up against Tampa mountain and the iconic “Brasov” sign is at the top. You can walk from Old Town to the base of Tampa Mountain in about ten minutes. From there, you can either take a 45-minute hike to the top on well-maintained paths or take the cable car to the top (costs about 3 Euros).
There are two lookout points on Tampa mountain. You can spend time walking around the Brasov sign or you can keep walking another five minutes up the trail for the best lookout point of Brasov. Don’t forget to bring water and your camera!
Visit the Black Church – The Black Church is part of the Historical Walking Tour you’ll do later, but for time reasons you might not get to go inside with the tour group. A fire in the late 1600s burned most of the town and scorched the outside walls of the church, making it a black color. Now, you can explore the grounds of the church and attend organ concerts inside depending on the time of year.
Take the Historical Walking tour – A free walking tour is an awesome way to see the city and learn about the Brasov’s detailed history. Walkabout Free Tours, the same company that does tours in Bucharest, also offers a free walking tour of Brasov. This tour will walk you through 800 years of Brasov’s history, showing you the main points of interest in the city. In addition to learning about the history, you’ll also pick up local tips from your guide. Depending on the season, the time of this tour changes. Now it’s listed as starting at 18:00 from town square but check their website before you plan your day. The tour is free to take but leaving a tip is customary.
Day 6 – Take A Day Trip To Dracula’s Castle
When people hear about Transylvania, many automatically think of Dracula. The Bran Fortress, also known as Dracula’s castle, is a medieval fortress in Transylvania and the perfect way to end your Bucharest and Brasov Itinerary.
The Bran Castle is commonly associated with Dracula because of its hauntingly beautiful aesthetic and rumored connections to Vlad the Impaler.
There are two ways to see the Bran castle. You can do a tour organized by your hotel or an online service like Viator, or you can do it yourself.
If you choose to do it yourself, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Head to the Bartolomeu bus station in Brasov. Check out the Brasov Bus routes here!
- From there Bartolomeu bus station there is a minibus that runs to Bran every hour or so. It takes about half an hour and the tickets are around 4 Euros.
- The entrance fee to Bran castle is 40 Lei or 8.50 Euros.
Have dinner with a view at Sub Tampa – After your castle tour, enjoy a final night in Brasov with dinner, drinks, and an impressive view at Sub Tampa. They have a high-end menu with classics, vegetarian options, and gluten-free options. With a beautiful location at Tampa Mountain and professional plates for reasonable prices, you don’t want to miss Sub Tampa.
From Brasov, you can either catch a train back to Bucharest or to one of the many other amazing cities nearby. Since train tickets are affordable and can be bought last minute, you can easily add more stops on your trip if you have more time.
Have more time? Check out these other cool things to do in Romania
- From Brasov: Spend a day in Sibiu. You can get there in just a few hours from Brasov by train or bus. Sibiu is a top cultural center in Transylvania. It’s the perfect place to be charmed by Gothic cathedrals and get lost on winding, colorful streets.
- From Brasov: Bran isn’t the only castle in Transylvania. Ask your hotel front desk or use an online tour booking company like Viator to find more castle tours in the area.
- From Bucharest: Take a day tour from Bucharest to the salt mines and the volcanic mud flats. Step into another world and explore some of the most unique natural phenomena in Romania with these excursions.
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Romania. Have you been to Romania? What will be your favorite city to visit?