Bucharest

Bucharest (Romanian: București) is Romania's capital and largest city, as well as the most important industrial and commercial center of the country. With more than 2.4 million inhabitants in the urban area, Bucharest is one of the largest cities in Southeastern Europe.

Understand

Calea Victoriei

Bucharest is the primary entry point into Romania. Bucharest is a booming city with many large infrastructure projects changing the old face of the city. Known in the past as "The Little Paris," Bucharest has changed a lot lately, and today it has become a very interesting mix of old and new that has little to do with its former reputation. Finding a 300 year old church near a steel-and-glass tower that both sit next to a communist-style building is commonplace in Bucharest. Bucharest offers some excellent attractions, and has in recent years has cultivated a sophisticated, trendy, and modern sensibility that many have come to expect from a European capital. Bucharest has benefited from an economic boom along with the EU grants that have helped rebuild parts of the city, including the revamped old town. Those who have known Bucharest in the past but have not visited recently will be surprised by the changes that are taking place. The largest project finished at this time is the impressive Basarab overpass, which is Europe's widest cable bridge.

Language

Lipscani Street, the heart of historic Bucharest

The official language is Romanian, a Romance language which claims to be the closest currently-spoken relative to Ancient Latin, but contains around 20% of loan words from Slavonic languages. Most younger educated people will speak English reasonably well and will likely be proficient in one or more second Romance languages; most educated people born before about 1970 will speak French, Spanish or Italian reasonably well. The Roma people (Gypsies) speak their native Romany, as well as Romanian, and sometimes English as well. Beyond that, as in any major city, there will be a smattering of other languages like Chinese, Arabic, Turkish, Hungarian and German.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 1.5 4.1 10.5 18.0 23.3 26.8 28.8 28.5 24.6 18.0 10.0 3.8
Nightly lows (°C) -5.5 -3.3 0.3 5.6 10.5 14.0 15.6 15.0 11.1 5.7 1.6 -2.6
Precipitation (mm) 40 36 38 46 70 77 64 58 42 32 49 43

Source:w:Bucharest#Climate

Bucharest, like most of Romania, has a temperate-continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. This region of Romania gets all four seasons, although spring is brief and falls mainly in April. The average high daily temperature in summer is about 29°C and in winter about 2°C. It can get really hot and dry during the summer (30°C) and really cold during the winter (-20°C), even though temperatures below -12°C are extremely rare. Best time to visit is April through June, September through October and early December.

Time

Bucharest is in the Eastern European time zone (UTC+2, with a DST of UTC+3 from April to October).

Get in

By plane

Henri Coandă International Airport

Connections and airports

Bucharest has reasonable connections with most European capitals and with the largest cities in Romania, but it can be difficult to find a direct flight to Bucharest from outside of Europe or the Middle East. The city is also reached by a large number of low-costs flights, mainly from destinations in Italy and Spain as well as from some major cities in Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, Hungary, Turkey, Austria etc.

TAROM is the flag carrier of Romania, with the main hub at Otopeni

Transport to the city

There are several options to get from Henri Coandă airport to Bucharest:

When taking the 780 bus from Gara de Nord train station to Otopeni airport, note that Gara de Nord is not the end of the bus route, hence, the 780 buses that pass Gara de Nord actually run in two directions. Therefore, at Gara de Nord, to catch the 780 that takes you to Otopeni airport, you need to catch it from the 780 bus-stop that requires crossing a road from south side of the station, i.e. not the 780 bus stop that is directly outside the station. It is best to ask locals where the correct bus stop is. 7 lei (return).

The lowest price option for any of these express buses is 8.6 lei (two rides minimum uploaded on an un-reloadable Multiplu card, 3,5x2+1.6 lei).

Cards can only be purchased from the booth in front of either the Arrivals or Departures terminals (respectively on the return trip from ticket booths in stations along their route, but no ticket booth at Piaţa Unirii 2 where 783 bus originates, you have to walk a bit toward the tram stop to find it), they can't be bought from the driver. There is a ticket machine in front of the Arrivals terminal in service 24 hours a day, but it is only for reloading existing Activ cards. Remember to always validate your ticket on boarding the bus, these two bus lines are a prime target for ticket inspectors. The bus is far superior to the train in terms of both time and cost.

There are still taxis waiting at the Arrivals exit with rip off rates (called 'Fast Taxi'); it's best to avoid them. They charge the maximum allowed rate (3.5 lei/km). A trip to downtown with them costs at least 60-70 lei and may go up to €30 at night. Remember that for €30 you can get anywhere in the country by bus or train, so think twice before you decide to pay a taxi driver the same for a drive of less than 20km. ~30 lei..

By bus

Buses are a good option to get to Bucharest if coming from Moldova, Turkey, Greece and to some extent Bulgaria, given the low frequency and speeds of trains between these countries and Romania.

If you're willing to make extremely long bus rides it's also possible to get to Bucharest from a large number of cities in Western and South-Western Europe; these buses are operated by Eurolines and their local affiliate Atlassib.

Bucharest also has bus connections to a vast number of cities in Romania. They're a convenient choice primarily when coming from places from which railways are under repair or too indirect (like Sibiu).

Timetables for most domestic routes and several international ones are available here.

Bucharest has extensive train connections both within Romania and internationally

By train

Bucharest is linked through direct daily trains to all neighboring countries’ capitals (Belgrade, Budapest, Chişinău, Kiev, Sofia), as well as to Vienna, Istanbul, Moscow and of course to main cities in all of Romania’s 41 counties.

Gara de Nord
Gara Băneasa

The timetables for domestic routes are available here.

By car

The city’s entrances from the north (the E60 road coming from Braşov and the A3 highway from Ploieşti), west (the A1 highway from Piteşti), east (the A2 highway from Constanţa), south (the E20 road from Giurgiu) and the avenues in the city center are very crowded, especially at rush hours. Right in the city center, just across the University, a major underground parking place opened in 2014. Unfortunately, although modern and safe, finding the entrance may prove to be a little tricky. Among that, an even bigger parking place (with 5 levels) is located near the Unirii Square, behind the Unirii Mall, which is also near the center area and only 10 minutes away (by foot) from the old town's center. Also note that driving on some of the secondary streets might prove to be a bit bumpy, due to only relatively good condition of these roads. If you can, avoid any driving on the Pantelimon Boulevard, since there are several ongoing major repairs in the area.

Get around

Bucharest has one of the most extensive systems of public transport in Europe, even though it can sometimes be confusing and crowded.

Metro (Subway)

Bucharest Metro map

The metro, which has four lines (M1, M2, M3 and M4) and covers the city quite extensively, is usually a cheap (5 lei for 2 trips, 20 lei for 10 trips and 70 lei for a monthly pass) and easy way to get around even though there are surprisingly few stops in the city center, since the system was originally built to transport workers and commuters from outlying neighborhoods through the city to peripheral industrial areas. If you're staying outside the city center, or even if you want to travel within it, the Metro can be a very fast and convenient way of traveling to your destination, avoiding the traffic jams and crowds that frequently characterize surface transport. The network is arguably frequent and fairly comfortable, reliable and easy-to-use.

Pipera station

Line M1 starts in the eastern part of the city and then goes downtown on a circular route, passing by the main train station Gara de Nord and meeting up with the M2 line (which runs north-south) at Piaţa Unirii and Piaţa Victoriei stations. Line M3 links the western and eastern parts of the city. The central section on the M3 between Eroilor - Nicolae Grigorescu is shared with M1 and trains from both lines run in tandem having the terminus displayed at the front of the cab. Line M4 is a short shuttle line starting from Gara de Nord 2 going to Parc Bazilescu in Bucureştii Noi neighborhood (as of 2011). Even though Gara de Nord and Gara de Nord 2 are in close proximity, transferring between the two is taxed as a separate trip. The only platform to platform link between M4 and M1 is at Basarab station.

Maps of the subway can be found on the Metrorex official site .

Buses, trams and trolleybuses

Line 32 tram headed to Alexandria

Bucharest has a very complex network of buses, trams and trolleybuses which is, at first glance, fairly confusing to the tourist. This is not because of any inconsistencies within the network, but rather due to the intricate web of hundreds of bus, tram and trolleybus routes found in the city. Once you know your way around the network, however, public surface transport can be a very good way of getting around since there is a bus, tram or trolleybus stop virtually everywhere in this city. The vehicles are usually very frequent, although they can also get terribly crowded at peak hours.

Make sure you know the stop you're getting off at - even though in most trolleybuses and in some modern buses and trams, following stops are announced automatically and displayed on a screen inside the vehicle. However, these displays don't tend to be very reliable. If you are uncertain if a stop is the one you want, you can always ask your fellow travellers.

The ticketing system uses contactless smartcards, called Activ cards . Once bought for 3.7 lei (you will need an ID to do that) the cards can be loaded with various ticketing options, including some that allow usage on both the subway and surface networks. Another type of card intended for the occasional user is called Multiplu card that can be bought for 1.6 lei and loaded with minimum 2 trips up to 10 or as daily/weekly. The multiplu card cannot be reloaded and thus purchased every time after it is used up. To validate the card after entering a vehicle (or subway station) hold it still in front of the validating device (an orange box with a small LCD screen) until you hear a short beep (The LCD display will show "Calatorie Placuta" = Have a nice trip).

If you hear a long beep followed by the message "Repetati validarea la acelasi validator" = "Repeat the validation on the same machine" or any other message, please validate the card again. It is very common in this system to give errors very often, so it recommendable to be sure that you have paid for your trip. If you want to be sure that you have paid or want to know how much money is left on your card, press button 1 and hold the card near the validator, it will mention the amount left and for how many passengers it was validated. To validate it for more than one passenger (this is available only for electronic wallet not for daily/weekly/monthly pass), you have to press button 2 and hold the card near the validator. For any other additional traveler you have to press 2 again and receive the message "Calatorie Placuta" for each passenger.

Be warned that you cannot buy tickets/cards in the vehicles and if caught by an inspector (controlor) you could be fined with 50 lei. Note that if you change bus/tram/trolley, you have to validate your card again. Also, the ticket is valid only for one trip with the transport vehicle from one end to the other. However, in Bucharest most of the buses, trolleys and trams will have one end (usually downtown, where is no space for creating proper "end of the line" stops) without any distinct stop, so you will not be aware that you have to validate again, being liable to receive a fine. For this reason, is better to buy a daily (8 lei = 1.8 Euro) or weekly pass (17 lei = 4 Euro) for your trips in Bucharest, because the pass will not require any validation. The prices are very small compared with the travel options available (buses, night buses, trams and trolleys), so the pass will help you to have a trip without any headaches.

Starting with July 2011, night buses are also available. They will run between 23:00 to 01:00, every 30 minutes, 1:00 to 5:00, every hour and 5:00 to 6:00, every 30 minutes. The lines can be seen here and the map here

Bucharest at dusk

Rent-a-car

Car rental in the Pache Protopopescu Street or Europcar are all at the city and airport. Other local rentals can be found throughout the city. The average price for a day rental is about €20 for the cheapest car.

By taxi

There are a lot of taxi companies in Bucharest and you'll easily find a cab here. But be aware! Don't take any independent cab drivers, and only use the services of big taxi companies. Cars from these companies have the rates displayed on the door. Each door used to contain an initial "sitting" fee (between 1.6 to 3 lei), a per km fee (1.4 to 3.6 lei) and per hour fee. However, taxis now display a single number which is both the initial "sitting fee" and the per km fee. The per hour fee is not listed, but should be around ten times the per km fee. Independents have significantly higher fees (up to ten times on average!) If a taxi does not display these prices on the door it is best not to take it and find another, as you'll probably be charged a rate five to ten times higher than usual. Also, it should be noted that some taxis now have a low "nighttime rate" listed in a large font with an expensive daytime rate listed in a small font. So, read carefully and remember that noapte means night. At the beggining of your trip, the driver will start the meter and you will have to pay the price shown. If he does not start the meter, be sure to tell him. If you are travelling outside the city limits (say to or from the airport) prices per km and per hour are often doubled, or an extra 10-15 lei is added to the fare. Be wary of taking taxis from places where a lot of tourists pass through. Some of these taxis may be operated by con men. Tourists being asked to pay large sums to recover their luggage from the trunk or even muggings after taxi rides are not unheard of. In any case, most of the taxi drivers are nicer than usual with the foreigners, as they expect to keep the change when they are paid at the end of the ride.

Uber is now also available in Bucharest. There are plenty of cars that can be ordered using the Uber app.

See

Landmarks

Ateneul Roman

Museums

The Royal Palace, housing the National Museum of Art
Museum of Art Collections
Branch Museums:
The Art Collections Museum (Muzeul Colecţiilor de Artă), 111, Calea Victoriei, phone:+40 21 2129641; +40 21 2121749, Open: Sa-W 11.00-19.00 (May-Sep), 10.00-18.00 (Oct-Apr), Closed: Th, F;
K.H. Zambaccian Museum (Muzeul K. H. Zambaccian). 21A, Muzeul Zambaccian Street, phone:+40 21 2301920, Open: W-Su 11.00-19.00 (May-Sep), 10.00-18.00 (October - April), Closed: M, Tu;
Theodor Pallady Museum (Muzeul Theodor Pallady). 22, Spătarului Street, phone: +40 21 2114979, Open: W-Su 11.00-19.00 (May-Sep), 10.00-18.00 (Oct-Apr), Closed: M, Tu 10 lei.
Village Museum
Muzeul National de Geologie at night
George Enescu Museum

Galleries

Churches and monasteries

The Stavropoleos Church
Exterior Painting of New St. George Church

Do

There are two free weekly guides published in Bucharest featuring all the events of the week, as well as listing the addresses of most restaurants, clubs, pubs, bars, cinemas etc. in the city. One is Şapte Seri (Seven nights), the other 24-FUN. They have small sections in English available.

Walking and recreation

Walking tours

Parks

Tinereltui Park

Concert venues

Sala Radio

Cinema

Most films are screened in their original language with Romanian subtitles; some animation features and children's movies are dubbed in Romanian. Cinemas are found in every shopping mall.

Art

Mainstream

Buy

Bank headquarters near Piaţa Victoriei

Major brand-name shops and upscale boutiques are concentrated along the main boulevard from Piaţa Romană to Piaţa Unirii and on the small streets adjacent to this boulevard, but also on Calea Victoriei, on Calea Dorobanţilor (the part between Blvd. Iancu de Hunedoara and Piaţa Dorobanţilor) or on Calea Moşilor's section between Blvd. Carol I and Piaţa Obor.

Shopping malls

In the past years numerous modern shopping centers have sprung up in the city (and even more are in construction), the best known being:

Unirea Shopping Centre

Book Stores

Window shopping in Bucharest can also be pleasureable

Book stores with a good supply of English language books are difficult to find in Bucharest but there are a few places mainly situated in the center.

Other

Eat

Caru' cu bere is a listed historic monument - and a famed restaurant
Lipscani street is packed with bar, restaurants and cafes

Drink

Courtyard at the Cultural Center Dianei 4

Clubbing

Sleep

Hotel Amabasador, a splendid Art Deco building

Budget

Camping

Hostels

The historic Manuc Inn

Budget hotels

Mid-range

The Novotel building includes a reconstructed porte-cochere of the National Theatre, demolished after the Second World War

Splurge

The Intercontinental is one of the tallest buildings in Bucharest and thus an easily identifiable landmark - here seen in the background behind the Colţea Church

Stay safe

The emergency number in Romania is 112.

Buses are safe, but use common sense, and put your things in internal pockets, just to be 100% sure. Taking taxis from areas frequented by foreign tourists may also pose a threat as some of these taxis may take advantage of the fact that you don't know the city and don't speak their language. Therefore, they might try to make the trip a bit longer than usual, in order to be paid more. Ideally, you should call or ask someone to call you a taxi or order one using the app.

One rule of thumb is to go with older taxi drivers, since they will be more cautious and only try to get a bit extra out of you if they scam you, unlike young drivers who will claim a trip costs 3-5 times as much as it should, may claim the meter does not work, and may try intimidation tactics to make you pay. The company the taxi driver is working at and the prices should be written on the car and the driver's ID card (issued by his employer) should be visible and should contain his photo.

Be very careful of unsolicited offers of help by passers-by, even if they speak good English. In particular if a stranger offers to accompany you to your hostel or hotel in a taxi to show you the way, decline immediately. They are often working in tandem with unlicensed taxi drivers who will attempt to scam you, drop you at incorrect (and remote) locations while demanding exorbitant payment, or who will simply steal your luggage. A common scam is for a stranger to tell you that a place is not safe, and to direct you to an official "government" or "student" taxi, that is driven by an accomplice. They will then drive you a remote location, and demand high sums of money, possibly threatening you with violence if you don't comply.

As strange as it sounds, you'll see that Bucharest is a far safer city than its western European counterparts. Statistically Bucharest is one of the safest capitals in Europe, far safer than cities like Berlin, London, Rome, etc. Nevertheless, possibly more so than the aforementioned counterparts, violence is not an uncommon solution, towards locals or towards foreign looking people (minorities, out of place individuals, etc.) in any club, but particularly those playing ethnic music, especially when drinking and after hours are involved. However, just avoiding any conflict, particularly with people who have the air of "owning the place" or a mafioso look would reduce your chances to almost zero. Generally speaking, the larger and richer the city, the fewer problems you'll have.

For a long time, Bucharest had perhaps the largest population of stray dogs for a city in eastern Europe. The problem of strays was getting out of hand, with random attacks and in extreme cases, killings. The City Council finally decided to exterminate the population, and today the streets of Bucharest have hardly any dogs to worry about.

Like most other big cities, walking around at night isn't safe in some parts of the city like Pantelimon, Ferentari, Giulesti, and the Gara de Nord area. If you must travel into these neighbourhoods, it's safer to take a taxi. Gara de Nord is not particularly dangerous to walk in, but avoid suspicious-looking characters, and if you feel that you are being followed, just walk into the station. Gara de Nord and its surroundings are populated by homeless people and children. Be careful, as many street children use an inhalant drug (equivalent to huffing paint) and may be dangerous. As heartbreaking as this problem is, it's best to avoid any contact. If you do wish to give them something, buy food for them, don't give them money.

Ferentari is a gypsy enclave in Bucharest and, while not as dangerous as it used to be, it's not advisable to walk there at night. In fact it is better to avoid it completely. For the traveler, there is nothing of interest there so you should have no reason to go there to begin with.

The unofficial red light district is Mătăsari, which is also a popular place for clubbers and pubs; you can walk there without any worries because it's always crowded and lively, but avoid talking to strangers in that particular area, especially Gypsies. As of 2009 there have been a lot of crackdowns on pimps and prostitutes in the Matasari area, so be careful or you might wind up spending a night in jail and with a hefty fine if caught soliciting.

In the event that you do get caught in a police raid, do not attempt to bribe your way out of it with so many of them around as you might get into serious trouble. Police are more inclined to take bribes from locals than from foreigners so do not contribute to this phenomenon that has been plaguing this country for so many years. Police corruption has been vigorously fought in the past years, and it is not as generalized as it used to be in the 1990s. It's always better to walk on boulevards and avoid alleys and backstreets.

The crime rate is low, but a traveler must always be cautious. Violent attacks are very low, but if attacked just yell, "Ajutor!" or "Poliția!". It is very difficult for anyone to get away with violent crime because as everything is packed so closely together, any loud noise will attract attention. This truly is a city that doesn't sleep. You'll find people out and around at all hours in most parts of the city. Police men are pretty friendly and the younger ones speak English, so you can ask directions. In the event that you do need to report a crime to the police, do not hesitate and proceed to the nearest police station. They will often help you to the best of their ability.

One must be incredibly careful as a pedestrian in Bucharest. Some drivers are inconsiderate and do not obey all traffic signals. NEVER assume a car will stop for you at a crosswalk—be vigilant at all times. This is definitely the biggest hazard in Bucharest, not so much in the daytime, when crowded streets make it impossible to drive cars at high speeds, but, at night, the streets clear out, some illegal races taking place with reckless driving on main boulevards.

Asian tourists are more likely to be seen as an easy mark for dishonest taxi drivers and other criminals. It does not make a difference if you are Asian-American or are from Asia. Some young Asian women may also get a lot of perverted looks from men all around the city - be prepared to be stared at especially if you are traveling alone, though some men will stare no matter what.

Stay healthy

Those with allergies may find Bucharest annoying in that it is both hot and very dusty in the summer, with temperatures easily exceeding 30 °C in July and August, so bring whatever you might need to stay comfortable. Please note that during the summer, sun strokes and heat strokes can be very dangerous. Therefore, it is recommended that you have a bottle of water with you, sun glasses and a hat (or equivalent).

Pharmacies are usually open between 9AM and 6PM, but some will stay open through the night. In Romania, there are relatively few over-the-counter drugs available, but pharmacists are allowed to dispense limited quantities of some prescription drugs (such as pain relief medicine) for what they see as immediate needs. As of 2015, there are 51 public hospitals (of which 13 are designated emergency hospitals, including 2 for pediatric emergencies only) and about 18 private hospitals in Bucharest, along with a considerable number of private clinics, dental practices and a modern ambulance service.

Do your laundry

There is a new laundromat with free WiFi and new equipment. It is centrally located and a nice place to hang around:

Cope

Embassies

Go next

Capitals

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, April 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.