I’ve been well and truly bitten by the travel bug this year! I love going on city breaks, so when I found the stunning Therme Spa on Instagram one evening back in January, I just knew I had to visit Bucharest.
I went with my best travel buddy Jade – we’ve been to Budapest, Pisa and Dublin previously together – so we booked cheap return flights and bagged a super cheap 5* star hotel and started to plan our city break for March. After a few searches, blog posts and TripAdvisor scans, we realised that Bucharest wasn’t a very touristy area just yet. We love booking tour bus trips and finding fun things to do, but it soon became apparent that this City break would be a little different to what we’ve done before.
With that being said, for return flights and 2 nights at a 5* hotel, the trip cost £166 each and it was probably one of my favourite trips to date. Here’s a little guide to things to see and do in Bucharest, how much you can expect to spend here and handy little tips!
Where to Stay in Bucharest
Grand Hotel Continental in Bucharest
During our time in Bucharest, we stayed at the Grand Hotel Continental. Jade found the great deal on Expedia (a 2 night stay at the 5* hotel and return flights for £166 each). The hotel is on one of the most expensive roads in the City (although it doesn’t compare to our expensive roads in London) but has a calming and almost peaceful atmosphere about it.
We were allocated a twin room with a lovely ensuite bathroom. The hotel has a real grand feel to it and the bedroom was no exception; the room was enormous with high ceilings, long draped curtains and small hanging chandelier. The bathroom was fairly big and clean, which was topped up daily with mini toiletries. The hotel has a restaurant and bar downstairs, and there’s also a Spa on the ground floor with 4 treatment rooms, a sauna, a jacuzzi, a spa lounge and a gym.
We didn’t eat in the restaurant, but we did order room service twice! We ordered a BLT sandwich each (which came in a HUGE portion!!) and then we ordered breakfast on our final morning as we had a little lay in. The sandwiches were so delicious and the Continental breakfast was nice too – and both were fairly cheap too! The sandwiches came to around £4 each and the continental breakfast around £6 each.
Things to See and Do in Bucharest
We initially booked the city break to Bucharest because I saw a post on Instagram about Therme Spa. We managed to find a fair few other things to do in Bucharest, too!
City Bike Tour
We went on a city bike tour around Bucharest city centre. We booked this trip with Bike The City via TripAdvisor for around £12 each, and the tour lasted for around 2 1/2 hours. As this is a fairly up and coming tourist destination, there isn’t a great deal of touristy things to do, so it was lovely to cycle round the town and soak up the atmosphere. We cycled around parts of the old and new town, and learnt how Bucharest is actually a city that is prone to dangerous earthquakes that happen every few hundred years. There are buildings around the city with large red dots on the front – which means that when an Earthquake hits next, this building will likely be destroyed. The tour also took us to the Palace of Parliament, which is the second biggest parliament building in the world.
Therme Bucuresti Spa
Therme Spa was one of the main reasons why we booked a holiday to Bucharest – and it certainly didn’t disappoint! The spa is the biggest wellness, relaxation and entertainment centre in Europe, which is home to 9 pools, 6 saunas, 4 wet saunas, 16 water slides, beautiful gardens and outdoor leisure space. The indoor temperature is kept at 29-30 degrees and the water 33 degrees, which is supplied from way deep underground.
A free shuttle bus runs back and forth from the city centre, but we opted to order an Uber both ways. There are three different areas in the Spa; we booked tickets for The Palm area which granted us access to the main area, pools and lounge areas. Tickets cost just 80 lei (around £14.60) and you can spend as much time there as you wish. You are given wristbands when you enter, which grants you access to an electronic locker for your belongings, and then you can buy food and drink with the wristband and pay for it at the end of the session.
We enjoyed the indoor and outdoor pools, bought a couple of cocktails to enjoy in the pool and had a delicious lunch in the restaurant too. The photos just don’t do the Spa any justice but it was definitely a highlight of the trip – and I’d urge anyone to go to Bucharest purely to visit the spa!
Palace of Parliament
The Palace of Parliament is the second biggest building in the world (second to the White House in Washington) stands at 84 meters tall, covering a floor area of 365,000 square meters. The building is also the heaviest building in the world, weighing in at around 4,098,500,000 KG!
We couldn’t visit the Parliament whilst we were there unfortunately as it was closed for an EU Conference, but it’s well worth a visit. The interior looks incredible from the photos, with marble staircases, crystal chandeliers and rich red carpets. There are over 20 floors in this building (with 8 of them underground) and 1,100 rooms. A pretty impressive building that’s for sure!
The weather was beautiful in March when we went to Bucharest, so we enjoyed an afternoon in the Cismigiu Park with a takeaway Pizza Hut! It’s the largest park in the city’s central area, and there are lakes and gardens to explore.
Where to Eat in Bucharest
Maybe it’s not an immediate first choice… but I love trying out McDonald’s in different countries ~ I’m particularly fond of the cheesy chips and coconut milkshake I had in Pisa a few years ago! Not long after we landed we headed to the nearest McDonald’s, where we had a McFizz grapefruit fruity drink and crispy chicken wings. The drink was sweet and fizzy and SO good on a hot day, and the chicken wings were delicious too. Our two large meals came to 42lei (£7) which is insanely cheap – so we knew we were in for a cheap trip!
Cereal Crunch Café
We headed to Cereal Crunch Café for breakfast one morning; it’s a very similar concept to the Cereal Killer Café in London. The cereal they sell here is imported to the shop as it’s not sold anywhere in Romania. We ordered a large bowl each, which cost 23lei (around £4.20) which enabled us to have two different cereals, a flavoured milk and a topping. I ordered the Unicorn Hoops and Tresor with pink milk and topped it with Oreos. Jade ordered the Unicorn Hoops and Reese’s Puffs with purple milk and topped it with M&Ms. Despite the major sugar overload – it was really tasty!
Hanu Lui Manuc
We ate dinner at Hanu Lui Manuc one evening, which is situated in the Old Town. It’s one of the oldest inns in Europe, serving up a range of traditional Romanian dishes in a historical European setting. The service wasn’t very attentive but the food was good. We ordered bread to share for starters, and then Jade ordered chicken and chips and I ordered lamb kebab and vegetables. We also had two drinks each and the bill came to 117lei for us both (around £21) which is incredibly cheap!
We found a beautiful little dessert parlour on our walk through the Old Town. Emelia Cremeria services ice creams, sorbets, cakes and sweet treats to eat in or take away. As it was quite warm, we both ordered ice cream each to take with us on our walk. We opted for the ‘deluxe’ option which included 2 scoops of ice cream in a cone of choice with a wafer for 15lei (£2.60). I had lemon and mango and Jade had Greek yoghurt and strawberry – the ice creams were packed with flavour and tasted delicious and refreshing.
Helpful Tips about Bucharest
- The currency accepted in Bucharest is the Romanian Lei (RON). Despite joining the EU in 2007, it’s not currently part of the Eurozone.
- Bucharest is extremely affordable and you’ll be suprised at just how far your money will stretch. Accomodation is cheap (even for a 5* hotel) and food and drink is where you will see the biggest saving – our meal out with 2 courses each and 2 drinks came to around £7 each!
- Bucharest isn’t the most attractive city but it’s cool and edgy and has a great vibe, much like Berlin. There are elaborate buildings, tower blocks and plenty of big green open space.
- There are coffee shops and restaurants everywhere you turn, so you’ll be spoilt for choice on where to eat and drink; whether you’re looking for a quick snack or an evening meal.
- Bucharest feels safe – but take precautions like any other holiday by watching your pockets and not flaunting any valuables.
- Uber will be your best friend as the prices are SO cheap. We were massively overcharged getting a taxi from the airport to the hotel (For example, we were charged around £35 for a taxi from airport > hotel, but going hotel > airport with an Uber cost around £8 (!!!)
Have you been to Bucharest before?