Where the locals go in Bucharest
Romania initiated its transition from communism almost exactly 30 years ago with the execution of Nicolae Ceaușescu on Christmas Day 1989. Since then, Bucharest has opened up to the world: the city is easy to reach by train from the surrounding Balkan countries and Hungary and is now a bustling, international hub and a gateway to Romania’s mysterious allure. Known mainly for its grandiose architecture, including the People’s Palace, the world’s second largest building, you can follow these tips by Bucharest locals to discover the city’s more street-level, joyous side.
Personal contemporary art
You can’t help but feel intrigued by a “Museum of Recent Art” — Muzeul de Artă Recentă — or MARe. Here you’ll find artworks produced in the last fifty years ranging from the philosophical to the provocative, but even the building’s architecture is intriguing: it has a dark brown-grey colour that creates the impression of heavy materiality, but with its glass walls on the ground floor, from a distance it will give you the impression it’s floating.
Europe’s largest beer-house?
An exhibition center in the ‘50s that was later converted into a shopping center in the ‘90s, this large space only became a beer-house in 2014. Beraria H is allegedly one of the biggest in (Eastern) Europe (it is said to have a capacity of up to 3,000 people!) and is an ideal option for enjoying a beer along with typical grilled snacks and a concert for a social night out. Not expensive, but watch out how much you drink!
Burgers in the old print shop
While we’re on converted spaces, restaurant Enegiea used to be a print shop. It’s just two minutes on foot from the old city center. Their homemade burger is simple, tasty, fulfilling and what’s even better — they are pet-friendly! Excellent if you’re walking around in the center, which you probably will be.
A cultural squat
Bucharest’s alternative scene has been flourishing in recent years — old, disused buildings are being occupied and turned into cultural hubs. One such space is Carol 53: in 2012, a group of young architects moved in and cleaned it up. They’re now living there and the rest of the house has been given new life with a gallery, a space for projections, dance, theater, contemporary art & fashion fairs. Its positivity mixed together with 19th-century architecture (the old Turkish embassy used to be housed here) give it a one-of-a-kind vibe.
Good Romanian beer!
If you like trying local brews, this spot is for you. Fabrica de Bere Buna means Good Beer Factory. Just from the name you can tell how honest this bar’s attitude is – the owners and the team want only one thing: to provide and promote good Romanian craft beer. You can find here all their types of unpasteurized beer, but also beers from other Romanian microbreweries. 10 local craft beers on tap are permanently available at the bar.
One of the few places around Bucharest that are open until 04:30, Calif is one of the best oriental fast-food restaurants — everything is fresh and available at any time of the day. They have all the classics (including the falafel and cheese kebab) but you should definitely try the lahmacun or the eggplant falafel with pomegranate sauce. You can even drop by for some lentil soup for lunch. Don’t forget a glass of ayran and some baklava!
The country’s most instagrammable book shop
Cărturești Carusel is an impressive book shop in the middle of Bucharest, in what’s probably one of the most beautiful and instagrammable buildings in Romania. Originally owned by a powerful family of bankers, today it’s not just a bookstore: you can find all sorts of gifts, board games, manga, and even an entire section with books in English and other languages. It can be overwhelming, but relax — you’ll definitely find your favorite spot here.
A park with a legacy
Ion Voicu Park is in the middle of downtown Bucharest and one of the city’s many “boutique” parks — small green spaces filled with charm. It has no streets around it, although it is surrounded by embassies, and has a smart design, with a pavilion, a fountain and a small waterfall. It’s perfectly safe to come even at night, when it’s well lit. Don’t miss out on Bucharest’s parks!
For more local favorites across Europe, check out Spotted by Locals.
Header image by: Pixabay