Bucharest Romania is not really a place that is on most people’s european travel itinerary, and I honestly can’t figure out why. At a glance it might look like any other post communist city, but it really is so much more than that. It is a place that had me in awe of the stunning buildings, the vast gardens and the friendliness of the locals every single time we stepped outside our apartment.
It is a city that was once heralded as the ‘little paris’ of Eastern Europe due to it’s elegant architecture. And it is a city that struggles with the idea of ‘what could have been’ had it not been for the communist regime.
We spent 3 whole months living in Bucharest, and of course during that time we sourced out the ultimate Food Fun & Adventure experiences to be found in this beautiful and enchanting city.
Things to do in Bucharest
Food – Traditional Romanian Food
If you go out in Bucharest, or anywhere in Romania, make sure you wear your stretchy pants – because you’re gonna be full! But so full of awesome it’ll totally be worth the inevitable food coma at the the end.
There are a few must try dishes in Romania. Just as a heads up, the locals are so proud of these dishes, there is no way you can go out to dinner with a Romanian without trying all of them, all at once, in one dinner sitting! We met up with my very good friend Boogie (Bogdan) and he took us out to learn exactly what Romanian food is all about.
Salata de Vinete
Eggplant salad which is actually more like a dip. Have this with some famous Romanian homemade bread and you will be in tasty heaven. Another great aspect of this dish is that while Romanian food can be a bit meat heavy – this is a perfect dish for vegetarians and vegans.
Grilled minced meat rolls which in Romanian means “small ones”. This is a mixed meat roll usually consisting of beef, lamb, pork and mixed spices. It is generally served with mustard and a nice cold beer or beer tower…
One of my all time favourite Romanian dishes. Sarmale is minced meat with rice, wrapped in either pickled cabbage leaves or vine leaves, it’s often served with a few slices of ham or bacon and a nice big helping of polenta. So many noms on one plate!
You haven’t lived until you’ve tried papanasi. It’s one of those dishes that you spot being delivered to another persons table and you are instantly hit with food envy.
Trust us – you want to order this for yourself!
Papanași is a traditional fried or boiled donut, usually served with a sour cream and any kind of jam, generally what is currently in season. Most servings will serve at least two people – it’s that massive.
If you are wanting to be a bit more adventurous with your food there is always the famous ciorba de burta or tripe soup. We are not big fans of tripe, but we had a taste of Boogie’s, and we can confirm that we are still not big fans of tripe. But many people love this dish.
For those wanting to go completely off the chain with their food choice, there are a few places in Bucharest that still serve bear – not a dish for the feint hearted!
Garden Bars – Bucharest Night Life
If you ask a local where to go on a Friday or Saturday night, you will most likely be directed straight to Bucharest’s Old Town. Here you will find bar after bar, club after club, all pounding out music to attract tourists looking for a night out.
But we are going to let you in on a little secret. The best bars are hidden, you wouldn’t even know they were there unless someone told you. And we went on a mission of find Bucharest’s best kept secrets.
This is probably our favourite garden bar in Bucharest, which is hard when there are so many to choose from. Acuarela is only visible from the street by an old beaten up car that has the name on the side. Miss this sign and you could miss the bar entirely. Even when you do find the entrance you feel like you were walking into someone’s backyard, until suddenly the bar appears and it is a truly wonderful site. Umbrellas, up cycled furniture and vintage style is what makes this a great bar to sit and enjoy a drink or two with friends.
Once again a hidden beauty. The front of this bar looks like an old building or perhaps a museum, but walk around the back of the building and a bar among the gardens appears. Dotted with chairs, bean bags and fairy lights, this place really is everything its name suggests.
Perfect for a romantic night out. Gradina offers separated booths for lovers or those seeking a touch more privacy, or you can choose to sit in the open courtyard amongst the trees and fairy lights
Shift offers something for everyone. Edgy, innovative, modern design mixed with a tree house! Yes in the open air courtyard there is a split level structure that looks like a tree house of sorts. This place can get pretty busy so if you want a seat in the ’tree house’ make sure you make a reservation in advance.
Note: I actually have no idea what the structure is called, but I’m calling it the tree house.
Another bar that you wouldn’t even know it was there. The outside looks like an old (yet beautiful) abandoned building, and even when you are walking down the semi lit driveway you would be led to believe that this place had closed down years ago – nope! All of a sudden you can hear music, and people and then you spot the lights, chairs, tables and bar. It is open! It feels like you’ve stumbled onto such a well hidden secret that drinking there kinda makes you feel like one of the specially selected ‘it crowd’, at least for one night.
I can’t tell you how many nights we spent hanging out in this bar. The Jar Bar is a place where you can find great atmosphere, friendly staff and great beer. This bar is snuggled up along side our favourite hostel in Bucharest, Book-a-Rest (such a great name) and we quickly made friends with the owners and their staff. This became our regular place to hang out and watch a movie under the stars, or visit the weekend vintage market, or listen to a local band or DJ. A great place where there is always something happening and everyone is invited.
While it’s not exactly a ‘garden bar’ per sey it does have a fabulous open air design to it, almost like you’re sitting on a friends verandah enjoying a few drinks.
Adventure – Trolls Escape Rooms
We Love Escape Rooms!!!! This is something that is taking the world by storm – and it’s fantastic fun.
We met up with Vlad one of the Trolls that owns Troll Escape Rooms and he set the scene…….You have a big bike race to go to, but something goes wrong with your bike and you must get it fixed. Luckily you know a bike shop owner that can help. He is out of town but tells you, you can go to his shop to get the part for your bike, but be careful not to let the door shut behind you or else you will get locked in. In your frantic hurry to get your bike fixed you forget about the door and lock yourself in. And now you must solve all of the puzzles in order to escape!!!
I won’t tell you any more about the room as it would spoil the surprise, but seeming I am writing this post right now, you can assume we escaped. Actually you have 60 minutes to solve all of the puzzles and escape the room, and we completed the Bike Room in 52 minutes and 22 seconds woot woot!
We also took on the Trolls Virus room where you have to solve the puzzles to unlock a vaccine that will save the world from a deadly virus. This room is completely in the dark and you use torches to find your clues – quite a bit harder which is why it took us longer than the 60 minutes to save the planet….but only a bit longer.
We are completely hooked on escape rooms and there are over 140 in Bucharest alone. It’s a great option for those unexpected rainy days, and it’s also something you can do with kids or other friends. Do you think you have what it takes to escape???
Bucharest Hostels – Where to stay
We mentioned this hostel earlier when we were talking about the amazing garden bars of Bucharest. Book-a-Rest hostel is not only the newest hostel in Bucharest it could quite possibly be the cheapest, with dorm beds going for as little as 5 euro a night which is $5.65 USD! This hostel is modern, funky, neat and clean and the staff are absolutely wonderful. When we first arrived we stayed at the sister hostel Crazy Duck (which is equally as clean and modern) we instantly made friends with Andrei and his fantastic team, and we were lucky enough to see the birth of the brand new hostel Book-a-Rest.
We loved getting involved in the different events they had on offer at the hostel combined with the Jar Bar. Vintage fairs, movie nights under the stars, music nights – oh did I mention that there is a working theatre on site as well? So you can go and see a local production if you are a lover of the arts. This hostel honestly offers it all, and you are welcomed like family when you stay with them. Andrei and his staff will also go out their way to help you plan your Romania trip and make sure you get the best possible experience during your time in Romania.
We absolutely love love LOVED our time in Bucharest Romania, and hope that we have now inspired you to add it to you travel itinerary. There is so much so see and explore, so much history and beauty, and so many amazing people to meet we just know you’ll fall in love just like we did.
More Hotel Options in Bucharest
Rembrandt Hotel – Sector 3
Situated in the historic city centre and
Europa Royale Bucharest
Located in a 19th-century building
Want even more accommodation options click here
Transport – Getting in and out of Bucharest
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Have you been to Bucharest? What Food, Fun and Adventure did you discover – let us know in the comments.
Disclaimer: We did receive the Trolls Escape rooms, and our stay at Crazy Duck Hostel complimentary. All opinions remain our own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – thank you for supporting this blog by using these links.