The highs and lows of Bucharest

Bucharest things to do

Bucharest is the busy capital of Romania and provided an interesting stop on our travels. We visited Bucharest for three nights before heading up to Transylvania (see highlights here). We didn’t have many expectations for Bucharest, however had heard positive things regarding the old town, cafΓ© scene, and architecture.

Bucharest had a distinct ‘Paris feel’ in parts of the old town, and was previously known as ‘little Paris’ in the early 1900s. This is partially due to the Parisian architecture, along with the fact that many Romanians travelled to Paris for education, returning and bringing an element of France back with them. This can be seen with the many boulangeries and patisseries dotted throughout the old town.

However, mixed between the Haussmann architecture are plain, tired and dilapidated buildings reminiscent of the communist era. Additionally, the old town has been ‘overrun’ with more modern restaurants, and the outdoor seating areas didn’t have the same charm as big cities in western Europe. We also couldn’t miss the significant number of adult entertainment venues, namely strip clubs, giving the old town a bit of a ‘seedy’ feel.

Outside of these areas however was the beautiful neighbourhood of Piata Romana. This area had clean streets, cool cafes, great little wine bars and overall much better ‘vibes’ than the old town. Located around 15 minutes walk from the old town, this was our favourite place in Bucharest.

Safety in Bucharest?

We were a little apprehensive visiting Romania due to some reports online about safety concerns. During the day, Bucharest felt largely safe, particularly in the busier areas of the old town, and nicer areas like Piata Romana. However, there were some parts of the city that were a little quieter, and definitely edgier, that we chose to avoid. Some streets, particularly towards the Jewish Neighbourhood, appeared particularly unsafe. We also noted a higher number of ‘interesting characters’ wandering the street or lurking on corners. This was particularly amplified at night. Bucharest also had many people hawking their goods to you on the street and at your tables in outdoor settings. Overall, we never felt threatened, but definitely felt more unsafe in Bucharest than some other cities. We took a more safety precautions than normal, and would urge you to do the same if you visit.

The best coffee in Bucharest

One of our favourite parts about Bucharest was the excellent cafe scene. These coffeeshops reminded us of Melbourne. Additionally, the coffee was some of the best on our trip so far!


  • Delivering one of the best coffee’s of our trip, Origo is worth visiting. We tried both of their espresso blends, offering excellent and distinctly different flavours. We also loved the artistic display of coffee cups hanging inside. It’s definitely a ‘must visit’ in Bucharest.


  • Artichoke: Located 10 minutes out of the old town, this was worth the walk. Situated in an older building, this coffee shop took us back to Melbourne.
  • M60: Situated in the area of Piata Romana, M60 had excellent coffee and a great indoor space that would be perfect for a few hours of work.
  • Orygyns: Small in stature, Orygyns was perfect for a quick stop, delivering excellent coffee.

Good food in Bucharest

FOR LUNCH: Cafe Gradina Verona – Lock this place in for your lunch stop in Bucharest! Situated in the Piata Romana area, Cafe Verona offered great lunch specials that were tasty and budget friendly! With a wonderful outdoor garden, our meal here was one of our favourites in Bucharest.

FOR DINNER: Aubergine – Located in the old town, Aubergine offered some high quality middle-eastern food. With great healthy and vegetarian options, we found this restaurant a great change from the ‘meat heavy’ traditional Romanian cuisine (don’t worry, they have meat options too).

OTHER: Rio Juice – Located 10-15minutes out of the old town, Rio Juice offers the perfect stop for a smoothie or Acai bowl.

Want to stay in Bucharest?

We stayed in a boutique hotel at the edge of the old town. Check it out here if interested! The location was great for proximity to the old town, however if we visited again, we would stay in Piata Romana. If you’re looking to snag even more of a bargain, or look at alternative accommodation, click here or take a look below:

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WANT TO SEE MORE food recommendations & TRAVEL MEMORIES?

Check out more from one of the unexpected highlights of our trip and hidden gems of Europe, Transylvania!

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