Romania’s capital receives a bad rap from travelers. Most of the travelers I’ve met say the same thing. On paper, it seems like a dynamic place, kind of like Middle-East meets the Balkans with a Latin twist. There are ruins of communism still standing tall despite the progress of the EU. It seems like a grand place to visit instead of Brasov Romania.
I spent a week and a half in Bucharest, Romania’s capital city. I’ve not researched the place, so I had no expectations.
I bought a one-way ticket to Romania and Bucharest was where I landed. I had a project to work on, and it seemed like a cool city to work.
They have several hubs you can rent and work at. The hostel I stayed at in old town has such a place, so I rented a space for a week to test things out.
I was going to stay in Bucharest for a month or two and use it as my headquarters for my Romanian excursions.
I’ve been in Romania for almost 2.5 months, and in hindsight, I should have picked Brasov as my headquarters. I spent three weeks in Brasov so I can make a decent comparison between the two.
If you TLDR’ed already take my word for it and jump on a train towards Brasov and leave Bucharest behind. If you’re interested in the why’s then continue reading.
Just a word of caution. Unlike other blogs who paint everything with rainbow crayons and toss ice cream and puppies all over the place, this blog will not. These are my personal experiences, my thoughts, and opinions. Besides, this is my blog, and I can be as politically incorrect as I want and be as brutally honest as I want.
First, if you want to party, Bucharest is your place hands down. The nightlife there is non-stop. If you like to get shitfaced and puke on the streets this is your place. There’s always something going on until the break of dawn. You could dance to several Justin Beiber songs all night if you wanted to. But herein lies the problem. A week and a half of that and you’re burnt out.
Brasov is smaller and a lot quieter. There’s enough to do but not too much if that makes sense. It’s also in a centralized location in Transylvania where some of the most interesting to see and do in Romania is found. Bucharest is just a bunch of Soviet-era buildings outside of old town. That’s it.
If that’s your thing, you can also find it everywhere in Romania. All the travelers I’ve met so far have the same connotation about Bucharest. I haven’t met one yet that had anything positive things to say about the place.
When I was in Bucharest, I could barely sleep. The hostel I stayed at was right smack dab of where the action was. They’d be blasting dance music all the way to 5 am while trying to get sleep. You have no choice but to drink yourself to sleep or join the festivities. And yes, I admit. I joined in on the festivities.
Going to bars and clubs is a nightly thing. It’s a place full of pimps and hookers. I was escorting a drunk hostel mate back to the hostel, and we were approached by a pimp offering their services and when we refused he offered to sell some blow for 90 euros.
When we went to bars, we’d get approached by scantily clad women asking us if we’d like to go “upstairs.” Now, I’m not a bad looking guy, but I’m not the second coming of Dan Bilzerian with a billion dollars to throw at escorts. Women that look like supermodels like that don’t just walk up to me and want to take me “upstairs.”
If drooling over hot chicks is your thing then Bucharest is it, it’s full of beautiful women. But beware, all things are for sale and whatever that price it might be too high to pay (and I’m not talking about money).
The one good thing I did get out of Bucharest is the many restaurants all over the place. This is an excellent place to try out Romanian cuisine. The people are generally friendly and warm. Excellent Wi-Fi and available in most areas. Bars are everywhere.
You’ll never go thirsty. But staying here means no rest and constant partying. That means less time for the cool shit like hiking in the Carpathian mountains and exploring quaint little medieval villages.
Brasov, in contrast, is close to all these activities and much quieter.
It has bars but not too excessive. There are enough restaurants to get your fill of Romanian cuisine.
It’s close to nature. Mountains surround it.
There’s a mountain, Tampa, right around the corner from the hostel I stayed at, Kismet Dao Hostel; you can hike up in less than an hour.
The city itself is prettier than Bucharest. It’s not cramped and suffocating like Bucharest.
If must-visit Bucharest do so for only a day and then get the hell out of dodge and here’s what I recommend you do. Catch a train to Sinaia and check out Peles Castle in the morning. Do that for an hour or two and then catch the next one to Busteni and ride up the cable car and check out the Sphinx, a natural feature that resembles its moniker. Grab another train to Brasov and call it a day.
Would I go back to Bucharest? Once the charms of the quaint villages and the verdant rolling hills on the Romanian countryside wears off. The call of the wild party will take hold. Just not for a little while.
The opinions expressed herein are personal and my own. Here’s a great rebuttal article from Andra at Our World Traveler on why you should stay in Bucharest!
UPDATE: I’ve since returned the Romanian capital and have this updated article and a new opinion about: Bucharest!
HAVE YOU BEEN TO BUCHAREST?