Its charming historic centre may have fallen victim to the bleak urban planning of the Communist era, but Romania’s capital has reinvigorated itself in recent years to become one of the most exciting travel destinations in Eastern Europe. Discover a city that never sleeps on a city break to Bucharest from Glasgow Airport.
Central Bucharest is a fascinating mishmash of ancient architecture and Communist creations. North of the Dâmbovița River is the historic quarter, which is packed with cultural treats such as the Eastern Orthodox Stavropoleos Monastery (Strada Stavropoleos), 15th-century palace Curtea Veche (Strada Franceză) and University Square. Other buildings are an unforgettable testament to the city’s more recent past. Don’t miss the chance to see the colossal Parliament Palace (Strada Izvor 2-4), commissioned by Communist Party leader Nicolae Ceaușescu in the 1980s, and the rest of the hauntingly bleak Civic Centre.
When the sun goes down…
There are plenty of sights to explore during the day, but it’s at night that Bucharest really blazes into life. A rapidly expanding culture of cool has led to an explosion of pubs, cocktail bars and clubs, with most scattered around the historic quarter. While the venues might be increasingly funky, prices are still breathtakingly low – so you can party the night away at hotspots such as ancient beerhouse Caru’ cu Bere (Strada Stavropoleos 5), indie club Control (Strada Constantin Mille 4) or funky student hangout Piranha Club (Splaiul Independentei 313A), without doing much damage to your wallet.
Escaping the city
If you can tear yourself away from the urban action then Bucharest is the perfect starting point for exploring some of the most legendary landscapes in Europe. Transylvania is within day-trip distance, and a visit to Bran Castle (Strada General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran) – often associated with the Dracula myth – or to the Disney-esque Peleș Castle (Aleea Peleșului 2, Sinaia) in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains can be accomplished in a few hours.