8 Fun Things to Do in Bucharest… On a Budget!

By on Published: September 17, 2018 | Last Updated: November 9, 2021 in Budget Travel Ideas, Eastern Europe, Europe, ROMANIA with 5 Comments

The Most Fun Things to Do in Bucharest

There’s no denying Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is a strange city.

Visiting it as part of my grand Eastern European tour, I was accustomed to visiting capital cities with glaring attractions, landmark sites and streets upon streets of action.

Getting to Bucharest – a city with no discernible centre, aside from a rather drab and unconvincing Old Town – was, therefore, something of a surprise.

But despite arriving on an overnight bus from Bulgaria, having had little sleep and having little to no idea of my chance of success, I set about trying to find the soul of Bucharest and on the way encountered some amazingly fun things to do in this city!

So if you’re heading to Romania soon, please don’t write Bucharest off – honestly, just a small amount of time to get lost in her bookshops, markets and cafes will reveal the heart of a warm, working and very real city!

Oh, and did I mention it’s CRAZY cheap?!

Yes people, it’s time to read on and learn more…

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#1 Get Buzzed at the Coffee Shops

Romania, Bucharest, Origo

So in my quest to find the heart of Bucharest, I discovered that every inch of the soul of this city lay outside the Old Town –  a fact I quickly realised after just 2 minutes strolling in this wall-to-wall-cheap-bar-tacky restaurant-tourist-trap-of-a-place.

Sorry, am I being a bit blunt?!

Anyway, the point is to avoid the Old Town like the plague and instead spend your time exploring the surrounding suburbs of this city, where progressive young and interesting locals can easily be found and engaged!

Of particular note are this city’s cafes and there’s no doubt that one of the most fun things to do in Bucharest is get seriously buzzed in as many coffee shops as possible!

And there’s a whack to choose from.

Yes outside of the Old Town, Bucharest is laden with fun, funky and delicious cafes, filled with fun, trendy Romanians and barely another tourist in sight – delightful!

Top of my list were the famous Origo Espresso Bar, Artichoke Café, M60, Steam and T-Zero.

Did I mention I’d tried a few?!


#2 Stroll the Cișmigiu Gardens

Romania, Bucharest, Park

The lungs of this city, and one of the biggest parks around, there’s no question that heading to the Cișmigiu Gardens is one of the most fun things to do in Bucharest, especially if you’re on a budget, because it’s FREE!

Yes, this central city park is loved by locals and tourists alike and, in the hot summer, it’s the perfect place to escape the relentless humidity and relax in Bucharest.

Pedalos can be rented to cruise the river, otherwise strolling the park’s bridges, people, watching and reading a book on a bench are the must-do activities!

Tough gig right?!


#3 Soak up the Craft Beer

Romania, Bucharest, Street Scene

If you’re a fan of the Ruin Pubs in Budapest, then you’re in for a treat in Bucharest, where these great independent drinking holes are still genuinely filled with locals wanting a well-priced and delicious beer in interesting surroundings!

Top of my list had to be Fabrica, an icon in this city.

Without question heading here for at least one night of fun is definitely one of the best things to do in Bucharest.

And for those on a budget, don’t despair, Bucharest is so crazy cheap you won’t even have to worry about how many you have had.

At least not when it comes to your wallet anyway!


#4 Meander the Independent Bookshops

Romania, Bucharest, Bookshop

I’ve never met a country so in love with bookshops as Romania, and I’m attributing this to one of the main reasons I enjoyed this country so much – along with the fact it’s amazingly cheap! (Did I mention that?!)

To put it frankly, a love with independent bookstores is a big tick in my book and this city has them by the dozen, meaning meandering at least a few of them (and trying not to buy too many new titles) is absolutely one of the best things to do in Bucharest on a budget!

I can’t mention bookshops in this city without talking about Cărtureşti Carusle, situated in the heart of the Old Town, but even higher on your list should be the delightful Cărtureşti Verona and sensational Anthony Frost.


#5 Check Out the Churches & Synagogue

Romania, Bucharest, Orthodox Church

With an eclectic history and a diversity of religious buildings to back it up, it’s definitely worth taking the time to explore a few of the amazing churches, plus the Grand Synagogue, in Bucharest.

Slightly south-east of the Old Town, it’s easy to stroll to the Grand Synagogue (if you can find it) and glance inside to peek at the amazing interior.

When it comes to Churches in the city, checking out the amazing frescoes of the Kretzulescu Church and the beautiful Orthodox building of the Old Princely Court Church are definitely some of the best things to do in Bucharest.


#6 Gawp at the Palace of Parliaments

Romania, Bucharest, Palace of Parliaments

It’s literally insane how big this building is!

And that’s because it’s the second-largest administrative building in the world… after the Pentagon!

Yes in little, old Bucharest sits this monstrosity, which somehow seems to encapsulate everything awful about the former dictator, Ceaușescu, that the poor Romanian people suffered at the hands of for far too long.

Allegedly unfinished, yet still boasting an insane 3000 rooms, you have to pay to get an inside tour of this crazy place, yet can gawp at its sickening size and opulence from the outside for free!


#7 Eat, Eat and Eat Some More!

Romania, Bucharest, Cafe

Perhaps not the most elegant national cuisine, what traditional Romanian food lacks in pizzazz however, Bucharest more than makes up for with its great range of international eateries and funky, young cafes.

Brunch is big here as the Hipster movement swells, so join the local cool crowd and head out for a lazy breakfast at one of the many amazing independent spots on offer.

Top of my list have to be Energiea (delicious green smoothies and hummus), Mercato (a street food urban market) and Diani 4 (which has a gorgeous garden setting and feels rather like dining in someone’s house!)


#8 Explore the Memorials & Squares

Romania, Bucharest, Rebirth Memorial

With more than its fair share of bleak, depressing and awful history, the capital of Romania also has more than its fair share of statues, monuments, squares and memorials to commemorate this liturgy of horrors.

There’s also a hell of a lot of random statues thrown in too which, as a tourist, will have you bewildered and reaching for Google search at almost every corner, until you get bored, give up and just accept the fact you have no freaking clue who these people are and why they have a stone monument constructed in their honour.

However, of those that are worth Googling and seeing, the Rebirth Memorial in Piața Revolutei, the Romanian Athenaeum in Piața Romană and the Triumphal Arch all deserve a special mention on this list of the best things to do in Bucharest on a budget.


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When to Visit Bucharest

Romania, Bucharest, River

I’d certainly advise visiting Bucharest during the summer months, when the warm weather will be the best for sightseeing and alfresco eating.

Thankfully, as the city isn’t hugely popular with foreign tourists, there’s never really too many crowds to worry about!


How Long to Spend There

Romania, Bucharest, Arch Views

I think 2-4 days is the perfect amount of time to take in this capital, including some of the more local suburbs.

The best way to get around the city is using your own 2 feet in my opinion – it’s both safe and easy.

2-4 days give you lots of opportunities to stroll around Bucharest too.


How to Get to Bucharest

Romania, Bucharest, Church Ceiling

If you’re coming from a long distance away, then you’ll probably be arriving into Romania through Bucharest’s international airport.

As always, I use Skyscanner to get the best rates on flights into and across Europe.

Alternatively, if you’re arriving into Romania from a nearby country, as I was, then travelling by train to the capital is very easy and cost-effective.

I highly recommend using Trainline to book rail travel across Europe, as they bring all services together in one handy place and give you all the information you need in English, as well as the opportunity to pay for tickets and passes in multiple currencies.

Booking with Trainline is secure and simple using their app… you can even track your trip using their handy journey planner feature too!


Where to Stay in Bucharest

Romania, Bucharest, Building

Personally, I really rate the Le Blanc ApartHotel in Bucharest, as it offers incredible value in a great location.

Guests regularly praise the excellent staff here, as well as the clean and spacious apartments, which offer balconies with river views, seating areas with cable flat-screen TV’s and fully equipped kitchenettes with fridges and ovens.

The perfect mix between hotel and rental apartment, it really is hard to go wrong with this modern property and its free private wifi and parking.

Otherwise, for backpackers, First Hotel Bucharest is the one to go for, thanks to its great facilities, ideal location and fun, friendly atmosphere.


Best Travel Insurance for Romania

Romania, Transylvania, Street Lamp

I wouldn’t dream of travelling to a country like Romania without proper coverage and always recommend travel insurance from World Nomads which I’ve used during my time in the country and across the world.

World Nomads are actually one of the few companies that will insure you for a huge range of outdoor activities as standard – essential for a country with as many active opportunities as Romania!

Alternatively, if you’re looking for travel insurance with Covid-19 cover, then look no further than Safetywing’s great Nomad Insurance policies.

These guys will cover you at some seriously great prices!


Top 5 Packing Items for Bucharest

Romania, Brasov, Gate

#1 Good Camera

You will be pretty much snapping non-stop during your Romania itinerary and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice.

I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!

#2 Good Walking Shoes

There will be a lot of walking in Bucharest, so make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers.

Perfect for stylish city strolling, I love mine!

#3 Good Guidebook

I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Bulgaria and Romania edition is well put together and able to save you a lot of money if you want to learn about the history of this countries, but not pay for a guide!

#4 Good Water Bottle

All that city sightseeing is thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because Bucharest tap water is drinkable… and free!

#5 Good Backpack

And to carry your water bottle, camera and guidebook, you’re going to need a decent backpack that will help you balance the weight as you walk the city streets.

In my opinion, you can’t go past the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack, which is also perfect for helping you avoid pickpockets too.




Despite not being the leading light of European capitals, I do hope my list of the most fun things to do in Bucharest on a budget has shown you that this city does actually have a huge amount of charm, character and soul if you’re willing to stray a little off the beaten track!

Have you been to the Romanian capital?

Did you love it or hate it?

Do let me know in the comments below…


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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 5 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Anca says:

    I would add the Open Air Museum of the Romanian Peasan, cheap entry fee and worth every penny! Also there is a great huge parc right next to it!

  2. Luminita says:

    Hi, Steph. I hope you don’t mind if I also add some suggestion for some free or cheap things to do in Bucharest. Some museums are offering free admissions almost daily between certain hours, like the Armenian Museum and the National Theatre Museum I.L. Caragiale. Also, for a great view of the city, the Metropolitan Hill is the place to go. You can also visit the oldest house in Bucharest, called the Melik House, which is now part of the National Art Museum.

    • Steph says:

      Hi Luminita, I don’t mind this at all! Thank you for adding such valuable suggestions to my list. These sound like great offerings that sadly my 2 days in the city didn’t give me the time to explore… just one more reason to go back I guess!

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