Flight and hotel Bucharest
Home to Gothic vampire mythology and eastern European exoticism, the trendy, friendly Romanian capital is still swathed in a cloak of mystery. Crumbling interbellum mansions and the largest governmental building outside the Pentagon evince the city's communist history. Sleek skyscrapers represent the country's momentum as a business, technology and holiday hub. You'll find the locals keen hosts to international visitors, and the country's traditional heritage a far richer vein than just Dracula on city breaks in Bucharest.
What is important to know prior to visiting?
A flight and hotel in Bucharest can be easily arranged from the United Kingdom. Flights from Manchester to Bucharest and flights from London to Bucharest depart almost hourly. If flying from the UK, you will not require a visa to alight in the city, which is two hours ahead. Romanian bears some resemblance to romance languages, especially French, and due to its elegant architecture Bucharest is in fact known as "Little Paris". Still, if you don't happen to be fluent in the vaguely Jamaican-sounding local lilt, the aforementioned Romanian locals are affable and anglicised in the extreme. Resist changing money in the airport on landing, as the exchange rate is less favourable than at ATMs and exchange offices in the city.
When is best to visit Bucharest?
This romantic destination experiences mood swings in temperature as the seasons wheel round. In the winter, some small Transylvanian towns still become extremely isolated due to impassable mountain roads. From late November until March, the temperature stays well below zero, making winter sports a popular pastime on package holidays in Bucharest.
Luxurious resorts have popped up across the country, to which internal flights are both rapid and bargainous. You can also see the annual army parade on National Day in December, and enjoy free concerts and performances. Romania also becomes a winter wonderland where traditional Christmases rival any in Europe for magical allure. In May, Bucharest hosts the East European Comic Con.
What is there to do in Bucharest?
Having caught your flight and hotel in Bucharest, you're ready to explore. If visiting in the winter months, make sure to skate at the rink in Cismigiu Garden, where crowds of locals glide gracefully. Warm up afterwards with a trip to Therme Park sauna, a popular activity in the chilly winter months. Whichever time of year you arrive, make sure you stop off at the Romanian Athenaeum. The George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra's imposing base is surrounded by impressive neoclassical mansions.
Out and about in Bucharest
Package holidays to Bucharest necessitate a pilgrimage to the famed Bran Castle (legendary home of Count Dracula), the country's snowy mountains and sparkling beaches. Yet, there is much to do on city breaks in Bucharest itself. Ethereal art nouveau villas and exceptional museums punctuate the city centre, with its grandiose Palace of Parliament. This administrative building is a dubious yet fascinating relic of the dictatorship that wracked the country until relatively recently.
Experience traditional cultural life at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, with its adjoining 18th century church, before a restorative stroll in Snagov monastery. Looking out over a lake, this stately building offers an insight into the country's traditional religion.
What is there to eat in Bucharest?
If you're new to Romanian cuisine, you're in for a treat. Bearing some resemblance to the fare you'll find in neighbouring Hungary, Romanian food is lighter and arguably more delicate. A plenitude of sophisticated cheeses crop up in many of the dishes. Here's what to try on your weekend in Bucharest:
- Traditional Sarmale, mince meat wrapped in cabbage. Cooked for hours on end and exhaustingly complex to produce, the result is unctuous and unforgettable.
- Ciorba soup varies in composition but is always subtly seasoned.
- The pretzel-like Covrig comes in endless forms and flavours.
- Head to Caru'cu Bere, the city's most antiquated brewery.
- Wish each other "Noroc!" over a glass of the national drink, Tuica, a pleasingly plum-flavoured brandy.
What to bring back from Bucharest
There's much to be snaffled on your weekend in Bucharest besides the inevitable Dracula fridge magnet. Why not dip into the flea market at Vitan-Barzesti? The antiques are as elegant as the fashion-conscious Romanians. Pick yourself up a Le, the traditional handmade blouse that Romanian women have been rocking for centuries. New or vintage, these finely crafted garments will set you back a few bob, but remember that you're buying a piece of heritage here.
You might also want to take a lug or two of Tuica back home with you too. The fruity firewater is sold in all manner of attractive bottles. With some of the world's most impressive UNESCO Heritage churches, Romania's unique culture is also reflected in its exquisite glass painted icons. Return home enlivened by the spirituality that thrives in this otherworldly destination.