Bucharest may be traffic-clogged, hectic and blighted by ugly Communist blocks, but its many little-known attractions make it worth putting up with the irritations.
The Old Town boasts cobbled streets and beautiful Art Deco and neoclassical gems that once earned the city the moniker ‘the Paris of the East’. Bucharest’s ever-more sophisticated cultural and culinary scenes are further reasons to spend time in Romanian capital.
As well as the museums, cafes, restaurants and shopping of a European capital, the city also has various picturesque streets through which to wander and pleasant green spaces in which to rest a while. The thoughtless nature of the town planning – a stunning Art Deco villa could be set off by a hideous 1970s monstrosity right next to it – gives the town an eclectic charm. Bucharest has the 24-hour atmosphere of a modern metropolis, you can get a beer or loaf of bread at any time of the day or night, and the latest technology is eagerly embraced.
But also looks back to a bygone age, in the crumbling architecture and old men’s chess club in the park.
Despite a relatively large population of around two million, Bucharest is a compact city, and many of its main attractions are within walking distance of each other. A central axis runs north to south through the city’s four main squares – Piața Victoriei to Romana to Universității to Unirii- a useful and simple layout for visitors trying to get their bearings.
If you get lost, try to spot the Hotel Intercontinental, one of the city’s tallest buildings, which marks Piața Universității. Another unmistakable sight is the People’s Palace, a huge monolith visible from much of capital.