This week, we’re going to kick off our journey in the Romanian city of Bucharest, and we’re heading off to Budapest in Hungary. Bucharest is the capital city of Romania as well as being the financial, cultural and industrial center of Romania. Bucharest is seen as the Industrial and transportation hub of Eastern Europe.
Bucharest is located in the Southeast of Romania, on the banks of the river Dambovita. The city has many lakes in it such as Lake Tei, Lake Floreasca and Lake Titan. One of the most beautiful features of this city is the numerous parks and open spaces that are built around these lakes, and make Bucharest a very beautiful city.
Bucharest experiences a typical humid continental climate, with temperatures reaching the mid 20’s in summer, and a colder 2°C in winter. The best time to visit Romania is between April and October. The highest temperature ever recorded during the summer months is a sizzling 43°C – too hot and way too uncomfortable for many. The wild fluctuations in temperature are largely due to the amount of humidity – more humidity means hotter temperatures.
Regardless of which time of year you decide to visit, you should take plenty of sunblock of at least SPF30 and re-apply often. When travelling at the suggested times of year, do take warmer clothing with you as temperatures plummet during the evening and it can get quite windy.
Train Travel from Bucharest to Budapest
Travel times from Bucharest to Budapest in Hungary are around 16:20 hrs direct and cost around £108 for one way. That’s actually quite expensive as train travel goes. It’s easier to buy an InterRail pass if you are intending on making multiple stops throughout Europe, since you get unlimited train travel time for 22 days and at one price.
Bucharest’s train station, the Gare du Nord is the main central railway station and serves all the main cities both in and out of Romania. The number to call for any train enquiries is (021)2230880, extension 1341, 1342. Because of the considerable journey from Bucharest to Budapest, your best bet is to buy a ticket that has sleeping berths.
Places to Stay In Bucharest
The closest hotel near the Gare du Nord is the Ibis which is 200 metres from the station and costs around £35 a night. You might try a general hotel in Bucharest or go for the Hello hotel which not only is very cheap at just £31 a night for a double room, but has lots of facilities with English speaking staff to boot.
Things to do in Bucharest.
Bucharest is well known for its gardens and lakes, and has plenty of parks and open spaces to satisfy the fussiest traveller. Cismigiu park is close to the University square and the town hall, and is perfect for breaking away from city life. Apart from the trees and grass, there is a lake with boating and a children’s play area. Boat hire at the lake costs less than £1.50, and is definitely worth it.
The botanical gardens are definitely worth seeing and stretch over 17 hectares on land. Apart form various microhabitats that you can view, there is also a museum here and huge greenhouses where they grow herbs and other plants.
Bucharest also has its own zoo which is great for kids and has over 800 animals, birds and reptiles to see. Their star attractions are Luna the Tigress, lions Marc and Ella and Gina and Vasile – part of the bear family. Certainly worth a day out for.
Bucharest has its own Atheneum or concert hall and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Built in the 19th Century with Neo-Classical style, the hall has a 40m high dome and huge Doric columns which make it look like a Greek temple from the outside. The hall has its own Philharmonic orchestra and there are regular performances here.
The Village museum is one of the largest in Europe and is an experience into village life in Romania. It has traditional buildings complete with authentic furniture and sometimes the museum has a folklore program with different dates for performances – its worth asking at the local tourist office just near the railway station for dates and times.
Bucharest has some superb palaces which are definitely one of the highlights of the City. The Palace of Justice, Sutu Palace, Cotroceni Palace and the City Hall palace are up there amongst the best of the palaces here. With lavish interiors and beautiful well-kept gardens, you could easily spend a whole day touring around them.
It’s advisable to have your passport with you, since security is very tight here and the guards will check your identity. You can take tours inside the palaces and get a feel for what Royal life would have been like. Some of the palaces have associated museums with them.
Romania has many fine eateries that you can sample, and the cuisine itself is heavily influenced by Turkish, German and Hungarian cuisine. Soups play a huge part in food here, and are traditionally quite sour with the addition of lemon. Pork is the main meat here and served in lots of traditional and modern ways.
Bucharest is certainly a very beautiful and well kept city, and definitely worth spending a few days here to take it all in. Next stop, Budapest!