My first trip to Bucharest was amazing! We had planned to drive from my home in Sofia, Bulgaria to Bucharest for the weekend and although it wasn’t my first time in Romania I was really looking forward to checking out the capital city.
The drive from Sofia to Bucharest is around 6 hours including some stopping time. Most of the roads are good and along the way there are plenty of service stations and cafes where you can stop for breaks. We took the route via Ruse in Bulgaria, which you can see on the map below.
This journey takes you over the Danube Bridge from Bulgaria to Romania, one of the two bridges that connect the countries. The bridge has a toll equal to around 6 EURO each way and you should make sure you have the relevant local currency to pay this fee on each side (Lei and Lev). We didn’t have any Lei left when we were on our way back and we had to queue for ages to change some money as they wouldn’t accept our Lev!
Also, when you enter Romania you need to go to the first petrol station and buy a road tax (Vignette) that you keep in the car. This is compulsory and not purchasing your Vignette could result in a huge fine if you are stopped by the police. I can’t remember how much we paid but the weekly tax wasn’t much at all, under 10 EURO I’m sure.
Once into Romania, we headed straight towards Bucharest. The roads were still good, although there were less services to stop along the way here. It wasn’t a very long drive from the border and the roads only became busy when we entered the city.
We had booked a cheap hotel around 10kms from the city centre. I wasn’t too worried about where we would stay as we had the car and I knew I wouldn’t spend much time in the room. The hotel was City Hotel Bucharest and it cost 20 EURO per night. It was actually great value. Some rooms were in need of renovation (some had already been updated) but it was clean and had everything we needed.
I had made a rough plan of what I wanted to do which included taking the Free Bucharest Tour and visiting The Palace of the Parliament. We didn’t have long, just two days but I wanted to see as much as possible! The Free Bucharest Tour is a walking tour of the city with a local guide so it’s a great way to quickly see the sights and learn a little bit about the history and culture. The tours run every day at 10:30am and 18:00pm regardless of the weather and the meeting point is Unirii Square Park, in front of the Clock, just next to the fountains. It will take about 2 hours and some of the highlights of the tour include:
Ruins of Vlad’s Citadel
Palace of Parliament
All of which you’ll learn more about during the tour! Remember, the walking tour is free so you can just tip your guide as a thank you at the end :)
At the end of your days in Bucharest you will be tired from all the walking but you’ll be pleased to know this is the perfect place to relax in the evening. The city centre streets are alive with people sitting outside cafes, bars and restaurants in the evening and there’s so much choice. You can take your pick of places and move from one to another to enjoy a few drinks and soak up the chilled atmosphere!