Introduction: Bucharest Travel Plan
Flight: Turkish Airlines Economy Class San Francisco To Istanbul Review
Flight: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Istanbul To Bucharest Review
Getting Around: Bucharest Airport Bus RATB 783
Accommodation: Mercure Bucharest Hotel Review
Activities: Old Town Bucharest
Food: Eating In Bucharest
Getting Around: Bucharest Uber
Activities: Day Trip To Sinaia Romania
Activities: Day Trip To Brasov Romania
Getting Around: Bucharest Taxi Meridian
Activities: Four Days In Sibiu Romania

Overview

I’ve wanted to explore Eastern Europe for the past several years, having heard wonderful things about the region and its relative affordability in comparison to the rest of Europe. So when an economical fare popped up combining Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey on a single trip, I decided to jump on the opportunity. The plan was to spend a total of 17 nights between the three countries: ten in Romania, three in Bulgaria, and four in Turkey.

Bucharest Travel Trip Destinations
Bucharest Travel Overnight Destinations

Bucharest, the capital of Romania with a population of about 2 million people, was the first stop on the trip. While the city itself doesn’t have a ton of tourist attractions, it is a cool place to wander for a few days and serves as an excellent launching point to captivating Transylvania towns of SibiuBrasov, and Sinaia.

Pre-Trip Planning

Flight: Back in January 2016, The Flight Deal found that Turkish Airlines was offering some affordable round-trip economy class fares to Eastern Europe in the spring. Luckily, one of the inexpensive routes was from the San Francisco to Bucharest Romania. The itinerary required a connection in Istanbul but included a free stopover there, as well as an open-jaw option to Sofia Bulgaria. Thus, I could visit three separate destinations for the same price – $628.

 

Bucharest Travel Plan - SFO-IST-OTP
Bucharest Travel Plan – SFO-IST-OTP

Flight Review: The 13-hour Turkish Airlines flight from San Francisco-Istanbul and the short-haul flight from Istanbul-Bucharest turned out to be rather pleasant experiences.

Hotel: Bucharest has a decent number of options from the big-brand hotel chains, which I prefer due to the expected consistency. I had short-listed a few hotels with my selection criteria prioritized in the following: 1) cost; 2) convenience to public transportation; 3) proximity to local cafes/restaurants; and 4) brand. Here’s how I ranked the following Bucharest hotels:

  • JW Marriott Bucharest: Pricey and not convenient to most attractions or interesting neighborhoods.  
  • DoubleTree Hilton Unirii: Required multiple bus transfers from airport; not convenient to most attractions.
  • Hilton Athenee: Good neighborhood, but long walk to airport bus route and significantly more expensive than comparable hotels.
  • Park Inn Bucharest: Good neighborhood and competitive pricing, but long walk to airport bus route.
  • Mercure City Center Bucharest: Best location within a neighborhood, short walk to transit, and competitive pricing.

Hotel Review: I ended up booking the Mercure City Center Bucharest Hotel at an average cost of $83 per night. And the stay was fantastic. It had the amenities of a big-brand hotel, but in a modern, boutique-like setting.

Bucharest Travel Plan - Mercure Bucharest Hotel
Bucharest Travel Plan – Mercure Bucharest Hotel

Essential Info

Visa

No visa required for Romania, as US citizens are granted 90 days of stay within a given six-month period.

Currency

USD equaled about 3.93 RON (Romanian Lei), at the time of travel in April 2016.

Time Zone

10 hours ahead of US Pacific time, or UTC+02:00.

Language

Romanian is Latin-based, making it slightly easier to recognize street names and signs.

Points of Interest

Bucharest is a city of contrasts with its Orthodox churches juxtaposed and communist-era buildings. Aside from strictly visiting the sites that fit that description, Bucharest does have a growing cafe and restaurant scene, particularly in the neighborhoods of Old Town, City Center, and Dorobanti.

Getting Around

Accommodations

Food & Drink

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